Keller and the PCA

Here are a couple of questions and Tim Keller’s answers to them from THIS INTERVIEW in First Things:

Do you ever see a point at which Redeemer’s mission, which is transdenominational, if not nondenominational, is inhibited by being a member of a specific denomination? Would it be easier to do what you do if you were not connected to the Presbyterian Church in America?

Maybe a little. Because, when you’re part of a denomination, you’ve got to have some constitution, some structure that you hold with everybody else. The larger a church gets, the more unique it gets, and it would always be a little easier, I suppose, if we didn’t have any—like, for example, how we do elections. We have to get a quorum of our members. When our constitution was built, no one was thinking about a church that held five services on a Sunday, at three locations. So the problem is to get a quorum of our congregation, we don’t actually have a quorum of our congregation at any one service. So where do we hold an election for our services? And the answer is, we choose the largest one and we just hope people come. So it’s a bit of a struggle to get a quorum, because our constitution is set up for a traditional church in a small town. Its [sic] not set up for multi-site churches, it’s not set up for churches that don’t have their own buildings. And if we were an independent church, we’d just do it our own way. But we think it’s very very important to be part of the connection. We think for accountability it’s important, for tradition it’s important. So we just put up with it.

Even though you’re helping to plant non-Presbyterian churches?

Yes, because I don’t believe you can reach New York with the gospel if you only plant Presbyterian churches. There are all kinds of people who’ll never be Presbyterians. It just doesn’t appeal to them. Some people are going to be Pentecostals, some people are going to be Catholics. I mean, I know that sounds—I’m not talking about that certain cultures reach certain people. It’s much more complicated than that. Even though there’s something to that. We all know that certain cultures seem to have more of an affinity toward a certain kind of Christian tradition than others, but I wouldn’t want to reduce it to that at all. I would just say that I only know that God seems to use all these kinds of churches to reach the whole breadth of humanity, and so that’s why we give money to start churches of other denominations, and give free training to it. And we’ve done about a hundred in the New York area, where we’ve helped people. It’s very important to us.

Does it bother the PCA at all that they are merely being “put up with” by Redeemer?

D.G. Hart once wondered if Tim Keller had left the PCA for the Gospel Coalition, are Keller’s words here hints that he might be heading for the door? What if the Gospel Coalition could give him all the accountability he admits is still needed?

And does a Presbyterian Church have any business enabling Pentecostalism and Roman Catholicism? Sure, there are “all kinds of people who’ll never be Presbyterians” because “it just doesn’t appeal to them,” but that shouldn’t give you a green-light to aid them in the continuation of their errors.

The bottom line is that Keller just wants to see a culturally transformed New York City. He gives me the impression here that this goal is more important than maintaining doctrinal purity.

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87 Responses to Keller and the PCA

  1. Pete says:

    Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? As a mere member (not a minister) in the PCA, I’m shocked and distressed that “one of us” would/could imply that a group of people teaching a false gospel (Rome) are an instrument of grace. “God seems to use all these kinds of churches to reach the whole breadth of humanity” In my humble opinion, this is the problem with “Mere Christianity” apologetics and theology

  2. Zrim says:

    Keller demonstrates yet another version of high opinion/low view of a thing (i.e. denomination, confession, etc.). He sounds a lot like the Evangelicals in my CRC who have either churned out the revision of the FOS or those who laud it.

    It seems to me that what is usually behind either an over- or under-charitable tone toward other Christians who call themselves something like Pentecostals or Roman Catholic is the inability to grasp the notion of the in/visible church. I have every expectation that I will see all sorts in the new aeon. But how that translates into being less than militant in this aeon escapes me. I get views like Keller’s about as well as I get FLiPs (“Fundamentalists Learning to be Presbyterian”): if one isn’t busy dulling the lines and illegitimately maximizing the space under the Big Tent the other is looking for devils under every doily and rendering the triumphant church to be the size of a postage stamp. One coddles souls into a false sense of security, the other brutalizes sinners into a false sense of insecurity.

  3. Ron Smith says:

    The bottom line is that Keller just wants to see a culturally transformed New York City. He gives me the impression here that this goal is more important than maintaining doctrinal purity.

    The purity of the Church and the unity of the Church will be at odds until sin is no more. One could have a church that is 100% pure (at least as he sees it) but that would be at odds with the unity of the Church because he would be the only member, which would in turn be at odds with the purity of the Church because we are called to love one another. On the other extreme, we could just say to everyone in the world, “I’m OK, you’re OK, let’s all get along,” but this would be at odds with the purity of the Church. There has to be a balance where fellowship is possible with Christians of different denominations and the issues that concern us can be discussed among brethren.

  4. Brad Lenzner says:

    Written by Samuel Miller (the entire document is here):

    Let no Presbyterian, then, be reluctant or afraid to manifest a warm attachment to his own church, or to step forward, on all proper occasions, to promote her comfort, her enlargement, and her edification. Let him not hesitate to declare his belief in her doctrines ; to defend her when attacked ; to consider himself as charged with a portion of her support and honour: and to pray without ceasing for her extension and spiritual prosperity. Let him not fear, while he does all this, lest any impute to him the want of Christian ” charity,” or the indulgence of censurable ” bigotry.” But, while he prefers his own church to any and every other; and while he does all in his power to build it up, let him ” hold the truth in love.” Let him see to it that he loves the image of Christ wherever he finds it; and that when he sees others ” casting out devils,” he is never to ” forbid them, because they follow with us.” Let him see to it that he rejoices in the prosperity of all who manifest the spirit of the gospel ; and that much as he loves and prefers his own church, he never allows himself to imagine that she has no defects; and that there is no good out of her pale. In fine, let him do all he can to show by his own spirit and conduct, that the Presbyterian church is a liberal church ; that its whole spirit and structure admit of free intercourse with sister churches on just principles ; and that it is much more anxious to see the world converted to the holiness and happiness with which Christ came to bless mankind, than to see the peculiarities of its own body gaining universal dominion.

    ——-

    …Just and interesting take related to the topic of this blog post.

  5. Pingback: Presbyterianism and Pluralism in NYC « Heidelblog

  6. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    Thanks for posting this.

    This is astonishingly bad. I can’t believe this came from a PCA minister. I am appalled.

    About this quorum business, Keller says that it’s not designed for huge churches with 5 services and multiple campuses. My response is very simple: “DUH!” Doesn’t he think there might be some reason for that, like perhaps those who founded his denomination didn’t intend for there to BE churches of his size, and doesn’t he think there might be a reason for that?

    And he gives money to Romans and Pentecostals!?

    I’m downright incredulous.

    I’m appalled and disgusted.

    Keller: If anyone brings a gospel other than the one the apostles and Christ himself first preached to you, let him receive our financial support!

    Yuck.

    Zrim, thanks for posting this. I’ll never complain again about any anti-Keller argument you make, and I take back any and all such comments I have made in the past.

  7. Lori says:

    I don’t think the article says he has given money to Roman Catholics and Pentecostals (to plant churches) Perhaps all his is saying is that there are Christians in those denominations. All of the plants listed on his website as affiliated with Redeemer are Presbyterian.

