Do Celebrity Pastors (like TKNY) Have Authority?

Or is fame the primary aspect of aspect of celebrity? And if a celebrity actually tries to use his fame or influence to restrain someone, does he lose his celebrity?

I generated these questions when reading a response to City Church‘s (San Francisco) decision not to discriminate on the basis of sexual identity and behavior:

It’s also untenable to say that God has not made His will plain in the Word. Look at the extreme candor and clarity of the scripture about intimacy. The bible is very blunt and clear about sex. Going on to ignore all of that is kind of like saying “Not only am I not liking this air stuff, I’ve had it with gravity too.” The irrational position of this letter is another part of the growing fallout.

Someone might respond and say I’m wrong to lump City Church into Romans 1, that it’s obvious your church still believes in God. Of course they do, and there are many earnest and sincere believers in your community. That’s abundantly clear. That isn’t what I’m claiming. What I’m saying is this – in this particular letter it simply isn’t the God of our ancient writings, our ancient witnesses, and our ancient creeds anymore. This isn’t the God of Romans. And my fear is now this. Where there is a new god, there must always be a new gospel.

I think Keller put it well: a god you create, where you pick and choose what you think is “flourishing,” is just a Stepford god. Like the robot women in the old sci fi B-movie The Stepford Wives, where husbands are quietly getting rid of their wives and replacing them with obedient, pretty, and servile android spouses. It’s just a god who does what pleases you, can never offend you, and in the end can never save you.

Imagine if Tim Keller wrote that letter. Imagine even if he called on the phone pastors who either worked with or were inspired by him. Imagine if he spent some of his considerable capital. Might the Gospel Coalition then actually do something more than inspire or impress?

And then Kathy Keller’s B-S detector goes off . . .

Advertisements

114 thoughts on “Do Celebrity Pastors (like TKNY) Have Authority?

  1. But in a public forum (not, admittedly, a church context) the strongest Keller could muster on the issue was “not good for human flourishing,” which somehow sounded like, you know, his opinion, man. But his hand gestures were excellent.

    Like

  2. Well, whaddaya know? The Kellerian concept of human flourishing made it’s way into the City Church’s rationale:

    Our pastoral practice of demanding life-long “celibacy”, by which we meant that for the rest of your life you would not engage your sexual orientation in any way, was causing obvious harm and has not led to human flourishing.

    Oh snap!

    http://us8.campaign-archive2.com/?u=ba28ce8fcce6d7773f83e3a4d&id=813cfb2f88&e=174b270c37

    Like

  3. “One sad piece of news: two of our Elders, Tyler Dann and Bruce Gregory, resigned from the board. ”

    Yea, just a small piece of bad news, two elders had biblical convictions, of well. What’s tragic is that the rest of them are heretics and blind guides leading others astray, better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea….

    Like

  4. Come on, Darryl. He’s still looking for a third way to formulate the Q&A. Plus, he’s busy. He’s got Manhattan, a Multi-site church and a denomination to run. San Francisco will have to handle it’s fabulous self, itself.

    Like

  5. If you listen to the three talks over at 9 Marks with Dever and Keller, I think Keller gives a good rationale for his “third way” stuff, viz. (if I understand him correctly) he sees himself as often speaking to non-Christian audiences. Therefore, he is seeking to bring them along and disarm his listeners in a winsome way that leads them to the fullness of truth. He agrees, the full “bucket of truth” and his MO both have dangers attached but has seen more openness to hear more from interacting with people in that third way. So it’s not both barrels and it’s not soft-pedalling truth to make it sound nicer. IT is one captivating piece of truth that leads someone to want to hear more.
    So, the “human flourishing” piece; it’s certainly not everything and Keller would be the first to admit it’s not. But when people see the logic of that argument, it makes them much more open to hear more than if you just said, “Homosexuality is sin and God hates it!” You need to get to the sin piece (and he does in his church context), but you can’t even get someone to hear that piece if you just start with both barrels.

    Like

  6. Wesley, why is the choice only between, both barrels or the third way? Plus, I’ve engaged with the redeemer model up close and personal like, think passive-aggressive and Rick Warren. It’s all code for MY way. Thus, Kathy’s faulty b.s. detector and NY.

    Like

  7. Wesley,

    Pastors aren’t aupposed to gear their messages toward one particular audience. They are supposed to preach the whole counsel of God. When you consistently preach to a particular audience (viz. unbelievers) you will necessarily omit some things and emphasize others at the expense of your listeners. There are times and places for this but it can be to the detriment of the members if it’s your primary mode.

    Like

  8. Gentelmen –
    the fact is, TKNY does a lot of speaking outside of his church context and, also, within the church for specific new-beliers forums. So, in that sense, his audience there is non-believers (e.g.. Veritas forum). Beyond that, I don’t think he would say it is either both barrels or the third way; I may have mischaracterized that. He says it’s actually still both barrels in the end. He just leads with one barrel as a means to having his listeners be able to hear and respond to the second barrels. so it’s not one at the expense of the other.
    Nate – I agree with you to a point. I’d just say that from what I understand of Keller’s preaching model, he doesn’t *just* preach to believers either. He preaches to both in his messages. I’ve heard him say once, if you don;t preach Sunday after Sunday with the idea that their *might* be unbelievers in the congregation, there never will be any. But in addressing the non-Christian as *well* as the believer, you preach the gospel to both who both still need to hear it.

    Like

  9. Wesley, have you taken a step back to look at what exactly it is that Keller has built and what is promoted under his name? I agree that he’s winsome in conversation, but who he is and what animates him is primarily revealed in the specifics of the impact and influence he wields. I think he’s smart, in fact, too smart to NOT know the exact nature of what he does and now, at the very least, his experience wielding that influence tells him exactly the nature/type of impact he makes when he speaks and promotes and influences and crafts a direction. To go to Darryl’s point about b.s. meters, I think his wife does too.

    Like

  10. sean, or TKNY never heard of the difference between Old and New School Presbyterians (I can still remember a prof at seminary during a faculty meeting bringing a copy of Marsden on the New School because some of his students were agitating about Old School Presbyterians and he didn’t know what all the fuss was about).

    I’m not sure Wesley knows the difference either.

    Like

  11. CW,

    I learned to distrust the turtleneck back in middle school, mainly because you’d get beat up if you wore one to school.

    Like

  12. Wesley,

    Just watch the video of Keller’s response that CW’s 1st post linked to and tell me if Keller answered the question about homosexuality being a sin with the full counsel of God.

    Granted, not an easy question and no one will answer it perfectly, but for a pastor to engage in those kinds public forums and your back pocket answer is “because human flourishing” to “Is homosexuality a sin”, then there’s some significant flaws to your methodology.

    And is it any surprise that the answer the abberant church gave to why they are open to homosexuality is… “human flourishing”?

