Monday, March 23, 2015

Critiquing the "Critics" of Tim Keller

The best critique of Keller yet, especially on the book by New Calvinists that claim to be critiquing him, yet start  and end with hailing PCA pastor and author Tim Keller as an orthodox Reformed brother. The twisted thinking blows the mind: apparently you can teach falsely about the nature of God, sin, Hell, the Trinity, etc. and still be called a "brother" who is faithful to the Reformed traditions and Scripture. Neither is true. The book reveals not only what is wrong with Keller (it doesn't even mention his view on Roman Catholicism and mysticism for example), but also what is wrong with these expert Calvinists who contradict clear thinking and proclaiming when at once they say he's orthodox and reliable, then turn around and prove he is neither orthodox nor reliable. The free pass to a false teacher is damning for the "critics" in this book, because honestly, they are actually promoting him. 2 John 9-11 clearly states that anyone who welcomes or even greets a false teacher is guilty of the false teacher's wickedness. So far, these men who give lip service to "criticizing" Keller yet hold him up as a brother in Christ whom we can learn from, are then guilty before God of Keller's war on the Truth.

I highly suggest reading the entire article because Williams goes into some of the areas the book touches on. Then Williams goes further (because this book did not) and deals with MORE of Keller's heretical teachings like mysticism and promotion of Roman Catholicism as Christian (after all "Christian" is defined by him as adhering to the "Creeds" (not Scripture, and certainly not Scripture alone--which proves the hypocrisy of Reformers who use creeds as authoritative instead of Scripture ONLY which alone is inspired, living,inerrant, and solely authoritative).

To merely summarize the gist of the article (there were way too many good quotes to narrow down to a few, so please read the article) here's part of the conclusion by ES Williams:

Is Tim Keller a False Teacher? 

Engaging with Keller has dealt with six important areas of Christian doctrine and found Keller to be wanting. While much of the critique of Keller’s theology is well-argued and convincing, as far as it goes, the editors made it clear, even before presenting evidence of deep flaws in Keller’s theology, that he is a good man who supports and teaches orthodox Reformed theology. They reassure their readers that Keller is a sound teacher of the truth, and there is not the slightest suggestion that Keller could be a false teacher. So having rightly identified numerous serious errors in Keller’s theology, errors that truncate the gospel, their readers are exhorted to accept Keller as an orthodox brother in Christ.

Keller’s Flawed Methods of Bible Interpretation

A major finding of Engaging with Keller, which has emerged from all the essays, is that Tim Keller uses flawed methods of Bible interpretation. He consistently distorts Scripture to make it appear to support his agenda. In much of his writings on theological issues, he pays little attention to the teachings of Scripture. In his chapter on the problem of sin, as we have seen, he spends ten pages discussing the ideas of men like Kierkegaard, C.S. Lewis and others, before he even mentions Scripture. And when he does finally mention Scripture, the references are spurious. Keller’s teaching on hell comes not from Scripture, but from the theology of C.S. Lewis. He misuses Lazarus and the rich man, to make the ridiculous claim that no one has ever asked to leave hell. He selects Scripture to teach that the essential attribute of God is love, while ignoring the weight of Scripture that elevates God’s holiness. He wrongly uses the parable of the prodigal son in order to get to the heart of the Christian faith. Richard Holst’s critique is devastating: “One could hardly conceive of a concept more contrary to good hermeneutical procedure than to use a parable to define the Christian faith.”

Dr. Bidwell in his analysis of Keller’s “divine dance” is firm in declaring that there is no scriptural evidence for a movement of dance within the inner life of the Trinity. “We have summarized that the ‘divine dance’ explanation of the Trinity has no biblical warrant.”

Another disturbing example of Keller’s misuse of Scripture, not mentioned in Engaging, is his interpretation of the elder brother in The Prodigal God. Keller claims the Pharisees, whom he says were represented in the parable by the elder brother, “held to the traditional morality of their upbringing. They studied and obeyed the Scripture. They worshipped faithfully and constantly.” Keller infers that the Pharisees are the religious people “who do everything the Bible requires.” But the Pharisees were not people who believed and obeyed the Bible, as Keller asserts. On the contrary, the Pharisees held to the tradition of men. Our Lord said to the Pharisees, “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do” (Mark 7:8). The Pharisees feigned obedience to God’s Word, but they did not really obey it — they were hypocrites who did not obey God’s moral law, they only kept the ceremonial rites, like hand washing. Jesus called them hypocrites seven times in Matthew 23. So Keller’s statement that the Pharisees obeyed the Scriptures is false and misleading. He draws this false conclusion: “Careful obedience to God’s law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God.” Our Lord said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

End quote.

~ES Williams, "Keller And  His Critics"

(Bold, red, italics, my emphasis)

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