Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tim Keller Is The Reformed Version of Rick Warren: a comparison

**Updates follow at the end of this article.**

Joh 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

1Jo 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth

Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice TO DISTINGUISH good from evil.

Tim Keller and Rick Warren have far more in common than most people would think. On the surface, Keller is a Reformed Presbyterian who holds to the Doctrines of Grace and the Westminster Confession of Faith. Warren, on the other hand, is Seeker-Friendly and Arminian in theology. I call Tim Keller "The Reformed version of Rick Warren" because of Keller's professing of Reformed theology, while in practice and promotion he is man-centered and pushes social justice and contemplative spirituality, just as Warren does.

Both, however, have a lot in common.

Keller and Warren went out to unbelievers to find out what would attract them to a church, thus making their foundation one of unbelievers (“unchurched”) appealing to their flesh.
Both promote social justice.
Both promote Emergent/Contemplative Spirituality.

This article isn't going to address the reasons why their doctrine and therefore practices are wrong, for there's not enough room to address that here I've addressed Keller here and here; I've dealt with Warren here . My goal is to give information of how similar Rick Warren and Tim Keller really are. I have, however, linked to a few articles that do address some of the errors (like Lectio Divina and the PEAC plan) to give readers a place to start in understanding such errors in light of Scripture.

Newsweek says, “Keller is now pitching himself as a C. S. Lewis for the 21st century, a high-profile Christian apologist who can make orthodox belief not just palatable but necessary...To put it bluntly, Keller wants to be the Rick Warren of global cities.”  (As a side note, but still a bit related, Keller's wife Kathy got hooked on CS Lewis early on which formed her theology--this no doubt was a factor in some way, I'm sure, with her husband.

Founding of Churches for Unbelievers

Tim Keller

Redeemer Presbyterian Church where Keller is head pastor says on their "Renew" page: " By the end of this next decade the vision is to have three strong congregations serving a total of 9,000-10,000 people, worshipping at 7-9 locations and 12 or more services around the city, drawing many more un-churched people into a relationship with God, and with a reputation for serving and loving those in the city who don't share our beliefs as well as loving those who do."

In the cover story in "Christianity Today" on Tim Keller we read:


Keller began talking to anyone who would sit still, asking questions he had learned from the urbanists at Westminster: "What would be a New Yorker's worst disaster?" and "What kind of church would a New Yorker want to attend?" For months he sat in restaurants, learning New Yorkers' ways.

They needed someone who spoke their language, though, and Keller was a quick learner. "I saw New York mentor Tim," Sherman says. "There's something about the density of the city, the way your lives get intertwined with a secular culture."That was part of the vision: "We want to start a church for you, but also for your friends that you want to introduce to Christ."

"The most interesting people came," Tim says. "It was astounding how easy it was to have curious nonbelievers come to church."

The Kellers stick to a few rules. They never talk about politics. Tim always preaches with a non-Christian audience in mind, not merely avoiding offense, but exploring the text to find its good news for unbelievers as well as believers. The church emphasizes excellence in music and art, to the point of paying their musicians well (though not union scale).

…. Gordon MacDonald came to Manhattan's Trinity Baptist Church at about the same time the Kellers arrived… But Keller looked on MacDonald's coming as an advantage: MacDonald's name drew many New York Christians, leaving Redeemer to focus on non-Christians. Longtime believers joined Redeemer only if they caught the vision of creating a church that appealed to their non-Christian friends.

White believes Keller's unique gift is to preach to both Christians and non-Christians in the same terms, without making a choice between evangelism and discipleship: "Tim uses the gospel surgically on the heart. The gospel is what we need to come to faith and also what we need to grow." A theology of grace uses the same language to challenge both the runaway son and the solid older brother.

Warren also inquired unbelievers what they wanted in a church. You will start to notice same terms used by both men in describing unbelievers ("un-churched").

In “The Purpose Driven Church”, Warren said, “As I shared in chapter 1, I began Saddleback by going door-to-door for twelve weeks and surveying the unchurched in my area. Six years earlier I had read Robert Schuller’s book “your Church Has Real Possibilities”, which told how he had gone door-to-door in 1955 and asked hundreds of people, “Why don’t you go to church?” and “What do you want in a church?” I thought this was a great idea…” (p. 190).

