Perspective on Tim’s Toxic Teaching

W-w will not help you sort this out. Carol Howard Merritt cannot tell the difference between Tim Keller and Tim Bayly:

I know that people are angry that Tim Keller doesn’t believe in women in the pastorate. But, my friends, this goes much, much deeper than women not being able to be ordained as Pastors, Elders, and Deacons. Complementarianism means married women have no choice over their lives at all.

So as Princeton Theological Seminary celebrates Tim Keller’s theology, I will be mourning. As he presents his lecture and receives his $10,000 award, I will lament for my sisters who have been maligned and abused. So much of my ministry has been dedicated to aiding the victims of these poisonous beliefs. In these difficult days, when our president says that women’s genetalia is up for grabs by any man with power and influence, I hoped that my denomination would stand up for women, loud and clear. Instead we are honoring and celebrating a man who has championed toxic theology for decades.

God, help us.

Meanwhile, Justin Taylor can’t tell the difference between Old Life and Carol Howard Merritt.

What help would confessional Presbyterianism give? It could provide a standard for teaching that cuts through male headship, or women’s liberation, or macho heterosexuality as the bright lines of Christian identity.

And notice this. Tim Keller was riding the wave of progressivism that swept through America post-Bush II. The world was getting better, conversations about race were ongoing, the economy was sluggish but improving, tolerance was increasing, cities were becoming more the sites of church life, and Christian apologists were gaining a hearing in the outlets of the mainstream media. Christians really could make a difference. A moderate, New School Presbyterianism with ties to Baptistic Calvinists could recover the cooperative endeavors that fueled Carl Henry, Harold John Ockenga, and Billy Graham. These sensible and extremes-avoiding Protestants could fill the vacuum created by the mainline.

Except that mainstream world, as Merritt indicates, has its own orthodoxy. You can be sensible, moderate, hip — heck, you can even like The Wire and channel Machen — and not measure up.

Maybe it turns out that Keller reached more Christians to think that the skeptics were really friendly rather than reaching the skeptics. Maybe it turns out that New School Presbyterians have more in common with Old School Presbyterians. What if they acted like it?


25 thoughts on “Perspective on Tim’s Toxic Teaching


    Does this mean that Tim Keller is now John the Baptist? Or is Keller still welcome in some synagogues?

    Matthew 11: 2 John sent a message by his disciples 3 and asked Jesus, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed,the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.6 And if anyone is not OFFENDED BECAUSE OF ME, he is blessed.” 7 Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces.

    James 1:19 “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”

    Psalm 76: 0—“Even human wrath shall praise you, for you are to be feared. Who can stand before you when your anger is roused?”

    Matthew 12: 28 If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. 29 How can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. 30 Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.

    Mark 9: 38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone[j] driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.” 39 “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me.40 For whoever is not against us is for us.


  2. McMark, I don’t know about synagogues but one of Keller’s pitches for his new real estate ventures is that the space could be used for bar mitzvahs:

    “We envision an East Side home for our congregation
    to worship, mark milestones of weddings and funerals, and invite kids of all
    ages to learn about Jesus. But just as importantly, we envision a place for the
    city—for serving the poor, for welcoming neighbors into artistic and cultural
    events, hosting bar mitzvahs, city council meetings, and more, so as to
    physically manifest what it looks like to be a “church not for ourselves.”

    Click to access RISEBOOK-website2.pdf


  3. cw, there’s the problem. “place” for the city or “church not for ourselves.” Places for everyone are fine. Nothing holy about a room. But when you don’t distinguish the holy from the common, you turn the place where the church meets (NYC) into the holy space (the church). Keller needs to read more Vos, less Conn.


  4. Hmmm… According to that website bar mitzvahs, cultural events, and city council meetings are just as important as worship of God and teaching the gospel. This is why 2k matters.


