Tom Wright, Darryl Hart, Tim Keller, and Peter Leithart...

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At a classical music concert, all the applause is self-congratulatory. - David Jeremy Bayly

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that three men have been standouts in the volume of Baylyblog posts warning against them: Tom (N. T.) Wright, Darryl Hart, and Tim Keller. Each of these men has shown himself adept at drawing away disciples after him who will join in his rebellion against crucial parts of Biblical faith. Tom Wright denies God’s Creation Order, Darryl Hart denies the Church’s calling to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all creation, and Tim Keller denies the Biblical doctrines of sexuality, Creation, and Hell.

The most striking thing about these men is their abuse of language...

All three write to the end that their readers and listeners will pride themselves over being among the chosen ones smart enough to appreciate their deep insights: “What erudition!” “What command of the language!” “What rapier wit!” Truth set to the side, flattery is a writer’s best friend. A man’s chest swells with pride as he tastes Tom, Darryl, and Tim’s dainty morsels, but their flattery of their readers carries a stiff price.

Scripture says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27:6). Similarly, the Apostle Paul pleads his case against the super-apostles, saying:

For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. - 2Corinthians 11:5, 6

Those super-apostles opposing God’s truth among the Corinthians accused the Apostle Paul of being ignorant. He was “unskilled in speech” while they themselves were quite skilled in their speech and sophisticated in their rhetorical flourishes. Phrases like “human flourishing” rolled off their tongues.

Was the Apostle Paul “unskilled in speech” because he was uneducated? Was his simplicity due to his verbal and intellectual limitations?

Absolutely not. The Apostle Paul's simple speech was not due to his limitations. It was due to his principles. It was his commitment. He could have traded rhetorical flourishes with the best of them, but the Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to write in such a way that the super-apostles would accuse him of being “unskilled in speech.” Praise God, despite his intellectual gifts and pedigree, in his preaching, teaching, and writing the Apostle Paul kept the cookies on a low shelf. During this week of Thanksgiving, let us each give thanks that the super-apostles didn’t write the New Testament, but the Apostle Paul did. And down to this very day, we are the beneficiaries of his humility.

Simplicity was the Apostle Paul’s strength in communication, but the super-apostles judged it a weakness and sneered at him for it. They ridiculed him within the church of Corinth, but the Apostle Paul knew big words and rhetorical flourishes would detract from God’s people believing and obeying God’s truth.

The super apostle’s rhetorical sophistication is the entry point for the simpleton's pride, but a short time later he finds his vanity has led him to judge God harshly and to repudiate God’s truth. And that’s a bitter day, when the simpleton has his eyes opened and learns his vanity and pride have led him to choose man over God, urbanity over simplicity, lies over truth, man’s manipulations over the power of the Holy Spirit, rebellion over submission, being hip over being holy.

Poison goes down imperceptibly when you’re eating in a famous French restaurant surrounded by the rich and famous. Buried in an exquisite dish that’s more about presentation than taste, the poison does its work. Who are you to question this world-renowned chef? Tickled pink to be there, you’re not about to show yourself a fool by whispering to the waiter that something’s not wright. Send the plate back to the kitchen? Are you serious?

This is how it is with men like Tom, Darryl, and Tim: we suck in their error because the best and brightest are quoting them all the time; and when we read them, we realize we’ve been elevated into a rarefied atmosphere occupied by men and ideas much, much more important than our own petty lives. They themselves tell us how great they are. Every last paragraph and sentence tells us how great they are. Being stupid, we move on from congratulating ourselves over having the sophistication to appreciate such sophistication to congratulating ourselves that he sees things just as we see them.

I'd like to think women are equal to men.

Yeah Tom, you tell them.

Sodomy is a victimless crime, and outside the privacy of their church-house no pastor should condemn it. Separation of church and state! Separation of church and state!

Yeah Darryl, you tell them.

If we are going to avoid alienating the sophisticated purveyors of culture that comprise our market niche, we need to prove we respect women as much as they do. That means we must elect women officers.

The gay lifestyle may not be God’s best for human flourishing but it won't send you to Hell. Self-righteousness will.

Yeah Tim, you tell them. And tell them again.

Recently I’ve been hard at work adding a fourth man to this list. His name is Peter Leithart and he stakes his claim to being the master of rhetorical sophistication as loudly as any of his three predecessors. Keep your eye on him and don’t be so foolish as to think you can befriend him. It’s for good reason that I’ve been assiduous in my efforts to attach a chain to his collar.

Scripture is a hammer. A fire. Scripture boxes us about our ears and we feel it. Scripture strips us of our vanity and convicts us of our rebellion, and we know it. This is good.

The foursome are not hammers or fires, but feathers that tickle. The foursome stroke our egos and we feel it. They feed our vanity and rebellion and we know it. This is evil.

No, not all the time. Usually their words are an admixture of truth and falsehood, and quite often their presentation of truth is stunning. And yet, a stunning presentation of truth in the service of making error more palatable or enticing is merely a false flag operation.

The man foaming at the mouth as he falls from his seat at the table is not thinking to himself how privileged he is to be dying surrounded by other sophisticated palates in a Michelin Three Stars restaurant; nor that, absent the poison, his meal would certainly have proven to be the epicurean memory of a lifetime.

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!