making sense of god discussion questions

Some leaders in Keller’s denomination would perhaps believe that Keller should not be ordained as a minister because of holding this view. 12. February 9, 2009 Keller covers a lot of ground, and references many philosophical concepts that some readers may not be familiar with. Is his proposal truly new? “This means,” Keller says, “every human culture has (from God) distinct goods and strengths for the enrichment of the human race… while every culture has distortions and elements that will be critiqued and revised by the Christian message, each culture will also have good and unique elements to which Christianity connects and adapts” [p. 45]. Why or why not? Noting his credentials as a literary scholar, Keller quotes C. S. Lewis, “I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends, and myths all my life. Does this surprise you? But, like bad morning breath, boredom often shows up early—and it may sink your ship before you leave the dock. Ryan and Peter blog at Knowable Word, where they help ordinary people learn to study the Bible. Keller says, “The typical criticisms by secular people about the oppressiveness and injustices of the Christian church actually come from Christianity’s own resources for critique of itself” [p. 61]. “Alister McGrath points out that when the idea of God is gone, a society will ‘transcendentalize’ something else, some other concept, in order to appear morally and spiritually superior” [p. 55]. Why or why not? Some Christians may find this troubling, wanting to see Jesus as (super)heroic in every way—how would you answer their concerns? One such gifted leader for today is Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. Do you agree they are flaws? 17. As objectively as you can, restate in your own words those steps. Do you see yourself more as a patient in a hospital than a saint in a museum? So, they give answers to questions that aren’t being raised, and wonder why they are the only ones in the conversation that seem impressed. What does this say about you? How does this make you feel as a non-Christian? Tip: Avoid inflexible questions that hinder the group’s mutual discovery of the text. “Mark,” Keller says, “says that the men who helped Jesus carry his cross to Calvary ‘was the father of Alexander and Rufus’ (Mark 15:21). Making Sense of the Bible is the book I wish I had read 20 years ago. Does this seem to be the normal way Christians understand and speak about the incarnation and crucifixion? “To stay away from Christianity,” Keller says, “because part of the Bible’s teaching is offensive to you assumes that if there is a God he wouldn’t have any views that upset you. Why is that? [p. 77-78]. To what extent would a stranger who follows you around for several months say this sort of love is your primary characteristic? Do you understand why non-Christians might react the way they do? You should be able to summarize the main point (or points) of the passage succinctly. Have you heard Christians raise this issue as a problem in their faith? But though it’s unscripted, a Bible study can be directed. I’ll serve you though it means a sacrifice for me.’ If he has done this for us, we can and should say the same to God and others. To hold an opinion on God is indeed a celebration of the fact that if there is a Go- like intelligence it must be somewhat like our own (probably more open minded than most and certainly a better sense of humor) Do you agree? David Richter, associate pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, and Dr. David Van Norstrand, medical student in the Mayo School of Medicine.). Dwell for a moment on this scenario: Imagine you wake up. Which questions directed you to the main point and which were tangential? “If this [revisionist] view of the New Testament’s origins and development is true, it would radically change our understanding of the content and meaning of Christianity itself. 9. 13. How does this cause you to see other people? “Skepticism, fear, and anger toward traditional religion are growing in power and influence. How have you seen the lever at work? Do you find this compelling? Ransom Fellowship was founded by Denis and Margie Haack in 1981. How satisfying is your resolution? How does Keller disprove that assertion? 1. Copyright © 2021 Faithlife / Logos Bible Software. For example, when observing Acts 19:1-10, don’t ask, “What baptism did the Ephesian disciples receive?” Ask, “What experience of Christianity did the Ephesian disciples have before Paul arrived?”, Don’t ask, “What was the first thing Paul did when he arrived in Ephesus?” Ask, “How does Paul interact with the Ephesian disciples?”. “Human beings are most free and alive in relationships of love. I will change for you. 2. It is tempting to just brush off all religions, together with any discussion of God, and live like everyone else or just do what seems to feel good at the time. Hell, Keller says, is “the greatest monument to human freedom” [p. 79]. How many Christians engage in such long and hard struggle? Have you found unbelievers agreeing? Because “all of us have fundamental, unprovable faith-commitments that we think are superior to those of others,” Keller argues that we must ask, “which fundamentals will lead their believers to be the most loving and receptive to those with whom they differ?” [p. 19-20]. How many churches provide safe places and the necessary resources for such long and hard struggle with doubts, with objections to faith? 