    Like

  13. I go to a TKNY church and when I read the SanFran City Church announcement, I thought “Well, there’s that theology taken to its logical conclusion”.

    I love the people in my church, and Christ is preached every Sunday. We even do communion once a month. I just don’t wonder sometimes if people influenced by TKNY are so caught up in advancing the kingdom that they forget about the “least among these”. I mean, they claim they do, but you won’t see them plant in a poor neighbourhood or extol the virtues of being mundane.

    In other words, churches that try to focus on human flourishing outside the church tend to forget about the humans inside the church. I say that because I’ve been on the “inside”, so to speak.

    And then, mission drift and San Francisco occurs.

    So now I’m in the strange position of being 2K in a TKNY world, going to seminary and putting up with the idiosyncrasies that come with it.

    Also, long time lurker, first time poster.

    Like

  14. As an initial point, it’s worth noting that Robins mischaracterizes what Keller has said on the topic. After all, Keller preaches weekly to a church full of people who flatly disagree with the PCA’s position on women’s ordination and same-sex marriage. There are even same-sex couples that attend Redeemer with regularity. Keller has merely made the simple observation that same-sex coupling is the ideal for human flourishing. I imagine that Keller would level a similar judgment against the sappy, you-complete-me model of opposite-sex coupling that has come to prevail in evangelical circles over the course of the past 4-5 decades. Thus, Keller is not saying anything against same-sex coupling that he wouldn’t also say about most PCA churches’ practice of opposite-sex coupling. In a certain sense, Keller may well agree with the Baylys in this limited sense: Once you abandon patriarchy as normative, acceptable of same-sex marriage is inevitable. So, there’s a nuance to Keller’s intentional ambiguity on this issue: Keller’s audience in Manhattan heard one thing; folks in Atlanta heard something else.

    I think Keller does have authority in the PCA because he’s one of the few pastors in the denomination who has a clue about connecting to urban white-collar professionals. That being said, I don’t think that Keller has any authority to pull his church in a direction more palatable to folks in Atlanta. He only has credibility among his audience because most of them believe–whether rightly or wrongly–that he actually agrees with them.

    In most urban centers, there’s a dearth of decent churches. For two years I attended a Redeemer-like PCA church in the DC area. An overwhelming majority of the church’s members held to basic Nicene orthodoxy (placing them to the right of the PCUSA church down the street) and also had no objection to women’s ordination and same-sex marriage (placing them to the left of the church’s leadership). For most if us there, it was more important to be in a church that preached Christ than it was to be in a church that practiced had women elders and performed same-sex marriages. Besides, the pastors were smart enough to steer clear of things like gender roles and homosexuality. On the few occasions when the topic was raised, they responded with Keller’s “human flourishing” quote without further elaboration. If they had published anything along the lines of the Robins letter, many people would have left the church.

    In many ways, I find the Robins letter to be pretty disingenuous. He mischaracterizes the nature of City Church’s decision, mischaracterizes the state of things in the PCA (or parts of the PCA), and claims a false progeny for the hedonistic model of marriage that most pastors in the PCA promote (that model is about 50 years old, not 2000+ years old). Besides, anyone who’s studied on these issues at all–which the guys at City Church are–would have ready defenses to this argument. This letter, though addressed to City Church, is really written to the Georgia-based donors who are paying the freight for Robins’ ministry in SFO. He needed to reassure them that they weren’t throwing their good Confederate dollars toward something that was going to “go liberal” within a few years.

    Like

  15. Left out a “not” above…

    Keller has merely made the simple observation that same-sex coupling is NOT the ideal for human flourishing.

    [There goes my second of three comments for the day.]

    Like

  16. SJC, not for nothing, but to the extent protestants proclaim that the gospel is about cultural transformation, social justice and works of mercy, the prots have no shot of providing a gospel witness contra the RC. It’s not even close. I just spent the last 2 weeks in a Methodist hospital tending to a family member, I saw more nuns and religious in one location than I have in 25 years. There’s no logistical way for the urbanite yuppie Redeemer church of a couple thousand to outdo just twenty nuns who are provided room and board and with no other purpose than to do works of mercy Monday thru Sunday. Dented can drives for the street shelter on Guadalupe street twice a year doesn’t even come close. Just from a practical, polemical position you haven’t got a prayer. The Gospel preached and sacraments administered, rightly, is all the prots have to offer, and it’s enough.

    Like

  17. sean, I agree with you.

    That’s why I roll my eyes when TKNY folk talk about cultural transformation but are too busy doing looking for pastors who are entrepreneurs first, ministers second. And of course, the entrepreneurs are there to get money from the rich folk.

    Not to say that works of mercy are BAD, but it’s not the role of the institutional church. That’s what the doctrine of vocation is there for, for ordinary Christians. Isn’t being a nurse or volunteering at a hospice once in a while enough? I don’t know, I think I’m being sloppy in my writing.

    Like

  18. SJG, i’m with you on the doctrine of vocation. As a former RC, I used to sit in and listen to the RUF, Redeemer guy drivel on and on about doing the gospel and think, I did more ‘doing’ of the gospel as a teenage RC than these guys will get done the rest of their pastoral ministry. Just preach the gospel and administer the sacraments, please.

    Like

  19. D. G. Hart –
    I’m curious re: your comment about Old and New School Presbys and me not knowing the difference. You talking the difference between Old Princeton before all the hullabaloo with Machen and his departure + creation of OPC and WTS and what was left afterwards? Or is there some other distincton you are drawing between the two? Honest question.

    Like

  20. Imagine if Tim Keller wrote that letter…Imagine if he spent some of his considerable capital.

    Imagine if Darryl G Hart wrote that letter.

    As if. It’s sorry enough when good men do nothing, but they have no standing to accuse others of it. Dude. This is painful.

    Like

  21. D. G. Hart
    Posted March 21, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
    sean, or TKNY never heard of the difference between Old and New School Presbyterians (I can still remember a prof at seminary during a faculty meeting bringing a copy of Marsden on the New School because some of his students were agitating about Old School Presbyterians and he didn’t know what all the fuss was about).

    I’m not sure Wesley knows the difference either.

    Is it possible to bore God to death?

    I mean yours, not His.

    Like

  22. Wesley, 1837-1838, the PCUSU split into two denominations, the Americanized New School and the less Americanized Old School. You can read about it here (#6).

    Your ignorance does not encourage me because the entire conservative Presbyterian world (OPC and PCA) arguably rests on having some awareness of Old School convictions.

    Like

  23. D. G. Hart –
    As someone who grew up in, and continues to minister in, Regular Baptist circles, I trust you will forgive my “ignorance” of conservative Presby history. I agree, however, that our understanding of our historical roots is essential in order to prevent the inevitable drift from orthodoxy we see in so many denominations.

    Like

  24. @dgh Is presbyterian church history typically part of seminary curriculum? I heard about it from grad school friends in the history department at ND working with Marsden. My impression is that this history is not widely known among T/R elders in the PCA.

