A tsunami of precious equivocation...
It is the final sign of imbecility in a people that it calls cats dogs and describes the sun as the moon—and is very particular about the preciseness of these pseudonyms. To be wrong, and to be carefully wrong, that is the definition of decadence. - G. K. Chesterton
A number of people have forwarded this clip in the past two weeks and it's been hard to know what to do with it. Keller's interview is about as bad as it could be. When the interview hit cyberspace, Keller issued an apology for one or two things he said. But his unfaithfulness to Jesus Christ and the Word of God was no momentary oversight or accident. It was a tsunami of careful, precise, well-placed equivocation, so the apology only made things worse.
For years, now, the Redeemer pastor has demonstrated a heavily nuanced and timid support for orthodox Christian doctrine...While claiming to hold to Biblical sexuality, he admits his church doesn't identify as pro-life and that he doesn't preach against sodomy. He has women leading everything but the pulpit Lord's Day morning and formal disciplinary matters in the elders meetings. He has women teaching men and leading men in small groups; he has women elected and installed as officers of the church; women directing the diaconate; and in everything else, women exercising over men the authority that is contrary to the Order of Creation and direct command of Scripture.
While claiming to hold to the orthodox Christian doctrine of Scripture, in front of an auditorium of unbelievers Keller speaks of himself as a minister with "a scripture." One of my close friends is a Manhattan attorney who recently left Redeemer after attending it for over a decade. Several times through the years he's said to me, "Tim carefully chooses every word; nothing is unintentional. He's a master of rhetoric."
True. Words and their careful use are Keller's gift. He is "able to teach." Thus that indefinite article paired with the Word of God Written didn't just pop out of his mouth.
It was intentional and said everything he needed it to say. He would never refer to the Bible as "a scripture" in front of his fellow PCA teaching elders or his (and our) seminary theology professor, the late Roger Nicole. But it was useful for voicing a one-among-many holy books approach to a world and city that hates exclusivism and damns those who confess the truth rather than a truth.
While claiming to hold to an orthodox Christian doctrine of salvation, there in front of an auditorium of unbelievers Keller is asked the question, "Do you believe that there is only one God, and that there is only one way to approach that God?" Keller responds:
"If....yes, if.....okay, yes, if....I'm speaking as a Christian here.....if Jesus Christ is who he says he is, if he is the Son of God from heaven, if he is, uh, if he really was bodily raised from the dead, and if he was our original Creator, I mean if all that's true, that's what he says, then of course there'd have to be just one way to God, because our souls would need him, or they would shrivel eternally, just like your body needs food or it would shrivel.
I mean, the fact is my body here needs food or it would shrivel. That's not narrow-minded to say. That's just the way it is. If Jesus is who he said he is, then our souls would have to get him in order to be eternally full and thrive.
And if we don't get him, then we would eternally shrivel.
So to say...it seems so narrow....to claim that there's only one way to God, to say that actually precludes the possibility that Jesus is who he says he is. I mean, if he is who he says he is, then that's what we're st.... (sic); that's what we have to say.
Note at 1:27 how Keller catches himself saying "that's what we're stuck with," so he backs up and changes it to "that's what we have to say." More nuanced but same difference.
Tim Keller is reformish Evangelicals' current rock star and they won't easily give up their idol. But dear ones, be warned: looking up to Tim Keller and taking him as your model for ministry will harm you and the sheep God has placed you over. Keller is like Rob Bell and his fellow Gospel Coalitioner Scotty Smith. He bears no resemblance at all to Martyn Lloyd-Jones or J. Gresham Machen.
We live in an evil day, so there's no reason to declare a moratorium on our Lord's warning against men who everyone speaks well of. Better to find heroes by burrowing into the past. Read Iain Murray's biographies. Re-read Baxter's The Reformed Pastor. Memorize Scripture.
The other day I was writing a father who is having difficulty disciplining his first children who are now reaching the teenage years. I told him parents rarely get more faithful in the discipline of their younger children than they were with their eldest. Our older children usually have more careful training than our middle and youngest. This is partly due to the loss of the help our older children provide in the discipline of their younger brothers and sisters. They leave home and we're caught flat-footed wondering why things have gotten so much harder?
But the other aspect of the decline in faithful childrearing is age. As we get older, we are inclined to laxity and this is true in all ages and all professions--not simply childrearing. Another brother who's also recently left Redeemer wrote that, years back, Tim Keller would never have responded to Bashir's questions as he did in this video clip. Like all of us, Tim is ageing and temptations are calling him to the compromises of the older man.
Rereading The Reformed Pastor the other day, Baxter was pointing out how young pastors are zealous for defending the faith while older pastors are soft for compromise and peace at any price. Like many of us, Tim Keller is showing his age. May God grant him a session and fellow presbyters who will call him to repentance for betraying the Word of God. Pray for Tim. Pray for me.