Tim Keller: hundreds of sermons, but no repentance...

A longtime pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) sent me an e-mail with an excerpt from a Yelp review of Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Going over there, I read all the reviews and here are some interesting excerpts...

Here am I, send me...

An hour and a half west of Bloomington is the city of Terre Haute which is home to the small and reputable school, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Tomorrow night, this little conservative engineering school in the middle of a city notorious for its lowlife druggies (crystal meth) will host a forum on so-called "marriage equality," which is to say homosexual marriage. The questions to be addressed are:

(1) What is marriage from a legal standpoint? What distinguishes it from other legal relationships?
(2) Does marriage benefit the state?
(3) Why does the government recognize marriage?
(4) How does the Fourteenth Amendment apply to the legality of same-sex marriage? How are civil rights involved?
(5) How does marriage law interact with state and national law? How is marriage a judicial issue?
(6) Also, what are the legal ramifications of the HJR-3? [House Joint Resolution 3 prohibiting homosexual marriage]

Across America, the chattering class has found its latest heartthrob, and it's nothing as pretty as Taylor Swift. Desperately trying to clean it up, they refer to this lie and the dirty acts it exists to legitimize and institutionalize as "marriage equality." Their icy hearts go pitter-patter with deviancy's every advance, and they give themselves to exquisite shivers when these advances occur out there in the hinterlands. Already banned from New York by Governor Cuomo's henchmen, Christians are silent as the marriage equality movement inexorably expands out there in the Midwest. Cuomo rejoices that the hated "Bible thumpers" are one step closer to Siberia.

But what have we done to merit such hatred?

Tim Keller's transformationalism...

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. - 1Timothy 2:12

Imagine a fortress, absolutely impregnable, provisioned for an eternity. There comes a new commandant. He conceives that it might be a good idea to build bridges over the moats—so as to be able to attack the besiegers. Charmant! He transforms the fortress into a countryseat, and naturally the enemy takes it. So it is with Christianity. They changed the method—and naturally the world conquered.

- Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon “Christendom, (Princeton University Press, 1944), p. 138.

- In (her book, Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles), author and co-founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church Kathy Keller ...encourages women to teach and lead in the church in ways that may startle some complementarians. (from Mrs. Keller's ad copy for her book on Amazon)

Upon the release of Tim Keller's "transformationalist" Bible, it's important to scrutinize the fruit of Tim's particular brand of transformationalism as it relates to the Biblical doctrine of sexuality. The past few days, I've been working with a man in the Philly area who is writing a document opposing his Reformed church's recent move toward women elders, and in the process of this work it's become clear that my friend has been led by Tim and Kathy Keller into error. Through the years, Baylyblog has not been appreciated for our work documenting how Tim Keller and his Redeemer Presbyterian Church have rebelled against the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America and Scripture in their election and practice of woman officers...

It all starts (or stops) with Daddy...

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal highlights the savings Rhode Island has seen the past few years in its Medicaid expenditures as a result of negotiating from the Feds some small liberties to decide for themselves how to fund healthcare for their poor. At the time Rhode Island received this privilege from the Feds, one of every five of its citizens were on Medicaid, a quarter of the state's budget was going to Medicaid payments, and the state's Medicaid expenditures were growing 7.6% per year. More recently, though, from 2009-2012 Rhode Island has reduced its growth in Medicaid expenditures to 1.3% per year as the other 49 states' expenditures increased 4.6% per year.

States rights is not only an ordering principle of our nation's Constitution, but also the necessary method of protecting our solvency. Return decisions concerning spending of Medicaid funds to Rhode Island magistrates and, that very minute, accountability returns and expenditures begin to decline.

How did they do it? 

Two major reforms in particular saved money. The first reduced costly emergency room visits by Medicaid recipients for routine medical needs, and the second reduced admissions to pricey nursing homes by offering home-care subsidies and promoting assisted living arrangements, which seniors generally prefer.