    Like

  25. sdb, fwiw, i hear the ordination exam for op ministers includes a section on op history. in other words, our ministers must know the history of our denom, but as you likely know, different seminaries teach different things, i would think indivdual denominational studies are outside the purview of a seminary curriculum, but you are asking the right guy. peace.

    Like

  26. sdb, I think this is changing at seminaries. The real question at least for ministers is what ordination exams require. My sense is that in yesteryear, the OPC did a lot of examining on the church controversies of the 1920s and 1930s, not so much the 1830s.

    Like

  27. Presbyterian (read: American Pres) history is not on my required curriculum at RTS (MABS) but there is elective credit space for it the class.

    (All about) I plan on taking it.

    Like

  28. DG Hart, in my Presbytery (PCA), it’s required you know your Presbyterian history.

    In the M. Div. program I’m partaking in, there is no Presbyterian church history course. They do make you read Christianity and Liberalism though, but they don’t test you on it.

    And the textbook they give you is a lauding of the evangelical movement from the Great Awakening to today. As someone who majored in both history and religious studies, I was annoyed at how propagandistic it was. It wasn’t even subtle. Thankfully they had Justo Gonzalez’s Two Volume Set as textbooks as well, I mean, at least I like Justo Gonzalez.

    Note, I go to Knox Theological.

    So the ministers are tested for Presbyterian history, but my seminary doesn’t teach it. I’ll probably one of your books if I decide to be ordained in the PCA (though I’d probably fit in more in the OPC or URCNA from what I see, of which there are no churches in my city).

    Like

  29. Tim Keller: “It’s misleading to call homosexuality a sin”!

    I give up. Between Pope Francis and Tim Keller, anal sex is akin to sneaking a second cookie. Who can take Christians seriously on their exegesis if all the uncomfortable parts of the Bible are waived away? Jesus? Hey, I forget, but isn’t Paul also inspired? Really, sort of jaw-dropping. If THIS is what it takes to stake a claim in New York, just scratch it. Wish-I-had-never-seen that video. Ridiculous. I wonder what Keller’s definition of “is” is…

    Like

  30. JASitek – I’m also a MABS student at RTS. Let me know what you think of that class. I’m about to sign up for History of Christianity I. Cheers.

    Like

  31. JM –
    when I first watched the Tim Keller veritas forum I had a similar reaction. I was thinking, “Why, when he has this great opportunity to tell people the truth is he being so slippery and not just directly answering the question?”
    But I’ll tell you this much: I don’t know how much interaction you’ve had with non-Christians over this issue, but the conversation almost always gets highjacked and spun in a way that just says Christians really are the ignorant, gay-hating people we always knew they were. See!!” And after having a few of those conversations where my words were twisted and a very particular answer was being waiting for so I could be jumped all over, I suddenly realized exactly what Keller is doing in that video. He’s simply not letting that high-jacking take place. He is still answering the question, but he is doing so in such a way that allows him to continue to be in control of the conversation all the while seeking to disarm the easy, landlines that lay all around this issue for Christians.
    So, you’ll hear him say homosexuality is a sin a few times in the video, but only after he has directed the conversation to a place were he will be heard and understood when he says it and won’t be taken out of context. I guarantee, no homosexual watching that video would walk away wondering if Keller thinks homosexuality is a sin and against God’s design for sexuality. It only seems foggy to us b/c we already do think it’s a sin and we expect him to just say it more clearly/explicitly.
    Ergo, I thought Keller handled himself very well in a difficult situation that could have gone much more poorly.

    Like

  32. Linda J, if I cold be honest, I’d want to actually SIT through a service of said congregations if I decided I wanted to be ordained. Right now, I’m reconsidering whether I want to be a pastor or not because I don’t know if I have the skin thick enough to deal with church politics. I’m also not sure whether I have the emotional health to be a pastor right now, because I’m recovering from having been abused at my local Baptistic megachurch. Granted, it’s been years, but I don’t want to minister if I’m always paranoid about certain elders being out to get me.

    But if I were an academic, I’d still be unhealthy, but at least I’d be isolated. Plus the church needs more educated laypersons, as it were.

    In other words, I don’t even KNOW if I wanted to be a pastor right now. But if I move out of Miami, I’ll probably seek an OPC or URC church that is liturgical and cares about Word and Sacrament ministry. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a pastor that sees something in me and wants to encourage me to get ordained. But I don’t have any of that right now, but enough about my inner emotional life.

    DG Hart, the book was “The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement” by Douglas Sweeney.

    It was rather praiseworthy of the movement, but it’s very hard for me to see good in a movement that wants to pretend that it’s cool, especially when Christianity by its nature is supposed to be awkward. Ya know, God’s wrath isn’t polite dinner conversation. <_<

    By the way, for what it's worth, I went to a "secular" university and got a BA in history with a second major in religious studies. I had plenty of non Christian friends. I had no problem telling them that they deserved to go to Hell and that Jesus died for them. Granted, I was friends with them and they knew that I served them as best I could.

    I even had gay friends. Honestly their homosexuality never bothered me. It was their Marxism and relativism that did.

    Besides if I were to critique TKNY, I'd criticize his ecclesiology first, not a talk given. Whatever.

    Oh and sorry for talking about myself so much. @_@

    Like

  33. Wesley, I hope you are right. Watching it again, I don’t think you are. I am very, very aware of all the rhetoric and heat: I left a mainline denomination, teach at a secular school, and have ex-Evangelical gay friends. What I hear is what everywhere else has been the first conversational steps of caving in.

    Like

  34. Wesley,

    You seem to misunderstand much of the gay agenda. They are not tolerant of Christian beliefs on this issue. Unless you affirm that homosexual practice is normal behavior then it will only be a matter of time until the either ostracize or publicly shame you. If you don’t believe me, try going to your local state college and start calling homosexuality a sin. That’s no excuse for Christians being brash or abrasive to homosexuals (or those who support the cause), but it’s also no excuse for going soft on clear biblical teaching either.

    The point is about Keller doing his “Third Way”ism ([1]Some Christians throwing out the biblical teaching on homosexuality, [2] Other Christians being inflexible on the biblical teaching in a self-righteous way, [3] a la Keller’s 3rd way). But Keller, though he affirms homosexuality is a sin, qualifies the seriousness of that sin and even says “It’s very misleading to say homosexuality is a sin”.

    Keller wants to have his cake and eat it too. It’s not about minimizing the seriousness of homosexuality (or any sin for that matter) which is what Keller does. That’s why the questioner has to ask him 3 times “so how is homosexuality a sin?”, at which point Keller finally gets down to business and says “homosexuality doesn’t help human flourishing”. Keller’s “third way” here falls flat on its face – the third way here is not softening the blow of what scripture teaches to make it more palatable.

