Where have you noticed or encountered such approaches? The normal way Christians act in the public square in America? 9. Why do you think you respond the way you do? Genesis 2 is an account of how it happened” [p. 94]. [p. 95] What other texts of Scripture reveal similar doubts about a miracle occurring? What evidence would you list to support this statement? 7. Why or why not? Keller identifies three “barriers” to faith: intellectual, personal, and social [p. xii-xiii]. Define freedom (saying “being in Christ” is not allowed—though true, in this setting it is a platitude). 2. What would such a safe place look like? To what extent would suffering people say you know this? This may be a strong argument when the issue is discussed over coffee, but may not be useful when someone is going through intense suffering. 13. Here’s a handy list of generic, yet useful observation questions to use regularly: Good observation questions simultaneously engage the group and open the door to interpretation. When the apostle wrote to the Church in Ephesus, he pointed out that God provides leaders “to equip” Christians for faithful service in a fallen world (Ephesians 4:11-16). Do you find this argument compelling? As objectively as you can, restate in your own words those steps. And third, it approaches the topic with a quiet, confident winsomeness that is all too often missing in the ungodly rhetoric of culture warriors. 8. If that is true, what effect would it have had on the original audience. What reasons did they give? 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. Does this resonate with your sense of your fellow Christians? [p. 38]. Do you agree? Keller claims, “an authoritative Bible is not the enemy of a personal relationship with God. 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?”. 10. Do your non-Christian friends see their evaluation as based on a religious/ethical stance? In my last two posts I have reviewed Adam Hamilton’s book Making Sense of the Bible (New York: HarperOne, 2014) and examined one of the key exegetical claims he makes in support of his view that “we hear God’s voice as we listen to scripture’s words” (p. 131, emphasis added). Keller says, “Today most Christians in the world live in Africa, Latin America, and Asia” [p. 41]. Should they? Have you ever heard the charge that believing in hell makes you “narrow” [p. 80-81]? ), Chapter 3: Christianity is a Straitjacket. What does this suggest? We could simply tell you to give it a try, but you might learn better if we ask a question: fellow leader, how might your ministry benefit if you improve at asking useful Bible study discussion questions? | (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… To what extent do non-Christians find your reconciliation of the two compelling? 16. African theologian Lamin Sanneh says that Africans have always held strong beliefs in a spiritual world of good and evil. Making Sense of the Bible is the book I wish I had read 20 years ago. In an effort to further that, Ransom Fellowship has prepared detailed reflection and discussion questions for each section and chapter of the book. Where did they learn this? How often do Christians seek the very best arguments of their opponents? Why do you think that is? What troubles you most about its beliefs or how it is practiced?” [p. 3] Do you make a habit of asking non-Christians questions similar to that? Let us know in the comments! Ask for prayer. 1. Hamilton offers many springboards for discussion, htting upon perplexing questions for families as well as individuals. Keller goes through a step-wise series of suggestions for reading the Bible after finding biblical texts that are culturally offensive [p. 109-113]. How are notions of freedom (individual and otherwise) foundational to our society’s values? We are delighted to have a preacher some of you might have heard before on the show: Tim Keller. Does this seem to be the normal way Christians understand and speak about the incarnation and crucifixion? 10. 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. Why then do many American middle-class evangelical Christians seem both indistinguishable from their non-Christian conservative neighbors and so profoundly comfortable with both Christianity and their middle-class consumerist lifestyle? Would you be comfortable suggesting them to a non-Christian friend? Is this argument compelling? 5. Is this common knowledge among Christians? How do you respond to the idea? “On what basis,” Keller asks, “does the atheist judge the natural world to be horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust?” [p. 26] How is it possible to raise this issue to align oneself, or agree with, the skeptic rather than merely confront them? Christianity is a straitjacket. 12. Why? 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) 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”? [p. 42-44]. 