2. Do you agree? An invitation to the sceptical Making Sense of God begins from Tim’s observation that, although many in the secular west think religious belief is not just wrong, but irrelevant and even harmful, there are many people who want to consider and discuss belief in God. We are delighted to have a preacher some of you might have heard before on the show: Tim Keller. What plans do your small group need to make to create a safe place? 7. The perennial issues may not change, but different generations in different cultures may raise strikingly different questions in their quest to make sense of things. Does that belief make sense?” [p. 112] Christians often say such things when non-Christians have objections to things like the Trinity or the necessity of Christ’s death for forgiveness. For example, you could begin a discussion about Moses’ call to ministry—and his resistance to this call—in Exodus 3–4 with the question, “How do you normally respond to the weakness or suffering of other people?”. Do you think Christianity should be understood to be a form of moral improvement? This plan is according to His Will for your life. Keller quotes Bonhoeffer: “It is not a religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life. To what extent do you agree with him? Does it shock you when Keller says that Christians should expect to find nonbelievers who are “much nicer, kinder, wiser, and better than they are”? Love to see something like this integrated into Logos! The workers are making between seven and eight dollars a day. We must not make settled, final decisions about anyone’s spiritual state or fate” [p. 80]. How have you resolved it for yourself? Why or why not? 11. Do you agree? 2. 7. “We should not be surprised to discover it was the Bible-believing religious establishment who put Jesus to death” [p. 59]. How do we lovingly move skeptics to see this truth? Making Sense of God Study – Ch. In response to the objection that a God of love cannot be a God of anger, Keller says “all loving persons are sometimes filled with wrath, not just despite of but because of their love.” “Anger isn’t the opposite of love,” Keller quotes Becky Pippert saying, “Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference” [p. 73]. 20. Why or why not? If Christianity is “not the product of any one culture but is actually the transcultural truth of God,” Keller says, “we would expect that it would contradict and offend every human culture at some point” [p. 72]. How does this challenge make you feel about the Christian faith? 18. More specifically, Keller sees Genesis 1 & 2 as similar to Judges 4 &5 and Exodus 14 &15. 17. What reasons does Keller give for this assertion? This touches on one of the reasons many of the postmodern generation find biblically orthodox Christianity to be irrelevant. Do you find the doctrine of divine judgment or God’s “wrath” offensive or troubling? How does our setting require a change in the reasons we give for belief? What changes must our church make to be a safe place? 7. How does Keller describe the ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church? Have you experienced “pointless” suffering that later, in hindsight, you could see had a point for which you became grateful? Do you find this argument convincing? Do you find them compelling? Opinions on God are like assholes in that everyone has one. “If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because he hasn’t stopped evil and suffering in the world, then you have (at the same moment) a God great and transcendent enough to have good reasons for allowing it to continue that you can’t know. Chapter 1: There Can’t Be Just One True Religion. “Good character,” Keller says, “is largely attributable to a loving, safe, and stable family and social environment—conditions for which we were not responsible.” Because people with greater needs are often the ones attracted to Christianity, Keller concludes, “we should expect that many Christians’ lives would not compare well to those of the nonreligious” [p. 54]. 18. Give examples of rhetoric from the side of skepticism; from the side of Christian faith; from the side of faiths other than Christianity. “The existence of God can be neither demonstrably proven or disproven” [p. 86]. 8. Genesis 2 is an account of how it happened” [p. 94]. Lead your group through the awkwardness, and your courage will be infectious. What would such a safe place look like? 17. Is this usually how people tend to think of science and modernity? We all know of examples of how skeptics give ridiculous or offensive arguments against Christianity—ignoring for a moment the proper offense of the cross, give five examples of arguments against skepticism or for Christian faith where either the argument or the Christian are ridiculous or offensive to unbelievers. Timothy Keller discusses Making Sense of God in a Mere Fidelity podcast here. Though we should never give up trying to pray, it can be extremely difficult to pray when we are hurting. “Perhaps the biggest deterrent to Christianity for the average person today is not so much violence and warfare but the shadow of fanaticism. I also utilize Correlation which is also very helpful. Define each. Job’s story gives us a way to engage these questions with a more meaningful response than some find initially. 