    Like

  35. SJG, glad I found myself out of the baptist world when I left for college, eventually finding the reformed via my then GF, now wife. Reformed-dom has warts as all systems do but I perceive a much healthier system here than anywhere else. Good first comments, love the typed emotional expressions (as opposed to wordpress programmed smileys).

    Grace and peace, take Dr. Waltke if you can.

    Like

  36. Joe – I see where you’re coming from. B/c of the influence I’d say Keller *does* have to some degree, I hope I am not wrong also as that would do a great deal of damage to the Evangelical witness.
    Nate – perhaps we just need to agree to disagree on this one. Again, all I see Keller doing is avoiding the conversation being taken over and spun how the interviewer wants. I see that as the reason the interviewer asks the question three times: he wants a sound byte to put Keller in a particular compartment and then move on. I’m no expert on the gay agenda but I’ve had enough interaction with it to know what i’m talking about; I live in one of the major “meccas” for gay pride in all of the West coast.
    So, you see Keller avoiding biblical truth. I see Keller avoiding being pigeon-holed and answering the question beneath the question, which – as I see it – is do you go to hell for being gay. Keller is trying to level the playing field and say, “Look, rebellion against God and trusting in your own righteousness is what sends you to hell, not (necessarily) doing this sin or that sin.” Sin-benath-the-sin is a big thing Keller goes off on and I find it helpful and I think it’s compelling apologetic for the Christian faith. We may just disagree about that.

    Like

  37. Wesley, sin beneath the sin is fine maybe for an apologist. But if you’re a pastor, are you going to tell one of your sheep that wolves are no more dangerous than bears because we’re all sinners?

    Man crush alert. Are you this charitable with Joel Osteen?

    Like

  38. The guy to turn to on this topic has to be Bavinck:

    Book Description
    Publication Date: November 8, 2012
    A century ago when this book was first published, marriage and the family were already weathering enormous changes, and that trend has not abated. Yet by God’s power the unchanging essence of marriage and the family remains proof, as Bavinck notes, that God’s “purpose with the human race has not yet been achieved.”

    Neither a ten-step guide nor a one-sided approach, this book embodies a Christian theology of marriage and the family. Accessible, thoroughly biblical, and astonishingly relevant, it offers a mature and concise handling of the origins of marriage and family life and the effects of sin on these institutions, an appraisal of historic Christian approaches, and an attempt to apply that theology.

    Aptly reminding Christians that “the moral health of society depends on the health of family life,” Bavinck issues an evergreen challenge to God’s people: “Christians may not permit their conduct to be determined by the spirit of the age, but must focus on the requirement of God’s commandment.”

    Don’t mind me while I go upvote the three amazon reviews. 40% is enough for such a judgement.

    Wesley, I think you are the second TNKYer I’ve encountered online, the first was on Tim’s blog when he did those things. I received an OK welcome from his groupies the few times I commented on his blog.

    With that, welcome, brah.

    Like

  39. Thanks AB. Though unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take him. I took Warren Gage who was, well he was interesting. At least I fulfilled my Old Testament pre requisites.

    And I would agree. I like the Reformed system. I love grace alone, good ecclesiology and the sacraments. I only get annoyed when the Reformed try to be cool. :/

    Like

  40. SJG,

    AB = Andrew Buckingham (that’s just how I roll).

    In my mind, reformed-dom is faring okay as of late. The twitter verse of these OLers is something to behold as well. I can’t it all sometimes so I mute the 18 people I follow sometimes. These blogs can help quite a bit when one remembers the limitations of the medium.

    I’m around if there’s any questions. Enjoy your studies, I’m jealous.

    Like

  41. Wesley,

    A few questions rattle in my head (not much inside there). When Jesus was punished for our sin, was it just self-righteousness laid on him, or was it all our sins (pride, gluttony, greed, and all those sexual sins people don’t like to talk about)? If you agree it was all our sins, would you agree that homosexuality, along with every other sin we commit, condemn us to hell?

    I ask because I think it makes a difference how we understand what our particular sin deserves (eternal punishment), which in turn makes a significant impact on how we understand God’s grace towards us.

    Like

  42. Nate, plenty buzzing around in there, I happen to believe.

    Wesley and Nate, make sure to listen to C. Trueman’s latest Mortification of Spin, it covers the topic quite well, he speaks highly of Making Gay Okay:

    Book Description
    Publication Date: April 15, 2014
    Why are Americans being forced to consider homosexual acts as morally acceptable? Why has the US Supreme Court accepted the validity of same-sex “marriage”, which, until a decade ago, was unheard of in the history of Western or any other civilization? Where has the “gay rights” movement come from, and how has it so easily conquered America?

    The answers are in the dynamics of the rationalization of sexual misbehavior. The power of rationalization-the means by which one mentally transforms wrong into right-drives the gay rights movement, gives it its revolutionary character, and makes its advocates indefatigable. The homosexual cause moved naturally from a plea for tolerance to cultural conquest because the security of its rationalization requires universal acceptance. In other words, we all must say that the bad is good.
    At stake in the rationalization of homosexual behavior is the notion that human beings are ordered to a purpose that is given by their Nature. The understanding that things have an in-built purpose is being replaced by the idea that everything is subject to man’s will and power, which is considered to be without limits. This is what the debate over homosexuality is really about-the Nature of reality itself.

    The outcome of this dispute will have consequences that reach far beyond the issue at hand. Already America’s major institutions have been transformed-its courts, its schools, its military, its civic institutions, and even its diplomacy. The further institutionalization of homosexuality will mean the triumph of force over reason, thus undermining the very foundations of the American Republic.

    3, and I’m out.

    Like

  43. D. G. –
    1. I guess I fail to see why a pastor cannot also be an apologist, unless your de facto assumption is that you are speaking only to saved people (sheep). Even then, I’d argue that some apologetic in a sermon helps train our people to interact with those outside the church they interact with on a daily basis.
    2. Particularly in the Veritas Forum vid people keep referencing, Keller is not talking to sheep (though I suppose there could be some in the crowd also). In that setting, while his role at Redeemer may be pastor, he is absolutely an apologist on that stage and he speaks as such.
    3. No; not this charitable with Joel Osteen. Joel preaches a false gospel. Keller, conversely, preaches the gospel in a way that we disagree about being complete enough. So, maybe TKNY is Apollos (pre Paul’s visit) to you, but he’s no Osteen/Simon Magus.

    Do you put Joel Osteen and Tim Keller on the same plane in your books?