  5. To think that this is the thanks Keller gets after his decades long work in trying to change the face of public Christianity in America. Out with the backwoods Bible Thumpin’ Ol’ Timey troglodytes like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson, and in with winsome, cultured, poised, articulate urban Christians eager to bring the gospel of Cultural Transformation, Social Justice, and Racial Reconciliation to The City (Manhattan, actually – and at least the safe, high income areas with Starbucks, Whole Foods, Faux French Cafes, Gourmet Fusion Restaurants, and Museums).

    Keller was to show the secular elites in The City that Christians too can enjoy “the arts” and still go to church on Sundays; can embrace Darwinian Evolution and the Virgin Birth; can enjoy reading both The New Yorker and The Bible; and can tell the difference between a Cantata and a Sonata. Christians can be comfortable in the presence of refugees, immigrants, gays, Democrats, powerful women, and people with college degrees from Ivy League universities.

    Alas! It was all for naught. He might as well be Mike Pence, Ken Ham, or Kirk Cameron.

    If Keller didn’t consider it beneath his dignity to speak at Liberty University he would not be treated so shabbily.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was walking a property with a bunch of guys from a pyramid/ponzi scheme real estate investment group. They talked about their ‘rich uncle/sugar daddy’ like the Redeemerites talk about Keller. They’re all certain they’ll one day be as important and wealthy as their RE mogul sugar daddy. The parallels at all the stratifications are remarkable. Keller isn’t the result of deep thoughts about reaching a post modern demographic, this is about selling influence and being ‘their’ proxy at all the important movers and shakers drinks and appetizers mixers. It’s thinly veiled high brow prosperity gospel. And I got news for you sycophants, you won’t end up rich or important and worse you will have chased your dream at the expense of the historic gospel all in the name of the ‘gospel’. Stop with your fire walking selves.


  7. Sort of makes my point:

    Dr. Keller, as an ordained minister in the PCA, is much more aligned theologically with Old Princeton. His doctrine of Scripture would be more in-line with Old Princeton. His views on women and LGBTQ+ persons in ordained ministry would be affirmed by Old Princeton (and probably New Princeton until, obviously, more recent times). As such, he is not in alignment with today’s Princeton Theological Seminary on a number of issues. But what about Abraham Kuyper?

    But here’s the thing: If Keller were known for being on the pre-1929 side of PTS, if people knew him to be aligned more with Warfield than Nicolas Kristof, why would post-1929 PTS have ever invited him?


  8. How many of the Metropolitan of Manhattan’s congregants and devotees even knew of his scandalous, Falwellian views on marriage, bedroom stuff, and womenfolk? Is he on his way to Squaresville? Or is there an ecclesial Keller and a communicative Keller? Can the two meet?


  9. So, the whole post modern contextualization that resulted in such brilliance as; “you have a friend in Jesus” didn’t have the impact he supposed? It’s a tricky thing reading the wind.


  10. I find this a bit funny, as it catches Keller in the duplicitous game he’s been playing for a while.

    I suspect that Keller is not a complementarian. And I doubt that he has much in common theologically with Dever an the other neo-Puritans who run TGC, T4G, and other New Calvinist institutions. He is a much better fit for the ECO than the denomination that the PCA purports to be on paper. Then, again, that’s true of a lot of PCA pastors. Keller is incredibly popular in ECO circles. Even so, Keller pals around with New Calvinists, like John Piper and Don Carson, who would not be welcome at all within the ECO. What gives? Keller seems to morph with his audience. If he’s speaking at a large ECO church in the South, then he carries himself as one of them. PTS surely gave the award to Keller because it wants ECO churches to continue to send students the seminary, and is showing that it is friendly to ECO-style mainline-ish evangelicalism. But if Keller is speaking to a New Calvinist audience, he presents himself as one of them.

    I don’t see much overlap between ECO-style mainline-ish evangelicalism and the “fundamentalism with skinny jeans” that one sees from the New Calvinists. These two groups are not going to merge. And I suspect that the PCA will be torn apart by divided allegiances to these two movements. Keller is going to have to choose to go one way or the other. I’m glad that he’s been called out. If he wants an award from PTS for his popularity among ECO types, then he’s going to have to disavow the New Calvinists. You can’t always be liked by everyone.


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