Published by Viking on March 9, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Theology
The Resurrection accounts of Jesus in the Gospels are the most dramatic and impactful stories ever told. One similarity unites each testimony--that none of his most loyal and steadfast followers could see it was him, back from the dead. The reason for this is at the very foundation of the Christian faith.
She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 20:14)
Hope in the Time of Fear is a book that unlocks the meaning of Jesus's resurrection for readers. Easter is considered the most solemn and important holiday for Christians. It is a time of spiritual rebirth and a time of celebrating the physical rebirth of Jesus after three days in the tomb. For his devoted followers, nothing could prepare them for the moment they met the resurrected Jesus. Each failed to recognize him. All of them physically saw him and yet did not spiritually truly see him. It was only when Jesus reached out and invited them to see who he truly was that their eyes were open. Here the central message of the Christian faith is revealed in a way only Timothy Keller could do it--filled with unshakable belief, piercing insight, and a profound new way to look at a story you think you know. After reading this book, the true meaning of Easter will no longer be unseen.
Pastor and author Timothy Keller wrote this book on resurrection hope during 2020, and it shows in the best way possible. He defends the grounds of Christian hope in a way that is immediate and never abstract, and because he wrote this book while fighting cancer and dealing with the implications of global and national crises, his words have a sense of credibility that they might not have otherwise for a skeptical or discouraged reader. He isn’t just writing about theology or Christian history, but about the way that the resurrection can transform our lives in the present, even in the darkness. Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter is an incredibly powerful book that is relevant during any season, and will maintain its relevance after our cultural moment passes.
This book is an incredibly powerful exposition of why the Resurrection is essential to the Christian faith, why it should matter to us personally, and how it can forever change our sense of self, social relationships, and pursuit of justice on a larger social scale. At the beginning, Keller summarizes N.T. Wright’s defense of the historicity of the Resurrection, and he shows how the resurrection wasn’t merely a suspense of the natural order, but the beginning of God’s restoration of His design for the world. Keller explains that even though many people view the Bible as a collection of teachings about moral living, it is a whole story about the process of redemption. He draws on different elements of Scripture and others’ writings to illustrate this in a way that will be eye-opening for some readers while also deepening the understanding of Christians who are already share this perspective.
Keller writes about how the “subversive hope” of the resurrection upends typical worldly wisdom, toppling the world’s hierarchies for people, and he writes about the resurrection’s impact on a personal scale. He balances different points of focus perfectly, and instead of only zeroing in on topics or insights that are popular in a particular camp, he emphasizes the whole scope of Christianity, from the pursuit of personal holiness to an emphasis on racial justice, along with many other personal and practical issues. As always, Keller writes with precision, biblical wisdom, and pastoral care, and he keeps this book accessible and helpful to people from different political backgrounds within Christianity, rejecting party-line simplifications and distortions while drawing out and honoring what is good and biblical within different political and social emphases.
Throughout this book, Keller addresses our age of anxiety with deep insight, speaking into our cultural and tribal upheaval with an understanding of the existential fears and sense of hopelessness that often lies behind current public discourse. He presents readers with a hope for the future and a hope in the midst of suffering that is sure and unshakable, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the concept, no matter what their background is with Christianity. Keller engages his readers on both an intellectual and an emotional level, and takes common concerns from both skeptics and Christians very seriously. This is a great book for people who are questioning the plausibility of faith from inside or outside of the church, and even if someone is a confident Christian who has read books like this before, there are still new and striking insights waiting for them.