    Like

  44. Nate –
    appreciate your charitable interaction. Were I see us missing one another is in Keller’s audience. He is not behind a pulpit and is gearing his language towards a secular, non-Christian hearer (plus dodging the trap I spoke of earlier from the interviewer to get a sound bite from Tim Keller saying “Homosexuality is a sin and that means you’re going to hell if you’re gay.”)
    So, of course, I agree with you; Jesus was punished on the cross for all our sins and our sin is what separates us from God and deserves His just punishment. But what Keller is hitting on in that interview (and say in “Reason for God”) is that same “sin-beneath-the-sin” stuff, viz. that – beyond being sinners by nature through Adam – we choose to commit sin (greed, lust, homosexual acts, murder, etc.) that separates us from God b/c we have already rejected God as our Saviour and LORD and are choosing our own way. So, a promiscuous person is committing fornication and maybe even adultery which are sins and sin deserves God just punishment. But we only commit those sins b/c we have already rejected God and His good laws, and sought to live our life by our own standards (read righteousness).
    So it’s very nuanced, yes, but Keller is trying to say that it’s not being greedy, or homosexual acts on their own that condemns someone, but the reason *why* they commit those acts, viz. they have rejected God as Saviour and LORD and thus His atoning work on their behalf. (*note: and no, I’m not an Arminian but you hopefully get what I’m saying).

    So to you grace point, I say “Yes and amen!” But God’s grace can cover those sins of greed, lust, homosexual acts, etc. It cannot cover the sin of self-righteousness which rejects the grace He is offering for those sins (cf. Mark 3:29).

    Like

  45. Andrew –
    yeah, the Bully Pulpit on City Church (if that’s the one you meant) was very good. Trueman (or “Carl Bomb as I like to call him) I almost always find right on the money and very insightful.
    What Trueman highlights from the City Church SanFran letter that sounds like it rings the same bell as Keller in the Veritas forum, is the “not good for human flourishing” quote; it’s like they ripped that language right out of that video. What you ave to remember, however, is that Keller is speaking of human flourishing in a biological and socio-economic sense. City Church is clearly using it in the sense of personal and subjective ideas of “what makes me happy.” Worlds apart.

    Like

  46. I just wonder how well the idea of human flourishing works in poor neighbourhoods. In poor neighbourhoods, we either talk about longing to go to heaven or speaking money into reality.

    Either way, as well as Keller intends, sometimes his theology smacks of upper middle class Americana.

    And I like Keller’s preaching. His Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World was useful to me. I just think his language is too high falutin’ at times. Case in point, I read Keller’s book on work and I read God at Work by Gene Veith, and I preferred the doctrine of vocation. Sorry. :/

    Now, I might be less grumpy if they planted in poor areas and supported minority Calvinists. I don’t see that happening any time soon though. :/

    Like

  47. Post Script. The natural law argument could have worked as well. I’ve seen many atheist argue againt trans gendered-ism and homosexuality based on natural law. You can’t deny the body.

    In fact, you could have gone as far as saying that homosexuality is a gnostic heresy, since you’re denying the body in a round about way.

    It’s just, ya know, this human flourishing thing. I know what he meant, and I think his audience walked away knowing that he thought homosexuality was a sin. But as somebody that’s an outsider (read: I grew up in a Cuban home as a nominal Catholic and so I find the attempt make Christianity sexy amusing) looking in, I would just say “Yah, homosexuality’s a sin. But so is any form of sexual activity outside of marriage. In fact, you all deserve to go to Hell, and so do I. O geez isn’t it great that God’s forgives us in Christ in spite ourselves? Isn’t God’s big awesome grace super awesome?”

    Eh.

    But I don’t think he’s a false teacher. I just think he’s not a proper Presbyterian. Though I do credit him for helping me read my Bible. Well, him and Graeme Goldsworthy. Nobody can take that away from me.

    And AB, aye, it does seem Reformed-dom as a whole is doing well. I just happen to be in a more evangelical Presbytery. But I look for the City of God, and at the very least, I have these blogs, the White Horse Inn, WSCAL Office Hours, and Lutheran radio.

    And the Elder Scrolls Series. Being a Dark Elf that shoots fire is relaxing. I also tend to have mood swings. Thank God for Jesus.

    Like

  48. Wesley, if Keller is a pastor — that is his call — he needs to be a pastor with possibly apologetics on the side. Where’s the beef pastor? Where’s Kathy’s b-s detector? Dishonesty anyone?

    Osteen and TKNY are both celebrities and their “ministry” shows what celebrity does. If forced to choose, I’d listen to TKNY instead of Osteen. But if I had to tell the difference between Osteen’s fans and Keller’s, I’d say the latter are more gullible and in more denial.

    Like

  49. Wesley, do you mean to tell us that TKNY thinks heteros out perform gays in socio-economic categories? Does TKNY apologize in Omaha? Hasn’t he noticed people in NYC?

    Quit it. You’re starting to sound like the apologists for Pope Francis.

    Like

  50. I slipped into the EPC GA to hear Keller speak when it was held in a nearby city last year. The EPC GA crowd, though it contained more women, seemed less diverse and more upper middle class white than a PCA GA I attended. Well, TK apparently loves him some context because he sounded quite tame and moderate Republican (to me) before this suburban crowd. His sermon was thoroughly unobjectionable. Why he spoke to the EPC and skipped the PCA GA (same week) is anyone’s guess. I don’t know of any PCA figures or religious bloggers who axed the question. Did they just assume that Tim (and/or Kathy) knows best? Is he just a unificator?

    Like

  51. Does anyone else notice the number of “buts” that now pile up around invocations of Keller? As in “I like Keller, but…” or “I’m a fan of his preaching, but…” or “I admire what he’s doing, but…” Is this a sign of growing maturity or awareness among his fans, proof that OL and the like are having some effect, or that culto Kelleri is weakening?

    A footnote for the confused, re: Kathy Keller’s BS detector: https://oldlife.org/2014/06/celebrity-wives/comment-page-1/#comment-141622

    Like

  52. SJG: I read Keller’s book on work and I read God at Work by Gene Veith, and I preferred the doctrine of vocation. Sorry. :/

    I would expect the same result. Something something about 2K and Luther and stuff.

    Like

  53. “Why he spoke to the EPC and skipped the PCA GA (same week) is anyone’s guess.”

    1) Because it totally works as an excuse to skip the PCA GA.
    2) Money & celebrity talk in the PCA. He do what he wantsa do.
    3) The PCA GA doesn’t feel like “flourishing.”