  8. Lori says:

    Actually, the list includes one evangelical anglican church and a few community churches, one of which is PCA.

  9. Rick says:

    Echo,
    My name is Rick.

  10. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    Like Rick says, this is his post.

    Rick,

    You managed to post the right thing in order to get dear Echo to retract everything he has ever said per Keller and his organic transformationalism and my critcisms. Wow, you’re tops, man.

  11. Austin Britton says:

    Thanks for sharing that quote Brad, very interesting.

  12. Rick,

    Be sure to thank Zrim for all his tireless work on this blog, especially for posting this interview. I don’t know how he keeps all his nommes de plumme straight.

    So what’s your job here, Rick?

  13. Zrim says:

    Jason,

    Thanks (?)

    Ricky (Bobby) Steve

    (Hey, Ricky was also the fat kid across the street in Better Off Dead, who was also in Head of the Class, right?)

  14. Rick says:

    Technical support. And I’m the tail that wags the dog.

  15. Mike Brown says:

    That’s right, Zrim! Ricky was the fat kid across the street. And the name of the French girl?

  16. Rick says:

    Monique!

    “Oh you mean tentacles. There’s a big difference.”

  17. Mike Brown says:

    dingdingdingdingdingding!!!

    OK, how about Lane Meyer’s best friend? Who was that and what other 80s movie was he in?

  18. Rick says:

    He was in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. But I can’t think of his name in BOD.

    “This is pure snow! Do you know what the street value of this mountain could be?”

    You get one more off topic comment Rev. Then I have to cut us both off.

    *UPDATE*

    Everyone get their BOD quote fix here.

  19. Mike Brown says:

    NICE!

    No thanks, Rick, I’m done. I’m finishing up Exodus 2.

    Thanks for the laughs!

  20. Zrim says:

    Let me get one more in, Rick. It’s been an 80’s day.

    Lane’s dad was Winchester from MASH. And his best friend was not only from Nerds but was also in Moonlighting.

    Uh-hum…and the dancing burger was what happens when you actually pull off TRANSFORMING meat (speaking of getting back to topic).

  21. Mike Brown says:

    That’s right you guys need to get back off topic. “Right off, Lane” “On, Dad, right on

  22. Zrim says:

    Mike,

    You’re killin’, baby, killin’. Must have been something in that water they gave us when we graduated in ’88.

  23. 1988? Man, you guys are old!

  24. Mike Brown says:

    You graduated in 88? Nice! My wife and I both graduated from Anaheim High School in 88!

    I knew there was something I liked about you Zrim along with the fact that you would die for the Reformed faith.

    Yes, Jase, we are old. So show us a little more respect, brutha! 🙂

  25. Zrim says:

    Mike,

    Yes, I graduated in ’88 from a Senior High in northern Michigan that was designed by a guy in California. Classes were in different buildings connected only by a sidewalk with a lame covering to shield sun (which only comes out 3 times a year) and rain. It was…asinine. They only recently enclosed the campus a few years ago. It was good for watching fat kids with little tiny backpacks slip and fall on the ice and roil around like junebugs. Now THAT is killin’.

  26. Zrim says:

    Jason,

    At least we have hair. Well, Mike does anyway.

  27. So Zrim, do you have one of those, umm, accents?

  28. Zrim says:

    Jason,

    Yes. Well, at least my colleagues from North Carolina tell us we do. But if you mean do I sound like Norma McDormand in Fargo, no.

  29. OooKeee DooKeee theeer, Zrim.

    Man, you just can’t capture it with the written word, canya?

  30. Mike Brown says:

    Zrim,

    Just so you know, out of respect, I am trying my hardest not to laugh at Jason’s joke. But it’s tough. Guys who grew up in the O.C. are complete snobs.

  31. Maybe, but they also don’t call it “The OC.” Oops, I think I just proved your point….

  32. Rick says:

    How ’bout that Keller? Do you think he’ll be in the PCA much longer?

    too much for a Friday?

    “too early for flap-jacks?”

    (name that movie)

  33. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rick,

    Whoops. Sorry. Zrim posts so much more than the rest of you that it’s usually a safe assumption. Forgive me. (Yes, I’m saying the rest of you need to post more.)

    E

  34. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    It’s not like I was in favor of this business until this post. It’s not like I looked at Keller and said, “See, the pure preaching of the gospel can create a mega-church.” Nope, all I ever knew about Keller pretty much came from what Johnson says about him in “Him We Proclaim”.

    This is the first time I’m aware of that any substantive proof for the accuracy of your charges against Keller has come before me.

    So for the record, the very moment your charges were proven accurate I admitted it and jumped on board.

  35. Echo_ohcE says:

    Lori,

    You said: “I don’t think the article says he has given money to Roman Catholics and Pentecostals (to plant churches) Perhaps all his is saying is that there are Christians in those denominations. All of the plants listed on his website as affiliated with Redeemer are Presbyterian.”

    Keller said: “I would just say that I only know that God seems to use all these kinds of churches to reach the whole breadth of humanity, and so that’s why we give money to start churches of other denominations, and give free training to it. And we’ve done about a hundred in the New York area, where we’ve helped people. It’s very important to us.”

    Echo: What are “all these kinds of churches” that Keller is talking about? In his own words he said, “Some people are going to be Pentecostals, some people are going to be Catholics.”

    Now maybe it’s not true that he’s already given money, support and training to Pentecostal and Roman church planters, but his own words certainly logically imply that, and at the very least, he’s in favor of the idea, even if he hasn’t yet acted on it.

    As such, I don’t think I mischaracterized what he said, and my outrage remains justified.

    By the way, giving aid to Roman and Pentecostal church planters with his church’s money is a chargeable offense, for which he must either repent or face discipline.

    But I guess the PCA is a bit busy disciplining these days.

    E

  36. Rick says:

    Yes, I’m saying the rest of you need to post more

    You’re right. I just counted and only 20% of the total posts are mine.

    Wait a minute, 20% = 1/5 and we have 5 authors. I’m just about right.

    But I guess the PCA is a bit busy disciplining these days

    You can say that again. But something tells me Keller is the “can-do-no-wrong” minister in the PCA. An untouchable of sorts.

  37. RubeRad says:

    Yes, I graduated in ‘88 from a Senior High in northern Michigan that was designed by a guy in California.

    My wife and I are class of ’88 too! (And I graduated from a high school in southern california that was built exactly like yours!)

  38. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rick,

    The Lord will shepherd his church.

    E

  39. Rube,

    Which high school?

  40. Zrim says:

    JJS,

    Yah, das fer shere, der, mister man. Actually, in real life I wish I sounded more like Steve Buscemi, but my wife tells me I come off like his wood-chipper buddy. Now, dat’s just bein’ mean, I mean, if yah ask me.

