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

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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...

...the church is mostly white and Asian. ...Since this is NYC I have to ask where are the African Americans, Puerto Ricans and other cultures? ...the congregation again not the pastors fault they seem to be focused on making money and their careers and not on God at all. God is there to bless their agendas this is how they seem to operate

So the culture of the church and focus of the congregation seems to be on White and Asians who make good money and have high end careers rather than on God. A huge basic of the Christian faith is death to self. Now you are a new person and your focus is to please God not yourself. But at Redeemer in the congregation when you hear testimonies that are approved by the pastoral staff they usually start with their professional credentials. I do not see any death to self but actually the opposite. Look at what I can do "for God' because of my high income and education.


Even though I (now) have a good church in Chicago, I still log onto my Redeemer sermons account, sit back with my journal, and listen and write as his soft voice and "it's not about you" message deflate whatever frustration, tension, hurt, or disappointment I come to the table with.


And I'm not even a Christian. ...That's right.  I'm one of those pluralist Christian-y-Buddhist-y-New-Age-y fusions who has a hard time finding a Christian church that accepts all of me (I know, Unitarian Universal much?) or a pastor that is smart, logical, and sounds like an Ivy League professor. ...Even if you're not Christian, go to hear a great orator hearken back to the Roman Forum.


My impression of IAM (Redeemer's International Arts Movement) is that it's an international arts movement looking at art as a means of reconciliation in the world -  artists as reconcilers.... which resonates with my image of artists as story tellers and truth tellers in society... people to create visions of the future, to sense change and currents in society and cry out for the oppressed in the world... 


I've been listening to his sermons online on and off for more than 10 years ...We have to pay for the online ones but it's nothing compared to transportation/parking fee... Back when I used to physically go there, I loved the music part of the service because people who sing/play music there are sooo talented.


The thing my friend and I found disconcerting was the distinct lack of black and latino at Redeemer. It seemed more of a nice, midwest megachurch with lots of Asians and whites making up the majority of the congregation. Perhaps this is due, in part, to Redeemer's srong nexus with Campus Crusade-a very mid-American, evangelical movement that targets a largely educated, upper-middle-class audience.

Finally from the review dated 1/17/2011:

My husband and I regularly purchase and listen to his sermons. ...I haven't ever heard anyone speak of repentance at Redeemer -ever. Again I have listened to hundreds of sermons and been to at least a hundred services both on the West and East sides.

No one wants to be judged by some of his friends. Still, when you read all these unsolicited reviews, the uniformity of themes is telling. What these reviewers, both believers and unbelievers, write conforms to my experience of the PCA, generally: a Campus Crusade white and Asian culture that is success-driven, very soft, and never speaks of repentance.

This is the reason Tim Keller is every PCA pastor's hero. He's pulled it off better than anyone.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!