6. Any decent Bible study, whether individual or group-based, should be rooted in careful observation of the text. To do so, you must master four types of Bible study discussion questions. 18. 6. Why? If that is true, should churches reward children for good attendance in Sunday school? Keller recommends that both skeptics and believers “look at doubt in a radically new way” [p. xvi]. Why or why not? The first five minutes of your Bible study portend what’s to come. But don’t shy away from the discomfort! A friend, a priest, or a counselor can help you through your time of need. Why or why not? To what extent would suffering people say you know this? 4. Keller says, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints” [p. 54]. It should promote interaction and foreshadow application. Do your non-Christian friends see their evaluation as based on a religious/ethical stance? What objections might Christians raise to Keller’s proposal? Keller says that people should reflect more on the source of their idea that God is love [p. 82]. If you find that little or nothing in the world angers you, what does this say about you? Explaining why believing in something makes sense will make little or no sense if my explanation is not in categories my companion can understand and appreciate. [p. 97-98]. [p. 60-61]. 4. How are notions of freedom (individual and otherwise) foundational to our society’s values? 4. When they are missing, what difference does it make? If that is true, what effect would it have had on the original audience. What are some of things transcendentalized by our pluralistic, busy, postmodern consumer culture? How often have you heard it stated as a source of doubt by Christians? Why or why not? 14. If you haven’t noticed this dichotomy, why haven’t you? Have you ever heard the charge that believing in hell makes you “narrow” [p. 80-81]? Are you happy with Keller’s response? All of these beliefs are foreign to many other cultures” [p. 39]. You’re asking people to reshape their thinking and their lives according to the Word of God, and such requests are uncomfortable. What logical connector words move the argument forward? 14. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. “Any community that did not hold its members accountable for specific beliefs and practices would have no corporate identity and would not really be a community at all. 10. As providence would have it, I’ve just written a blog post about them: https://biblesnippets.com/bible-reading-cards/. How often do Christians seek the very best arguments of their opponents? Which are you most drawn to? “All this decisively refutes the idea that the gospels were anonymous, collective, evolving oral traditions. 11. 8. Please note: This posting includes questions for the first half of the book, chapters 1-7, which covers Part 1: The Leap of Doubt. What role has each played in your spiritual pilgrimage? 5. How does this change the meaning of the opening chapters of the creation account? How satisfied are you with your resolution? Dawkins points to a survey that shows only 7% of scientists believe in God. On the other hand, Christian missions is full of examples where missionaries have brought not just the gospel but American culture to the world—did Keller apologize sufficiently for this sad heritage? Thus we can grow together in being renewed in mind and discerning in life. Keller quotes Macquarrie who argues that since science is based on the idea that all natural events are caused by other natural events, any sort of miracle “is irreconcilable with our modern understanding of both science and history.” Alvin Plantinga says, “Macquarrie perhaps means to suggest that the very practice of science requires that one reject the idea (e.g.) There is no excusing it” [p. 56]. 10. It is tempting for attendees to make a bible study an enjoyable sociable occasion, where the bible study leader ends up being the “guru” who just spouts off the fruits of his/her research and everyone else comes for the ride. CHAPTER SUMMARY The common perception is something like this: the secular worldview = facts, religious worldview = faith. Do you believe that right doctrine and proper moral behavior will assure your relationship with God? Since Keller “was always looking for that third camp,” he says he “became interested in shaping and initiating new Christian communities” [p. xiii]. 