    Mike,

    I hear you on the OC snob thing. I recall telling the good pastor as much when he dissed Mellencamp in exchange for the Insane Clown Posse. Sheesh, you’d think a pinko like him would at least give John props for “Pink Houses.” I am used to snobs though. My college roomate put himself through as a disk jockey and, man, was that guy a music snob. I deliberately drove him nuts by telling him my favorite Beatles song was “Penny Lane.” Joke was on him though, since I don’t have favorites of anything, which comes in handy since I can’t decide between Abbey Road and White Album most days. (Kidding, Jason. Like you said once, “You rock; I just like calling you names sometimes.”)

    Rick,

    Re Keller, I wonder if it could be said that his head is in the PCA but his heart is in the Gospel Coalition? Keller reminds me of trying to find Waldo.

    Seems Sinead O’Connor is right: I guess the Lord must be in New York City.

    Echo,

    See, it pays to listen directly to the source sometimes. It’s real easy, just go to his web site. And I can email you his “Missional” manifesto and no extra charge if you’d like; just say the word.

    Rick and Echo,

    I am about to post something on Wolterstorff.

    Rube,

    Sounds like your High School architect was a confessionalist and mine was a transformationalist. The former works with what God has given while the latter thinks he can change what is ordained by doing stuff like putting a Southern California campus on a northern Michigan piece of land (round pegs and square holes, wineskins and all that you know). I am just glad a confessionalist came along an enclosed the campus.

  41. mindformissions says:

    brothers,

    aside from one, i find it hard to believe that the blogging went on WITHOUT giving an eye to brother brad lenzner’s quote. frankly, it seems disturbing to see so many posts that do not deal with, but rather dismiss it as if it never happened (much like dr. clark blogging on a dispensational’s blog in arguing over “replacement” theology).

    our brother brad has offered something penetrating and it gives a good perspective on how presbyterians need to take not only hold fast to doctrine… but also keep commending the preaching of the gospel wherever it may be…

    as a missionary once told me, “doctrinal classifications are so much clearer in the states… but when you’re in the missions field, the kingdom of God is ever so clearer… and then the bounds of doctrines which distinguish (true churches) become less clear.”

    and from my take on what brad’s insights offer us… for the Reformed, it seems (at least from the responses) that we see the Kingdom of God to be a lot smaller than it really is… but (in antithetical fashion) the Kingdom of God is much bigger than it really is for the common evangelical… we should do all we can to put forth the gospel for the sake of the Kingdom and commend work done towards that. perhaps keller deserves some credit for at least thinking that.

  42. Echo_ohcE says:

    The only problem with that is that Rome has declared the true gospel anathema, and Pentecostals have no idea what the gospel really says.

    So when Keller talks about helping out Romans and Pentecostals, he’s not advancing the gospel, but working against it.

    So he should not get credit for that.

  43. Mike Brown says:

    Dear, “mindformissions,”

    For my part, not commenting on Brad’s post was an act of charity. Contrary to your conclusion (in which you claim to know the motives of others), I did not dismiss it as if it never happened.

    I have a mind for missions too (and a heart), just not in the way that Mr. Keller does.

  44. Echo_ohcE says:

    I hereby challenge any and all takers to show me just one example of a Pentecostal minister that preaches the gospel.

    If there is only one, I’ll refrain from saying that Pentecostalism is a false religion. Until then, that is my claim. It’s a false religion.

    The Council of Trent makes Rome a synagogue of Satan, so until Rome reverses their anathema of justification by faith alone, it is not a Christian church, but a false, pagan, gnostic church.

  45. Brad Lenzner says:

    I am fairly certain who mindformissions is. He is a good friend of mine at WSC. I have emailed him and requested that he directly identify who he is when/if he comments here further.

    Regarding my comment above, as you know you it was a quotation from Samuel Miller and therefore not anything original to me.

    I regret not attaching my opinion to the quote regarding the topic of this thread. So let me do so now. I think Rick’s questions are fair and necessary given what Keller actually said and what he implied.

    I think that Tim Keller’s comments are problematic. “Putting up with” the tradition and polity of the PCA, as he stated, is troubling. I think he has revealed an error in his judgment. While I think that all of us, in our various Reformed denominations and federations, may bump up against some things in our peculiar circles that we may wish was done slightly different, none of us, perhaps, would be so vocal as Keller about it and potentially cause God’s people to become confused over our polity.

    So, right off the bat I think his comments should not only raise eyebrows for their difficult implications but also because they could end up leading some of God’s sheep to question or wonder about the validity of the traditions and polity of the PCA. I find this ironic because he wants to embrace, on some levels, a measure of unity with evangelicalism (and Rome?), but in doing so he subtly chips away at the foundation of his own denomination.

    I will say, however, that I am sympathetic to the desire to recognize that God’s elect are not just found only within our Reformed walls. Surely all of you here in the Outhouse believe that too. So, I can see, at least a little bit, what Keller is getting at. Where I draw back from him is on monetarily supporting Rome and Pentecostalism. I think there are other ways to encourage God’s elect in other assemblies without subtly eroding presbyterian polity and Reformed theology.

    Additionally, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to Tim Keller and his convictions. I say that not as a slight against him but only as an admission that I don’t have the time nor inclination to search out all his convictions on these matters.

    I quoted Samuel Miller above because sometimes I get the feeling that us Reformed folk are quick to only express outrage and incredulity toward those outside our walls and even toward those who are within our walls.

    I appreciated Miller’s words in that he pointed out that there is nothing wrong with preferring and defending one’s own denomination and even trying to persuade others to enter into it. But he also points out, and I think rightly, that we ought not to be so caught up in the defense and propagation of our own denomination so as to become hard in such a way that would keep us from being able to even acknowledge any good outside of Reformed churches or in churches that are within the pale of the Reformation but with whom we may have disagreements.

    Let me be clear here, I am not defending Tim Keller and his support of Rome and Pentecostalism (although I do know some thoughtful Pentecostals, love them very much, and pray that they come to a fuller understanding of the Word). I would definitely go about things in a different way than Keller.

    Anyway, my aim with the quote was not to poke my finger in the eyes of the Outhouse. I love the Outhouse! I feel the same struggles in my own heart that Outhouse brings to the table.

    I guess my first reaction to Keller was somewhat different than others here. I was not outraged. I was saddened by some of the implications of what he said. Am I the only one who was saddened first?

    Mike, thanks for extending an act of charity toward my quoting of Samuel Miller. But was the quote really that bad that it required charity on your part?

    I actually would really like to hear your reaction. I have tremendous respect for you and your ministry and will most likely learn from your critique of it. I sincerely mean that. I won’t take anything personal because I know that you won’t make personal attacks against me.

    Grace and peace,

    Brad

  46. Rick says:

    I too pondered the link Brad provided and my silence concerning it was not because I disagreed. No denomination should think that they are the one true church and think they alone have been entrusted with the oracles of God. But I still ask; what business does a Presbyterian Church have helping to plant Pentecostal and Roman churches? They don’t have any business doing this because Reformed/Presbyterianism stands in opposition to the doctrines of Rome and Pentecostalism. The confessions are taking a back seat here. In fact, broadly, the doctrines of grace are taking a back seat to a desired end of cultural renewal, a transformed city.

