23 May 2012

Compare, Contrast, Caterwaul (2 of 2)

by Frank Turk

Last week, I put up two videos to compare and contrast -- with the requirement that the readers of this blog (somehow watching videos has now made you "readers"; nice work, internet), find something good to say about both videos.  These are the videos right here, for reference:

First, from John Piper:

Second, from Tim Keller:

Before we get to the red meat here (such as it is -- I think it's not what most people would say that it is), let me say that the one thing I expected absolutely happened, and that is that some people couldn't find anything edifying in the work of people whom they have decided (for right or wrong) to abhor.  That should be instructive as a stand-alone point without any further deep-diving into the content of these two videos, but it won't be -- because they will all hide behind DJP's lack of enthusiasm toward the Keller video [which is not motivated by a pre-condition of disdain] and say, "see?  Even someone with good intentions toward Keller ought to have a hard time finding good things in this video.  Ergo, Keller should [insert denunciation of Keller here]."

That, of course, also speaks for itself.

So here's the thing: what's the point of contrasting these videos at all?  Why do it?  The first reason is found here, in an old post by me on the subject both of these videos are treating.  Both of these videos are wildly successful at overcoming the question of guilt by association which true Christians face at the hands of violent and moralistic posers.  Whatever you may think about the approach of both these videos, they both understand that the real person of Jesus has to speak to the real person of the sinner in order for the real sin to be made clear and the real reconciliation to take place.

The reason that is important is that we don't live in the 1920's anymore when people, as debased as they were, at least knew that there was a difference between men and women which ought to be in some way understood as necessary.  The topic is homosexuality and public life.  See it plainly: this is not about the right to privacy, and to do what you will behind closed doors, but about how one sort of lifestyle must be treated publicly, by all people, as dictated by the law.  It is frankly never going to go away until Christ returns or Western Civilization goes the way of the Medo-Persian Empire.  This arrangement and all the permutations of it now created by "science" (a topic for another day) are stuck with us, and we must learn how to speak to it and speak to the people who believe in it as dearly as they believe in happiness.

That said, let me first offer my very small and incidental critique of the Piper video out of the way. Dr. Piper's video is plainly made to speak to those who are believers, or those who think they want to be believers, and therefore uses the Bible in a way which, it seems to me, that only believers can receive.  Here's what I mean by that: it's irrefutable that Dr. Piper spells out the essential case for the sinfulness of homosexuality in completely-certain terms, and does a fatherly job of saying these things graciously and seriously.  He takes the listener from the provocative basic case to the right and true applications of those things -- but he puts every argument up on the theological shelf (except maybe one -- the part about self and sex) where the unbeliever, it seems to me, can't reach it.

Now, I say that guardedly because it also seems to me that this video is intended for believers who are trying to reason through this issue and not, as the Keller video is, a presentation to a hostile audience.  We say things in Sunday school which are intended for a different kind of people than the average person you might sit next to on the airplane, or find at the NYU or Columbia Student Center.  So the approach is warranted, and it is not a shortcoming as much as it is a feature of the context of the video.

That said, the context of the Keller video is much different.  He's not speaking to believers at all -- regardless of what some of them might present as a self-identification.  He's speaking directly to the lost, and fielding their questions about our faith and our beliefs about God.  So as a primary virtue of this video, let's be honest: he's got a platform here that nobody at TeamPyro is likely to ever get.  Additionally, his host is plainly interested in Dr. Keller as an example of the Christian faith -- not just a religious person or someone with a with moral opinions or good advice.  And let's face it: this fellow hosting puts the issue on the table plainly: is homosexuality a sin?

From that perspective, Keller says some really great things in this video:
  • The definition of Love is to give yourself up for people who are actually opposing you, actually your enemies.
  • Is homosexuality a sin?  Yes.
  • Is it the only sin?  No.
  • Greed is a more-insidious sin because it is harder to identify -- but it tells us about how sin works. "What sends you to hell is your own self-righteousness."
  • Gay people have a different view of sexuality (vs. the Bible) in the same way that the Hindu has a different view of who or what God is -- these are the same sort of thing.
And the reason these are great things to say is that they take the assumptions of the lost people listening and turn them completely inside-out, pointing them back at their own lives and moral standards to see what they ought to see -- namely: some truth about themselves.

That's what's good about this video.

What's really, deeply disappointing is the real failure of Dr. Keller to get seriously biblical on this subject.  For example, when he reasons, "I think it's unavoidable ... that you read the Bible and the Bible has reservations, the Bible says homosexuality is not God's original design for sexuality," he doesn't really connect to what God explicitly says about this sin. He does himself a disservice in speaking to the question he was asked because what he then says sounds more like his opinion and his assessment rather than something objective and therefore compelling.

Let's face it: the question David Eisenbach asked was not, "what is the moral reasoning behind Christians decrying homosexuality?"  It in fact was, "Is there really condemnation by God for those who are homosexuals?"  And the right answer -- which Keller kinda gives -- is "Yes, and no."  Yes: clinging to any sin rather than to Christ will get you to Hell.  No: Christ forgives the repentant, the forlorn, those who are broken by their own brokenness before God.  In all seriousness, this is the glaring difference between the Piper video and the Keller video:  Piper makes it absolutely clear that we are not just dysfunctional or that we fail to thrive when we do things God has "reservations" about.  He makes it clear we are headed toward a judgment by God because we have done wrong to God.

Worse still, I think, is that Keller says this: "Will greed send you to hell? No.  What sends you to hell is self-righteousness, thinking that you can be your own Savior and Lord. What sends you to Heaven is getting a connection to Christ because you realize you're a sinner and you need intervention from outside. That's why it's very misleading even to say, 'homosexuality is a sin,' because all kinds of things are sins ... which nonbelievers hear as, 'if you're Gay you're going to hell for being Gay."

That statement, it seems to me, does far worse damage than bold-face vilification of gay people -- because it misses the point about sin.  What the Bible says, plainly, is that we are sinners because we want what we want, and out of our hearts comes all manner of things which show we are sinners.  The Law and its prohibitions really tell us more about what we are by comparison than saying, "geez, you're not going to thrive."  We do the things we want to do because of who we are.  As Piper so eloquently put it in his video, "In other words, if you know that it's wrong, and you say, 'I don't care that its wrong, I don't care what God says, I am doing this anyway,' that's an indication that you're not going into the Kingdom of Heaven," and then, "the idol that you have is yourself."

Lastly, making this only about sin as a diagnosis of a failure to thrive forgets this biblical truth: all kinds of people thrive.  One complaint from the Old Testament of Israel to God is, "hey: where is your justice?  Why do those who scoff at you and hate you do so well in this life?"  It's disingenuous to say that sin is about God's assessment of what will allow us to thrive when eventually we have to account for the problem of evil and the problem that in every case, and relating to all kinds of sin, people who are guilty seem to also get away with it and do pretty good.