    Like

  54. D.G. –
    perhaps you and I simply have different definitions of “pastor” and “calling.” No one was telling the apostle Paul “Hey, quit it with the tent making stuff now, your calling is just to plant churches.” Or telling Stephen, “Hey, get back in the kitchen and quit preaching; your calling is to serve tables.”
    No question, Tim Keller has a degree of celebrity within the Evangelical world. The point is, he is using it to grow the kingdom of God and speak even to almost completely secular audiences as an apologist at times rather than just “huddle up” in his church and wait for people to figure it out and come to him.
    Reading many of your comments here as well as your post on Kathy, what begins to show is that “celebrity” is the thing that most upsets your apple cart. I agree with Trueman that celebrity can (and often does) have a numbing influence on accountability; and Tim Keller is by no means immune from that same pressure and falling to it at times. But to sit back fro the peanut gallery of someone who is using their literary celebrity to gather a crowd and then take shots at another pastor, doing their best to serve their God, their congregations and their city is really telling. Even Trueman (bemoaningly) admits the celebrity he has and seeks to use it as a necessary evil to serve a greater purpose.
    So, I guess I will “quit” interacting on this point b/c it seems clear your mind has already been made up. I wish you would quit these locker-room antics as well as encouraging them among fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. No one’s ministry is perfect and above criticism. But that criticism should also be tempered with humility and charity and I’m not hearing a great deal of that.

    p.s. clearly by “human flourishing” he means, primarily, procreation, which grows a society, which then has economic benefit. *drops the mic

    Like

  55. Wesley, is not TKNY a Presbyterian teaching elder? Then why do your expectations for him differ so markedly from those of the standards under which he is supposed to minister:

    It belongs to those in the office of elder, both severally and jointly, to watch diligently over the flock committed to his charge, that no corruption of doctrine or of morals enter therein. They must exercise government and discipline, and take oversight not only of the spiritual interests of the particular church, but also the Church generally when called thereunto. They should visit the people at their homes, especially the sick. They should instruct the ignorant, comfort the mourner, nourish and guard the children of the Church.
    They should set a worthy example to the flock entrusted to their care by their zeal to evangelize the unconverted and make disciples. All those duties which private Christians are bound to discharge by the law of love are especially incumbent upon them by divine vocation, and are to be discharged as official duties. They should pray with and for the people, being careful and diligent in seeking the fruit of the preached Word among the flock.

    All I’m asking is for truth in advertising so that Kathy doesn’t have to keep recharging the batteries.

    Like

  56. I miss the days when Tim used to blog, instead of sending his acolytes:

    Tim Keller
    Posted December 19, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
    Hi, All –

    Just below is a link to a blogpost by a Free Church (of Scotland) pastor about his recent visit to Redeemer. It might clear up some (very understandable) misconceptions about the purposes of our multi-site model.

    [calvinismmotorcycles[dot]blogspot[dot]com/2009/10/redeemer-nyc-when-unremarkable-becomes[dot]html

    By the way, Darryl, I do often miss either the last or the first hymn of a service, but because our sites are only about 1-2 miles apart, I always get to confess my sins with the congregation. And that’s good, because I need it.

    If Tim’s reading, I think you deleted my comments from 2012 on your blog. No biggee, “norcal presbyterian” didn’t have much to add anyway, but thanks for running the blog when you did. Your comments on Darryl’s site however will live on, so long as the servers keep running.

    Wesley, I count over 100 posts on Keller, if you haven’t read much of them starting in 2009, I suggest you dig into the archives, use the name “Tim Keller” in the search field. The literature on the man is vast, here, and in Engaging with Keller, for example.

    Who’s next?

    Like

  57. MG: 3) The PCA GA doesn’t feel like “flourishing.”
    CW: “Wrong on point 3.”
    Wesley: “by “human flourishing” he means, primarily, procreation…”

    So, CW, are you saying the PCA GA feels like procreation?

    Like

  58. Cw the Unificator
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink
    The OPC comment by Rasslemania is just his way of reminding the OP geeks that he’s part of the PCA which is 10x the size of the OP. So hate on, just remember who’s boss, geeks. Oh yeah — and I write for Ref21. And I went to China.

    Yeah, you and your Tim Kellerites may be the boss (this is your world, we’re just living in it). But you PCA types are still always welcome at our fellowship meals when you are in town.

    But we know you love everybody Cw, even us locked up in the gym for nerd prom. Have pity, is all I ask.

    Thank goodness that’s my three, and I don’t have to post again until tomorrow. Pressure’s off! Erik’s new avatar is spiffy! How long before he’s back? over under anyone?

    Like

  59. Wesley,

    p.s. clearly by “human flourishing” he means, primarily, procreation, which grows a society, which then has economic benefit. *drops the mic

    So homosexuality is a sin because it doesn’t grow a society? For real?

    Like

  60. Wes, you really should read Engaging With Keller. Presbyterian pastors engaging with TK and TK-vocab from the confessional perspective.

    You’d all have a Twitter rec for it from (all about) yours truly, but AB hates me. (I jest!)

    Like

  61. Jas, not true.

    Seriously, am I the only Walking Dead fan here? I was hoping Michael could back me up on the other thread, in the past, that PCA West Coast dude has always been my hero.

    I used this technique bluetoothing the robotic woman reading to me Engaging Keller to me on my commute.

    Jas, listen to the 9marks 3 part series Mark Dever with Tim Keller. Timmy boy doesn’t like Pwitter, neither do I. It’s a billboard, for things we like, like our TV shows.

    Three putted again! Rats!

    Like

  62. I got through the first episode of Walking Dead. IMO, Atlanta never looked better.

    X-Files party at my house for the new season and NAPARCers get in free. Lutherans have to bring a case of beer. Baptists bring tobacco and $5.

    Like

  63. Wesley, singles and sterile also don’t “grow society” by your flourishing logic. Are they being sinful? Pick that mic back up, if you don’t mind.

    Like

  64. DGH, you assert that TK is not adhering to the presby standards under which he is supposed to minister. You cite two paragraphs. What, specifically, in those two paragraphs, is TK in violation of?

    Like

  65. ABucksworth,

    Seriously, am I the only Walking Dead fan here?

    Just started watching on Netflix last week…so far I am interested, but I am a sci-fi/fantasy nerd to the nth degree.

    JAS,

    I will make the trek to the mitten state for that X-Files party!

    Like

  66. *pics up mic Wesley dropped

    Wesley,

    Human Flourishing is a subjective category. It’s a catch-word that people like to use today that can be filled with whatever meaning they want. Who gets to decide what is actually human flourishing? And what does human flourishing consist of? That’s why City Church says exactly the opposite about homosexuality on human flourishing (i.e., denying homosexuals undermines human flourishing).

    On the other hand, sin, a violation of God’s law, is objective. There is something clearly defined and to violate that law has direct (and indirect) consequences – namely, eternal damnation.

    *puts mic back in its stand where it belongs

    Like

  67. Ab, read more carefully — I’m speaking as Mark Jones in that comment. His imagined thoughts, not mine. And irony alert on your post counting.

    Mud, the PCA wants to (make) love (to) the world.

    Like

  68. Wesley,

    The problem isn’t that Keller states that homosexuality is contrary to human flourishing, in a sense he is right. The problem is that it is his controlling argument, and he eschews biblical and confessional categories or sin, and nature to make the point. There might be legitimate debate over whether or not homosexuality promotes “human flourishing” in human culture, and City Church has simply come down on the other side of the argument. However, there is not any real debate over what the Bible says about the sinfulness of homosexuality, or what the church has historically taught on the matter – and clearly City Church has departed from biblical and Reformed orthodoxy/praxy on this matter.