    I am URCNA, my denomination has a lot in common with many other denominations- we confess as much by being part of NAPARC – and I would love to see Godfrey’s “Reformed Dream” become a reality (but it won’t). In fact, I wouldn’t have a huge problem with my church giving money to a PCA church plant that was struggling. Hey, I’d help them myself if I could. I would draw the line, and Redeemer NYC should draw the same line, if we were to support a Pentecostal or Roman (or Methodist, Weslyan, etc.) congregation just because some people don’t feel at home in the Reformed Church. Our confessions put them in error. Do we believe what we confess?

    I have friends who are Pentecostal and family who are Roman Catholic. I do not rebuke them or insult them, but, when given and opportunity, I will try to gently and lovingly point out their error. One thing I would never do is encourage them to continue on the path they are on. That would mean that I don’t believe what I confess.

  47. Mike Brown says:

    Brad,

    What Rick said. To the letter.

    Thank you for your subsequent post!

    Blessings,
    Mike

  48. Brad Lenzner says:

    Rick and Mike,

    I come to the same conclusion ultimately. Although, I think I may be more of an optimist concerning Godfrey’s “Reformed Dream.” =)

    And while we’re speaking ecumencally here, I’d financially support a URCNA church. Even though I no longer formally confess the Three Forms, I have a a high regard for them. In fact, I refer people to the URCNA all the time in my interactions around Souther California. Mike, I tell people all the time about your church.

    I also would financially support a PCA church as well even though I’m not in the PCA.

    I’ll go ahead and answer your next question, if you don’t know already…I’m in a fellow NAPARC denomination, the Korean American Presbyterian Church (KAPC). That’s a long story…lol.

    Peace,

    Brad

  49. mindformissions says:

    dear all,

    first off, i’d like to apologize for being anonymous!!! as part of the ad hoc committee forming the “mind for missions” class i had no idea that the name would come up. (fyi. my name is solomon li, 3rd year at wscal)

    secondly, thank you rev. brown for the kind rebuke. i do NOT claim to know what is in the hearts of others. i was merely responding to the fact that no one bothered to write about brother brad’s quote, and like brad i do feel sometimes those in our camp do not recognize the unity which all believers share in the gospel outside the bounds of the reformed context.

    in response to the various comments subsequent to the debate at hand, i do (to some extent) agree with the conclusions that the PCA should not take a back seat. however, i ALSO believe that if given the chance to clarify or retract some of the notions the words communicate, dr. keller would likely do so. dr. keller does have some “issues” on how things are done in the PCA, but the people around him seem to indicate that he does love the PCA in other respects.

    in other words, i think that if we were to take him to task, perhaps giving him an opportunity to further develop his thoughts would be a much more charitable and proper approach than merely blogging about him. the fact is i DO NOT claim to know what is in dr. keller’s mind and heart no more than i wish to claim to know what is in anyone else’s.

    to the dismay of many, dr. keller is not well written and as such, he does not have a body of work that expresses his context and thought fully. as he admits himself, the reasoning for his financial backing of other churches is more “complicated” than that. perhaps the follow up question should be, “dr. keller, would you mind fleshing that out more? what is so complicated about this? what churches have you financed?”

    what he is getting at though, (i believe from my understanding of his quote) is that there are indeed many places where we can find believers outside of the reformed denominational context (per brother brad’s interpretation). as to if i personally agree with “financing” those churches… i don’t. however, if there was an opportunity to teach people to preach the gospel and aid them i’d rather do that than let them preach something else in their churches.

    i have no doubt that this is one of the things that dr. keller refers to by saying “training”. redeemer’s own core values states that they believe the gospel is not only the abc’s of the faith, but the a to z’s. if this training is part of redeemer, then the gospel’s prominence could be an assumption he’s working with.

    as to the specific financing of a roman catholic church plant in NY, so far as i know rome is doing fine on its own financially without the likes of us protestants… so unless dr. keller says straight up that he’s financed a catholic church, i’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he has not.

    he seems to have answered the question at hand by first trying to describe the landscape of NY city in that the fact is (like everywhere else in the US) people will come to know the gospel in different churches and do gravitate towards different contexts because of a particular appeal (doctrinal, culturally, traditionally, experientially). that’s just the way non-christians operate just the same as Christians. it should not be that way, but it’s a reality of ministry.

    again, i’d like to reiterate that there is a meaty discussion here that i think would benefit us all if dr. keller himself would respond to some of the concerns looming around. i guess he seems like the “john mccain” of the reformed who reaches out so well to the middle… but needs to reach back to the base more.

    much love,

    -solomon

  50. mindformissions says:

    p.s.

    in response to one of the first posts criticizing dr. keller’s approach to the election of officers i think there are a couple of things to ponder…

    1. even if the PCA never meant for churches to “BE” that size dr. keller does try his best in saying he chooses to pick a service where there is likely a quorum of members to do it… it’s ultimately up to the members to “show up” in order to have a quorum.

    2. if reformed churches preached the gospel and they were all that big i’d think most pastors would be quite encouraged they would have such a problem and take heart that God has charged them to face that problem.

    3. even if they didn’t have that problem, pastors should be encouraged to be faithful regardless of the church’s size…. whether enormous or tiny… ministry is tough regardless of the size of the church and finding a quorum is difficult in many churches of various sizes.

    and finally, even if dr. keller didn’t mean for the church to be that big, it is… people don’t want to leave… and if they did to be part of other church plants, i’m sure MORE new people would fill their seats. it’s something that naturally happens at established churches (generally speaking). so it’ll be probably the same problem for a long long time… and it needs to be taken to prayer for God’s wisdom in trying to be faithful in that position.

    -solomon

  51. Zrim says:

    Brad,

    I feel you. Good word. Great word, actually.

    Doing the in/visible church is just plain hard work. And I am never satisfied myself with some of the Fundamentalist-like parochialism that abounds in ours circles. I have posted here in various places on this. Indeed, one of the things that I find so attractive about Reformed confessionalism is how it seems able to cast away this sort of thing, while also making the lines so unmistakable. I like what Machen said when he was dogged to sign up with the Fundies: “Sounds like another religion.” Now that’s some kind of confessional instinct for you.

    While I am not much for bad kinds of parochialism, I also think there is onus on a man who is in Keller’s sort of position. And that it’s hard is no excuse for doing or saying sub-par things. I wouldn’t have wanted to be President of the US after 9/11. But I still hold his feet to the fire for what he elected to not/do. That comes with the job (sorry to get political here, but it’s really only to make a point). As a man, I sympathize with how hard a task may be. But when one takes any office that entails promises, etc. he must be prepared. This seems true of almost every vocation.

    Too often, I think, we are prone to go easy on folks in religious circles because we have accepted the notion that true religion is a matter of good feeling, etc. We get Rodney Kingish about things. I think that is a symptom of how Modernity has been victorious.

  52. Hi folks, thought I’d share an outsiders perspective on your conversation.

    As I read through your comments, I had the distinct impression that most of the posters who were critical of Keller haven’t actually listened to him very much.

