I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book, The Reason For God, and found it quite engaging. Keller is a pastor in Manhattan, whose church is growing despite being surrounded by secular skeptics. One of the reasons for that is Keller has a way of engaging the non-believing mind with respect, understanding, and challenge. The book is an apologetic for the faith, but it demonstrates Keller’s way of understanding those who disagree with him.
In the first part of Keller’s book he deals with the most common objections or reservations to Christianity that he’s heard over the years. One chapter is entitled “You Can’t Take The Bible Literally” – the concluding paragraphs, headed “A Trustworthy Bible or a Stepford God?” are what caught my attention last night – to wit:
“If you don’t trust the Bible enough to let it challenge and correct your thinking, how could you ever have a personal relationship with God? In any truly personal relationship, the other person has to be able to contradict you….Remember the (two!) movies “The Stepford Wives”? The husbands of Stepford, Connecticut, decide to have their wives turned into robots who never cross the wills of their husbands. A Stepford Wife was wonderfully compliant and beautiful, but no one would describe such a marriage as intimate or personal.
Now, what happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won’t! You’ll have a Stepford God! A God, essentially, if your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction. Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle (as in a real friendship or marriage!) will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination. So an authoritative Bible is not the enemy of a personal relationship with God. It is the precondition for it.”
I never saw the Stepford Wives, but remember that beautiful, empty headed, compliant look. On the one hand, every guy’s dream. On the other hand, every guy knows there’s something better out there than a Stepford God.
You can order the book here, if you’re interested. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far I’d recommend it highly.