Is Tim Keller Leaving the PCA for the OPC?

His latest post for the Co-Allies suggests he may:

The earliest Christians were widely ridiculed, especially by cultural elites, were excluded from circles of influence and business, and were often persecuted and put to death. Hurtado says Roman authorities were uniquely hostile to them, compared to other religious groups. . . .

The earliest church was seen as too exclusive and a threat to the social order because it would not honor all deities; today Christians are again being seen exclusive and a threat to the social order because we will not honor all identities.

Yet the early church thrived in that situation. Why?

One reason was that Christians were ridiculed as too exclusive and different. And yet many were drawn to Christianity because it was different. If a religion isn’t different from the surrounding culture—if it doesn’t critique and offer an alternative to it—it dies because it’s seen as unnecessary. . . .

The early church surely looked like it was on the “wrong side of history,” but instead it changed history with a dogged adherence to the biblical gospel. That should be our aspiration as well.

When you read those estimates of the early church, do you think more of the PCA or the OPC?

By the way, Keller leaves out one of the biggest factors in the early church’s “success”: the conversion of the emperor. In 300 roughly 10 percent of the empire’s population was Christian. By 350 that number rose to 55 percent.

Now all Pastor Keller needs to do is convert his fellow New Yorker, Mr. Trump. But I’m not sure how appealing a religion ridiculed by cultural elites and that is excluded from circles of influence and business will be. I am not even sure Pastor Keller’s experience proves that kind of Christianity “works.”

14 thoughts on “Is Tim Keller Leaving the PCA for the OPC?

  1. Whether being excluded/marginalized from society has merit depends on why one is excluded/marginalized. That is because too many times, some of us Christians assume that our own exclusion/marginalization is a badge of honor.

    When I talk to some of my nonconservative friends, the reasons they have for not having a favorable view of Christianity do not indicate that we have brought honor to the Gospel. Our insularity, out tolerance of sins on which the status quo relies, and our call for having society to marginalize different groups of people bring dishonor to the Gospel as well as cut us of from sharing the Gospel with them. Here, the OPC has excelled where it shouldn’t. But the PCA has it problems too especially in the areas of compromise and accommodation to societal norms.

    One simply has to look at the details to see what sins and failures practiced by either the OPC or the PCA should we avoid.


  2. Not sure about what to make of this article (whether to read it as political allegory or Presbyterian in-fighting or purely as sarcasm), yet being a member within the PC-USA, and one of the last remnants of “Conservative” in my congregation, I can assure you that if Pastor Keller isn’t welcome in the OPC, he’d be more than welcome to set up shop in my corner of the church any time.


  3. Mr. Snerd (hee hee), Pastor Keller is welcome even though he blows hot on being in the Big Apple and then hot on being marginal? Don’t you see a contradiction?


  4. Tim Keller says that Christianity changed history. I didn’t realize that you could do that. Does this mean we can un-kill all the millions of people murdered in the twentieth century by various governments? Can we un-abort all the children slaughtered since Roe. v Wade? Anyone that uses the phrase “change history” should be smacked in the face.


  5. Bryan, if Christianity changed history and you’re a Christian, that makes you a Yankees’ fan. (Hey, wait a minute. Doesn’t Keller live in NYC? Shazzam!)


  6. evanBobby, come on. Get over the Keller man crush. Who is he talking about being marginalized? Heck, reporters for the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ TIMES!!!!!! interview him.


  7. “The early church surely looked like it was on the “wrong side of history,” but instead it changed history with a dogged adherence to the biblical gospel. That should be our aspiration as well.”


    “We’re doing this for our city. Our longing is to see New York—and everyone in it—flourish. We believe the best way to serve the city is to embody the gospel in every neighborhood. The gospel doesn’t just change individual lives; it advances the common good. The increase in philanthropy, mercy, justice, racial reconciliation, integrity, and hope that occurs when more and more people live out the gospel is good for all of society, not just the body of Christ…. Through Redeemer and other new churches, that number has risen to 5%. With that acceleration, we believe we are at a critical inflection point in the movement of the gospel in our city where that number could rise to 15% over the next decade. We believe that might amount to a tipping point that changes more than individual lives but the long-term life of our city.”

    Keller’s early-church aspirations don’t seem to line up with his fundraising campaign.


  8. mboss, ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding! But like with the mainstream media, if you’re perceived as smart and minister to the intelligentsia, don’t worry about details.


  9. I wonder how the pro-city and ancient-faith sides of Keller parse Rowan Williams:

    So baptism means being with Jesus ‘in the depths’: the depths of human need, including the depths of our own selves in their need—but also in the depth of God’s love; in the depth where the Spirit is re-creating and refreshing human life as God meant it to be.

    If all this is correct, baptism does not confer on us a status that marks us off from everybody else. To be able to say ‘I’m baptized’ is not to claim an extra dignity, let alone a sort of privilege that keeps you separate from and superior to the rest of the human race, but to claim a new level of solidarity with other people. It is to accept that to be a Christian is to be affected—you might even say contaminated—by the mess of humanity.

    This is very paradoxical. Baptism is a ceremony in which we are washed, cleansed, and re-created, it is also a ceremony in which we are pushed into the middle of a human situation that may hurt us, and that will not leave us untouched or unsullied. And the gathering of baptized people is therefore not a convocation of those who are privileged, elite and separate, but in the heart of a needy, contaminated messy world.


  10. Scott Clark thinks the early church disproves transformationalism. Does Pastor Keller?

    As a matter of history, Christians remained a small, culturally marginal movement until after Christianity was legalized (early 4th century) and Christians did not become socially influential until the later development of the church-state complex known as Christendom. The earliest post-apostolic Christians did not campaign for the transformation of the surrounding culture. What they asked from the pagan magistrates and other cultural elites was to be left alone. Justin Martyr and the writer to Diognetus protested that they were no threat to the civil and cultural powers of this age. They only asked not to be arrested, tortured, and martyred. They asked to be allowed to distinguish between the sacred and the secular, a distinction that the pagans had allowed the Jews to make but which they did not allow to others. Typically, the pagans practiced a civil religion. They required pagan religious observance as a matter of good citizenship. For refusing to go along, they criticized the Christians as “haters of humanity” and uncivilized. When they began arresting and torturing Christians in the early 2nd century, one of the conditions they imposed was that the Christians should pour out a drink offering (or some other sacrifice) to the gods and to “swear by the genius of Caesar,” i.e., to affirm his deity. They did not expect the Christians to believe it, but they expected them to say it, to conform to the civil religion as good citizens. Those who did not (e.g., Polycarp, Ignatius et al) paid for their fidelity to the Savior with their lives.

    On their own terms, beginning with Paul and the Apostles, the Christians were not seeking to “upend” the world but to preach Christ and him crucified. They were not seeking to accumulate cultural or civil power or influence and Luke’s use of this language in Acts 17 was not intended to be taken to mean that Christians should go forth and “turn the world upside down” but rather to understand the power of the Spirit working through the gospel is such that pagan reaction to the Christian resulted in violence and local tumult despite Paul’s best efforts. In short, the point of the language is exactly the opposite of the way it is often interpreted. Luke’s point is not that the Christians were turning the world upside down but that it was a pagans who were causing havoc despite the best efforts of the Christians to avoid controversy.

    Liked by 1 person

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