    Someone actually said something to this effect:

    “Additionally, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to Tim Keller and his convictions. I say that not as a slight against him but only as an admission that I don’t have the time nor inclination to search out all his convictions on these matters.”

    I think this may be part of the reason you find his actions puzzling / troubling – if you understood his content, the things he says and does might make a whole lot more sense.

    IMO (as someone who’s listened to / read a lot of Keller, and been profoundly influenced by him), Keller’s core allegiance is centered on something other than his denomination, or even his reformed theology – it’s centered on his understanding of the gospel.

    And that’s what allows him to work cross denominationally – he sees that same gospel being embraced in some surprising places, and he’s more than happy to help it blossom wherever he can.

    Of course this also raises a question – does the fact that I’m PCA (or reformed), mean that I’ve necessarily _got_ that same gospel? That’s a really good question. And what’s surprising is how many folks seem to tie their understanding of the gospel to their denomination or even to their theology.

    In fact, I’d suggest that it’s possible to have all the right theology about Jesus (eg. reformed), and still completely miss the gospel – to offer others a system rather than a savior.

    I say that not to point the finger at any of you, but rather in reference to myself – I was there for many years. And it was through Keller (and folks influenced by him) that I finally realized that the gospel doesn’t just critique my irreligion (my badness), but it also critiques my religion (my goodness – all the places I’m placing my hope other than Jesus).

    Some of you are probably reading this thinking, “What the heck is he talking about?!?!” Once again, I’d encourage you to actually take the time to listen to Keller – at the very least (whether you agree or disagree w/ what he says), he’s an extremely influential figure whose views are shaping a lot of folks in the PCA and beyond – so if you want to understand what’s happening, you have to take the time to understand what he’s saying.

    A good place to start is with Steve McCoy’s site:
    http://www.stevekmccoy.com/reformissionary/2005/07/tim_keller_arti.html

    My .02…

    Christian Cryder
    The Missoula Project

  53. Zrim says:

    CC,

    For my part, like I have said, I have no use for (bad) parochial denominationalism. But there is bad parochialism and good parochialism, seems to me. And I tend to think that what Keller is doing is reacting to the bad form in his openness to Evangelicals and low view/high opinion of denomination.

    As to this “nobody reads Keller” stuff, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I have read plenty of the primary source. Indeed, Rick’s post proper is an interview–what more do we really want here?

    “Keller’s core allegiance is centered on something other than his denomination, or even his reformed theology – it’s centered on his understanding of the gospel…I’d suggest that it’s possible to have all the right theology about Jesus (eg. reformed), and still completely miss the gospel – to offer others a system rather than a savior.”

    I agree, I call it the “doctrine of doctrine.” But just because the doctrine of doctrine exists doesn’t mean we can bifurcate systems from the gospel. Seems to me you are having the same reaction to Fundamentalism that Keller is having to bad parochialism. What you and he seem to be about has a classic Revivalist and broad Evangelical ring to it, and in that way is really nothing all that new in American religion, depsite the glossy effect shining all around that somebody somehwre is finally going to rescue us from ourselves and less-than-useful institutions, systems, forms, etc., etc.

    The answer, CC, is not to eschew the ordained institutions that seem very often to have more problems than not and to chase after ways that seem to transcend institution, but to plod ahead and endure with a measure of sobriety. Seems to me what you are advocating here has a lot more in common with a theology of glory than the Cross. It is marked by an impatience and a persuasion that one can do better than the rest of us blokes sitting in the boat. I would rather be counted amongst the blokes and losers. But everyone knows that, it’s an Outhouse after all.

  54. Hi Zrim, you said:

    Seems to me what you are advocating here has a lot more in common with a theology of glory than the Cross.

    Could you unpack that a little bit? I’d like to be sure I understand what you’re saying…

    (ps – I may be slow or nonexistant in responding – it’s not that I’m not interested in what you think; schedule’s just very busy these days)

  55. Brad Lenzner says:

    Christian,

    I think Keller’s words speak for themselves regarding the PCA. I don’t feel like I need to read all his work in order to understand what he’s saying.

    Yes, he is influential but that doesn’t mean that people should read everything he writes just because he’s influential. Although, I will probably read his new book and will even hope to learn something from it.

    I think Zrim is right in saying that responsibility comes along with having influence. That means that when he speaks publically in such a way that subtly (some say overtly) erodes the importance of being consistent with what one has taken vows to confess (in Keller’s case, the Westminster Standards), he should be challenged.

    Ordained ministers in NAPARC affiliated denominations and federations capitulate to (and end up propagating) the dangers of evangelical culture when they weaken the importance of confessional clarity for the sake of appealing to more people.

    Not only is confessional clarity important, so is protecting God’s sheep from confusion. As Rev. Mike Brown has eloquently and persuasively explained elsewhere (http://michaelbrown.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/), confessions protect and aid the sheep on multiple levels. And when an influential minister, such as Tim Keller, sows seeds of confusion over the principles and convictions of the confessional standards and constitution of the PCA, he is (in my opinion) hurting his own sheep to some degree in the process by merely “putting up with” the PCA.

    I also think that the questions asked by Rick, the one who originally posted this blog entry, are completely fair. I may not impute transformationalism to Keller as the bottom line motivation for his monetary support of Rome and Pentecostalism as Rick has (although that could very well be an astute observation)…but I do think Keller’s comments should be charitably challenged.

    Could the confessional camp be more charitable in the way they critique Keller and others…probably. Should we avoid asking the hard questions for the sake of not making waves…no. I for one want the best of both worlds…charitable critique and asking the hard and necessary questions.

    Christian, what this means for you is to try and put yourself in the shoes of the Outhouse and work hard at understanding the critiques given here. These critiques are not without merit. And the hard questions being asked are not out of line.

    You have made a serious claim in saying that people at this blog don’t understand Keller. And you pointed directly at my words in that claim. I may not have read everything there is to read about Keller but that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand what I have read.

    I think you mean well in your encouragement to investigate further and I appreciate that. But in all fairness, I think that your comments reveal that you may not fully understand the critiques above.

    I mean no disrespect by saying that.
    But if you did at least fully understand my two comments above I think you’d realize that not only did I bring forth a legitimate critique of Keller…I also put forth a legitimate and loving check on our confessional zeal at the same time…a check which no one argued against…to the contrary, for the most part it was received.

    Blessings in Christ to you, brother.

    Brad

  56. Zrim says:

    CC,

    I don’t know if you might mean to ask what these theologies are or how I might trying to apply them. If the former, here is a Lutheran explaining it.

    http://www.issuesetc.org/resource/journals/gloryvs.htm

    If the latter, what I mean is that insofar as the ToG seeks to transcend the material world and do things the more extraordinary way over against the ordinary way. The ToG stood in front of Jesus and keep him from his cross, wanted Jesus to come down off the Cross, send the children away, throw himself down from the top of the temple, do more miracles and overthrow Rome.

