Veritas Forum's Tim Keller on sodomy: "It's not good for human flourishing"...
(Tim) My parents gave most of their lives to campus ministry. The first IVCF staffers in New England back in the forties, they lived in Cambridge and were responsible for all of New England. I grew up going to Bear Trap Ranch and Cedar Campus--IV's camps for student leadership training--and listening to Dad teach the Word of God.
And now, for most of our ministry Mary Lee and I have served in college and university contexts. We started in Madison, Wisconsin; moved to Boulder, Colorado; then on to Boston; and now, for the past eighteen years, here in Bloomington, Indiana, where half the population of 70,000 or so is connected to Indiana University. Our church is filled with IU undergrad and graduate students, as well as profs and other IU employees.
So it's not from inexperience concerning the spiritual needs of the Academy that I say I've never been much of a fan of Veritas Forum. Well-intentioned, yes; but largely ineffective. Watching it over the years, including here in Bloomington, I'd say the main effect it has is allowing evangelical Christians who have been silent and compromised academics on their own campus to thump their chests for a week while hired guns come in and clean up the town. But with one exception--Walter Bradley, if you're curious--the hired guns seem pretty tame when it comes to their ability and willingness to pull the trigger. So, unlike the Apostle Paul's itinerant ministry, nothing much gets cleaned up.
Few places are as evil and so desperately need a clear and bold witness to sin, righteousness, and judgment--and then, to the wisdom and glory of the Cross of Jesus Christ--than the Academy...
As I'm fond of pointing out, the Apostle Paul didn't mince words in his proclamation of the Gospel in that first-among-all-intellectual-centers-of-the-world, Athens. His message was sin, righteousness, judgment, the Cross, the Resurrection, and God's condemnation of their "ignorance" (which in the past He'd overlooked), followed by a clarion call to repentance in the face of the certain coming Day of Judgment.
Compare a run-of-the-mill Veritas Forum talk and you'd have a hard time finding the Apostle Paul's Apostolic witness, courage, and authority. I certainly didn't hear it when Veritas came here to Indiana University.
But here's another example in the form of a transcript of Tim Keller being interviewed as part of the Veritas Forum at Columbia University. The subject is sodomy--that darling of every academic looking for some lower cause through which to stake his claim to moral enlightenment. Note carefully what is said as well as how it's said. As always, the only true sinner is that judgmental Christian who is not as enlightened in the way he presents the Gospel as our champion. Elder brother is the evil one trotted out as our public whipping boy. It may have been a better question for the interviewer to ask Tim whether being an elder brother is a sin and whether elder brothers are going to Hell? Anyhow...
What the Academy needs today is men who are fearless in proclaiming sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment in the context of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ to desperate sinners like us. And these men should normally be those who are followers of Jesus Christ who work on campus; His slaves who can't help but be faithful in speaking of His holiness and mercy in their classrooms, faculty offices, faculty senate meetings, on the walkways from classroom building to classroom building, and so on.
In other words, what the Academy needs today are uncompromised and bold Christians whose consciences and hearts and minds and tongues are owned by their Lord and who, consequently, never stop proclaiming His Word, perfectly contextualized for their own world and campus.
So, with that as the introduction, here's the aforementioned transcript of Tim Keller's interview concerning sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment.
Following the transcipt is a Spurgeon excerpt pertinent to the subject, followed by the video this transcript was taken from. Both the Spurgeon excerpt and the transcription were sent to me by a longtime member of Redeemer in NYC.
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EISENBACH: ……I wrote a book about the gay rights movement because I was appalled by the oppression and the discrimination against homosexuals in my America [KELLER: uhhmm..]. And this questioner asks, ‘What do so many of the churches have against homosexuals? And what about your church’s approach to homosexuality, is it a sin? Are they going to Hell?
KELLER: uhhh…let’s talk about my church first which will be a little easier than trying to answer for all the other churches of the world….but I’ll try [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]. I’m representing all the churches of the world alright, you know? [EISENBACH: but Christianity I mean….you, you…] Yeah, I know but let’s start with mine.
EISENBACH:…. You go to the Bible quite often and there are many evangelicals who would say it is listed as a sin in the Bible [KELLER: sin in the Bible, right.]…and these people are going to Hell.
KELLER: Right. Now…What you..first…ughhhh…Let’s talk about my church again [nervous laughter]. Let’s go back here. What we would say is…I think it’s unavoidable. I think most Protestant and Catholic and Orthodox Christians over the years have said, you read the Bible and the Bible has reservations. The Bible says homosexuality is not God’s original design for sexuality. Ok? There we are…you have it. The Bible also says, ‘Love your neighbor’. The Bible…in fact, The Good Samaritan parable which is how Jesus tells us to love our neighbor…you put a Jew and a Samaritan there. So, what Jesus is trying to say is everybody is your neighbor. Gay people are your neighbors. Uhhh…people who are of other faiths are your neighbors. People of other….. other…uhhhh….uhhh…races are your neighbors. And it’s the job of a Christian to do what Jesus did on the cross which was to give himself for people who were opposing Him and people who were diff….believe….didn’t believe in Him even. And so, a Christian is supposed to say, ‘I serve the needs and interests of all of my neighbors in the city, whether gay or straight, whether Hindu or Muslim. I mean Hindus, for example, don’t believe in the Trinity. It’s a different view than what the Bible says. Gay people have a different view of sexuality than generally what you see in the NT. I’m supposed to love my neighbors. So, what I don’t see is…at this point, I see some churches that are…basically, ignoring the places in the Bible that talk about homosexuality in order to love their gay neighbor. And I see other Christian churches taking very seriously what the Bible says about homosexuality but in a very self-righteous way. So, they actually do single out gay people. I mean, there are a number of conservative churches that will love their Hindu neighbors and will love their Muslim neighbors, and not their gay neighbors. And I really don’t think there is any excuse for that. So…that’s what [EISENBACH: Is…is] I mean, I…I….Therefore, I have to take some responsibility for being a member of the Christian Church for the oppression of homosexuals.
