"A minister with a Scripture..."

A few days ago, Tim Keller used his own Gospel Coalition blog to issue an apology for this very bad interview he did back in 2008 in conjunction with the release of his The Reason for God. The matter came to light only now because the video of the interview was only just released by Veritas Forum. Keller's apology is good in that apologies generally are; but it's bad in that some aspects of the interview that are most unfaithful to Scripture aren't addressed by the apology.

Noting this, I submitted a comment under the Gospel Coalition's announcement of the apology. The comment appeared for a few minutes, then was removed. Five days ago I submitted a request to the Coalition's e-mail asking them to...

reconsider their removal of the comment. Having received no response from them, I'm posting the comment here:

Over at another web site, Keller's interview was transcribed, but the transcription needs a couple corrections:

 

First at 1:20, Keller catches himself saying "that's what we're stuck with," and backs up, beginning again and concluding this time with "that's what we have to say." Both mean the same thing, but the second is more nuanced.

The second error is at 2:27 where, quite understandably, the transcriber heard the definite article where Keller used the indefinite article. He didn't say "the Scripture" but rather "a scripture." He called himself a minister with a scripture.

Such masterful equivocation is utterly opposite the Apostle Paul in the Areopagus who confessed his faith before the ultimate sophisticates of Athens this way: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30, 31).

 

Keller now says he didn't know he was being recorded that night and wishes he'd not abused Deuteronomy 29:29, but his "need to know basis" is only the tip of the iceberg.

 

It appears this comment has gotten me banned from the Coalition's web site, so if any of our readers are able to get a comment under Keller's apology linking to this post, it would be helpful to those who can't see clearly and need instruction and I'd be grateful.

* * *

UPDATE at 2:30 PM Monday, September 19, 2011: Michael Foster posted the following comment on Gospel Coalition's blog. It went up and breathed life into the discussion for an hour or so, but then it, too, was removed and now Mr. Foster is also banned.

Here's the comment just now deleted from the Coalition's blog:

 

MichaelFosterComment

Here's the comment banned from the Coalition's blog early this morning:

 

Five days ago I posted a comment under this (Gospel Coalition blog) thread. It appeared and then was removed. When it was removed, I sent an e-mail to the Coalition asking them to repost it but they've not responded. So now (here on Coalition's blog) I'm posting this link to a post over at Baylyblog where readers can read what the Coalition wouldn't allow: 

 

Here's the comment published, then deleted from the Coalition's blog five days ago:

 

Over at another web site, Keller's interview was transcribed but the transcription needs a couple corrections:

 

First at 1:20, Keller catches himself saying "that's what we're stuck with," and backs up, beginning again and concluding this time with "that's what we have to say." Both mean the same thing, but the second is more nuanced.

 

The second error is at 2:27 where, quite understandably, the transcriber heard the definite article where Keller used the indefinite article. He didn't say "the Scripture" but rather "a scripture." He called himself a minister with a scripture.

 

Such masterful equivocation is utterly opposite the Apostle Paul in the Areopagus who confessed his faith before the ultimate sophisticates there in Athens this way: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30, 31).

 

Keller now says he didn't know he was being recorded that night and wishes he'd not abused Deuteronomy 29:29. The "need to know basis" is only the tip of the iceberg.

 

 

Here's the e-mail I sent them five days ago asking them to restore the comment:

 

 

Dear Sir,

A few minutes ago I posted a comment in response to Tim Keller's apology. (It was comment #27.) The comment went up but it's now down. This leads me to believe that it's been removed for editorial reasons. If so, would you please return the comment to me as it appeared for a few minutes on your blog--the exact text.

As I recall, it went something like this:
Over at another web site, Keller's interview was transcribed but the transcription needs a couple corrections:
First at 1:20, Keller catches himself saying "that's what we're stuck with," and backs up, beginning again and concluding this time with "that's what we have to say." Both mean the same thing, but the second is more nuanced.

The second error is at 2:27 where, quite understandably, the transcriber heard the definite article where Keller used the indefinite article. He didn't say "the Scripture" but rather "a scripture." He called himself a minister with a scripture.

Such masterful equivocation is utterly opposite the Apostle Paul in the Areopagus who confessed his faith before the ultimate sophisticates there in Athens this way: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30, 31).

 

Keller now says he didn't know he was being recorded that night and wishes he'd not abused Deuteronomy 29:29. The "need to know basis" is only the tip of the iceberg.
If you did remove the comment for editorial reasons, I suspect it was due to your opposition to the site I linked which was the source of the transcription since that site is calling women and men to get in contact with you expressing their concern over the Gospel Coalition's need to clean up their house, theologically. They're right, but even if you think not, it's to your credit to show yourself magnanimous in allowing disagreement. It strengthens your readers' trust for you.