    Like Matzat says, “Everyday in every way we are getting better and better.” Good lyrics for a a Lennon/McCartney song but really bad theology. Seems to me that Keller wants to surpass that which is ordinary, mundane and not very sexy, in other words, the way of the Cross.

  57. mindformissions says:

    brothers,

    i took the time to ask tim keller a couple of questions on this interview in order to clarify his comments… the following are HIS words:

    Dear Solomon:

    Hi! Yes I’ve seen the conversations at a couple of websites about the interview. I hope the following is helpful.

    1. First, keep in mind I did not write these statements. They were taken down by an interviewer over an hour-long conversation. Then they were transcribed and abridged. This must be borne in mind. Anyone who has ever done interviews knows that the interviewer has to edit and splice the words into paragraphs. You always have to ask the person who was interviewed–“did you say it just like that? Did you mean that?” When I read the interview afterwards I did not think he had at any point twisted my words–but I knew at a few points he strung statements together in a way that might raise questions. I thought people would ask the questions (like you) rather than jumping to conclusions. I don’t want to criticize the interviewer here. I think he did a fairly good job of representing a whole lot of conversation. But it wasn’t perfect.

    2. I love the PCA and have no intention of leaving. Everyone who knows me knows that. The PCA is a confessional Presbyterian denomination and I love that. I never said I was ‘putting up’ with Presbyterianism. In fact–if you look–when I was asked if I was hampered by being in a denomination, my point was ‘only a little.’ I explained that in some minor ways being in a denomination is always an inconvenience, because no constitution fits all sizes of churches equally well. But ‘we put up’ with those minor inconveniences (I said originally) because of our commitment to being in a connectional, confessional body.

    3. We have never, ever financed or planted Roman Catholic churches. And we never will nor would want to. I didn’t say that in the interview, of course. But my sentence–that I’ve seen God bring people to Christian faith in prosperity-gospel churches and in Catholic churches–came close to my sentences about how we give money to plant non-Presbyterian churches. If you already are suspicious of me, I suppose you might want to believe we plant Catholic churches, but of course we don’t. And we never would. (I don’t know of anyone who has preached the Luther-Calvin doctrine of justification of faith alone more often over the years. ) We do, however, support churches that are Reformed but charismatic (e.g. like C.J. Mahaney’s churches or other similar churches) and other non-Presbyterian churches that we train and we feel are on the same page with us about gospel theology. There are plenty of Baptist, charismatic, churches etc etc that are similar to us in soteriology–are moving toward us. But we put far, far more money into Presbyterian church plants. That keeps us from on the one hand, being sectarian and thinking God only blesses Presbyterian government, but it means on the other hand we give pride of place to our own tradition, which we love. We’ve always identified as ‘Presbyterian’ in our name, as one example.

    … so there you have it folks. rev. tim keller has NEVER funded roman catholics and never will. the basis for distribution in funds is based on the church’s view on soteriology…. and HE WILL NEVER LEAVE the PCA because he believes in the confession, but confesses there are difficulties in doing ministry at his size (which i take it to be an honest confession).

    personally, i don’t think it’s sub-par if he is being faithful to the call as best as he can. if we were basing things on a standard of excellence then no man will ever fulfill that. all they can do is try to hit that mark and be faithful. plus, as i have said before, in terms of getting a quorum, all any man can do is call it… give notice of it… and pray to God his quorum actually shows up. nominating officers for the church is a difficulty regardless of the size of the church.

    -solomon

  58. Rick says:

    Solomon, thank you. Keller has answered some of the questions I posed here. Note: These were questions and not accusations. As Hart wondered I too wondered – “Is Keller leaving the PCA?” the signs were there – by his actions and by his words. Go back and read the hart post at DRC. The gospel coalition seeks to, “ [serve the church] through the ordinary means of his grace: prayer, the ministry of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s supper, and the fellowship of the saints.”

    Only the Church, not a coalition, is in charge of Word and Sacrament. It was an honest question raised by Hart and Keller’s words in this article seemed to reinforce Harts assertion.

    I still maintain that Redeemer is misguided in their goal of a culturally and socially transformed city. They don’t hide this goal, it’s in their mission statement. The Church needs to be the Church. The Church needs to preach the Word and administer the sacraments.

  59. Zrim, you said:

    Seems to me that Keller wants to surpass that which is ordinary, mundane and not very sexy, in other words, the way of the Cross.

    It’s statements like this that make me wonder if we’re interacting with the same Keller. This certainly does not describe our ministry, and it certainly doesn’t represent the Keller I’ve heard.

    Thanks for clarifying (and thanks for Solomon for your clarification as well).

  60. Zrim says:

    Mind,

    I think Brad says it well and with a refreshing measure of common sense. While it may seem it, nobody here is really out to lynch the good pastor. But there are some questions to be asked. And I won’t hold out any pretense to not having some fairly entrenched views already about just where Keller is coming from in general. But so what? If all had to give everyone the unbiased benefit of the doubt very little would actually get done.

    One thing about the relayed quote from the good pastor:

    “I love the PCA and have no intention of leaving. Everyone who knows me knows that.”

    Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the good fortune of inhabiting a world where we “know everyone” so intimately that we can overlook certain words or actions. When I criticised Stan Mast (CRC) for openly using the Willow Creek model to meet the felt needs of the high-cultural pedigree, Randy Blacketer (CRC) told me I “seriously mistook” Mast. His justification was that he “knows Stan.” Well, I don’t. I can only go by what someone writes and does publically. Moroever, even if I “know” someone I am not at all sure what this means anyway. I know my father pretty well, but if he started talking about the “Jewish plot to overtake the world,” I’d have a hard time justifying to others that he really isn’t a racist because “I know him.”

    For any interested, I said I would post that Mast piece and my letter to the editor.

    Here it is, even though I have wanted to turn it into a post proper for months now:

    http://www.thebanner.org/magazine/article.cfm?article_id=578

    “Stan Mast’s ‘In Praise of Traditional Worship’ represents what I find so frustrating about today’s broad regard for Reformed worship. Both sides of the so-called ‘worship wars’ just never seem to capture the point. A defense of a form of worship that merely meets the felt needs of high culture is as misguided as the contemporary expressions to which it seeks to offer alternative.

    As a former Evangelical who has sought true worship in the confessionally Reformed tradition over against the assumptions and dogma’s of contemporary worship with which Evangelicalism seems so smitten, a perspective like Mast’s offers no hope; it rests on the same human-centered assumptions. His references to Willow Creek and how contemporary worship is equally sound reveal that this is merely the flip side of a skewed coin. What is needed today is reform and recovery of confessionally Protestant worship in the liturgical tradition. Do we want true diversity in our midst? Then level the playing field by making worship God-centered where diverse social, cultural and political views can exist in submission to true worship instead of divvying us all up by forms of worship designed to divide by these same cultural value systems.