EISENBACH: Are committing homosexual acts sin….against God?
KELLER: uhhhh….What do you mean by ‘sin’? The answer is ‘yes’.
KELLER: Now see. Here’s the problem with that. You don’t go to Hell for being a homosexual…..
EISENBACH: …..but committing homosexual acts will get you to go to Hell?
KELLER: Noooo. Wait a minute. Wait, wait [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER].
EISENBACH: well, you know. Some people say, ‘Well, it’s not the homosexuality or being gay. It’s being/doing gay stuff that’s the problem’.
KELLER: No, no. First of all, heterosexuality does not get you to heaven. I happen to know this [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER/CLAPPING]. So, how in the world could homosexuality send you to Hell? And actually…uhhh...The Bible...Listen…..This is…this is true. Jesus talks about greed 10x more than he talks about adultery, for example. Now, one of the problems Christians have here is partly…let’s be nice to Christians. You know when you’re committing adultery. I mean you don’t say, ‘Ohhh, you’re not my wife’ [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]. I mean you know when you are committing adultery. But, almost nobody knows when they’re greedy. Nobody admits…thinks they’re greedy. You know cause everybody is comparing yourself to other people and so, it’s a frog in the kettle kind of thing. Ahhh….however, the fact of the matter is…the Bible is much harder on greed/materialism. It’s a horrible sin, terrible sin. Will greed send you to Hell? No! What sends you to Hell is self-righteousness – thinking that you can be your own savior and lord. What sends you to heaven is getting a connection with Christ because you realize you’re a sinner and you need intervention from outside. That’s why it is very misleading actually to say, even to say, ‘Homosexuality is a sin’ because most people…Yes, of course homosexuality is a sin because greed is a sin, because all kinds of things are sins. But what most Christians mean when they say that and certainly what non-Christians think they hear when they hear that is ‘If you’re gay, you are going to Hell for being gay’. It’s just not true. Absolutely not true.
EISENBACH: So then, what’s….then how is homosexuality a ‘sin’. I’m not….
KELLER: ….Well, homo…[sigh]..Greed is a sin. In other words, it doesn’t help human flourishing. Basically, Christianity has an account of what we think human beings were built to do and what will therefore, help human flourishing. So, we would say if you spend all of your money on yourself, that’s bad….not only for your own soul, but for everybody elses. We would say homosexuality is not the original design for sexuality. Therefore, it’s not good for human flourishing. We want people to do things that are good for human flourishing. But that’s not what sends you to heaven or Hell. Now, there…maybe we ought to talk about that [NERVOUS LAUGHTER]. What sends you to heaven or Hell really has to do with your faith in the Gospel which is that you can’t….uhhh…be your own savior through your performance and your good works. Now here, I’m coming at this like a protestant now. You know...ummm…everybody’s gotta be a particular kind of Christian and there’s differences of opinion within Christianity about this. But uhhhh…no. being gay doesn’t send you to hell and sin doesn’t send you to Hell like that. The sin underneath the sin is, ‘I am my own savior and my lord’. And that’s the reason why pharisaism, moralism, Bible-believing people who are proud and think God is going to take people to heaven because they’re good…that’s sending them to Hell. I mean, I know that this is a lot to take in at once.
EISENBACH: It’s a lot.
KELLER: I’m…well…yeah…I mean….[EISENBACH: I want to go back to……]but inside our church…[EISENBACH: right.] There’s just not going to be this disdain of homosexuals [EISENBACH: right.] There just can’t be…not when I’m teaching the gospel like that.
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Then this from Spurgeon:
I know of no surer way of a people's perishing than by being led by one who does not speak out straight, and honestly denounce evil. If the minister halts between two opinions, do you wonder that the congregation is undecided? If the preacher trims and twists to please all parties, can you expect his people to be honest? If I wink at your inconsistencies will you not soon be hardened in them?
Like priest, like people. A cowardly preacher suits hardened sinners. Those who are afraid to rebuke sin, or to probe the conscience, will have much to answer for. May God save you from being led into the ditch by a blind guide.
And yet is not a mingle-mangle of Christ and Belial the common religion of the day? Is not worldly piety, or pious worldliness, the current religion of England? They live among godly people, and God chastens them, and they therefore fear him, but not enough to give their hearts to him. They seek out a trimming teacher who is not too precise and plain-spoken, and they settle down comfortably to a mongrel faith, half truth, half error, and a mongrel worship half dead form, and half orthodoxy.
God have mercy upon men, and bring them out from the world; for he will not have a compound of world and grace. "Come ye out from among them," saith he, "be ye separate: touch not the unclean thing." "If God be God, serve him: if Baal be God, serve him." There can be no alliance between the two. Jehovah and Baal can never be friends. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." "No man can serve two masters." All attempts at compromise or comprehensiveness in matters of truth and purity are founded on falsehood, and falsehood is all that can come of them. May God save us from such hateful doublemindedness.