So there you have it.  There are some other things I could say here which would line out other faults I perceive in this video, but this is already longer that you can read during coffee break.

So should we now start campaigning for Pastor Keller's trial at the next session of his presbytery and see to it that he is removed from leadership?  Is that really the answer we're looking for here -- to drum out the guy who is encountering unbelievers and giving them some sort of grain of truth when they ask him hard questions?  Because while I will be the first one to say I think Keller did not deliver the actual Gospel in this video, he did deliver some of the fundamental truths necessary for the Gospel to people who probably actually heard them for the first time -- and by "heard" I mean, "listened, and had to think again about what they were hearing."

If we had to draw lessons here, one of them ought to be about us -- those of us who are not getting invited to the Veritas forum to speak to unbelievers.  What we ought to ask ourselves is this: how come Paul and Tim Keller get invited to their respective versions of the Aeropagus, but we are stuck here on our blogs?  One self-congratulatory answer is that there is woe to us when everybody thinks we're fine fellows -- and I think that answer can be undone by thinking about Keller's implication of self-righteousness.  Another answer is this: maybe we are people who haven't mastered love of neighbor even though we know it's the second greatest commandment.

What I think we have to do with this video is not to tear it to shreds and walk away satisfied with our own apologetic Kung Fu: I think we have to read it for what it does well, and then do better.  We should seek the chance to do what was done here, and then do it better.

That is: unless we don't care about lost people as much as Keller does.


Matt Gumm said...

Last 2 paragraphs are pure gold.

Frank Turk said...

Sycophant. Go write a post for Gadfly.

Rachael Starke said...

I agree with Matt; do I get to go write a post for Gadfly too? :)

Last week's post definitely had me leaning, not away from Team Piper, as much as toward Team Keller. His books are ones I can give to our high techie intellectualati friends, precisely for the reasons you described. He can get these people to think really and truly about some of the essentials of the gospels in ways that the gimmicky guys just can't.

This post makes me wince because you definitely hit where his humble orthodoxy approach took a serious detour, at least as he extemporaneously expressed it.

But those last two paragraphs really do hit both the truth and the love nails square on the head.

Merrilee Stevenson said...


I was selfishly hoping to come away with the "how to" answer in my pocket. This fall my daughter has a 50-50 chance of being in kindergarten with a girl with two "dads," one who is already on the PTO. So the rubber WILL meet the road. But certainly I need to work on this, think on this, and have confidence in the gospel. I appreciate that you are addressing this Frank, as it is on the one hand convicting and on the other hand instructive.

dac said...

Agree with Frank and get to write a post for Gadfly? I am in. But only for the bacon.

one additional observation - Keller was speaking off the cuff - and anyone who has spoken at live question and answer sessions in a hostile environment can tell, there are always things you wish you said differently or better. You are juggling the expressed question, trying to understand the real question, and formulating an answer that responds to the real question as well as communicating it in a way that reaches the entire audience.

Which does not make Frank's slings and arrows any less accurate.

more bacon please

Frank Turk said...

Gummby is already a Gadfly, however reticent. Stop trolling for the spotlight.

Anonymous said...

For all his faults, and they are no less than my own, that last sentence puts Tim Keller in the right light.

He loves the lost. And, I suspect, that his love for them is what drove the paragraph you quoted, which all thinking Christians should have trouble with.

It's also possible that fear of man drove some of that. He is, after all, a man like me.

We all face a danger in, when softening what needs to be softened, slipping into softening those things that need to remain difficult.

Which means...I still have reservations about Keller's stance on a lot of things (this topic not the least) but I like his way of reaching the lost better than my way of not reaching them...

Kerry James Allen said...

In the spirit of Philippians 1 we rejoice when Christ is preached wherever and to whomever. But when Keller's book The Meaning of Marriage reveals that he pastors a church that has 3,000 young singles in it, is anybody surprised that he is going to "tiptoe through the tulips" (another Tim, Tiny Tim, go Google it) so as to not be perceived as a homophobe by his crowd? All it would take next week is for those 3,000 attendees friends to say to them after hearing a too strong denunciation from Keller, "You go to THAT church? You listen to HIM?" IMHO large church pastors parse English words more precisely than any Greek student ever did. As an aside, I will again say that Keller's book on marriage is excellent and I have given copies to others. And in his defense I know he did a better job in the belly of the beast than I ever could.

Nash Equilibrium said...

"how come Paul and Tim Keller get invited to their respective versions of the Aeropagus, but we are stuck here on our blogs?"

Cause they are doctors, they don't just play one on TV? (joke, JOKE, people!)

OK, serious question now:

I've heard it said here a few times that it's self-righteousness that sends you to Hell, not (greed, perversion etc). Isn't it true that it's actually our sin that sends us to Hell? And if we tell people that it isn't aren't we playing right into the hands of Christian-bashers who provocatively ask "so you're saying God will send me to Hell just because I don't believe in Jesus?" It seems to me that the right response to that is "no, He will send you to Hell because of your sin," which puts the guilt right back where it belongs, on the individual's sinfulness and takes away their implication that God is some sort of religious bigot and therefore to be ignored. Now of course, rejecting Christ will send you to Hell indirectly because you've rejected God's only remedy for our guilt/sin, but Hell is still the punishment for our sin.

Other than that, I understand what Frank is saying and found it a fascinating read and a good reminder that we ought not to judge the things said by those we "abhor" categorically.

CCinTn said...

Just some observations:
1. I agree Frank that depending on your audience, you may have to put the cookies on a lower shelf and the difference between Keller’s and Piper’s audiences certainly dictated the manner in which the message was delivered.
2. Keller preaches in a very large church in a very large and cosmopolitan town and has had numerous opportunities to address the direct question “is homosexuality a sin?” so to say he was speaking off the cuff is not entirely accurate.
3. Also, as someone who crafts sermons, articles and books, he is obviously gifted with the ability to turn a phrase and to formulate concise and precise ‘thoughts on paper’. Frank, you certainly must appreciate this as someone who puts together articles for your various websites and the way you are able to quickly respond to a commenter’s post with a very thought out and profound reply. In other words, you are gifted in this area of communication and you have had MUCH experience in honing your gift in ways that many have not. To say that Keller was out of his element or blindsided with a question that he hasn’t had much time to really formulate a sound biblical response to or hasn’t had to address with numerous persons, both Christian or non, numerous times is probably not accurate.

I see that TGC has Trevin Wax’s 10/18/11 article about how he would like to see a debate between a national newscaster and a pastor on the topic of homosexuality go. You posted a reply saying “This would be good. I think that’s a better still. More on that another time.”
I may have missed any followup you may have provided, but what did you mean?
And as it relates to your post today, not that Keller’s opportunity would have gone as scripted in Wax’s fictitious debate, but as you pointed out, he could have made his response more ‘seriously biblical’.

