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.