Love,


Tim Bayly

 

Comments

I put it up and took a screenshot of it.

When I checked just now, the comment was still there. I had a bit of a giggle at the one response accusing Tim and David of dogging Keller's every move, etc.

I wondered how she knew unles *she* was tracking your every move?

Kamilla

They just removed it and banned me from commenting. Don't you dare question any of Christianity's rockstars. The Rock said it best, "Shut your mouth and know your role."

Dear M Scott Foster,

What a foolish sacrifice you've made. Think of the influence you've given up by getting yourself banned there for no reason! Think of all the good you could have done by commenting on other posts, the people you could have helped if you had just kept your big trap shut.

For shame.

-Joseph

I've stopped commenting on blogs whose owners act in such a manner. Why join the discussion at all if the rules are silently enforced and you never know what rule you (or anyone else) has violated.

It reminds me of the stupid "talk to the hand" thing I heard so often a while back.

Today I showed my children the interview above and told them to listen to Keller's answer to the question, "Do you believe there is only one God and there is only one way to approach that God?" I only had them watch for a minute (they were looking a little glassy-eyed already). My seven-year-old son's comment at dinner was, "He wasn't even TRYING to say 'yes'."

Slippery politician.

Flashbacks to Rob Bell's interview. Poor Martin Bashir asks clear questions of smart pastors but can't ever seem to get a straight answer.

Dear Joseph,

Me and my big mouth...

Yours truly,
Michael

>> Think of the influence you've given up

Ah yes, the "I'll give up a real opportunity now for potential imagined opportunities in the future" plan. I know you're speaking ironically Joseph, but I had a conversation several months ago with a coworker who had just such a plan: suppress his testimony now while he builds his professional reputation among unbelievers, and then at some point in the future use that reputation as a springboard to opportunities to witness to God's grace. I cautioned him against this approach (compromise now for faithfulness later?), told him that seeking respectability in the world's eyes always has a draw, but it is a trap--don't do it! And ended with:

May you and I both be willing to be fools in the eyes of the world for the sake of the gospel.

So may we all!

This post is rather unfair to Pastor Keller. He has alread apologized, as you acknowledged, for the lack of clarity in his answer. So I don't see anything beneficial in searching to find more fault in the video. In both examples you cite, you are assuming the worst.

In the first, we don't know that he said "we're stuck with", he stopped at "st", and for all we know he could have been saying "struggling with", or "standing on". Whatever he was going to say, he decided it wasn't the right phrase, and corrected himself. And in context I don't see anything wrong with "that's what we have to say".

In the second he was speaking quickly, and it's just as likely that he said "with THE" rather than "with A".

"...he was speaking quickly, and it's just as likely that he said 'with THE' rather than 'with A'."

What's likely is irrelevant. What matters is what he actually said.

"A."

Stephen,
It's not irrelevant. I was talking about the likelihood of what he actually said. I listened to it, and there is no way anyone can say with any certainty which one he said. Those two phrases sound nearly identical when spoken quickly, and the definite article makes more sense in context.
And since Pastor Keller is a brother in Christ, I think it is appropriate that we accept his apology, give him the benefit of the doubt, and move on.

>>there is no way anyone can say with any certainty which one he said.

He said "a." It's clear. But the undercutting of the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Word of God is the warp and woof of everything Keller says. Bashir's questions are clear. Keller's answers are mincing and apologetic. Bashir tries to pin Keller down. Keller refuses to be pinned down and the closest he can get himself to go to the clear proclamation of Jesus Christ and the judgment and Heaven and Hell is to wheedle and cajole his listeners into choosing eternal fullness of themselves rather than eternal shriveling of themselves.

As I've repeatedly pointed out, any comparison between this minister of the Word and the Word itself demonstrates Keller's utter failure. Keller can't stop qualifying his words with "if," while the Apostle Paul says this:

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31)

God commands us, "In understanding be men." And the first step toward theological discernment and maturity will be to turn away from the mollycoddling and equivocation of effeminate preachers like Keller. They bear no resemblance to any prior Reformed father in history, let alone the Word of God. And it's not because they're contextualized to sharpen the Word for the tastes of their hearers. It's because they're contextualized to dull the Word for the tastes of their hearers. It's because they're contextualized to be popular, and thus they are. Horrendously so.

Love,