Culture > Books

Anti-moralist Christianity

"Anti-moralist Christianity" Continued...

Issue: "Left behind," June 28, 2008

When you say God has allowed suffering to continue because He's evil, that's different. Just because you can't think of a good reason why God hasn't stopped it doesn't mean there cannot be any. First you have to acknowledge that the meaninglessness you feel in the face of suffering is part of the fact that we are not created for these things and now we are facing them. Then we have to acknowledge that our vantage point is not everything.

WORLD: Why do you say that an atheist is contradicting his own premises if he uses the suffering of the world to attack God?

KELLER: C.S. Lewis says that if I object to heaven on the basis of suffering and evil I'm actually appealing to a higher standard still. I have some standard by which I'm judging that nature is broken. Whatever that standard is would be supernatural.

WORLD: When logical arguments about the reason for suffering sound cold and irrelevant to real-life sufferers, what do you do?

KELLER: You shouldn't say a darn thing. If you're saying someone is right in the middle of it, then I think your job is to speak when spoken to. There is no decent thing to say other than your own presence, which mediates if you are a Christian.

The existential answer is that only Christianity believes that God has entered the suffering world. We don't know what the reason is that God allowed evil and suffering to continue, but we do know what the reason isn't: It's not that He doesn't love us, because if He didn't love us He wouldn't have gotten involved. Whatever the reason is it's mysterious but it's not indifference. The cross proves that.

WORLD: How do you bring secularists to view respectfully biblical passages that offend them?

KELLER: In the Middle East what the Bible says about homosexuality is not offensive, but what it says about forgiveness perhaps is. If the Bible really is divine revelation come down from heaven, then it will have to offend your cultural sensitivity somewhere. That's what you would expect if it were true. What we have to decide is the central thing: What do we think about Jesus Christ and who He is?

WORLD: What is the role of the church and why do some who claim to believe in Christ say it no longer works?

KELLER: To say that the church doesn't work is kind of an over-reach. Don't you think there are a lot of people who say, I was a hurting person and the church worked for me? It's a little presumptuous for one hurting person to speak for all hurting people. It depends on the church. The church is like a big pond, and there are hot spots and cold spots and if someone happens to get in a cold spot, then to say that the whole pond is cold is unfair.

WORLD: What has surprised you most about the wider reception of The Reason for God?

KELLER: Not much. The more people who read it, there is a certain percentage who are finding faith, a number of Christians who find it helpful because it helps them think about faith, and a number of people who thought it was absolutely horrible and ridiculous. They're bothered by it because it makes Christianity sound kind of credible, so it feels kind of dangerous to them.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Troubling ties

    Under the Clinton State Department, influence from big money…