    Of course, worship is simply the outward expression (and perpetuation) of a theology. What the wanting categories of ‘contemporary/traditional’ worship tell us is that at the heart of all the rankle of worship wars is a theology that is quite at odds with a historically and confessionally Reformed theology. Now, the spirit of war has waned and hands are joined because all have agreed on one crucial thing: worship is about us. Some might think they have transcended the rankle by validating these categories and asking innocuous questions of worship like ‘is it godly worship; are the words biblical; is God glorified; is it done is spirit and in truth?’ What do any of those questions really mean other than to show that they merely lean hard on sentimentality and not theology?”

  61. mindformissions says:

    rick and zrim,

    i thank you for your comments. with all the things going about i thought i would ask dr. keller myself… hence i just emailed him (i have no affiliation with keller personally outside of being in the PCA). obviously, his busy schedule does not permit him to answer everything to the fullest, however i would like to publicly thank him for taking the time out.

    i think we can all fall on different sides of whether or not redeemer is doing everything right or not… however, i would like to point out that he does focus his energies into preaching and administering the sacraments. it’s still very much part of what is in the life of the church. the fact that he has also believes in the transformation of the city is not to the extent of say… abraham kuyper (though i think God has done glorious things through kuyper and we can all appreciate some of the things he has said and done).

    at the end of the day, i really do think it falls upon the same question that has pervaded Christianity since the time of the fathers… “how are we then to live?” it seems to me that the third use of the law in the way that keller sees it has been a means by which God has used time and again for the expansion of His Kingdom. ie, the time of the plagues in rome. however, many others interpret it differently, and i’m not adversed to their opinion on that (as expressed by many of my colleagues here at school).

    -solomon

  62. Brad Lenzner says:

    Solomon,

    I’m glad Pastor Tim clarified the seeming implication that Redeemer helps fund and plant Roman Catholic churches.

    I was confused by his implication. I hope that he (and you) can appreciate that there at least seemed to be a logical implication in his words…a logical implication that legitimately needed to be questioned for clarity’s sake. Praise God, he clarified and nullified that implication.

    But… brother, you know that we are like minded on a lot of things and we are good friends… I still think Keller’s comments as they stand (even if they are an admission of minor inconveniences due to the size of his congregation) probably should not have been made publicly.

    I have no problem rejoicing in the good that God has produced though Tim Keller’s ministry in New York…and I have no problem with also lovingly pointing out where I think he’s mistaken. I also expect the same of others toward me.

    Anyway, I hope you see where I’m coming from.

    I’m actually kinda laughing at myself because, of all people commenting on this thread, I’ve criticized everybody!

    *sigh*

  63. mindformissions says:

    bro,

    you know that you and i have an understanding since i know that we have an affinity towards MANY things.

    of course i agree that perhaps the choice to reveal his comments in such a public manner may or may not have been the wisest thing. i would personally think twice before i’d do so myself. however, with that said, i thought it was important to go after the clarification because it was in such debate.

    dr. keller’s responses in the interview should be ultimately a wisdom call on his part.

    however, if we are to judge the wisdom call, i suppose it’s a matter of measuring when and where to be frank and honest about what you think. at the end of the day, it is what it is now…

    thanks for your comments. it’s always a joy.

    much love,

    -solomon

  64. Echo_ohcE says:

    sigh. Keller’s position is still not made clear here.

    He said in the interview, which is not quoted here: “…I don’t want to defend just one kind of Christianity. I think I want to defend the Apostles Creed. And I want you, as a nonbeliever, to buy the Apostles’ Creed, and then after that figure out where you want to go…But, at the same time, I don’t believe I can possibly speak to a lot of these things without [doing so from] within my particularity. So I actually say that there are certain chapters in which I’m going to be speaking as a Protestant because there’s no way not to speak as a Protestant or a Catholic.”

    This is analogous to what Kant said about religion. The true religion is the universal, but we can only connect to it through particularities. This is the noumena/phenomena distinction applied to religion.

    In other words, Keller is saying that the TRUE faith consists merely in the Apostle’s Creed. There are lots of different ways to work that out, but there is no such thing as a church that does not work that out somehow.

    This is why he talks about his “particularity”. His particular instantiation (instance, a particular manifestation of the universal) of the Apostle’s Creed just HAPPENS to be the PCA.

    But this language signifies that other instantiations of the Apostle’s Creed are equally viable, equally legitimate. Therefore, for him, as long as a church can confess the Apostle’s Creed, it is a true church.

    The problem with that, of course, is that the Apostle’s Creed doesn’t demand “faith alone”. That’s why Rome can and does still confess the Apostle’s Creed.

    It takes more than the Apostle’s Creed to make a true church. At the very least, it takes a belief that it is not by works that we are saved but by faith alone.

    A true church confesses that we are saved by faith alone, and the Apostle’s Creed does NOT demand this because it does not state this.

    So if what he’s REALLY interested in defending is not some instantiation of the Creed, but the Creed itself, then precisely what IS his problem with Rome?

    How does this get reconciled to the rest of the Westminster Standards, those parts which speak to that which is beyond the Apostle’s Creed?

    Does Keller see this stuff as “extra”, does he see it as equally valid with other traditions?

    Perhaps the Arminian tradition is just as legitimate a way of working out the Creed as the Calvinist tradition? Perhaps the Charismatic way of working it out is just as valid as the cessationist? Perhaps the credobaptist way is just as legitimate as the paedobaptist way?

    Do reformed distinctives matter, or does Keller, like the revivalist tradition before him, simply want to drill down to the very basics of religion, and declare that to be all that matters?

    If salvation is to be found in Christ alone, then how can you end up anywhere but in the reformed camp and remain consistent with the doctrine of Christ alone?

    We are reformed because we believe that it is only the reformed articulation of the Christian faith that consistently works out the doctrine of salvation.

    Baptists are in error. Charismatics are in error. Arminians are in error. These errors are no light thing. They are dangerous and water down the faith we have in Christ.

    Hey, I’m glad to see all these people who are in error taking steps to embrace Reformed soteriology. But the fact is, reformed soteriology is part of a system of doctrine.

    It is this system that must be defended.

    There is no warrant for a distinction between a universal faith (Apostle’s Creed) and a particular instantiation of that faith (the Reformed system of doctrine). No, the Reformed system of doctrine IS the Christian religion. To the extent that people agree with the reformed system of doctrine is the extent to which they believe what the Bible says. The extent to which they disagree is the extent of their error.

    Let us not support errors. Let us support Christianity in all its fullness, and not compromise it or distort it. Let us support the propagation of the Reformed system of doctrine, because it IS the Christian religion.

    The ever-anonymous, unapologetic gospel zealot,

    Echo_ohcE

  65. Bumble says:

    I am outside of the PCA. In fact, when the Gospel came to Vietnam, my country, it came by the way of the C&MA. I’ve never heard about the PCA until I discover Keller.

    Reading some of the criticism here tired me out.

    It seems like we are spinning our wheels in endless denominationalism.

    It’s not system of doctrine which saves. It’s Jesus.

  66. Zrim says:

    Bumble,

    It seems to me the good pastor is not really helped by those who would champion him with such words.