    His arguments are fundamentally weakened because he won’t unequivocally call sin out for what it is. For all of his attempts at nuance and diplomacy – traits that serve him well at times, basing his arguments on flourishing inhibits his ability to issue a meaningful rebuke to the leadership at City Church and weakens his exhortation to hold to biblical norms.

    Like

  69. “Seriously, am I the only Walking Dead fan here? I was hoping Michael could back me up”

    My wife likes The Walking Dead. But she also enjoys The Mindy Project and Downton Abbey too. You can find me reading in another room when those shows are on.

    Like

  70. Nate and Zrim –
    comparing apples to oranges right now in that Keller is not intending to make a one-time, slam dunk argument about having kids. The entire “human flourishing” thing is nothing more than an entry point to speak to an issue with land mines all around it in a secular, non-Christian setting. Keller is not commenting in the least on single or sterile people and their contribution to society (though, even there, we’re talking about two very different things as well).
    Now, from a biological standpoint, no one is going to argue that single and sterile people do not grow the population; that is self evident. And from that standpoint by itself, one could make a case to say those who choose not to have kids or who can’t do not support human flourishing, b/c if we all we that way the human race would die in a few generations.
    The key is to see that Keller is not speaking of human flourishing and sinfulness in the same way. He is saying that deviating from God’s design for sexuality is sinful and the natural result of that sin is that it does not support the continuance of the human race. Even then, he is not trying to say everything that could be said about the topic, but using it as an entry point to the conversation.
    Choosing not to have kids, or not being able to have them is a completely separate thing and is not sinful at all (despite what our RC friends might have to say about that). There are many celibate and sterile people who have, and continue to, contributed to our society in amazing ways that grow and serve us all. Again, that is not what Keller is addressing in that comment.

    Like

  71. DGH – perhaps TK, as a pastor, is personally modeling for us how to live out I Peter 3:15 “always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.”

    Like

  72. Jed,

    Don’t gas up the jet to Michigan just yet — I live in North Carolina.

    But the offer still stands.

    Like

  73. Wesley, or it’s just a way of laundering the conversation by appealing to the category of human flourishing. I get wanting to avoid the clamoring culture wars, but there is a way of doing it without going earnest and sunshiny.

    Then again, that may not land with a guy who thinks of his wife and daughters as angels and princesses.

    Like

  74. Zrim –
    for all its faults, I think Keller has found a way of interacting with a non-believing audience that is disarming and engaging. One of his stated methods is to take something the hearer already believes to be true, shows how the bible agrees with that conviction, but then reveals how the hearer’s present conviction is incomplete and doesn’t go far enough and how Jesus is the real answer to that shared conviction. So he’s not avoiding the subject to “sound” nice and sun-shiney. He’s just coming at it in a way where the conversation doesn’t shut down before it even has a chance to get going. Seems like a good plan to me. But then, as you say, I’m a guy with a family of angels and princesses who lives in a castle in the woods with a moat 😉

    Like

  75. Wesley, but plenty of ordinary pastors can do that and without any need to inhabit best seller lists and talk shows. So you’re right, it’s the religious celebrity that sticks in the craw. You seem willing to concede it’s a problem but are even more willing to overlook it: “…he is using it to grow the kingdom of God and speak even to almost completely secular audiences as an apologist at times rather than just ‘huddle up’ in his church and wait for people to figure it out and come to him.” And is that what you imagine gifted but ordinary pastors are doing, huddling up and waiting? But have you considered that’s a way of depending on the Spirit (and decreasing self)?

    Like

  76. Wesley,

    Do you see no connection between the squishiness of Keller’s answer in the video and his silence on the fact that a church that was planted by his church has gone rogue on homosexuality?

    Like

  77. But I mean, Keller could have been diplomatic and made a natural law argument like Paul does. Though, in modern Kuyperian circles, natural law doesn’t exist.

    Which is strange, because when I read Kuyper, I see space for natural law in his theology of spheres :/

    I’m just sayin’ because I’ve HAD gay friends and I’ve TALKED about those issues to middle school kids. And it doesn’t even matter how logical your argument is at that point because you can’t argue with feelings, and if America is about one thing, it’s about feelings. :^D

    Like

  78. Zrim –
    I’m not making any judgment about any “ordinary” pastor (by which I guess you mean not widely known). I am saying,
    1: based on a quick survey of what we’ve seen many pastors with celebrity do with their celebrity, I’d say Keller is actually doing something that is about kingdom building and not building the kingdom of self (even if you disagree with his methods).
    2: maybe we have different understandings of the purpose of the church. I’ve seen too many models that are not incarnational and are all about, “you come to us, on our turf, and then we’ll let you in on the gospel.” We are a sent people (John 20:21) and yet very few of us are willing to even go across the street. What I see Keller doing is going outside the doors of his church as he has opportunity, and using whatever celebrity he has to bring the gospel to people who would never come in to hear it.
    Many other “ordinary” pastors have this model as well and have a focus that is outward to reach the community instead of being insular. Yes, I believe anything we accomplish is by the work of the Spirit. But there is also a danger of sitting on our hands and then calling ourselves “faithful” remnant.

    Nate,
    even the City Church website doesn’t list them as a Redeemer/City to City plant. Their lead pastor was “inspired by his time at Redeemer” it ways and chose to plant in San Fran. Beyond that, City to City does not just plant PCA churches so that makes even more room for spin-offs who could start out well and go off the rails. Beyond that, dude, it’s San Francisco for crying out loud! I’d say that had a great deal more to do with the decision than Keller’s “squishy” answer in a video from 2011.

    Like

  79. Wesley says: “grow the kingdom of God”
    What does this mean? “grow the kingdom of God?” A biblical definition please. (I apologize if somebody already asked this, but I didn’t see it)

    Like

  80. Greg –
    one part of the definition of “grow the kingdom” would include 2 Cor. 5:16-21 (particularly vv. 18-20). So a ministry of reconciliation would include “growing the kingdom of God” on earth as vicegerents and ambassadors of Christ who has reconciled us. As it relates to this post, yes: I *do* see this “growing the kingdom” as a part of Keller’s work in NYC as well as more broadly through his outside speaking and writing.

    Like

  81. ” As a prototype, Fred points to Redeemer Presbyterian, which has already planted nine daughter churches in New York’s inner city.”

    And note that one of the four primary funders of City Church was Cedar Sprinngs PC of Knoxville, TN — the church that jumped noisily to the EPC 14 years ago and hosted this year’s EPCGA which featured the Bishop of Manhattan as the top attraction. Trajectories, trajectories I say.

    Like

  82. Cedar Springs EPC was Toolian Unpronounceable’s first employer too.

    “Wow! Where do I begin? When I left seminary I went to serve a large church in Tennessee (Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church) as pastor to young adults (20’s and 30’s) and as the Sunday evening preacher. I loved it, but I always knew it was a temporary stop.”

