28 February 2007

Black, no sugar

by Frank Turk

I'm arguing with iMonk about a paper Dr. Ed Stetzer delivered to an SBC conference on Southern Baptist Identity regarding the implementation of "missional" strategies in home missions. You can read Dr. Stetzer's paper here (it's a pdf, so dial-uppers beware) if you are interested. While I agree with the flavor of Dr. Stetzer's paper, and its conclusion, I'm troubled that some people are reading this paper and thinking that the problem is all about stodgy SBC old men not giving the next generation a chance to carry on. Part of the problem, really, is what constitutes valid forms of cooperation.

And some more of the problem -- in fact, I would say that the lion's share of the problem -- is exemplified by Tim Keller.

[dramatic pause]

No, I'm not about to out Tim Keller as a crypto-heretic. I like Tim Keller -- I have never heard him speak or preach where I didn't say, "geez, that's good." But the problem is that "missionals" want to say, "Listen: we're all like Tim Keller. Trust us." And the fact is that most of them -- the majority of them -- are nothing like Tim Keller. If they were, most of the complaints about "emerging" church types would never come to light.

So the black coffee, no-sugar Wednesday update from me is this: if missionals want to be trusted the way any right-minded person trusts Tim Keller, they should be more like him. And for the espresso shot to chase that, if you don't understand what that means, you probably aren't ready to lecture anyone on what being "missional" is.

That's from a layman who teaches at his church, has his pastor read his blog for accountability, and for the invasively curious, has also started driving through that trailer park and praying for those people in preparation for talking to them about the Gospel.

Talk amongst yourselves, and go about your day.


David Rudd said...

for those who are newer to this conversation it might be helpful to point out the ways those generalized as "missionals" are NOT like Keller, and why those characteristics of Keller ought to be imitated?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear you have begun driving through the trailer park. God bless as you share the gospel.

Pastor Rod said...


I think that your conversation with iMonk is beneficial on several levels.

But you wrote: if missionals want to be trusted the way any right-minded person trusts Tim Keller, they should be more like him.

I like Tim Keller. He's bright, passionate and dedicated to his calling.

Then you said: if you don't understand what that means, you probably aren't ready to lecture anyone on what being "missional" is.

If someone doesn't know what you mean by that, it is not a reflection on their understanding of missional. It is rather a result of their limited mind-reading skills.

So what is it exactly that you see in Keller that you don't see in others?


Rick Potter said...

I have been praying for the Grace of God to those neighbors of yours....and I can't think of anybody better than you to share it with them. God bless you brother.

FX Turk said...

Pastor Rod and David bring up a reasonable question: what's up with Tim Keller anyway?

I said this:

if missionals want to be trusted the way any right-minded person trusts Tim Keller, they should be more like him. And for the espresso shot to chase that, if you don't understand what that means, you probably aren't ready to lecture anyone on what being "missional" is.

It may have been clearer if I had said this:

if missionals want to be trusted the way any right-minded person trusts Tim Keller, they should be more like him. And for the espresso shot to chase that, if you [you missionals; the ones saying, "yeah, waddabout Tim Keller?"] don't understand what that means, you probably aren't ready to lecture anyone on what being "missional" is.

That point has been construed by iMonk to mean, "You can't be really missional unless you wear a tie like Tim Keller." Which, of course, is all one can expect from a person who can't accept charity and can't give any, either, when it comes to staying fixed on orthodoxy.

My point is actually that if you think Tim Keller is what being "missional" is all about -- and I think you can't pick a better example in the U.S., although there may be some as-good -- Pastor Keller is not about clothes! He's not about coffee!

Look: here's his church website. here are the core vision statements of his church.

This is about whether the Gospel is present and active among a people. It's not about simply getting the statements of truth written down right -- although that's part of it. And it's not about some disembodied love of people through some weak bonhomme. It's about the love of Christ being poured out on, and in, and through a people.

When more missionals look like this, they can say, "well, Tim Keller ..." Until then, they better not hold up examples of people which they do not resemble at all -- it's silly.

donsands said...

The EFCA is gleaning from Mark Driscoll with their Missional ministry.
My pastor came back from conference a month ago, and said the EFCA was very interesting in learning from how Pastor Driscoll id reaching the lost.

Just thought that was interesting. Don't know if it really fits here with this post.

BTW, I always like my coffe black. Perhaps one in every thousand cups, I'll have a little cream and some Splenda.
Keep on my brother.

C.T. Lillies said...

In all fairness to the 'invasively curious' Frank you did bring up the trailer park thing.

"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

Unknown said...

I was just wondering if you would be interested in weighing in on an issue that is a gathering storm in the Asian American Christian scene. The controversy is gaining momentum, and input from you would open this issue up to a broader cultural landscape. In case you're interested, the controversy can be read about on these blogs:





FX Turk said...


I am of two minds on this topic. For the other readers, you have to check his links to follow from this point on.

[1] Phil is on-record here getting a laugh out of actual engrish, so as I level my point #2, let's remember that sometimes people don't know their other language very well and they employ malaprops. I'm sorry: I do find that funny.

[2] There's a difference between demonstrating actual incidents of ESL misdemeanors and stereotyping. And I think it's ironic that the skit guys think they can reach one group by offending another -- or by offending all groups equally.

So if I'm going to weigh in on this, E, I'll say this:

"This is what you get when you are working to entertain and empathize rather than educate and edify. I'd recommend not buying the book just because it leads with the wrong foot."

