A new Tim Keller book is always an occasion of celebration. I first encountered Keller in 2006 at the Desiring God National Conference, where he spoke on preaching the gospel in a postmodern world. His book Reason For God rocked my world. I’ve personally given away dozens of copies to seekers and skeptics alike. He followed up with The Prodigal God, Counterfeit Gods and Generous Justice.
Keller’s latest book is King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus. Keller walks through the Gospel of Mark to explore the life of Jesus. In the first half of the book he focuses on Jesus’ identity as King over all things (Mark 1-8) and in the second half he focuses on Jesus’ purpose in dying on the cross (Mark 9-16). King’s Cross is Keller at his best: weaving the original text with his own brilliant insights, and always revealing the relevance of Jesus to 21st century life.
Some favourite quotations:
“Instead of self-centeredness, the Father, the Son and the Spirit are characterized in their very essence by mutually self-giving love… If this world was made by a triune God, relationships of love are what life is really all about.” (pp.8-9)
“A gospel is an announcement of something that has happened in history, something that’s been done for you that changes your status forever. Right there you can see the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion. The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news.” (p. 15)
“Every culture points to certain things and says ‘if you gain those, if you acquire or achieve those, then you’ll have a self, you’ll know you’re valuable.’… every culture says identity is performance-based, achievement based. And Jesus says that will never work. If you gain the whole world, he says, it won’t be big enough or bright enough to cover up the stain of inconsequentiality.” (p.104)
“worship is a preview of the thing that all of our hearts are longing for, whether we know it or not. We seek it in art, in romance, in the arms of our lovers, in our family…Worship is not just believing. Before they went up the mountain, Peter, James and John already believed in God. And Peter had already said, ‘You are the Christ.’ But now they have sensed it. The presence of God has enveloped them. They have had a foretaste of what Lewis says all of us are longing for: the very face and embrace of God.” (pp.115-116)
“That’s where the God of the Bible is most radically different from the primitive gods of old. The ancients understood the idea of the wrath of God, they understood the idea of justice, the idea of a debt and necessary punishment, but they had no idea that God would come and pay it himself. The cross is the self-substitution of God.” (p.144)