Whether ecclesiastical or civil, that government is best which is most decentralized and exercises authority over the smallest group of people. In Presbyterian government, the session (for church members) and presbytery (for pastors) are the courts of original jurisdiction; and that should be the end of it in everything but the most extreme cases.

If a humdinger of a controversy arises in... {C}

In Manhattan, defending creation is woman's work...

Here's a delightful piece written by Virginia Heffernan, a former fact-checker for The New Yorker who's written for Talk, Harper's, Slate, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine. Clearly Heffernan understands why no Manhattan pastor would admit to believing in creation. 

In New York City saying you’re a creationist is like confessing you think Ahmadinejad has a couple of good points. Maybe I’m the only creationist I know.

How poverty-stricken New York City is, that while PCA pastors promote Darwin and the high priests of Science, a female journalist is left to defend the Word of God. Like they say, "a woman can do anything an ordained man can't do."

A teaser...

Selling England by the pound...

"Can you tell me where my country lies?"
said the unifaun to his true love's eyes.
"It lies with me!" cried the Queen of Maybe
- for her merchandise, he traded in his prize.

                                          - Genesis

From the docket for the next meeting of Tim Keller's presbytery:

3. We recommend that Presbytery dismiss all Teaching Elders with calls to Brooklyn Presbyterian Church, TE Matthew Brown, Vito Aiuto, Christopher Hildebrand, David Stancil, Brian Steadman, Marc Choi, and Jamison Galt to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, pending their reception there.

4.We recommend that TE Tim Keller’s views on creation, historical Adam and evolution be found in keeping with our doctrinal standards, and request that the NYMP clerk inform Calvary Presbytery of our determination.

For the uninitiated...

Tim Keller's wife, Kathy Keller, critiques Rachel Held Evans: but keep your eye on the ball...

(NOTE FROM TB: When I first published this post, I was remiss in not thanking Kamilla for pointing me to Kathy Keller's piece. Quite a few of our sources come from Kamilla and I am delighted to publicly acknowledge her for her faithful work that's been so helpful to us for years, now. Thank you, Kamilla! Here is some of Kamilla's good work opposing Rachel Held Evan's very public hissy fits, but everything Kamilla writes is worth reading.)

* * *

Mrs. Tim (Kathy) Keller just did a post on the heretic Ms. Rachel Held Evans that her husband's friends put up on their web site. It's never good to provide a wider forum to a heretic, but if someone was going to give Held Evans more media coverage than she's already arranged for herself by her public fainting spells, I suppose Mrs. Keller is as good a person to look to as anyone else. 

And her review is good. Read it. Now that you've read it, though, here are a couple things worth pointing out about Mrs. Keller's own words and arguments.

Mrs. Tim Keller writes:

...recording the relentlessly sinful behavior of his people (in the Old Testament) was God’s way of demonstrating how desperately in need of a savior they really were.

One commenter points out that in this review Mrs. Keller is employing faddish redemptive-historical techniques. So then, look at the above quote and ask yourself where this leaves us with redemptive-historical preaching? If the good things done in Old Testament narratives are not to be taken as lessons of spiritual virtues of men like David when he slays Goliath, what gives us permission to take the bad things done by David when he commits adultery and murders the adulteress's husband as a lesson of moral turpitude?

In other words, moralism is moralism whether pointing to the bad or the good. If the bad is to be read as pointing the reader toward how hopelessly lustful and bloodthirsty David is because of his faithlessness, and how he needs a Savior; why are we not allowed to read the good as pointing the reader toward how wonderfully courageous David is because of His faithfulness, because he has a Savior?

The Warfield misattribution on Tenth's web site will be corrected this afternoon...

(NOTE: I was just notified that Tenth's web site will be corrected this afternoon, October 2, 2012.)

Back on June 15, 2008, I wrote the now-president of Wheaton College, Phil Ryken, pointing out serious errors in his P&R commentary on 1Timothy. Following our private correspondence I did a post on these errors. They matter because Phil (Phil and I are related by marriage) has wrongly attributed a statement in support of woman deacons to B. B. Warfield and his misattribution has been distributed within the PCA as justification for changing the PCA's polity to approve woman officers in the church.