I agree that the Keller video is not a “the sky is falling!” situation, but I do wonder if the political-correctness of this topic is tempering the way which many pastors/teachers/authors/bloggers are engaging our culture on this subject.

corinthian said...

I cringed when Keller said "homosexuality is not a sin". Perhaps he meant the temptation and not the lust and activity that follow, but it seems like carefully phrased words that can be quotable later for those justifying their sin. I disagree with the point that Piper essentially puts the discussion out of reach by using too much scripture. I have found that if I don't use scripture, then non-believers think I am unloving or bigoted, but if I clearly state "this is what God says and I agree with Him" then they have to argue with God and not me. It may or may not convince them, but God's word trumps my social commentary every time. In an area that voted 75% against an amendment giving a Biblical definition of marriage, I am certainly in the minority on this in my city. I do appreciate the insights though this review, you pointed out a few things I had not thought about.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Keller did so well in this video, starting with mandate to love your neighbor. . He was solid up until about the halfway point. He had a great line and audience attention when he said, "Heterosexuality doesn't get you into Heaven."

But the question was, are homosexual acts a sin against God? He ought to have said there are explicit passages in the Bible that define sexual sins. Adultery, is one, homosexual acts are another. But the Bible defines many other sins as well. Hatred, is one. So a Christian is prohibited from hating his neighbor (thus returning to his opening theme)

I didn't like his verbiage: The Bible has "reservations about homosexuality." I can maybe let that one pass as he was really just trying get a foothold for further communication.

But at the end he said, "No, being gay does not send you to hell." Because what came before that was hard to follow, and a bit too much dancing, I think many in that audience would have heard him saying homosexual acts are not really sin. Of course Keller did not mean that, but the impression was there nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Nash/Strat (I'm so confused...)

The trouble is that it's so easy to make a factually correct answer without getting to the heart of things. Which is what I think Keller ended up doing.

Take cancer. You could say that someone died from not taking chemo. Or from pneumonia. Or from a host of other connected things. All in an attempt to avoid saying "Cancer killed him."

Or, for the very naive, you could say "He died of cancer" in order to avoid the reality that we're all gonna die someday.

Which is how I see Keller's answer.
Do we go to hell for homosexuality? Yes.
Although it really is more helpful to say that being straight doesn't get you to heaven.
Really, we go to hell because Adam sinned and we've done nothing to remedy that situation.

So do we die from lack of a cure? Or from participating in the cause of death? (Like a cancer patient who takes up chain-smoking instead of taking chemo).

It felt to me like Keller wanted to point at the failure to receive the cure, rather than at our willing and happy participation in being the chain-smoking cancer patient.

Do we go to hell for being gay, or greedy or whatever? Well clearly the Bible says we do. Because we do those things in order to avoid the plain diagnosis. And receiving the diagnosis is the first step towards accepting the cure.
I think Paul says that in Romans 1.

I wish Tim had've said "yes, we go to hell for being gay, or for being greedy, or proud, or or or..." But the problem is much larger than that, and so simply stopping those things won't fix the problem. (Stopping smoking won't cure cancer...)

He seemed so eager to address the cure that he didn't layout the death sentence as plainly as he could have, which necessarily results in the cure being less of a big deal.

Y'know, chicken soup is a cure, but it won't cure cancer. But I'd rather eat soup and sleep in, than go through chemo and radiation.

I fear the message in the video leaned a bit too hard towards chicken soup.

Chris Nelson said...

Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God was delivered to a hostile, angry and unbelieving crowd. Methinks Edwards would be kicked out of Redeemer church if he delivered such an accurate assessment of the human heart at Keller's church.
Keller said good things just as his favorite teacher C.S. Lewis said good things but Lewis denied the gospel at most every point. Keller denies the Bible in more and more areas and it is increasingly clear that he is the Rick Warren of the serious, reformed crowd.

Michael R. Jones said...


You hit the nail. on. the. head.

Chris Nelson said...

The Bible is clear, according to Romans 1, that widespread homosexuality is proof of God's judgement upon a nation. This would have been good for Keller to point out. The lie that homosexuality is like every other sin is silly. It breaks God's original commandment, His original great commission, "go forth and multiply."
While on a personal level, it is a sin like others, at a deeper level it rejects God at His very core and at the beginning of His revelation. It is proof that a culture has given up the gospel and hates the God who gives them breath. That is not popular, Keller would lose much if not most of his younger people, but what is he doing? I say again, he is the Rick Warren of the reformed.
As Spurgeon(maybe Luther?) if we fail to preach that doctrine which is most under attack, we have failed to preach the gospel. Keller has done just that.

Matthew Schultz said...

First, I wanted to say that Frank's post is excellent. I think your recommendations (across both posts) are very good, in that we should praise what is being done well, identifying what is not, and instead of simply sitting in our bunkers and issuing a running commentary on the workers on the field, we should ask how we can enter it and do the work better. This is one of the best critiques of Keller on the subject I've read.

CCinTn said:

To say that Keller was out of his element or blindsided with a question that he hasn’t had much time to really formulate a sound biblical response to or hasn’t had to address with numerous persons, both Christian or non, numerous times is probably not accurate.

There are strong public performers who are notoriously poor extemporaneous speakers. I don't know if Keller is in that group, but there is no correlation between being able to prepare answers ahead of time and being able to address questions publicly in an extended interview.

(If it turns out Keller is just a poor extemporaneous speaker, then he should stop doing interviews like this, that is, if other Christians are willing to step into the lion's den in his place.)

Johnny Dialectic said:

Of course Keller did not mean that, but the impression was there nonetheless.

I think to the largely churched, it will come across that way. To the unchurched, swimming as they are in postmodernism, liberal secularism and the affirmation of the self, any whiff of criticism by a Christian of homosexuality will be perceived as a condemnation of the behavior as sinful.

That doesn't mean Keller could have said it differently; what Frank says here in his critique is quite good. But in terms of perception, unless you're praising the gay lifestyle, urban liberals are never going to perceive you to be friendly or approving of homosexuality. I speak as someone who went to NYU and directed the Veritas Forum for one year there.

Anonymous said...

"So should we now start campaigning for Pastor Keller's trial at the next session of his presbytery and see to it that he is removed from leadership?"

This question would not have been posed 50 years ago.

Chris Nelson said...

Jules, why not?

Anonymous said...

Chris Nelson,

Rick Warren? Seriously?

I have a few issues with Tim Keller, and John Piper and and and...no doubt we all do.

But to put him and Rick Warren in the same camp is to compare real Kool-Aid with the Jonesian version of Kool-Aid.

One is not healthy when taken solely and forever. The other will kill you.

I suspect that you can tell which is which in this case, can't you?

Anonymous said...


It would have been a given.

Chris Nelson said...