An article on Rick Warren in Reader's Digest (now supporting PDL magazine):

Warren changed a great deal as he progressed from a preacher who wanted to "build a church for people who hate church" to worldwide religious leader. He spoke with Reader's Digest—whose parent company recently launched his new magazine, Purpose Driven Connection—twice in recent months.

I pulled off the highway, and we walked into this real estate office and met an agent named Don Dale….We were driving to the condo with him and I said, "Hey, Don, do you go to church anywhere?" He said, "No, no. I hate church." I said, "Great. You're my first member." We started with my family and his family. Our first service was on Easter Sunday in 1980, with 200 people. For Easter in 2008, we had 14 services back-to-back, with 45,000 people. Don is still a member here.

Warren, like Keller, preaches with unbelievers in mind:

Like Keller he preaches with unbelievers in mind, not Christians: "The point Paul is making is that we must be willing to adjust our worship practices when unbelievers are present (1 Corinthians 14:23). God tells us to be sensitive to the hang-ups of unbelievers in our services. Although Paul never used the term 'Seeker Sensitive,' he definitely pioneered the idea."
(Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 243)

"As I go through these things, first I sit down and I start praying. I say, "Who is going to be there?" I start to think of one person...People that I have invited, like my back doctor who was an atheist Jew who came for Easter. I start thinking: "Now what is going to help this guy know about Christ?" (preaching the gospel) and I will go through that little formula and think about the points, which were actually quite simple."
(Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Preaching: An Interview with Rick Warren. Sept-Oct 2001)

- Original source here; available here (proceed with caution)

Social Justice

Tim Keller (caps, my emphasis)

Keller's Redeemer Vision:"To spread the gospel, first through ourselves and then through the city by word, deed, and community; To bring about personal changes, social healing, and cultural renewal through a movement of churches and ministries that change New York City and through it, the world."

THE VISION OF REDEEMER 2005 Vision Campaign Sermons & Study Guides: “The following statement summarizes what we are called to do in NYC: To build a great city for all people—-through a gospel movement that brings personal conversion, community formation, social justice and CULTRUAL RENEWAL to New York, and through it, to the world.”

In a Q&A: “The distinctives of gospel-centrality, a balance of evangelism, community, justice and CULTURAL RENEWAL, and a concern for the whole city, not just our own tribe could be likened to an engine. The leadership and preaching gifts of any individual pastor, using this metaphor, would be the “fuel.” Naturally, some pastors have “higher octane” gifts than others, but the “engine” will run on just about anything.”

RPC's Facebook side profile echoes this: “Redeemer's vision is to build a great city for all people through a gospel movement that brings about personal conversion, community formation, social justice, and CULTURAL RENEWAL in New York City and throughout the world.”

Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s “School of Gospel Foundations”:

Justice, Shalom, & the Third World”: "What does it mean when God calls his people to “do justice” and to “seek the shalom of the city”? We’ll look at how poverty in the U.S. differs from poverty in third world countries. We'll also explore how a Biblical framework for thinking about issues of poverty can help bring RENEWAL to individuals and society.” Oct 18 12:10PM - 1:30PM."
[*Note* Instructor Chris Koepke for this class was a pastor at John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church. Stories of homeless people used in the classes brings in emotions to motivate.]

Redeemer's Church Planting Center has Terry Gyger, as the Center's director:

"Gyger says new churches are the best way to reach out to the unchurched and transform a city spiritually, socially, and culturally. "We'd like to see New York become the city of God, a place of peace, racial reconciliation, and prosperity for the arts, with churches ministering to people in all their needs," says Gyger. "Training is often absent for the church planters who come here. If we can make an indigenous church-planting movement work in this city, I think it can be reproduced in other cities of the world."'