To this day, Phil has not bothered to correct this document distributed by Tenth's web site. Here are two screen shots proving Phil's misattribution lives on today on the PDF on Tenth's web site. Phil writes that B. B. Warfield...

Prof. Trueman's bad questions and worse answers...

Two weeks ago Prof. Carl Trueman wrote a short piece saying he doesn't like it that some parachurch organizations are dividing over father-rule. He asks why organizations divide over sexuality if they refuse to divide over the Sacraments? After all, he says, the Sacraments are “the very doctrinal differences which made Protestant confessions necessary in the first place.”

Well of course, the only reason the Sacraments are mentioned in Protestant confessions while sex distinctions and father-rule are not is that, back in past centuries when confessions were written, no one alive questioned father-rule. So when Dr. Trueman points out that the Reformers didn't feel the need to divide with egalitarian feminists, it might be helpful to point out to Dr. Trueman there were no egalitarian feminists pushing women onto Calvin's consistory or into Geneva's pulpits. 

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit dealt with female rebellion so clearly and firmly that it took twenty centuries before it reared its head again. That's why the confessions of the Reformers written and adopted five centuries ago condemned Sacramental errors without condemning egalitarian feminism.

It's ironic that Dr. Trueman wrote this piece for his own parachurch organization which, itself, refuses to divide over the Sacraments.

Dr. Trueman has a dog in this fight. Why should he refuse to do parachurch with Christians who rebel against the plain teaching of Scripture that woman may not teach or exercise authority over man...

Ah yes, Peachtree...

So here's where our brother Tim Keller is tonight. Likely he knows nothing of what he's dealing with--the PC(USA)'s a whole 'nother beast.

But come to think of it, why doesn't he simply move on over...

Woman pastors and deacons and elders and bishops (err, executive presbyters) and all that. It might be a good fit. In the PC(USA) he'd be on the side of the angels. He'd be a conservative among liberals rather than a liberal among conservatives.

The perspicuity of Scripture's doctrine of sexuality...

This message was delivered October 5, 1998 in Riga, Latvia, at a Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church conference titled "Gender Theology: Questions, Problems, Perspectives." At the time, as well as serving as Sr. Pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd (now called Clearnote Church, Bloomington), I was Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Latvia had won her liberty from the Soviet Union late in 1991 and the Latvian church was facing very hard times, financially. The Lutheran World Federation was promising to help, but there were strings: before they made any financial commitment, they required the Latvians to hold a conference that openly explored the question of wether or not women could exercise authority over men as church officers. The Latvians were resistant to the idea, but needing the money, they agreed to hold the conference.

The Clarity and Simplicity of Scripture's Order of Creation

October 5, 1998

Riga, Latvia

It is a great joy to be here with you and to think of how impossible this time together would have been just a few years ago. How good it is to be able to cross borders so freely--without even the necessity of a visa--and to be able to join together in fellowship and worship with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

But then too, I am particularly pleased to be able to speak to you on the subject of Biblical manhood and womanhood. Here it may be appropriate to insert some biographical information, but first please allow me to clarify my own vocabulary:

  • 'Complement': "something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect; one of two mutually completing parts" (Webster's).
  • 'Patriarchy': literally, "father rule."
  • 'Egalitarian': "a belief in human equality" (Webster's).

So when I refer to the different positions taken by Christians today concerning what Scripture has to say about manhood and womanhood, I will use these terms:

First, the words 'complementarian' or 'patriarchal' will be used to indicate the Church's historical position which calls for a distinction in roles between men and women in the government of the Church and home; and particularly to the necessity of men holding positions of authority.

Second, the word 'egalitarian' will be used to indicate the position held by feminists today when they call for women to hold leadership positions of authority equally with men.

Now for some personal history: Although today I myself believe in the Church's historical, patriarchal position, it was not always so. Back in 1976 when my wife and I were first married, both of us were committed egalitarians...