Keller believes that Adam was a sanctified ape man. He does not believe that Adam was directly created by God as explicitly stated in Genesis 2 and reiterated by Jesus. Keller promotes the heresy of contemplative prayer, especially the techniques of Ignatius Loyola. Loyola was the founder of the SS of the RCC, the Jesuits, who tortured and murdered the reformers.
Keller seems to want to tickle the ears of the people who need to hear, like the awakening sermon of Edwards, SInners in the Hands of an Angry God. They don't need to hear such stupidity as, "hetereosexuality does not get you into heaven" which no one I know espouses. He will be hated the homosexuals unless he starts to marry them so he might as well speak truth to power and not shrink like a powerless, seeker sensitive, talker.

Chris Nelson said...

If he refuses to speak truth so as not to offend his young members, that is something Warren regularly does.

David Regier said...

Team Piper? Team Keller?

Is this the true and better Twilight?

Mr. Fosi said...

Chris Nelson is back for round two. Nothing sadder than seeing a boxer swing at his opponent, only to miss, and strike himself squarely on the jaw.

Good post, Frank. The last two paragraphs are something like what I came away from Part 1 with.

I'm waiting for YGG to show up and give us that "more precise" definition of love that she mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I think I missed the part where Frank (or anyone else) said that Keller was someone who ought to be followed in every respect and that every pastor ought to emulate him.

Maybe it came right after the paragraph where he said that Tim answered the question wonderfully and biblically in every respect and that Piper ought to be more like him...

I guess I better re-read the post.

I wonder though...is it possible to critique and analyze what someone has said without going all Inquisition on them?

HSAT, I don't think Keller should be the spokesman of the reformed faith...but still...

Bill said...

“What we ought to ask ourselves is this: how come Paul and Tim Keller get invited to their respective versions of the Aeropagus, but we are stuck here on our blogs? … Another answer is this: maybe we are people who haven't mastered love of neighbor even though we know it's the second greatest commandment.”
Help me out here, I don’t have a platform with large numbers of people, people the world thinks are smart (whether the Lord does is another question entirely), because I fail the second greatest commandment? By deduction can we assume those attend the Aeropagus without a doubt have mastered the second greatest commandment? Is this a non sequitur or am I missing something? Put another way, master the second greatest commandment and you’ll get big, popular platforms... is that right? Maybe we all have platforms albeit small ones, heaven rejoices when even one soul converts.

mikeb said...

The difference between Paul and Keller is that Paul got shouted down since he was beginning to "offend" his crowd with truth.

Frank, you didn't address the bad theology :)

Keller is throwing out some really bad theology when he says "homosexuality is a sin", then says later "{some people say] if you're gay you're going to hell for being gay. It's just not true!" and later "sin does not send you to hell." Even the interviewer doesn't follow this bad logic.

1. Homosexuality is a sin.
2. Sin against God sends people to hell.
3. Therefore....homosexuality is sufficient to send anyone to hell.

Makes me wonder if Keller is an inclusivist when he says "what sends you to heaven or hell has to do with your faith in the gospel."

corinthian said...

One of the problems with this method of critique is that we quickly slide in to attacking a person rather than exhorting or admonishing their words. It is also true that one can always find something to disagree with. If you ever agree 100% with someone else either they are pandering or you have stopped thinking. I think Keller spoke poorly and if it really reflects his theology, then his elders need to gently correct him. We need not blindly defend him not bash him as a heretic.I agree that we should all learn and move on.

Kerry James Allen said...

Perhaps a real danger to ponder here is that if the "fear of man" brings a snare, might not that fear be increased exponentially by the number of people to whom you are speaking and the size of the platform you are given? In other words, it's a lot easier to talk unvarnished truth to people who don't pay your salary. I don't envy Piper or Keller. "To whom much is given, much shall be required."

"Long ago I ceased to count heads. Truth is usually in the minority in this evil world." Spurgeon

Frank Turk said...


You didn't read my post. Your comment outs you.

Chris Nelson said...

Keller, like his mentor, C.S. Lewis, speaks flowery words like the Victorian pretenders in Spurgeon's day. They drew applause from the world, as Keller does from the NT Times, but they watered down the truth. If Keller can't speak the truth for fear of his congregation, he is like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels et al. How can a man write about marriage when he mangles Genesis 2 so badly? He believes Adam was a glorified ape man. He makes Jesus out to be a liar. I do not understand why people would follow such a man?

Frank Turk said...


I disagree with your assessment without any qualifications. 50 years ago was 1962 (choke). In 1962, mainline Presbyterianism was in full decline mode -- and Keller's statements in this video would have gotten him thrown out -- for being too conservative.

Frank Turk said...

Chris Nelson:

Cite your source, or move on. Saying what you say here is in no way found in this video or in any Keller I have read, and if it's true it is probably fair game for this post. However, tossing it out as if it was established fact needs more than your dubious say-so.

Cite your source (preferably with a link) or pack it up. If you can't cite a source, I'm deleting your comments.

Matt Gumm said...

Keller as The Purpose Driven Calvinist is rich, and not in a good way.

Here's my $0.02. If what Keller meant to say was "homosexuality is a sin, just not the only one or the worst one," then he could have done a better job of saying it.

However, that doesn't negate the need for such a thing to be said. Frankly, there's a large part of the church (the "visible" church?) that seems to view homosexuality as one of the few sins worth actually fighting against. I mean, when was the last time the AFA called for a boycott of McDonalds because of all the Baptists it is killing with the Big Mac?

It's possible to interpret Romans 1 as pointing out homosexuality as something particularly heinous or sinful. However, given the context (and here's where I part company with Dr. Piper, BTW), I think that it points to that particular sin as the most obvious example of man's idolatry. Given that reading, Romans 1 doesn't just condemn homosexuals; it condemns all human beings as idolators, who have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and whom God has given over to a debased mind to do all sorts of evil.

Tim Keller in his video, it seems to me, takes this approach, although I wish his language would have been much clearer. And that's why, as I said 8 hours ago, the last two paragraphs are gold. It isn't "go and do likewise;" it's "go and do better." If indeed we're not the type of Christians who simply wish that others be warm and well-fed.

Brett R said...

The Twilight Zone reference in the graphic is why I gave this a five star. Massively on point.

I think the best thing readers can do is read everything the links in the post send you to at the exact point in the post where you see them, then come back and read the post again to that point, reflect on what the link was, then move on. Speaking for myself, I have missed the point many, many times even after reading the entire post alone. Going back to the links as I read makes all the difference.

That said, I like Dr. Keller. I think even he would say that if he had to do it over again there would be things he would say differently. I just think that not grounding a statement in the word no matter what or who is the audience is a really bad approach.

And, like others have stated, the last two paragraphs of your post are pure gold.

Kevin said...

I think Chris has good reason to be critical of Tim Keller's views. Here's a link:


CCinTn said...

Matthew, I hear you when you say: There are strong public performers who are notoriously poor extemporaneous speakers. I don't know if Keller is in that group, but there is no correlation between being able to prepare answers ahead of time and being able to address questions publicly in an extended interview.

