Tim Keller on Humility

Discussion in 'Daily Devotional Forum' started by Jerusalem Blade, Dec 28, 2008.

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  1. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    This article is the only exposure to Tim Keller I have ever had, so I will take the article at face value.

    It may be a nice, 'feel good' paper that can sooth some and edify others in Christ, but it is not good theology.

    Based on his definition of a narrative identity, logic and reality demands that there are more than two- Tertium Quid. Applying his definition (regarding life answers), a guilt identity (accepted by god through Christ; yet I do not obey) would demonstrate all of the redeeming qualities that he preaches and yet for the wrong reasons.

    But the real problem is the scope of empirical facts with lack of biblical argument. He mentions some scriptures that very broadly define humility (Matt. 11:29, Matt. 5:3, 5; 18:3-4 Phil. 2:8-9 Luke 14:11; 18:14; 1 Pet. 5:5) in shotgun fashion and then spins into 2 1/2 pages of specific examples that are begging for biblical reference. The mystery of humility that he tries to build (with statements such as Humility is so shy. If you begin talking about it, it leaves. and the like) does not exist in scripture. The word of God gives many examples of how to guard our hearts, but proof texts for his whole narrative identity will take some digging to find.

    I suspect he won't bother to find some references. The bulk of this article is new age parapsychology for the devout evangelical and would be difficult to justify through solid exegesis. However, as long as it tells people to look to Christ, the modern devout evangelical will eat this stuff up.

    This does not appear to be an author that I would seek out.

  2. CarsonLAllen

    CarsonLAllen Puritan Board Freshman

    No hard feelings here barnpreacher

    I would also like to apologize to Jerusalem Blade for taking his post way off comment. I will try not do that to anyone else on this board.

  3. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Some thoughts on the remarks:

    If you wrote a book, would you have a problem charging for it? What's wrong with charging $2.50 for an mp3 of a sermon, when the money goes into ministries and church plants? You don't have to pay to attend Redeemer and hear the preaching! We pay big bucks for books, computers and accessories, TVs, movies, cell phones — we pay for what is important to us.

    Who picks the blurbs that adorn books, the author or the publishers?

    I heard the "Satanic Church" uses Apple computers — is there guilt by association through products, including books?

    Carson, I appreciate your caution – certainly a necessary virtue these days when the antichrist spirit pours into "christendom" like a flood! Nor am I a fan of C.S. Lewis, though Keller does quote him to great purpose and relevance. Tim was my (and my wife's) pastor the 5 or so years I was in NYC till mid '02, so I know his mind and heart well. I have challenged him – during the Q&As he has after sermons, and by email – on points I disagreed with, and found him genuinely willing to consider differing views.

    But as regards the "flood" and the standard "the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up against" this spiritual enemy (Isa 59:19), what is that Standard? Is it not the Gospel of Jesus Christ? One of Tim's emphases is that the religious need the gospel as badly as the irreligious (as Rich pointed out above in his anecdote). There are many emotionally and spiritually unhealthy believers in the Lord's fold, and one purpose of ministry is the edifying of the saints and bringing them to maturity – that is, genuine godliness.

    I think it was Luther who made the statement that we – believers – are simil iustus et peccator, we are sinners and yet righteous before God at the same time, because of Christ's dying in our stead, the cleansing of His blood, and God's imputing His righteousness to us.

    If I know the "remaining corruption" that continues to dwell in me – and shall till I throw off these mortal coils – I will have reason to grieve and mourn my unworthiness, and the wretchedness my self-aggrandizing and self-loving flesh brings into my heart and life on an almost daily basis. I live before the holy One of Israel, all too conscious of this unworthiness, and yet I find I am loved even so, and this transforms a wretch into a heart glowing with gratitude, affection, and joy. Christ's is a love that transforms. Transforms the darkest heart into a child of light.

    Keller's understanding of the Gospel is informed by Puritan spirituality, mixed with an almost Dostoevskian – yet eminently contemporary – comprehension of the human heart and its labyrinthine ways and complexities.

    His view of the Gospel is the very heart of Tim's ministry. He often says, "The Gospel is, we are more wicked than we ever dared think, and more loved than we ever dared hope – at the same time!"

    This profound self-knowledge engenders in me a humility before, not only my brothers and sisters, but unbelievers. If I know what I am truly made of – as pertains to my flesh, which I carry with me – I will not look down on others, whether they be believers whom I think not quite on track, or unbelievers walking in open ungodliness, for I know my own wretchedness. This is humility, this not thinking myself better (Phil 2:3; Ro 12:10). And yet, in the presence of Him who loved me while I was in rank ungodliness (Ro 5:8), and actually regenerated and justified me while dead in this sin (Ro 4:5; Eph 2:4, 5), my heart sings with joy and love to this God who redeemed such a one, transforming him into a creature "holy and beloved" (Col 3:12). Humility toward men, boldness and joy toward God.

    Sitting five years under this vision of the gospel through the preaching and teaching of Keller has given me the Scriptural tools to stand rooted in the love of Christ, come famine, affliction, persecution – whatever storms or trouble He in His wise and loving providence sends my way.


    From the New Age / Theosophy / occult paths I came some 40+ years ago, and I do not discern Keller in this camp at all. I have stood against two Christian psychologists / Biblical counselors – treating someone I cared for – who operated from a secular counseling paradigm, and I am informed as to varieties of psychobabble and New Age. I beg to strongly differ with this "discernment"!

    As mentioned above, Tim is not perfect, but he does have a Pearl of great price.