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary faculty allowed no one to oppose feminism...

Almost thirty years ago, the administration and faculty of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary sent a copy of these letters to every student in an attempt to shut down discussion of womens ordination on campus or in the classroom. When the letter went out, I had finished my M.Div. the previous May, but my brothers David and Nathan were still finishing theirs up. The environment had already been stultifying, but this letter made it even worse.

This is always the way of the destroyers. At first they claim they want dialog, but once they've gotten rid of God's Truth, they're notoriously intolerant of dialog and shut down any voices of diversity. Only perversity is allowed.

Keep in mind that this is the seminary not just of the Bayly bros, but also of Scott Hahn and Marcus Grodi and Tim Keller. And if you think that's ironic, imagine John Piper at Fuller...

With woman officers now serving within the PCA...

When Tim Keller graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, he started his ministry working with only men as his church officers, whereas when I graduated from Gordon-Conwell, I started my ministry working with so many woman officers that it was the old tradition that could not be dislodged. In fact, a couple years before I was ordained there, the Wisconsin church to which I was called out of seminary had ordained as an elder a sixteen year old girl who had since moved in with her boyfriend. We had progressed beyond woman officers to girl officers, then fornicating girl officers.

Over time our church repented of woman officers and left the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) for the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America. We wanted a denomination where Scripture was honored, and thus woman officers and fornication were banned.

Over time Tim Keller has repented of not having woman officers and has shown great zeal in his promotion of them within the Presbyterian Church in America. His influence has been felt to the extent that woman officers are now all the rage among those within the PCA who style themselves urbane, hip, entrepreneurial (churchplanterish), contextualized, and Gospelcentric.

It's an old truism that every institution becomes the thing it was founded to oppose, so I watch the Kellerification of the PCA and remember lessons learned in the past within the PC(USA). For instance...

Why not confess our faith by cultivating masculinity and femininity in our church life...

(NOTE FROM TB: Under another post, a series of questions were asked concerning Clearnote Church, Bloomington's practice of women in leadership. Here I respond to those questions.)

Dear (Sister),

I'm responding to your questions below. Thanks for asking them--they're the same questions everyone has. And by the way, I'm sorry it's taken so long. I've been doing a bunch of things that have precluded my active involvement in Baylyblog recently.

>>From what I understand the PCA to believe, it makes sense that you don't have women pastors or women on your governing board (elder board).

Isn't that a sort of weak-kneed way of putting it--that not having woman elders ordained to rule and teach and govern the men and women of Clearnote Church is what we or the PCA "believe," and that it "makes sense" given those idiosyncratic beliefs?

Since Scripture isn't clear on it, we can debate polity. But once we have elders who guard and rule and exhort and teach and govern the flock, there is no debate whether those elders should or should not be men. Scripture requires it and it has been the universal practice of the Church until the past fifty or so years of unprecedented rebellion against the Father Almighty.

>>But I'm not sure why you bar women from other activities during a worship service.

We don't, dear sister. Here's a link to our church policies concerning sex and leadership. In that document, we explicitly state that it's acceptable for women to make announcements, read Scripture portions, and pray during Lord's Day corporate worship. Women have done so and occasionally do so in our worship. I'm not sure why you thought otherwise.

But there's something beneath your statements that I want to address. Implicit in these questions is that the proper orientation of Christians today should be toward opening up more leadership positions for women...

Debate over the approval of woman officers continues within the PCA...

At a blog frequented by Reformed pastors holding membership in the PCA, there's been a discussion of whether or not the PCA's polity should be changed to allow women to serve alongside men in the office of deacon. In the midst of comments back and forth, one man warned the others that they should not allow culture to determine their position. This led to another men having something close to a hissy-fit over anyone at all--anyone! mind you!--questioning his integrity by implying he was influenced by our feminist culture.

As a rule, I don't comment on other blogs. In this case, though, I did and here's the text of what I said...

How David and Terri Wegener have blessed us...