Tim Keller doesn’t pastor a rural church of 30 where the youngest member is 70. He preaches at what is now a very large church for the last 22-23 years and in the largest city in America where the issue of homosexuality is everywhere from politics with same-sex ballot issues to the one-on-one counselling that pastors regularly do. To think he hasn’t had people ask for his thoughts on the subject is not reasonable. To think that he has not spent time thinking and praying about and searching scripture to settle in his heart what he thinks the biblical view of such a hot-button issue as this is not reasonable.

If pastors from Anytown, USA are invited to attend and speak at Rotary lunches, business lunches, community events etc, then I’m sure that Tim has had ample opportunities to extemporaneously speak at a multitude of events fielding questions on a host of varied subjects over his many years of ministry.

I’m sure that when he has done marriage counselling for 100+ couples over the years and he’s had the same issues come up regularly (money, kids, the mother-in-law, adultery). It is doubtful Tim says “you know, I’m not really sure what I think the Bible says about that. Let me research what the Bible has to say and we can talk again next week”. I think, like most pastors, he is confident about what the Bible has to say and he is able to give the same consistent answers from couple to couple. Same thing when someone walks into his office or he gets a question in Sunday School asking about any of the usual topics: eschatology, redemption, his view on the order of creation etc. I’m confident he knows what he believes about these things and is able to articulate it clearly.

Tim is not some teen who has acted in plays in a small high school and is suddenly thrust onto the Broadway stage. He is someone who regularly performs on the big stage in front of the lights and I’m sure he is comfortable in the role. He has done a multitude of interviews for his books and for magazine articles on various subjects. He is very good with a crowd and in interview situations. It’s one of the things that make him a successful pastor of a large conservative church in a large liberal community.

I happen to be an admirer of Tim Keller the man and pastor, for the most part, but I do think we are seeing a soft-peddling of what scripture has to say regarding many topics, and this one in particular. And it’s not just Keller but that’s not the point of this post.

yankeegospelgirl said...

Maybe Chris is talking about Keller's support of evolution (just a guess). Keller did attend a conference for Christians who are skeptical about ID.

I do agree with your criticisms of Keller, but I think you're trying too hard to compliment him. Frankly, truth should be spoken boldly and plainly regardless of setting or context. I realize he's speaking to unbelievers. I get that. You still don't dance around the truth.

There are so many problems with his video I don't know where to start, and I'm thinking I should devote an entire blog post of my own to it. Let me just start with a couple things:

1. Even waiving aside the seeming oblivion to the danger, aggression, and overall world threat of Islam as a religion (which sets it apart from Hinduism), Keller is being very misleading to make this conversation all about "People who believe differently than we do." That trivializes and downplays the "war" in "culture war." This is about people who are actively pushing the Church and the society to bend to their agenda in a myriad of ways. If we do not offer stout resistance, including such things as I've mentioned before like denying official membership in our churches, we will lose ground. It's very dangerous for Keller to brush past this.

2. When Keller says that some congregations have set aside God's commandments about homosexuality in order to love their gay neighbor, this is also horribly misleading. "Love" should be in quotation marks. Encouraging your brother to stumble in sin is not love. It is the worst evil you could do to him.

3. What kinds of things exactly would Keller put under the "not loving" label on the other side? The kinds of things I've proposed? Let's face it, I don't think he was just talking about extreme things like not shoveling your gay neighbor's car out of a ditch or not treating him if he's sick. And frankly, once we are no longer talking about things that are just matters of basic human decency, all things hard, firm and unyielding are entirely appropriate and in order.

4. You praise him for still being willing to say that homosexuality is a sin, but isn't it telling that in his eagerness to use politically correct language that would appeal to his audience, he went so far as to say later that it's misleading to say it's a sin?

5. This leads into the whole "Bible-believing people who are proud..." section. Again, very misleading and consciously calculated to appeal to his audience. They like the idea of "Bible-believing people who are proud" going to Hell. Now I don't deny that there are Pharisees and white-washed tombs in the Church. But by changing the subject and changing the focus, Keller leaves the audience with the impression that unrepentant homosexuals, adulterers, etc., are actually in less danger than "Bible-believing people who are proud." Now this I think was unintentional, but it's a result of poor rhetoric on his part. That was what he chose as the take-home message, and with an audience like that, such an interpretation isn't much of a stretch.

I will probably be polishing and expanding and blogging this soon. Meanwhile, there are some thoughts in rough form.

Matt said...

What I take from this, when God's word is put on trial, is that the Gospel must be proclaimed lovingly, unashamedly, without reservation, no matter the cost... as Paul spoke to an unbelieving audience "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus , then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance." Acts 26:19-20


"So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenist. But they were seeking to kill him." Acts 9:28-29

And the result of Acts 9:28-29 in vs 31

"So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied"

Tom Chantry said...

Gummby is already a Gadfly, however reticent. Stop trolling for the spotlight.

There's a Gadfly spotlight? Who knew?

(I thought we had to post every so often for that to happen.)

Scooter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

Some more documentation of Keller's errors in regard to origins and Genesis.


Frank Turk said...


It's too bad I haven't already dealt with the paper by Keller, because if I had, you would have to compare the actual paper to what that essay says and find out if they give Dr. Keller a fair shake, or if Keller says in any way that man is "just an animal," or "just an ape."

Hey: why did that text up there turn red? Huh.

Frank Turk said...

I think it's funny that people think that Keller is attacking them.

Frank Turk said...


If you think that every person reading this gets heard by unbelievers in the sense I meant above, you need to re-read my post just because it's good for you.

dac said...

I knew I would not be disappointed by the comments today.

Well, actually I am, but it really depends how you parse that sentence.

Scooter said...

I can accept that Frank. I'll do what I can to understand the post. Consider my comment unhelpful and gone.

Matthew Schultz said...

Frank said:

I think it's funny that people think that Keller is attacking them.

That is because Keller is a threat to their social identity. As yankee"gospel"girl so aptly demonstrated, theology becomes a means to reinforce neo-tribalism, rather than an end in itself.

Nash Equilibrium said...

I think it's a hoot that Christians today say "people who believe differently than we do" and in Paul's day they just said "unbelievers." Oh for the plain-spoken days of old!

DJP said...

Nash, was that when we also used to say that the various things that "bring the wrath of God" (Eph. 5:5-6; Col. 3:5-6) actually, you know, bring the wrath of God?

yankeegospelgirl said...

Matthew, if you can argue with specifics about why I am anti-gospel and neo-tribal, that would be clearer than just throwing the names out there.

corinthian said...

Wrath? God has no wrath! He just needs us to give Him a hug. According to many evangelicals, Jesus is desperate for our love and would never do or say anything that might hurt our feelings toward Him.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Dan - excellent, cogent point! Yes I think they did say that, reportedly!

