Bwog freelancer Lucy Sun takes our guide to Sunday morning on an intellectual journey.

Tim Keller is in the middle of a sermon about intense religious experiences. “I had to ask Him to stop so that I could get some rest,” he says, with perfect comic timing. The audience laughs, and Keller doesn’t frown. 

Dr. Tim Keller is an intellectual heavyweight in modern Christianity. His book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism is coming out in the Spring.  

He’s not an advocate of passive religion. “You don’t just sit with your Bible in a room and say, ‘Lord, hit me,’” he says. Like a good Lit Hum professor, he continues: “Be aggressive towards that text. You have to wrestle it to the ground, with the attitude that ‘There is stuff in here that can change my life.’”

During the sermon, he wrestles a Bible verse to the ground. He focuses on a single word, tells us its Greek root, and ties it all in to the big picture. Then he’s all over the place, with references from poetry to Buffy the Vampire. I feel like I’m watching Gilmore Girls. 

The pews are full of business casual. During the offering, the band plays Miles Davis’ “Heaven,” and I almost expect the congregation to start milling about, networking and eating hors d’oeuvres. That day, a lawyer and an i-banker take their official vows of membership to the church. 

The multiple services at Redeemer offer a choice between “Classical” and “Jazz.” At the jazz service, I find that the music is more complex than traditional gospel—the program has notes for sight-reading, and a background in high school choir would have helped. I can’t lose myself in the music—I have to keep thinking about which note comes next. 

The service as a whole is like that. It’s less of a shared emotional experience, and more of a lecture—with a good professor, nonetheless. I have to keep thinking.