Pastor David Wegener and his wife Terri have been a great gift to the ministry of Clearnote Church, Bloomington while on home assignment under the Presbyterian Church in America's Mission to the World this past year. Terri has taught women's Bible studes and David has attended session meetings, taught in Clearnote Pastors College, sat on the Pastors Council of Clearnote Fellowship, and preached. So watching them prepare to return to Ndola, Zambia, I've been thinking about when David and I first met at a presbytery meeting of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

David and I served as teaching elders in the same PCA presbytery for almost twenty years, now. Time has flown. God is good.

The rest of this page is a discussion of whether or not Reformed credo and paedobaptists should ever acknowledge one another's existence or worship together.

Meanwhile, I've taken the former text of this post, updated it, and posted it under the title, Looking for a church in Bloomington or Indianapolis?


"Most of (Redeemer's ministry leaders) were women..."

Feminists are masters of stratetgic incrementalism.

Sexual orthodoxy was repudiated about two decades ago in the Dutch Christian Reformed Church but some of the denomination's classes (presbyteries) still refuse to seat women who have been ordained. This causes CRC leaders to fulminate against this insult to their woman officers. In the midst of an in-house CRC discussion of the problem, one CRC leader commends Tim Keller's practice...

Citizen's arrest! Citizen's arrest!

Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. (Galatians 6:12, 13)

Sin is not what Reformed men do. Everyone knows that. It seems stupid to say it. Reformed men have enough money and class to keep their hands clean. We're scrupulous and the worst we can be accused of is not yet having attained the vocabluary necessary to be proficient at teaching doctors, lawyers, engineers, pharmacists, professors, architects and their husbands in our churches' adult discipleship programs. Maybe occasionally bad doctrine seeps in, but never bad practice and never ever bad motives which led to that bad practice. And don't you ever forget it!

It's not simply David-and-Bathsheba-pregnancy-and-murder public sins which have left the earth on UFOs. We don't even sin privately and we can't remember the last time we had to examine our hearts. All our motives are pure--that one you had better get. Don't ever make the mistake of questioning a Reformed man's motives or you'll pay for it; especially if he's an elder or pastor. "How dare you question my motives! What gives you the right? Who are you to talk? Judge not lest you be judged!"

Then his fellow presbyters chime in...

Some helpful questions...

(TB: Under another post, a Christian sister we've come to respect has asked a series of questions I make a stab at answering below. For the context of her questions please look at comment number thirteen under the above post. First her comment in full, followed by my responses quoting part of each numbered item in what she wrote.)

I mean this as an honest comment/question, not a baiting or critical one. 

First, I was taught to believe that a wife must submit to her husband and a husband must love his wife as Christ loves the Church. A wife is not a doormat, nor is a husband is a tyrant. Furthermore, a couple will work out a balance of this principle in their marriage that is Biblical and fits their personalities and won't look the same for every couple. I assume you would generally agree with that.

PCA debate over woman deacons: It’s about rebellion--not exegesis...

(Note from DB: This post is by David Wegener, a teaching elder in Central Indiana Presbytery of the PCA.)

I’ve lived and worked in Zambia for the last decade. One of the delightful things about Zambian life is the importance of the non-verbal. Body language is carefully observed. My students watch me for cues as to what I’m really saying, regardless of my words.

We’ve all seen a rebellious teen-ager or wife. Wise pastors and elders have learned to pick up the non-verbal cues that show this rebellion. Usually you can see it in the eyes or the expression on the lips. God made us this way and it is only through a cultivated ignorance that officers of the church are unaware of the obvious signs. I wish I could pick up the cues as easily as my African students do.

Many blog posts and emails document the culture of rebellion that exists today in the PCA. Only a carefully cultivated ignorance will miss the signs. And they’re not simply non-verbal. They’re written down and clear for all to see. Sam Wheatley’s paper is only the most recent example.

Vast sections of our denomination are in rebellion against what our Book of Church Order says about the ordination of women as deacons.