Matthew Schultz said...

yankeegospelgirl said:

Matthew, if you can argue with specifics about why I am anti-gospel and neo-tribal, that would be clearer than just throwing the names out there.

I didn't say you were "anti-gospel" (which is another fine example of how you "argue" by innuendo and false inference). There are "so many problems with your post I don't know where to start" (to utilize your prejudicial, unsubtantiated rhetoric). But just to mention a few in light of Frank's point:

1. You wax hysterical about issues tangentially related to how to address homosexuality. You are using this issue as a pretext to drive at Keller generally, rather than at his approach to this question specifically. That shows you have a problem with Keller that drives deep enough to warrant changing the subject of this thread to another set of issues entirely.

Of course, you also have an Internet presence that otherwise confirms this. You have a blog after all, and you've publicly reviewed some of Keller's work. People just need to Google your name to see that you politicize theology and evalute faith through the culture wars, rather than the other way around.

2. You give with one hand what you take away with another. You pay lip service to the problems of some in conservative Christianity to failing to speak to homosexuality properly, but then fail to offer up concrete ways in which to do it better than Keller. Bland platitudes about speaking the truth boldly are insufficient, at best.

3. Jesus did say that the "proud Bible-believers" (as Keller is defining them) were in more danger than sinners outside the church. Like many in the Evangelical/Reformed world, you need to brush up on your knowledge of the Gospels. You could start with passages like Matthew 11:24.

If you disagree with his interpretation and/or application of those kinds of passages, fine. But that requires arguments, not rhetorical posturing--the kind I expect from political liberals--that does nothing to engage the "specifics" of Keller's approach to this question.

yankeegospelgirl said...

Well Matthew, I'm sorry you feel that way. I didn't intend to pick a fight since I figured readers of this blog would be more or less on the same page.

I recognize that it's not the best use of my time to be patient and engage you on this, but I will make one attempt to respond to your points and at that point be done with it. At that point, someone else can take over.

First of all, I was referring the fact that you put "gospel" in quotes when referring to my handle. So I don't think it was such a far stretch for me to conclude that you thought I was anti-gospel.

Secondly, with regard to my own blog and my "politicization" of theological issues, I make no apologies of the fact that I believe we are at war. Death is coming, Hell is moving, and you would have to be naive and blind not to see this tangibly manifested in our culture today. That's all I have to say about that.

Now, on to your points.

1. I honestly don't know what you mean by this. I remained on point and on topic through the entirety of my post. Elsewhere I have criticized Keller for some other things, but here I zeroed in on the question at hand.

2. I could offer what I think are better ways to speak about homosexuality in a way that "brings it down from the theological high shelf" (and frankly, Piper was quite clear and not as inaccessible as he's being made out to be anyway). "What part of abomination don't you understand?" is a good starting-point, but I won't bother moving into the rest.

3.With regard to the passage in question, read the surrounding context. Jesus is saying something very specific about the hearts of the people in the cities he is discussing. He is saying that if his mighty deeds had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Therefore, the judgment will be easier for them. This is NOT equivalent to saying that the judgment will be easier for openly unregenerate, unrepentant sinners who hear the gospel and scorn it.

Speaking of "pride," ever hear of the "gay pride" movement?

And finally, you're the one who's called me "hysterical" and "neo-primitive" and "needing to brush up on my gospel knowledge." I haven't called you anything. So who's the one falling back on rhetorical posturing here?

Unknown said...

I think Piper did an excellent presentation centering on three points: the Bible is authoritative; God is the Creator; and, we all have sinned in various ways and and in differing degrees. Great message for all believers.

Keller was speaking to a secular audience, seeking to give approval to their own sins by giving approving of those of others. No wisdom in having the lion bite your head off before your get to speak. I too wished for a more clear definition of sin and God’s remedy.

The Gospel is the power of God to transform; and His kindness and forebearance and patience leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). We in the church oftentimes think too lightly of the Gospel, in itself offensive to all: that is, we are all wicked sinners rescued from hell only by and though Jesus Christ. Non-believers
need hear more about the Savior than in any one, individual life-dominating sin, whether it be gluttony or greed or sexual sin or any other.

My feeling is God will use both videos to accomplish His purpose, despite the strengths or weaknesses inherent in both presentations.

David Regier said...

Here's what I think Keller missed in his presentation:

Jesus Christ is Lord, the risen and established King of the Universe who holds it all together.

Because if He's not, who cares? I mean, if Jesus Christ doesn't rule the universe, then yes, Christians are bigots, and any attempt to explain what it says in the Bible about homosexuality (or even greed) is moot. But if He is, and He's going to judge the quick and the dead on His appointed day, then all the sins of the world are going to fall under that judgment.

When Christ is proclaimed as Lord, it makes the dividing line of sin clear. It puts the homosexuals and the bigots under the same judgment, because only Christ can say to both personally, "Then why do you not do what I say?"

dac said...

@david r

I actually think Keller got there, just not in "church" words or how "we" get it. I think he could of been clearer on the subject however.

as Frank succinctly said He does himself a disservice in speaking to the question he was asked because what he then says sounds more like his opinion and his assessment rather than something objective and therefore compelling.

dac said...

which, btw, is exactly my biggest issue with TK presentation - I felt uncomfortable when several times he clearly had an opportunity to insert and he chose not to

Having said that, it's hard to argue when the boots on the ground make an executive decision on how to proceed

dac said...

just because i am so willing to throw darts I will say this - The more I read this post the more I think Frank got it exactly right

Sir Aaron said...

First, I agree completely with David Regier. What he said mirrors my own thoughts. In the meta of Part 1 of this series, I alluded to my criticism. Keller had an opportunity here to present the gospel message simply, succintly, and most of all clearly.

I thought Keller started off on the right foot. He made some initial points with alacrity. But I was extremely uncomfortable with some of the statements he made near the end. He also didn't use the opportunity, at least in that question to launch into a gospel presentation (which, incidentally, would have prevented some of the mistakes I thought Keller made).

I am also disappointed with both Piper and Keller in that they really seem to downplay the serious nature of homosexuality (in these videos). The real question given to Keller, IMHO, is "why do Christians treat homosexuality more seriously than other sins." Many evangelicals want to disguise the fact that Christians believe some sins are to be treated more seriously in this life than others. Evangelicals, as a whole, in order to avoid offending certain groups, always seem to bring up 1 Cor 16:9 in a way so as to trivialize certain sins. I think Keller and Piper, IMHO, seem to fall into this trap (in these videos. I'm aware Piper has a video on this very subject). Especially Keller. 1 Cor 16:9 lists thievery alongside homosexuality, so both are sins are equal. Sure...in the sense that all sins seperate us from God. But not at all in the sense of effects and punishment for all sin. And it's this last part that we Christians like to try to avoid. And it seems to me that Piper and epecially Keller intentionally avoided it in these videos.

