The Christian media is fond of telling us that Tim Keller is an Evangelical Christian… just like us, they seem to imply. So one thing Christians need to know about Tim’s teachings is that they are really anything but what we have come to know as “Evangelical” Christianity. To sum it up most succinctly, you should know that Keller says "the primary purpose of salvation is – cultural renewal – to make this world a better place." Whether you agree or disagree with that statement – it’s certainly not an “Evangelical” or conservative Christian belief.
As if to prove the point that he is in fact not an Evangelical Christian, Keller goes on from there to actually attack traditional Evangelicals for what he believes is their wrong emphasis on helping people see their need for a way out of their sin by introducing them to Christ as the only way to personal salvation. He suggests that Christians need to put a lot less emphasis on that - because as he says derisively, Evangelicals with all their emphasis on evangelizing are just "building up their own tribe." He says this is not doing any good for people who aren't in the "tribe", (like secularists, Buddhists and atheists).
In 2006 at an "Entrepreneur's Forum" sponsored by Redeemer, Keller said:
"Conservative churches say 'this world is not our home -- it's gonna burn up eventually and what really matters is saving souls... so evangelism and discipleship and saving souls is what's important'. And we try to say that it's the other way around almost. That the purpose of salvation is to renew creation. That this world is a good in itself. ... And if you see it that way, then the old paradigm if you're going to put your money and your time and your effort as a Christian into doing God's work in the world, you wanna save souls which means the only purpose of your ministry and your effort is to increase the tribe, increase the number of Christians. ...
His book, “Generous Justice” is literally dripping in the language of the Left. Although Keller apparently perceives himself as one who is neither Left nor Right. But his words reveal something quite different. The book will leave you with a definite distaste for America - because of all the evil that has come from America. Another very leftist man who calls himself an Evangelical Christian, Jim Wallis would be very pleased with Keller's work.In this post, I shared with readers an article from Sola Sisters which revealed how mysticism was being touted at Redeemer Presbyterian. Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries also exposed that Keller's church was at one time holding "Way of the Monk" classes. So Keller, who is often touted as a great conservative leader in the reformed movement, has demonstrated more than once that he, his writings, and his talks need to be approached with caution and great discernment.
And yet, most leaders who run in these same reformed, evangelical circles are largely silent about these areas of concern. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find a respectable pastor who hasn't quoted Keller or recommended his books at one time. I attribute this to two factors. The first is a failure of these leaders to properly discern the ministry of Timothy Keller. To be sure, pastors are very busy men and they don't have time to keep up with these discernment issues they way that others can. Perhaps this would be an excellent argument for the need to have a small committee of individuals in your church or ministry who do keep apprised of these types of issues and raise them to the pastor when necessary.
A second factor may possibly be Keller's ability to tiptoe around his liberal leanings, whether it means disguising them in softer, more "Christian" garb or it is another tactic, I'm not sure. But perhaps up until now his books and his more public lectures have been far more reformed sounding than his weekly sermons. Hey, if Rick Warren can do it, why not Keller? Honestly, I have not followed Keller that much myself, and so I cannot speak to this as fully as I wish I could at this time.
Regardless of why or how he has slipped past the radar of notable Christian pastors and leaders, it seems to me that he must be exposed sooner rather than later. This newest book, Generous Justice, is screaming "social gospel" simply from the title. From the above referenced article, the contents of this book are indeed true to that assessment. But let's look to some additional disconcerting choices Keller has made of late.
Here is a headline posted today at Christianity Today:
Keller, Jakes Among Obama's Prayer Breakfast Guests
President Obama spoke of the “grace” demonstrated by the resurrection at the Easter prayer breakfast Tuesday morning in the East Room of the White House.
Pastor Tim Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Bishop T. D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Texas also spoke at the event. The breakfast is a “good excuse to bring together people who have been such extraordinary influences in my life and such great friends,” the president said in his opening remarks. Keller’s attendance was his first visit to the White House.
