Is Tim Keller right to say that New York City brings the gospel to Christians?

Can New York City can teach Christians about the gospel?
Can New York City teach Christians about the gospel?

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Here is a short guest post from my friend the software engineer.

Tim Keller dusted off an old pearl of wisdom of his and re-posted it on twitter. I discovered it on Facebook as many of my friends were making fun of it. One Twitter user remarked:

I think it’s been three years since the last time you tweeted this. I predict no misunderstanding this time.

To which Keller responded:

It happens every time. Hard to understand this–unless you realize how much the city can teach us and how much we learn about Christ through common grace, other Christians, the humbling that happens here. Oh well.

I can conjure up in my mind a way for this to not be meaningless tripe. It could be that Keller has in mind the number of ways men made in the image of god remind him of god’s grace and represent an opportunity to live out the sacrifice Jesus called us to.

But I have a hard time believing it doesn’t mean something else. That Keller has in mind here that we should allow the city and its emergent values to exert undue influence over us. I have a hard time believing this because I don’t see Keller’s church actively changing the culture around them and thereby setting an example for the rest of us to follow.

I would further submit that one of the reasons Tim Keller’s church has not been successful in changing the city is that they are too busy succumbing to the social justice influences that are popular today.

Why don’t people take churches like Keller’s seriously anymore? Perhaps it’s precisely because those churches have, as Keller tweeted, allowed the city to bring them the gospel.


OK That’s it for my friend’s post. I was supposed to add two of my beefs with Tim Keller. The first one is that he’s far left on questions of origins.

Here’s an article from Creation.com. I am not a young Earth creationist, I’m an old Earth creationist. Still, my YEC software engineer friend (a different software engineer) tells me that they are the best and largest YEC site.

They say:

Timothy Keller, author of The Reason for God (see our review), recently authored a paper for the theistic evolutionary organization Biologos (see Evolutionary syncretism: a critique of Biologos) titled “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople” (read the entire paper here). In this paper, he wrestles with how to present science to Christian laypeople in such a way that evolution and the Bible seem compatible.

[…]Keller devotes several pages to showing that believing that evolution happened as a biological process does not necessarily mean that one has to embrace the “Grand Theory of Evolution” involving naturalism and social Darwinism.

The young Earth creationists are concerned that evolution is not what God described in the Bible. Old Earth creationists think it’s worse than that. Not only does evolution not agree with the Bible, it doesn’t agree with good science either. The problem with Keller is his disagreement with what mainstream science shows about the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, molecular machines, irreducible complexity, etc.

But that’s not the only problem with Tim Keller.

Here is what he says about a statement signed by conservative Christians disagreeing with “social justice”:

A controversial statement signed by more than 9,000 evangelicals and Christian organizations deploring social justice as a dangerous concept to the Gospel, belittles Christians who talk about race and justice, says Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

[…]The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel was released early this month with initial signers including John MacArthur of Grace Community Church, who recently denounced evangelicalism’s “newfound obsession” with social justice.

Among other things, the statement notes that: “Specifically, we are deeply concerned that values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality. The Bible’s teaching on each of these subjects is being challenged under the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for ‘social justice.’

If you want to know what Tim Keller really thinks about moral issues, you can read his opinion / editorial in the far-left New York Times, where he has nothing to say about the traditional teachings of the Christian worldview (voluntary charity, chastity, pro-life, natural marriage, not coveting your neighbor’s wealth, limited government, people defined by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin).

Moderate conservative Doug Wilson notes:

So get the vantage of two hundred years from now, and have a doctoral student in American history examine Keller’s op-ed piece for any reference at all to abortion, or to the fact that Planned Parenthood, subsidized by our tax dollars, sells baby parts. It is not there.

[…]So why didn’t more churches apply what the Bible requires of slave-owners two hundred years ago? The answer is that back then it would have taken courage to do so, just as it would take courage today for Keller to denounce Planned Parenthood in The New York Times.

Keller does denounce sins in this piece. But he is still being careful because the sins he denounces are safe sins to denounce—we know this because they are all the sins that the secular world routinely uses to denounce the conservative Christian world. There is the sin of not working for “better public schools,” or not working for a “justice system weighted against the poor,” or “to end racial segregation,” or failing to “lift up the poor.” It is as though we found John the Baptist chiding the Israelites for failing to see the moral imperatives contained within Herod’s economic stimulus programs.

And that’s because the readers of the New York Times, and the residents of the city of New York are pro-abortion (which is the equivalent of slavery in our modern times).  In fact, New York is pro-infanticide – they have a law that allows infanticide. And this did not deserve a mention from Tim Keller in his New York Times editorial. Perhaps he thinks that infanticide is one of the things that New York city has to teach traditional Christians about the gospel.

7 thoughts on “Is Tim Keller right to say that New York City brings the gospel to Christians?”

    1. Everybody seems to like pastors because they are charismatic, but there’s frequently a cost to this much schmoozing with non-Christians. If you’re not informed about things like ecobomics and science, then you start to change your views in order to be liked. It’s not a big mystery it’s been happening for hundreds of years

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  1. One of the most anti Christian cities can help you learn more about God. I find that hard to beleive.

    I guess if you want an example of a place where displaying the light and truth of God can allow you to suffer more persecution for the faith I can see a point.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t be too quick to judge Tim Keller. I can think of multiple interpretations of his statement that makes it fully within the confines of orthodox Christianity. He has sufficiently proven to promote orthodox Christianity, and has successfully worked to bring the gospel to the people of New York.

    Now you can ask yourself whether orthodox Christianity is willingly enough to confront sin. But confronting sin should be foremost done within the Church itself. I can name a whole lot of sins among Christians to which Churches are silent and dare not to speak out against. Not the least among the evangelical churches.

    One such sin is that of “no-fault” divorces and subsequent remarriages.
    Divorce rates among American pastors even EXCEED those among non-believers!

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    1. Open interpretations are dangerous in this day where many people live by a choose your own morality, everyone can find their own way with many equal paths to God world.

      And those ideas are more common in the church than we realize. Now more than ever we have to assume people may have bad doctrine and state things clearly because many are too lazy to go to the source of any material.

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      1. If you want to judge, judge with the right criteria. Is an elder committing a clear sin, based on at least two witnesses, than you can start thinking of LISTENING to a complaint, which still requires to HEAR what the defendant has to say. Tim Keller is an elder, and I see no clear sin. The least one can do instead of speculating, is ASKING Tim what he means.

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        1. I am only commenting on his tweet which is a low quality means to communicate the gospel since you have few words by design. And the average person reading a tweet is too lazy to do research so I go by what kind of impression is thr average person going to get in isolation, since most will never read his actual writings if they are available.

          As to his views personally I am not that concerned on my part, I rarely listen to popular preachers and like to read the Bible on my own.

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