    But this was meant to be a devotional forum! On humility! Well, I trust the Shepherd will get us into shape before the great Wedding Feast, for He doeth all things well!
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Keller I think reads Pastor Jack and Sonship....which is not New Age. I like Keller and I generally like the Sonship materials and think a lot of people could profit from hearing more Keller and even more Sonship.
  5. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Proverbs 18:13
    He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
  6. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    Unfortunately, I cannot read that article as if it was a "stand-alone" item...when Keller says things about moralism, I can't help but think he means something different than most PB members would mean it...after all, abortion is certainly not a topic that would ever arise in his sermons...that's something "moral majority" type fundamentalist Pharisees would harp on. He caters to the intellectual and affluent...and he doesn't preach at the idols of their hearts...instead, he perpetuates a stereo-type about "religious types".

    If I could read the article "as is", and knew nothing of his ministry...it would be fine. Bland, but fine. But I question whether he preaches a gospel that Jesus would preach. I tend to think his gospel speaks with a lisp and has no teeth...I tend to think that is why the leadership of his church is dominated by women...I found this comment on the Bayly Blog insightful when someone mentioned Keller's article:
    The Gospel of Jesus is not good news without the Law...and Tim Keller, in reaching out to the impoverished hearts of the affluent, avoids the very idols Paul would be up in arms about...nothing about abortion, nothing about feminism/egalitarianism...these are part and parcel of the idols of our culture and it is here that silence echoes throughout "Redeemer".

    The prophet Amos, Tim Keller is not.
  7. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    It just so happens that in a sermon 4 weeks ago (on Genesis 1 and the image of God) he strongly condemned abortion and said as a church Redeemer must always solidly oppose it. He has always been against abortion and has been very clear on that. In a sermon on Jesus and politics he noted that abortion was strongly condemned by the early church and should be condemned by us today.

    The link to the sermon is below. If you don't want to pay the $2.50 I'll gladly pay it for you (not being snarky or condescending - seriously, I'll foot the bill on this one). With all due respect, making a statement that "abortion is certainly not a topic that would ever arise in his sermons" is uninformed, divisive, and simply not true. This is exactly the type of unfair criticism, especially coming from a fellow PCA pastor, I find so perplexing.

    Redeemer Sermon Store: In the Image of God
  8. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    When it is said,

    Keller "caters to the intellectual and affluent...and he doesn't preach at the idols of their hearts...instead, he perpetuates a stereo-type about 'religious types'..."​

    this is simply not so, as one who was familiar with Tim's sermons over the years would know. Another of his primary emphases is particularly "idols of the heart," and he uses the razor-edged scalpel of the Word in preaching on this — regularly! Another of his topics is "the sin beneath the sins", that is, those underlying motives that guide our behavior, in short – deeply-rooted idols!

    Re perpetuating the "stereotype" mentioned above, that is another bearing false witness! It simply isn't so.

    Re "...the leadership of his church is dominated by women" – if you're talking about administrative positions (it's a large church, with many ministries and programs), and not church leadership / office, this is not unbiblical. All administrators, male and female, are under the supervision and authority of pastors.

    When it is averred, Keller says "nothing about abortion, nothing about feminism/egalitarianism...these are part and parcel of the idols of our culture and it is here that silence echoes throughout 'Redeemer'...", I wonder how one can make such statements, which are so contrary to fact.

    Mason (ColdSilverMoon) already answered about abortion; feminism and egalitarianism are strongly addressed, as one might expect in such a place as NYC, in a ministry directed toward young professionals, artists, educators, and such. Kathy Keller (Tim's wife) has ministered long to the women of Redeemer on such issues, and upholds the Biblical standards. As a result, many "evangelical feminists" have left Redeemer over their stance.

    There are indeed some affluent among the congregations (as Tim preaches sometimes 4 or 5 times a Lord's Day in the different services and church plants in Manhattan), but Keller makes an issue of money and its tendency to become a great idol (and the underlying idol of what is our security). Consequently, Redeemer's ministries of mercy (which is the title of another of his books, as is Resources for Deacons) are well-funded and highly effective. Nothing wrong with wealth if it is used to the glory of God and the good of the poor and suffering! There are also many poor and "marginalized" who belong to Redeemer. The Deacon's Fund has helped multitudes who have found themselves jobless (as now) or otherwise financially stricken.

    Very few preachers have the ability to minister to professionals, artists-writers-educators etc of the middle and upper-middle classes, but the love of Christ has won great multitudes of this demographic of New York City's people, and they are in positions to affect the culture of the city itself. And they are, as Tim enjoins them to be, radically generous with their time, energy, and money. Yes, there are those who prefer a simpler presentation of the gospel, and there are church plants with other pastors who have excellent though differing gifts available for such.

    To say that Keller does not preach the Law – that it is not implicit (and explicit) in his sermons – simply does not know his sermons.

    But after all, even though I am of a mind to defend a man who has been my pastor, and whom I love, attention should not be drawn to a man – a servant – and away from the Master, the "King of saints" (Rev 15:3 AV), who created Tim Keller and all of us who name His name, to His everlasting glory and joy. Yes, the Son of God joys in us, His wondrous bride:

    The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)​

    To have our Husband and Savior sing His love songs to us when we are all safely in the Kingdom – imagine how our hearts will burn with love and joy! For who can sing and move the heart like our Jesus, the eternal One!


    P.S. If a moderator would kindly shut this thread – it keeps getting too far from the OP. Thanks!
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
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