Matthew Schultz said...

yankeegospelgirl said:

"What part of abomination don't you understand?" is a good starting-point, but I won't bother moving into the rest.

And after you're literally booed off the stage, then what? Pat yourself on the back for preaching the Gospel to the heathens?

Nonna said...


Very balanced assessment. I think it's noteworthy that you said, "So should we now start campaigning for Pastor Keller's trial at the next session of his presbytery and see to it that he is removed from leadership" AND "What I think we have to do with this video is not to tear it to shreds and walk away satisfied with our own apologetic Kung Fu..."

Both of these statements address the tendency to over-react. I would say that Fundamentalism, in its various forms and manifestations, does just this - OVER-REACT. The old post of yours that you linked to is apropos and a good case in point. That you had to warn your readers not to go over there in that meta and "start defending the doctrinal issue that homosexuality is a sin" is very telling indeed. You must have known that a large portion of your readership would have done just that. And in doing so they would have been perceived as defending those who beat Dustin Rowles father because of identifying himself as a homosexual.

Fear, hatred of the 'other', self-righteousness, misdirected and unwarranted anger, revenge...these passions guide the over-reactive Fundamentalist and make null and void any proclamations they would make of the Gospel. As you said, Frank, so aptly on that link, "The Gospel is not the threat to believe or else I'll crush you like a bug; the Gospel is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst of all." And when a Christian regards the Gospel as the former, he/she sounds like a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal, and in effect, is ineffective in presenting the Gospel of Christ. Phariseeism cannot propel the world toward Christ. Only when the Christian recognizes in humility that he/she is the foremost of sinners, and refrains from personal judgment of others' salvation leaving such a matter to God alone, can they then present the Gospel unreservedly, compassionately, and compellingly.

yankeegospelgirl said...

Hallo, just quickly popping back in to plug this fantastic open letter to "post-partisan" evangelicals I just read by David French. I think it has relevance to this topic:


General Soren said...

I think I'll have to defend Dr. Keller's apologetics, although I might be the only one here to do so. Now, I'll disclaimer that by saying that I know nothing about the man past that video, but even so, something Frank said in his post merits my defense of Dr. Keller.

"Dr. Piper's video is plainly made to speak to those who are believers"

Later in the post:

"as the Keller video is, a presentation to a hostile audience."

Now, I've read through all (at the time of this writing 64) comments, and by and large the condemnation of Dr. Keller seems to come down to "He's not harsh enough", or "He doesn't quote enough Bible."

If Dr. Keller was debating some out-of-the-closet "Christian", then yes, by all means, it's time to pull out the Sword of the Lord, and do battle.

But this is Theology 101, for non-believers, with regards to a specific issue that is perhaps the most-often-twisted issue in theology today.

Here's what I heard Dr. Keller say:

"...The sin underneath the sin is; I am my own savior and my lord."

"...Faith in the gospel, that is, you can't be your own savior through your performance and good works."

Throughout that video, I heard him denounce works-based salvation, espouse Faith in Christ as the only means of salvation, and remind folks that homosexuality is neither the worst sin, nor the only sin, and at no point did he say it's not acceptable.

It is my opinion that, given the length of time he had to lay out a response, and the audience to which that response was given, that he did a good job of laying out a very, very, VERY basic lesson in Biblical theology regarding homosexuality. It wasn't a lesson meant for people like us, but for people who know NOTHING about the Bible.

It would have been nice for him to say "According to Book Chapter:Verse" for everything, but at the same time, consider this: He's speaking to people who probably know little about the Bible, doubt the authority of the Bible anyways (appealing to authority doesn't work if the authority isn't reputable to the audience, ex Rick Warren cited here), dislike Christians in general, and are ready for him to come out with fire and brimstone.

Instead of playing that, he came off as a very likable, knowledgeable, and good man, who basically said "yeah, it's a sin, but it's not the only sin, and most importantly, salvation isn't a matter of a certain number of good works balancing bad, but Faith in Christ instead."

I cannot stand in condemnation of this man, for I have done no better, and far worse, in my attempts at defending the Gospel to the non-believer.


Nonna said...

Gneral Soren,

Very well said.

Nonna said...

There is an attitude I would like to address in this arena, an attitude that can be obsscured beneath Bible quotes and Christianese. It is an attitude of personal revulsion toward a particular sin guised in Christian apparel. I contend earnestly against such an attitude whenever it manifests itself; and I must state here and now, that I have had to contend against such an attitude within myself on various occasions. This attitude seems to prevail frequently in Christian venues where homosexuality is discussed. Though it may not be conspicuous at first, it doesn't take long for such an attitude to be unmasked.

Keller was right in calling out the ways in which Christians have mistreated homosexuals, even to the extent of taking responsibility for that wrong attitude himself. The over-reactive Fundamentalist would rake Keller over the coals for exhibiting what they would consider to be misplaced and misguided humility. They would deem it as weakness that must be repudiated.

However, loving your neighbor as yourself necessarily requires that you put yourself in the place of that neighbor with whom you are interacting. Compassion and mercy induce unbelievers toward hearing the Gospel in a way that condemnation cannot - because by its very nature the latter builds the wall of separation even higher, while the former reveals the true nature of reconciliation, i.e. that is Kenosis and Incarnation which reveal Christ, Who was willing to lay aside His unique relationship with the Father, and in humility take on human flesh, becoming one of us and abiding among us and with us - Emmanuel.

Frank Turk said...

Soren -

I have only one problem with what you just said. You assume that the Bible is an inadequate revelation of God's intent and his words of these subject -- that he must be paraphrased after having been translated in order to be understood.

That's problematic.

My view of it is this: converting sin from "offense against God as God has declared" to "failing to flourish as God designed" is not a calculus I'd like to become a master of.

Frank Turk said...


Nobody talks about football convincingly by eliminating all the technical words for non-technical terms. But worse: nobody who is trying to talk about football who is initiating the novice to the sport substitutes a phrase which means "failure to let the other guy go first" for "offsides".

I'm in favor of finding a proper introductory vocabulary for talking to nonbelievers. I'm not in favor of inventing a second-rate theology to do so. If Acts 17 teaches us anything, it teaches us that the unbeliever knows enough about the world to hear the Gospel explicitly.

Nonna said...


As soon as you began your football analogy, I was lost on ya. Now baseball's another matter completely. :-)

I'm in favor of a proper introductory category for talking to nonbelievers.

I'm following so far.

I'm not in favor of inventing a second-rate theoology to do so

This is where you lost me. What specifically are you referring to in my post/s that makes you think I'm in favor of a "second-rate" theology?

If Acts 17 teaches us anything...

Oddly enough, I was reading Acts 17 today. And certainly, unbelievers can hear the Gospel explicity. How that applies to what I said, I have no idea.

I have done my share of street evangelism, and yes, in the hard core areas of NYC, and unbelievers know the difference between Preaching At Them, i.e. Turn or Burn, to speaking to them with compassion and mercy. The latter can be done without compromising on the Gospel of Christ.

