Friday, 12 October 2012

Kings Cross- Its Kellerific!

A book review of Kings Cross, by Timothy Keller:

I have read a few of Tim Keller’s books, and have even reviewed them before. But Kings Cross is a standout book for me.

In Kings Cross, Keller thoughtfully leads the reader through the gospel of Mark, explaining the story of the world in the life of Jesus. When I first heard about this book, it was described to me as a series of sermons that Keller had preached on Mark, and to be honest, I thought it would be a bit disjointed and I may have to use my brain a bit to form a complete picture of what Keller is trying to say. I was wrong. Each chapter flows on from the last in such a way that by the end of it you have a whole and complete picture of Gods unending grace and mercy. Several times during the reading of this book I found myself confronted anew with the depth my own sinfulness, and in awe of Gods goodness to a sinner like me.

Now, I know you may be reading the previous paragraph and thinking ‘this must be the perfect book! A composition unparalleled in the history of Christian literature!’, but as with any book, this one has flaws.  Although overall, I really enjoyed the reading of Kings Cross, I didn’t LOVE all of the references and analogies that Keller used. He has a habit of referencing books I have never read, people I have never heard of and quotes that I don’t always understand. Its probably just me, but I can find this a little difficult at times. There were also a couple of chapters that I had to re-read a number of times as they were confusing and wordy.  

So what on earth does the book cover? If you want the answer in two words: THE GOSPEL. Over and over and over. Its AWESOME.

But if you want a more in depth answer:

-        God is infinitely loving, so loving that he cannot tolerate evil. He created a world that was intended to be a loving place, with everyone loving each other and giving to each other, and mutual love between God and man.

-        All people are inherently evil. We sin and break Gods laws. In order for God to be loving, He must punish evil. Consequently, as soon as we sin, we fall out of a loving relationship with God. Our punishment is to spend eternity in hell, separated from our loving creator.

-        God knew from the beginning that the world would be this way, and so he made a plan to save us! His plan was to send his son, Jesus to live a perfect and sinless life, the kind of life we don’t live! Then Jesus would die a horrible death on a cross- He would take the punishment that we deserve, so we could be in the loving relationship with God forever.

-        Christianity is about the news of the last 3 bulletpoints. Christianity is not advice on how to live better, its about how Jesus, the son of God, died to save us from eternity in hell, not based on anything good we did, but based completely on WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE.

-        Because Jesus died on the cross for us, we know that we don’t do anything to contribute to our salvation, but that Jesus took our whole punishment on himself. This means that we can rest in the knowledge we are going to heaven just because God is good and loves us so much he saved us.

-        All of our perceived needs are met on the cross. We can rest in our efforts to work for these needs on earth too! For example: we don’t have to work for other people’s love and acceptance because we already have it from God in its purest form. We realise that because there is heaven after this life that achieving wealth and health and power and status and all the other things we think are important aren’t so important after all.

-        If all of our needs are met through Jesus, and we don’t have work for them, we are free to serve others unselfishly and wholeheartedly.

-        We will always be tempted to centre our lives on these eternally insignificant things that we perceive to be important, but if we pursue these things, we will end up unfulfilled, confused and isolated. Jesus is the ultimate source of love, fulfilment and acceptance.

Whew! Keller says so much more than this, and so much better than I ever could. My bulletpoints can make the book seem a little dry, but trust me, it is anything but dry. Tim Keller has a knack for taking some potentially abstract or unrelatable concepts, and helping the reader to grasp them in a real, concrete and significant way.

There were a few chapters that really got me thinking, especially the one teaching about the resurrection of Jesus after his death on the cross ( a subject which I have struggled to fully grasp the depth of), a chapter on how we approach God (with the knowledge that we don’t deserve to approach Him, but because of His goodness and grace we can), and also Keller’s thoughts on freedom through the gospel. In fact, I am predicting there will be one or two blog posts to come from these topics!

I definitely recommend reading Kings Cross- but be warned, it is absolutely packed with theological realities. I have read it slowly over a number of weeks in order to fully grasp what is covered. An epic read, with significant impact.
Tim Keller is serious about.... everything.

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