    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2007/08/31/interview-with-tullian-tchividjian/

    Then to PCA went he. Trajectory.

    Like

  83. Wesley quote the 5th of 2nd Corinthians as a biblical mandate for “growing” the kingdom of God on earth
    Ok, but you haven’t told me what that looks like. Because Paul’s 2nd Corinthian epistle has 2 main themes. Comfort and perseverance while having your head kicked in by the world and how his own faithfulness in this regard is one of the greatest testimonies to his authenticity as a bringer of the good news of the forgiveness of sins and new life in the Christ of God. The immediate context and indeed the whole book makes this abundantly clear.

    The ministry of reconciliation which the apostle there proclaims is clearly spelled out for us in Matt. 1:21 by an angel speaking with Joseph. (pretty good authority.)

    “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus [YHWH saves], for he will save his people from their sins.”

    I ask again please. Where in the bible is this underachieving earthly kingdom that Tim Keller has been commissioned to grow? If it needs growth, it must not be where God wants it. How will we know when Keller and his crew have been a success?

    Like

  84. Wesley, yes, it is a different understanding of church–one that emphasizes the nurture of the kingdom and another that emphasizes evangelizing. And Keller’s strikes me as the latter and another manifestation of Willow Creek (this time for the middle browed educated and cultured), which appeals to Baptists who emphasize evangelizing. All of which should be something of a flag to confessional Protestants who emphasize nurture. I must say, your uncharitable portrayal of covenantal nurture is typically Baptist (“you come to us, on our turf, and then we’ll let you in on the gospel”).

    PS earnest buzz word alert (“incarnational”)

    Like

  85. Greg –
    Surely you see that 2 Cor. 5:18-20 assumes Christ’s reconciliation you speak of in Matt. 1:21? That reconciliation then becomes the motivation for gospel proclamation and seeking to reconcile all things to Christ (I see that as not just including people even).
    *scolds self for getting drawn in to a whole new conversation* Sorry Greg. That’s all I really have time a week before Easter to get into with you. May the joy of the Resurrected Christ fill each of you to overflowing.

    Like

  86. cw the investigator, good find:

    City Church is supported by visionary churches who want to see the kingdom of God expanded throughout our culture, particularly in areas where there is little or no funding and where there is not a historic Christian witness. Four major donor churches have provided the bulk of the all-important seed money to get City Church on its feet — Spanish River Presbyterian in Boca Raton, Florida; First Presbyterian and Pear Orchard Presbyterian Churches in Jackson, Mississippi; and Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

    Funding and prayer are critical because starting a work like City Church is costly –San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. The Harrells pay $2750 a month for an 1800 square foot apartment–and they got a deal! Second, the startup cost of planting a church in such a burned-over, secular environment is much more because it takes so much longer for the church to gain enough members to become self-supporting.

    The goal for the next four to five years is to get City Church well-established, then begin to plant churches all over the city. As a prototype, Fred points to Redeemer Presbyterian, which has already planted nine daughter churches in New York’s inner city. “We are trying to ignite a movement for the Gospel, not just plant one church,” Fred relates. “This is an anchor church. Our vision is to see northern California transformed. I lay before my people all the time the vision of fifteen to twenty Gospel-centered churches all over this city, RUF groups at all the universities, and several mercy ministries. We also hope to have our own presbytery.

    Fred has already begun to recruit people to start RUF groups at Berkeley or Stanford and possibly to plant a future daughter church. City Church has just hired a Director of Worship Arts, Jonathan Gilley, who was working in one of Redeemer’s daughter churches.

    “God has been good to us,” says Fred, thankfully. “We are living in a fascinating city, filled with beauty and brokenness. It is just the kind of place in which the Gospel can best perform its transforming miracle. Please pray with us that God would pour out His Spirit, bringing revival and renewal to this needy city.”

    Like

  87. Our vision is to see northern California transformed.

    Here at PPC, our goal is to work on the sinful hearts of our members and officers. It’ll be a while before we get to the society at large, please be patient with us. We are a but a small outpost for the kingdom of heaven in the south valley.

    If any reader out there is in the area of Silicon Valley, please feel free to visit us. Free Brunch on Easter!

    Like

  88. AB — Get your head out of the Bible, man. You’ll never transform anything if all you do is confess sin, repent, and preach Scripture.

    Wait…

    Like

  89. Zrim –
    I do apologize; I meant no offence and spoke out of ignorance of a confessional Protestant ecclesiology. I was not referring to that specifically as I know many Baptist, Episco., Alliance, etc. churches with the exact same understanding. What I think we need to see is an emphasis on both (nurture and evangelism) understanding that none of that will look perfect this side of heaven. I do ask your forgiveness for any offence.

    Like

  90. Wesley, no need (we’re not a sensitive lot). But I’m not so sure about a balanced emphasis. Isn’t that oxymoronic? Isn’t the point of emphasis to favor one thing over another? I’m good with the confessional emphasis on nurture. It doesn’t mean we don’t evangelize, it just means “there are only so many hours in a day” and some things have to be (ahem) prioritized.

    Like

  91. TKNY informs us thusly on Twitter:

    “Sermons aren’t just to make truth clear to the mind-but to make it real to the heart. Change happens by feeding the imagination new beauties”

    So yeah, bistros.

    Like

  92. cw l’u, this exchange with our host is where I was finally talked down from the ledge of my latent abiding TKNYism.

    I still think a double date kellers/harts might be a good idea. What would the kellers think of DGH bringing one of his cats on a leash along for the soire? We need to find somehwere in NYC that serves a mean sweetbread, is all I can think of.

    We can dream, can’t we?

    Like

  93. Well, it sounds like only the kind of soiree that a unificator could make happen. But you see why I always bring up golf, I try to imagine a foursome with whomever I’m fighting out here. By the way, I do get this:

    AB, it’s not about celebrity, reach, numbers. It’s about faithfulness (as simple and vanilla as that sounds). TKNY would be great if he were Bill Hybels. But TKNY is supposed to be Presbyterian. He has a higher standard.

    And I embrace the flumm of not following generals. But come on, anyone willing to call themselves “presbyterian” these days you gotta have some respect for. In today’s Mortification of Spin Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt talk about going to Yale and explaining first off why they don’t believe in women’s ordination, to at least one female PCUSA minister in the audience. It caused tension, as they say. But after the conference, Todd, Carl, and this minister got together for food (and maybe drinks) and had a good time.

    I like your response, so I hate to tack on this way. I know we have a tradition to uphold, we all have our roles. Both you and TKNY will go down in presby history, I have no doubt. Embrace the flumm of not knowing what exactly they’ll be saying about you in 200 years. But I guarantee, both of your names are in the discussion.

    Grace and peace.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s