Richard said...

Sir Aaron:

Agreed some sins have greater consequences (‘effects”) in this life. However, you must agree any, even “small,” sin will ultimately result in eternal suffering and punishment.

The problem is not trivializing homosexuality as just one greater sin amidst many. Our greater problem is the church does not speak as frequently nor strongly against sins such as envy, greed, gluttony, lying, sloth and pride. And, thus is seen by secularists as singling out one people group as worse than others.


The Gospel is offensive and a crushing, stumbling block to those who do not believe. Surely, we are all sinners saved only by the mercy and grace of God, apart from any of our efforts. I agreee, we need to exercise discernment. That is, we need to know who are unbelievers in need of the Gospel. We need to know who are false professors of Christ (someone called them wolves amid the sheep)so they can understand the Gospel. We need to know who is immature in their beliefs so we can teach them all things Jesus commanded. All . . . all of us are in need of daily hearing and reflecting upon the Gospel. Love the way you share with compassion and mercy not willing to compromise the Truth.


General Soren:

Great comment. I don’t think you assume God’s Word is inadequate; but, see the wisdom in varying your evangelistic approach to the receptivity and understanding of the audience. Sort of like “finding a proper introductory vocabulary for talking to nonbelievers.”

donsands said...

Sin is very serious. We need to understand that for sure.
Will we ever understand exactly how heinous and evil sin truly is? Or will we ever understand how holy and pure our Lord truly is; in this life?

Good post to make us ponder these deep things.

I know a Christian who is SSA. He loves Christ, and he lives a life of abstinence, because he says, "the Word commands it".

I can always learn from Cent's posts.
Thanks bro.

GiftsandGiggles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dac said...

another money quote

What the Bible says, plainly, is that we are sinners because we want what we want, and out of our hearts comes all manner of things which show we are sinners.

I think this is where Keller was going, in his urban professional NY style. He just talked around it

The Damer said...

@Chris Nelson...
Do you have any back up for this claim?
"Keller believes that Adam was a sanctified ape man."

Because I think that is untrue. I have heard Tim Keller with my own ears propagate an old earth, progressive creationist view of Genesis. That is that the earth is old but that Adam and Eve were created specifically at some point in the past in a literal Garden of Eden.

The Damer said...

I just thought I'd take this opportunity to say that this has been a great couple of posts. I really do appreciate Keller's unique ability to look at different facets of life and make people think but he isn't perfect. All too often some of my YRR friends(I'm 40 now so they kicked me out) quote Keller as though he were inspired and quote him while smoking a cigar and drinking scotch to excess.

Matthew Schultz said...

CCinTn said:

He is very good with a crowd and in interview situations.

I think here is the breakdown of your otherwise useful analysis. Hostile interview situations are probably rare for Keller, and as anyone who has had experience in such situations, they will make or break your interview if you are not skilled at that particular kind of extemporaneous situation. (E.g., Consider the difference between various kinds of Sarah Palin interviews given the friendliness or hostility of the given interviewer.)

I only emphasize this issue so that those of us who actually care to improve upon Keller are aware of the difficulties that will be faced. We need to be prepared for hostile interviewers. None of us are likely to be interviewed by the mainstream press, but the local press is another matter entirely, especially if you are a student vocal in your support for something deeply inimical to the liberal agenda. (For example, one of my friends was a leader of the pro-life movement at NYU and was sometimes called to give statements to the local student paper.)

Sir Aaron said...


I disagree. On the contrary, I think that we hear about the evils of gluttony, pride, greed from the pulpit all the time.

And as I said, all sin separates us from God. We sin against an infinite God. But we skip over all the parts of the Bible which demand that we take stricter action against certain sins. We don't use 1 Cor 6:9 to elevate the seriousness of lying, we use it to lower the sin of homosexuality. And then we try to argue that we ought to treat homosexuality the same as lying. We wouldn't avocate that the government stop executing murders under the guise that 1 Cor 6:9 inmplies that all sin is "equal before God" (a point I don't believe, BTW).

Esther said...

When asked some version of "Will practicing homosexual acts send a person to hell", would it be incorrect to answer some version of "being born human gets a person sent to hell."?

Seems to me it's a better place to start.

General Soren said...


I didn't mean to imply the Bible's not sufficient. That's not something I support in any form.

However, Dr. Keller had six minutes and change to speak. With that sort of time, some paraphrasing is a necessity, there's simply not enough time for systematic theology.

He did manage to bring it back to Faith in Christ twice in that time though, and that's the entire point of everything.

I don't agree that "human flourishing" was the best term for him to use, but it's not the worst, either. Pre-Fall, we were meant to flourish. Sin did mess that up.


yankeegospelgirl said...

"We wouldn't avocate that the government stop executing murders under the guise that 1 Cor 6:9 inmplies that all sin is "equal before God" (a point I don't believe, BTW)."

BIIIINGOOOOO. You HAVE been on a roll haven't you old chap?

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nonna said...


Could you elaborate a bit further on what you mean?

Frank Turk said...



Rachael Starke said...

Esther FTW!!

Anonymous said...

Three of my husband's four siblings are openly homosexual. After viewing the video my husband looked at me and said, "Had my brothers and sister watched this they would have felt perfectly comfortable remaining in their sin."

Matthew Schultz said...

Jules, apparently the gay community in NYC has no problem understanding that Keller thinks homosexuality is sin. Wes White had a piece on this sometime ago.

Curt Byers said...

Having just stumbled onto this
I just sent a very appreciative recommendation that a good friend take a look at your Keller vs. Piper analysis and thought as an unusually effective example of pedagogy on how to think Jesusly. I then thought 1) why not let the Pyros know why I thought it worked so well and ask them 2) have they already elsewhere, or have they considered doing something with this as a formal pedagogical structure? It seems to be: show examplar arguments of polar positions, compare, contrast and critique them both, while modeling in so doing maintaining the tension I applaud your doing so well below.

I'd love to see this done for a long list of seemingly irresolvably contentious contemporary evangelical bugbears.

Very well done.

Here's that recommendation:

"[Friend], You might find this interesting. The blogger provides links to a Youtube video segment on a biblical view of homosexuality from respectively John Piper and Tim Keller and then very thoughtfully compares/contrasts/critiques them. Superb pedagogical exercise.....it looks to me like this just might be a rare and well executed example of pulling off holding in tension taking irenic bridge building as far as one can while taking a stand when one simply must; when one has to insist that the fine detail on biblical truth sometimes really matters and clearly stating why he thinks it really matters here."

The bjjmissionary said...

Frank, while I agree with the general consensus that the last two paragraphs were gold; so two were the first two. When you posted the two video's I felt the same way; that two teams would come out each wanting to support theirs at all costs and denigrate the other

It seems that emotionalism and the need for tribalalism still remains the rule of the day. Sad actually