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. What characteristics or virtues need to be displayed by the Christian making this argument? Right after warning us not to be squeezed into the mold of the world (Romans 12:1-2), he assures us that different members of Christ’s Church have different gifts and callings (Romans 12:3-8). You have come to the conclusion that in our scientific age there is no further need of a Creator God. In one sense God’s will is something that will always happen no matter what. Have you ever heard excuses given for it by Christians wanting to defend the honor of their faith? For these reasons, many people avoid leading true discussions in their Bible study groups. Our inaugural book is Making Sense of God by Tim Keller. What reasons does Keller give for this assertion? Many Christians might find this statement to be unsettling. 4. 3. Plant your flag on the main point of the passage, review the trail you hiked to get there, and develop questions to guide your group to the summit. How would you respond? 12. Does Keller’s response surprise you? Why not? 11. Is this a compelling argument? A Simple—Not Scientific—Truth Genesis 1, the opening scene of the biblical drama, introduces us to the two main characters in the Bible: God and man. Have friends raised ideas they garnered from The Da Vinci Code, arguing that though the story is fictional, the ideas behind it are true? Though we should never give up trying to pray, it can be extremely difficult to pray when we are hurting. You can’t take the Bible literally. And until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense. Many nonbelievers have friends or relatives who have become ‘born again’ and seem to have gone off the deep end” [p. 56]. “The tendency of religious people,” Keller says, “is to use spiritual and ethical observance as a lever to gain power over others and over God, appeasing him through ritual and good works” [p. 59]. Keller appeals to C. S. Lewis to show that magic and science grow from the same impulse, and that modernity, of which we are inescapably a part, was “born in ‘dreams of power’” [pp. CHAPTER SUMMARY The common perception is something like this: the secular worldview = facts, religious worldview = faith. One such gifted leader for today is Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. I also utilize Correlation which is also very helpful. How might Christians take this argument to an incorrect conclusion? The process of decision-making includes making a judgment about an attitude or action. 7. Why, Making Sense of God's Will by Adam Hamilton will help you to navigate the following ... was very well received. Subscribe Now 2. I’ve found that it helps to get the bible study members doing homework beforehand. Making Sense of God - a review Andrew Larkin, Bethinking The book is written for those for whom the issue of God seems fanciful and not even worth considering, so a more accurate reflection of the book is that it is “An Invitation to the Sceptical” to reconsider their views on God. Dawkins points to a survey that shows only 7% of scientists believe in God. Does this not seem to be an elitist argument? Together, they have created a ministry that includes lecturing, writing, teaching, feeding, and encouraging those who want to know more about what it means to be a Christian in the everyday life of the 21st century. What impact has the shift from what was, a century ago, generally “a culture of belief” to today’s “culture of skepticism” had on Christian belief? Tip: Avoid easing into the discussion by merely reviewing the previous passage or meandering toward a point. 8. Which highlights will best serve the group? You should be able to summarize the main point (or points) of the passage succinctly. The culture wars are taking their toll. How does this make you feel as a Christian? “I must conclude that the source of the idea,” he says, “is the Bible itself.” How is this significant? Use focused but open-ended questions to drive the group’s collective noses into the text and to foster interaction. How do this provide a better answer than every other worldview? 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. Which questions directed you to the main point and which were tangential? What’s the solution? “I think Genesis 1 has the earmarks of poetry,” Keller says, “and is therefore a ‘song’ about the wonder and meaning of God’s creation. 6. Keller says that the Gnostic gospels, not the canonical gospels, “‘suck up’ to the ‘powers that be’” [p. 105]. How does this make you feel as a non-Christian? 16. Bible studies don’t have to be scary. This is blind faith of a high order” [p. 23]… “Why couldn’t it be possible that, from God’s vantage point, there are good reasons for all [occasions of suffering]?” [p. Why or why not? 8. “In Jesus’ and the prophets’ critique, self-righteous religion is always marked by insensitivity to issues of social justice, while true faith is marked by profound concern for the poor and marginalized. Accessible, thoughtful questions just might end up more thrilling than a saint in a rapidly,... 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