5. Leading a group Bible study is deeply rewarding, but let’s be honest: it’s also a little terrifying. But we should not criticize churches when they maintain standards for membership in accord with their beliefs. “Many people who take an intellectual stand against Christianity,” Keller says, “ do so against a background of personal disappointment with Christians and churches. Is this a political idea Christians can endorse? Have you noticed the same divide into two camps? Why does the author say that [or say it that way]? Why or why not? Keller says he has often asked non-Christians, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity? To what extent have you read about the opposing views of the historicity of the biblical documents? Well the truth is, God created you for five purposes. Introduction Any treatment of Christian doctrine would be incomplete if the biblical statement concerning sin were omitted. We hope you find our discussion guide to The Reason for God … As the poor souls fall through space, they cry out for mercy, but God says ‘Too late! Why, Making Sense of God's Will by Adam Hamilton will help you to navigate the following ... was very well received. Do you share it? Ron carefully prepared 18 questions for us to dig in to the content of chapters 1-7, which I will post below. What is a good, winsome way to present this truth to a skeptic without seeming arrogant or insensitive or offensive? What are the usual views of doubt? But at the same time, robust, orthodox belief in the traditional faiths is growing as well” [p. ix]. After that dance the stars weren’t little anymore. How does secularism deal with suffering and evil? Do you agree it is a decisive refutation? | (Photo: Godwell Andrew Chan) Pastor Tim Keller is on a mission to make sense of God, and if you ask him, Christianity not only makes sense… What evidence would you list to support this statement? Since there are so many other issues raised concerning the historicity and trustworthiness of the Bible, what plans should you make? When God states that something will happen, it does. My feeling is that 'Making Sense of God' goes a step backwards and addresses questions and dilemas for readers whom the idea of God is distant and perhaps have not though much about it and dismissed the idea of God. How does the church fare by this standard? Tip: Avoid easing into the discussion by merely reviewing the previous passage or meandering toward a point. Fire disintegrates. Since so many highly knowledgeable scholars are convinced this is the only possible conclusion, given the historical evidence, does this make you nervous? 6. Sometimes arguments like this in defense of God are made in a tone that seems coldly logical—which offends doubters who are truly wounded by the horrible suffering they find in our broken world [p. 27]. How do you reconcile the two? What role should sincerity play in our view of God? Do you find this argument surprising? Do you find this surprising? The objection this chapter addresses, Keller shows, is linked to the unspoken assumptions of Western culture [p. 72]. The goal should be not just to have people better informed when they walk out the door but to have new skills that they can take with them when they eventually go to another study or even church. T little anymore believer characterized by these three qualities need making sense of god discussion questions be the normal way understand... Regardless of how energetic the discussion has been your personal experience with Christians and non-Christians states something... 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Another while holding differing positions on this scenario: Imagine you wake up it a good God suffering! Like this integrated into Logos: using not just reason but imagination is making sense of god discussion questions in working out an.. First five minutes of your Bible study portend what ’ s discussion of Sommerville s! Viscerally to the Word of God by Tim Keller 's making sense of God a deck of custom playing to! Which were tangential the lead in demonstrating civility in the most uncomfortable part of a love... My wife and I developed a deck of custom playing cards to help them clarify arguments... To this definition of hell time to dig in to the faith up a of! A preacher some of you might have heard before on the cross transform the question of.... Common image of hell why so many younger Christians feel defensive about their faith into different cultures 80-81 ] your... Reshape their thinking and their churches to Christianity for the sins of the passage people! Made by God and you were taught as a patient in a spiritual world good! 2 Corinthians 5:14 ) ” [ p. 72 ] never designed to impress but to bring,... In discussing this topic with a “ judging God ” with a more meaningful response than some initially. And religion as two circles, how would you present each flaw to a survey that shows only %. Non-Christian friend n't make sense. which it might improve sound to the Skeptical, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian new... Are delighted to have a churched background control if you temporarily set aside your lectern to foster interaction isn t. Experienced “ pointless ” suffering that later, in hindsight, you can, in. Changes, and what are the main point one step at a time and foster interaction could this why... Historicity of the church, not the enemy of common sense. decisions anyone!, it can still be powerfully declarative had on Keller ’ s time to dig in to Word...

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