Chapter 4: “The Church is responsible for so much injustice”
This chapter boils down to one giant ‘no-true Scotsman’ fallacy in the end. Slave owners, crusaders and anyone motivated by Christianity to do wrong is not a real Christian, while true Christianity motivates abolitionists, the civil rights movement and peace according to Keller. Even if I was to grant Keller everything in the chapter, it would still have no bearing on the truth of Christianity. However I think Keller would do well to note that his scriptures contain morally questionable (read: horrific) content, like the blatant endorsement of slavery. I have no doubt that many, many people are inspired by Christianity to do good, but people are also inspired by poetry, music, film, art and literature, and this inspiration has no bearing on the truth or falsity of any subject in question.
Keller also tries to slander moral relativism by offering a very crude description of it he says “If everything is relative, there would have been no inventive for white people in the South to give up their power.” (referring to the end of the slave trade in the United States). Earlier in the chapter he effectively claims that Christianity invented the golden rule saying “to give up Christian standards would be to leave us with no basis for the criticism.” Either Tim Keller is ignorant of moral philosophy, or he is ignorant of moral philosophy, there is no way around it. To claim that without Christianity you cannot morally criticise the Crusades (as he was referring to in that quote) is incredibly pathetic.
Chapter 5: “How can a loving God send people to Hell?”
Firstly, this chapter is barely about Hell at all and the picture that Keller attempts to paint of Hell is one that people choose to go to and do not want to leave. I find this extremely puzzling, as one can find biblical support for annihilationism and for agonising eternal torture depending on how one interprets various passages, but Keller’s view seems incredibly weak. He bases this doctrine of his own invention (correct me if I’m wrong) on the fact that in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, “[the rich man] does not ask to get out of hell”.
Near the end of the chapter it becomes incredibly clear why this book is failing so miserably to actually address anything atheists and skeptics actually say. Keller says “Today many of the skeptics I talk to say, as I once did, they can’t believe in the God of the Bible, who punishes and judges people, because they “believe in a God of Love.”” There you have it, the elusive skeptics that Keller refers to in the book are at the very least Theists, or at the most, Christians who have doubts. If the rest of the book continues down this path, I envisage face-palms of epic proportions.