Continue reading here.How do you like that? Keller is considered to be an "extraordinary influence" to Obama right along with modalist heretic T.D. Jakes! A quick look at some other invited guests brings further concern as Joel Hunter, Andy Stanley, and Leith Anderson were also in attendance. If you read this article, you'll also notice that the opening prayers were led by Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie and Reverend Sharon Watkins.That's right, two female "pastors" were leading the "Easter Prayer Breakfast." Personally, I see one's acceptance of this invitation and attendance at this event as a show of approval of such things. A truly conservative, truly Biblical pastor should be condemning such a display of irreverence to God and His Word. But then again, who am I?
On both Friday's and yesterday's episodes of Worldview Weekend, Brannon Howse addressed some of these concerns regarding Tim Keller. Most notably, on yesterday's program he spoke to the fact that Keller last year wrote an article for Biologos entitled "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople." The show description reads as follows:
Popular evangelical Pastor Tim Keller writes a pro-theistic evolution paper for the liberal Biologos Foundation. Keller promotes social justice, theistic evolution, and mysticism. Yet, because Keller has written books and preaches sermons defending essential Christian doctrines, many evangelicals may well be lured into these dangerous and unbiblical philosophies. Jan Johnson is teaching Lectio Divina, meditation at Keller’s Redeemer Church and on Keller’s church website. Johnson also promotes mystic Richard Foster and Catholic, mystic Ignatius Loyola on Keller’s church website. Brannon makes the case that Pastor Tim Keller may actually be more dangerous to true Christians than someone like Pastor Tony Campolo because many conservative evangelicals will reject the worldview of Campolo but embrace the worldview of Keller because of his theological resume.You can listen to yesterday's episode of Worldview Weekend by clicking here. Friday's program may be accessed by clicking here.
In this article for Biologos, Keller states, among other things:
"The conclusion—we may read the order of events as literal in Genesis 2 but not in Genesis 1, or (much, much more unlikely) we may read them as literal in Genesis 1 but not in Genesis 2. But in any case, you can’t read them both as straightforward accounts of historical events. [...] So what does this mean? It means Genesis 1 does not teach that God made the world in six twenty- four hour days."
"It could be that Adam and Eve were given conditional immortality and, in the Garden, a foretaste of what life in the world would be like with humans in the image of God living in perfect harmony with God and his creation. It was offered to them to work with God to ‘subdue’ the earth (Genesis 1:28.) On any view, the idea of ‘having dominion’ and ‘subduing’ the earth meant that creation was at least highly undeveloped. Even before the Fall, the world was not yet in the shape God wanted it to be. Human beings were to work with God to cultivate and develop it." (emphasis mine)Okay, so if the world was not just as God desired it to be before the Fall, then what does Keller do with Genesis 2:1-2?
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-2)"The heavens and the earth were finished...And on the seventh day God finished his work..." Hmm, sounds to me like after 6 days of creation God was...finished. I see no place in the text that indicates that God needed man's help to shape the earth into what "God wanted it to be." Seems to me God took care of that on His own! This skeptical view of Scripture is extremely unsettling coming from a Christian pastor.
Why am I raising this deep concern over Tim Keller? Because he does have a high influence in the evangelical community. During and following last week's meeting of The Gospel Coalition, it was almost impossible to look at my Twitter feed without seeing multiple quotes from one of Keller's lectures. Yet, as long as Keller adheres to liberal Christianity and a social gospel, and as long as he is promoting mysticism and allowing it to be taught in his church, the alarm needs to be sounded. Loudly. I'm not suggesting we stop listening to our favorite pastor or teacher just because he quotes Tim Keller. I am suggesting, however, that if it is a common occurrence, that we seek to share with that pastor some of theses concerns. As I said, I believe it is largely out of ignorance that so many continue to laud Tim Keller.
So, as usual, please be discerning. Social justice sounds good; it gives us those warm-fuzzies and makes us feel like we're earning our way to Heaven. But it is not the Gospel. Contrary to what Tim Keller has said, "cultural renewal" is not the purpose of salvation. Salvation is individual and it is the work of God on a depraved soul to bring a person back into right relationship with Him. Salvation has nothing to do with making this temporary earth a better place, but it has everything to do with dead men and women being given new life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation of souls brings glory to God, and that is its ultimate and amazing purpose.
"Pint Night" and Redeemer Presbyterian NYC
Redeemer Presbyterian (Tim Keller) Teaching Mysticism
Evangelical Leaders Pushing Mysticism