How's that?

Stefan Ewing said...

It seems hopelessly misguided to me. How can this help bring the word of God to the nations, or promote dialogue between different communities in Christ? Heck, the four Evangelists wrote in semiticized Greek—who would dare mock them for their Aramaic idioms?

...By the sounds of it, though, Zondervan and the authors are thankfully taking action on this, but that the main argument now seems to be whether they have done enough to remedy this, or whether they're really contrite?

FX Turk said...

sewing --

um, what?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I should reply here or over at your blog, but while I'm here...
I don't have any problem with what you have written (here or at your site)--it seems reasonable and biblical. But the adverse responses seem to imply a "who are you to judge these guys" attitude.
Am I correct in seeing their issue being in part one of not wanting to be judged (a misplaced desire, perhaps, for their "rights")?
This is always a difficult battle to fight because it is rooted in the spiritual immaturity (in this area, at least) of one of the two parties.

Solameanie said...

I am hesitant to get the Mark Driscoll debate going again, and yes..I know that he has distanced himself from Brian McLaren some of the other Emergent folks because of their "out there" theology. However, I am NOT happy about the EFCA playing footsie with Emergent theology of any stripe. It's caused enough trouble in my fellowship as it is.

If my fellow E-Free people want to reach the lost, do the biblical thing and preach God's Word. The Holy Spirit will do the rest, and you don't even have to buy a candle or a lava lamp.

Stefan Ewing said...

Sorry, Cent, it was a reply to emerging, echoing what you'd written. My apologies for keeping things off-topic.

FX Turk said...


I'm not sure I want to be part of a Christianity which anathematizes lava lamps. I'm just sayin' ...


Yeah, I have no idea why they can criticize but can't be criticized. There's no tellin'.

donsands said...


Emergentism is a hermenutics of love, and many truths, I thought.
Driscoll has a firm stance on the truth, i think.
Thy thoughts?

This may not be the blog to discuss this.

Solameanie said...


As you probably know by now, there are many strains within Emergent/Emerging. Some are closer to orthodoxy while others are way out there. And I mean WAY out there.

I have been pleased with Driscoll's willingness to identify several EC ideas as heretical. I commend him for it. However, the methodology itself is suspect. In many cases, EC advocates seem to believe that the Holy Spirit is not competent to draw people to Himself when His Word is proclaimed, although they'll never come out and say it like that. Rather than confronting the culture with God's truth, they accommodate and seek to imitate the culture in the mistaken idea that will reach them for Christ. Phil and the other authors on this blog have effectively illustrated this many times, as have numerous other concerned theologians, teachers and writers.

I think Driscoll still has sympathies with the movement as a whole, and this sympathy has led him to some indiscretions in public communication i.e. his reputation for having a potty mouth in the pulpit. I am trusting that God will continue working with him toward more maturity, and I am praying that those embracing this poison will finally understand that it's good to understand and confront the culture, but quite another thing to wallow in the septic tank with it.

donsands said...

"I am trusting that God is still working with him'

Me to.

Thanks for sharing your heart and wisdom. Good stuff.

Ron Hodgman said...

I have been condemned as a man pleaser by Faith Defenders [Robert Morey's ministry website] for defending Tim Keller as being a Calvinist. I made the mistake of getting into a discussion which I believed at first to be an attempt at an honest discussion about Tim Keller's teaching but I appeared to have walked into you are clueless so please do not post anything positive about Tim Keller here as all we desire is flaming postings condemning Tim Keller as teaching another gospel which is a false gospel that saves no one. Sorry, I have always considered Tim Keller to be in the Calvinist camp. I came here for a reality check to see if I was missing something in the spiritual discernment area about Tim Keller's preaching. I do very much trust the spiritual discernment of Phil Johnson and I guess I will post here because I am not welcomed at Faith Defenders until I repent for disagreeing with the viewpoints of Faith Defenders on Tim Keller's gospel message.

FX Turk said...

Ron --

Because I don't receive the e-mail update about new comments about old posts, I didn't see your comment here until this morning. However, let me say this:

I think that people who place Tim Keller outside of orthodoxy are being selective in the statements they are reviewing, and somewhat, um, imperceptive in their view of the contexts he makes some of these statements.

I also think that Dr. Keller is making an attempt to establish some boundaries for contemporary apologetic discourse. By that I mean he's trying to find a way to speak true to people who may not have a context in which to receive truth. For example, he speaks to people who would agree that it's "true" that the sky is blue, but that there is not "truth" regarding whether or not human sexuality has a created purpose.

When you talk to people liek that, you have to get them into the place where they would at least consider the idea of "truth" above the mere examples of facts which are "true".

And I say that to say this: many third-generation old-school apologists don't understand this problem at all, and they operate as if it's still 1970 and we're fighting a battle that, frankly, the other side has moved past -- whether they won or lost that point. So when Tim Keller talks to college students as if it's 2008 and not 1978, he gets branded "not orthodox" for using and (I think) working out (it's not perfected) an apologetic that these old-school guy don't really grasp.

Do I agree with everything he says? No, I don't. He's much more a-mil than I would accept (which may be another cause of people calling him heterodox), and he's a presbyterian. I don't agree with everything he says.

But, as they say, I like the way he does what he does better than they way the others don't do what they don't do. If that makes sense. :-)