    Mike Horton has said the same thing plenty of times (“We are saved by grace alone through faith alpne on account of Christ alone…not our doctrine”). But I think he means it very differently than you may. The point is that we surely can be in danger of obscuring the gospel by making it a form of works via vain doctrinnairism (i.e. salvation by intellectualism). But that doesn’t mean works and doctrine are an enemy, does it? It seems to me that the lines here run between those who see doctrine as an out-and-out enemy (paper popes per Finney), those who are more modest and render a high opinion/low view of doctrine and those who have a high (yet fallible) view of institutionalized doctrine. Keller and his champions seem to be in that middle group.

    Despite its reputation for hating works and human responsibility, it has always seemed to me that a better grasp of Calvinism knows how to put them into right understanding.

    Being tired out can be a good thing, Bumble. You say that as if work is a bad thing.

  67. Brad Lenzner says:

    Zrim,

    I’d be grateful to hear your take on this statement by Echo above:

    “Let us support the propagation of the Reformed system of doctrine, because it IS the Christian religion.”

    I’m Reformed and confessional (and becoming more and more so confessional with every passing day as of late)…yet equating Reformed doctrine with the Christian religion proper gives me the willies.

    It’d be helpful and interesting to read your reaction…if you don’t mind me asking.

  68. Echo_ohcE says:

    Brad,

    Perhaps you would be more comfortable if I defined the Christian religion’s system of doctrine as contained in the Scriptures as coming to its fullest and most complete articulation in the Reformed confessions, the Westminster standards and the Three Forms of unity.

    After all, officers in my denomination, when they are ordained, take a vow that they believe that the system of doctrine of the Westminster Standards faithfully reproduce the system of doctrine that is given in Scripture. (That’s a bit paraphrased because I don’t know the exact language, but that’s the gist.)

    So for example, Baptists believe in credobaptism. Well, the Reformed don’t believe that that’s what the Bible teaches. Not only are Baptists out of accord with Reformed theology, but they are out of accord with Christianity.

    Pentecostals who preach the continuance of tongues are out of accord with Christianity.

    Arminians who turn faith into a work are out of accord with Christianity.

    Rome who declared the gospel anathema…you get the point.

    E

  69. Flavia says:

    I just came across this article Keller wrote about the PCA. http://www.maryvillepca.org/PCAContract.htm
    Take a breather, guys.

  70. Rick says:

    We did. The last comment was 3 days ago.

    This doesn’t change or explain what he said here in First Things.

  71. Echo_ohcE says:

    “Take a breather guys”. Apparently this stuff isn’t important. The only thing that’s important is that we never say anything mean to anyone.

    After all, as everyone knows, “Mean people suck!”

  72. Darryl Hart says:

    Flavia, was the piece on the PCA contract supposed to be reassuring? If so, I wonder how. I found the following statement to be troubling:

    “Thus there was what I call a kind of ‘contract’–a mutual understanding among the founders–that the PCA was going to allow for Reformed diversity at more points than the smaller denominations had done, but also to insist on uniformity on far more issues than the mainline churches had done. The result was a unique ‘PCA balance’ of diversity and uniformity, of truth and love, which was going to be an alternative to any other American Reformed body.”

    First, the idea of PCA exceptionalism sounds rather boastful, as if this denomination is now going to get it right.

    Second, it also sounds as if the PCA is not part of the larger enterprise of being Reformed. There are these “other” denominations — smaller to be sure — that just don’t quite get it.

    Third, it sounds like the PCA is a strategy for ministry rather than simply being an expression of the Reformed ministry of word, sacrament, and discipline.

    Fourth, it doesn’t tap an awareness of the goods of the Reformed tradition and how the very practice of Presbyterianism historically has been an effort to preserve the peace, purity and unity of the church. Instead, it sounds like everyone else has not discovered the brilliance that is the PCA.

    I thought it was at least unbecoming for Christians to sound proud.

  73. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rock on DGH!

    But we shouldn’t be surprised to hear such talk from the PCA, particularly from Keller.

    My discussion above about Keller’s (almost) Kantian view of Christianity demonstrates that yes, Keller is just all about a “ministry strategy,” so of course he interprets the entire structure and makeup of the PCA as based on a ministry strategy.

    Of course, he’s got a point about the PCA in some ways, but in other ways, I think he sells the PCA short here. I think it’s pretty clear that the vast majority of the PCA wants to be distinctively reformed, while Keller seems to say he just happens to be reformed, as if it’s some unimportant accident.

    What really matters to Keller is not being reformed, for that is only his “particularity”, but being in line with the Apostle’s Creed. Apparently for him that’s the Universal which all particular denominations of Christianity instantiate.

    “what I call a kind of ‘contract’…Reformed diversity at more points than the smaller denominations…but…uniformity on far more issues than the mainline churches.”

    Thus his social contract language here. He’s just talking about a bunch of people coming together to agree on some particulars. He’s saying that a bunch of guys just got together and decided to manifest/instantiate somewhere between the OPC and the PCUSA. Perhaps he has in mind a Hegelian synthesis, and that’s why he sees it as superior to both denominations.

    Regardless, however, it’s still a social contract. It’s all about what the group decides to do. There’s no mention of conforming to the Word of God or endeavoring to conform faithfully to some standard. Nope, just a bunch of guys trying to come together to offer to people a middle way between the OPC and the PCUSA.

    I don’t understand why so many people want us to look to Keller as this great shining light and fabulous example.

    Oh, that’s right, because he is famous and has a huge church. And that’s what we all secretly want, isn’t it?

    Huge numbers are ALWAYS preceded by compromise. And people wonder why we’re suspicious of pastors of large churches.

    Guess what? The gospel is not a popular message.

  74. Darryl Hart says:

    I’m rockin’ and rockin’ and still rockin’.

  75. Rick says:

    Echo, fixed.

    Rock on, all.

  76. Pingback: Partnership in the gospel? « Reformed Musings

  77. Pingback: TE Keller Response « Reformed Musings

  78. Brad Lenzner says:

    Perhaps you all have already read the blog entry by the interviewer of Tim Keller…but I figured I’d link it here especially since the interviewer responds to the Reformed Musings blog which linked to this blog:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blog/2008/03/12/the-timothy-keller-interview/

  79. Pingback: Tim Keller Responds. - The PuritanBoard

  80. Stephen says:

    I left a comment earlier today that hasn’t appeared. Was it moderated?

  81. Rick says:

    There’s nothing in the spam filter – and nothing awaiting approval – I think WordPress just hit a rough spot. It happens. It may appear later.

    In my opinion, this topic is old and tired. Don’t expect an aswer or interaction if you do decide to post here.

  82. Stephen says:

    Yeah, not looking to continue the thread. I just wanted to encourage “Echo” to press forward. I think his comment on 3/3 @ 7:43 says much to the same effect as I did when I issued an apostasy warning. Don’t let go, brother!

  83. Echo_ohcE says:

    Hey thanks Stephen!

  84. Pingback: Move over Ichthys « The Confessional Outhouse

  85. Pingback: Presbyterian Sociology, part I | The Confessional Outhouse

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