Archive for the ‘Tim Keller’ Category

Keller’s Reason

October 14, 2008

I’ve just finished reading Tim Keller’s Reason for God. I enjoyed it greatly, found it encouraging and also a challenge to engage others with the great gospel in a world that is tossed about with all kinds of ideas. It’s always difficult when you’re already persuaded to weigh the arguments made in an apologetic work. But Keller’s work is helpful on a number of levels.

First of all, the arguments he is dealing with are contemporary arguments and how they are put in the contemporary world. He does not try to engage with straw men as some apologists seem to do. Secondly, there is much to learn from the clear yet irenic tone of his work. I’m reminded of Francis Schaeffer’s words that the aim is to win a  convert not an argument. His tone is very different from the virulent tone of Dawkins, Hitchens et al. Thirdly, he deals very well with the whole demand for ‘cast iron certainty’ that many seem to seek today. His approach that in building the case for Christianity we are not trying to make the whole case rest on our ability to make watertight arguments but to encourage others to weight the overall evidence is a useful approach. Fourth, and perhaps above all, Keller is writing from his own experience. These are the arguments he has engaged in and with as he has engaged New Yorkers as he has seen the church grow in the city.

My biggest problem with Keller’s work, and it’s my problem rather than his, is how we deal with these arguments not with the intelligentsia of New York but the middle class, apathetic materialists I encounter. A book about that is one I would really like to read.

Christian Authenticity

July 12, 2007

I heard Tim Keller speak at the recent Evangelical Ministers Assembly in London. The theme of the conference was ‘Defining the Times:What is an Evangelical.’ If you were not there get hold of the recordings as his talks were excellent. He was wise, gracious and had a real cutting edge.

Given the theme and its current profile the Emergent Church movement was mentioned on several occasions. I was especially struck by one comment of Keller’s. That the emergent church in its quest to be relevant and authentic had undermined the gospel of penal substitution and in doing so it was in fact cutting people off from the simplicity of the gospel. Keller noted that for those who are broken by sin the message of grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ alone was one that they understood. But one that was being obscured in the emergent church movement with its emphasis on the kingdom.

Another of his key themes was that of the need for repentance in the Christian life, echoing the first of Luther’s 97 theses. That the whole of the Christian life is one of repentance. That even our repentance needs repented of! I was reminded through this theme, as with other EMA addresses that what our world cries out for is not our attempts to be relevant but our need to be real. What we truly need in our day is Christian authenticity.

As John Chrysostom, the 4th century bishop, once remarked, ‘There would be no more heathen if we would be true Christians.’