Social justice at Keller's church merges with Emergent Church Movement & Feminism:

Redeemer Presbyterian Church class: Culture Makers (Oct 25 - Nov 22) Instructor Luann Jennings:

"Redeemer’s vision for CULTURAL RENEWAL depends upon the engagement of our congregation with the world. Using Andy Crouch’s acclaimed book, Culture Making, as a guide, we will look more closely at how Christians can serve God through “making” culture and transforming our world. We will consider various aspects of “culture,” including the arts and entertainment, education, community development, civil service, and more. This class will be led by Arts Ministry Program Director Luann Jennings with special guests each week from different arenas of culture making. Schedule: Sundays, October 25 through November 22, from 12:10PM to 1:30PM. There will be no class on November 8."

The author they are using at this Reformed church is Andy Crouch (A senior editor at Christianity Today International) who is Emergent and endorses Brian McLaren: “From 1998 to 2003, Andy was the editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine for an emerging generation of culturally creative Christians.”- source

In order to achieve this "cultural renewal" they bond with unbelievers

Keller was a speaker at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. The mission of this leadership conference states:

"The Leadership Summit has become more than a solitary event on the calendar: it is a perpetual movement of men and women whose relentless global mission is to develop authentic leaders for the sake of the local church and their communities. This rich expanse reflects incredible cultural diversity and racial heritage, and does not dilute in the face of tough economic times. No individual or church need walk through this alone. Join with other leaders worldwide as we stand together to confront the challenges facing us "

Speakers he shared the platform with at Willow Creek's Leadership conference: Bill Hybels, Henry Cloud, Tony Blair, Bono, along with a few women.

Warren and Social Justice

His infamous PEACE plan: The dangers with this is dealt here and here.

At Urbana 06, Warren taught about his five stages of renewal: "Personal Renewal, Relational Renewal, Purpose Renewal, Structural Renewal, and CULTURAL RENEWL - “A changed church will change their culture,” said Warren, and will ultimately impact their surrounding communities and culture."

Holds hands with unbelievers to promote social justice, just like Keller:

Speaker at TED conferences: “In recent years, Warren has become a prominent steward of social justice, speaking out on poverty relief and encouraging spiritual leaders to play a role in guiding the planet toward sustainability. (He even attended the premiere of An Inconvenient Truth, after meeting Al Gore and producer Lawrence Bender at TED2006.)” TED is full of unbeliers like J.J. Abrams, Peter Gabriel, Tony Robbins, Amy Tan, and Al Gore.

He is on Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation Advisory Council.

Emergent/Contemplative Spirituality


Eastern Mysticism/Contemplative Spirituality and Feminism at Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church: quote:Susan Castillo will be teaching "The Way of the Monk" at Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This is NOT just for women, but open for men and women (she's currently getting her M.A. at Westminister Theological Seminary).

Here's what the Reformed Redeemer Prebyterian Church PCA says for the class on their webpage (bold, my emphasis) ***Note*** The removed the page now, but this is straight from the page they had up.


The Way of the Monk (April 28, May 5 & 12)

Do you long for the great theology in your head to be more real to your heart? Come discover age-old methods of contemplative prayer and worship that can help you encounter Christ in a more intimate, experiential way. In this hands-on workshop, you will experience the ancient art of chanting the Psalms (they were meant to be sung!), embark on a practice of authentic Christian meditation, discover how a simple, time-honored tool can help unleash the prayer warrior in you, learn what a typical monastic day is like and how you can make your own, private retreat at a monastery, and much more!

Note: This workshop will be of added benefit to fellowship group leaders who wish to cultivate greater variety and depth in their group’s time of worship.Schedule: Tuesdays, April 28, May 5 & 12 from 7:00PM to 9:00PM.Location: Redeemer Offices, 11th Floor Conference Room (1359 Broadway, 11th Floor, btw. 36 & 37).The Way of the Monk (April 28, May 5 & 12)

Apr 28 7:00PM - 9:00PM Centering Prayer

In this session, we will focus on Centering Prayer, an age-old practice of authentic Christian meditation. We will cover history, technique, obstacles, and how to overcome them. We will also devote ample time to actual practice and Q &A. We will learn how to properly prepare by grounding ourselves in God’s Word. As a prelude, we will consider the purpose, power, and biblical precedent for silence, solitude, and contemplative practice.

May 5 7:00PM - 9:00PM Prayer Rope

Finally…help for fidgety hands and distracted minds! In this session, we will focus on the use of a prayer rope, a practice of prayer that engages the whole person. We’ll begin by viewing a brief video that demonstrates the “Chaplet of the Divine Mercy,” a particular method of using a prayer rope. We will then do our own investigation of Scripture to determine the meaning and power of God’s “mercy” and the resulting implications for rich, yet highly accessible intercessory prayer. We’ll also cover history, purpose, technique, and devote ample time to actual practice and Q &A.

May 12 7:00PM - 9:00PM The Divine Office/ Liturgy of the Hours

In this session, we will peek at an actual monastic schedule and focus on the mainstay of their daily life, known as the "Divine Office" or "Liturgy of the Hours." At the cornerstone of the Divine Office is the prayerful, sung recitation or "chanting" of the Psalms; we will consider how we can rightly appropriate the Psalms as our own prayer. We will then learn and practice Compline, the final service or "office" of the monastic day.Location: Redeemer Church Offices (directions) 11th Floor Conference Room

Instructor: Susan Castillo. Susan Castillo is currently on Redeemer staff in the Fellowship Group department and is pursuing an MA in Biblical Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. She wholly espouses Reformed Presbyterian theology while continuing to embrace her “inner monk.” Sometimes referred to as “The Retreat Lady,” she has been fleeing to monasteries to “honeymoon with Jesus” for over ten years.

End quote.

In addition Redeemer Presbyterian Church has a Spiritual Formation department. This is a heavily used term by Emergents/Contemplative Spirituality followers.

Tim Keller has endorsed Eastern Mystic feminist Adele Calhoun's "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook" book, also endorsed by mystic Ruth Halye Barton, back in 2005:

Reviews & Endorsements

"I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun's gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church." —Dr. Timothy Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NYC

"I love this book! Adele has provided a treasure trove of spiritualdisciplines that will nourish your soul, striking a delicate balance between accessibility and depth that comes from her own faithful practice. Read it, engage the disciplines, and allow God to transform you in the deepest levels of your being." —Ruth Haley Barton, cofounder, The Transforming Center, and author of Sacred Rhythms and Invitation to Solitude and Silence

***See http://www.apprising.org/ and http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/ for details on Adele Calhoun's New Ageism****

In addition, Redeemer Presbyterian church lists Villiage Church as a church affliation (their pastor sat under the ministry of Tim Keller during th 1990's):

About Villiage Church: "The Village Church lives to revolutionize Greenwich Village, through word and deed, into the pre-eminent expression of urban eternal life, by bridging those who don’t believe to the church, dancing believer with believer, and uniting all to Christ."

The Villiage's Values:"We spend a lot of our energy to accomplish nothing! Individually and in our 11:00 a.m. gathering each Sunday, we celebrate Jesus Christ as our connection to the Divine. Through celebrating His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, we inhale His grace and exhale our appreciation. This respiration of worship, with joy and reverence, is vital to who we are, an exhibition of excitement about knowing and walking with God.

The Village Church brings the Ancient forward to today. We find the historic Christian faith to be the means of navigating the turbulent choices of city life. We are creedal, sacramental and confessional in the Presbyterian tradition (PCA). The ministry of Word and Sacrament, Praise and Prayer, are means of grace we use weekly to proclaim both God’s transcendence and Christ’s invitation to immanence, in an eclectic style indigenous to Greenwich Village. We hail the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, working constantly to reform the faith in our contemporary setting."

Herescope discusses immanence” in Rick Warren’s book and church Foundations book:

In reporting on "The Shack" Warren Smith reveals more error with Rick Warren, and The Shack


Describing God in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, he wrote:“He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.” (p. 88) Compounding the matter further, immanence” has been taught as part of the Foundations class at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. An ill-defined reference to immanence on page 46 of the Saddleback Foundations Participants Guide plays right into the hands of the New Spirituality/New World Religion by stating:“The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).”

Keller’s Presbyterian church promotes Eastern Mystical breath prayers (aka Lectio Divina):

Redeemer Presbyterian's endorsement of the Lectio Divina.

Redeemer Presbyeterian's instructions on HOW to do the prayers.

Lectio Divina is dangerous, unbiblical, self-centered and fleshly.

A class offered at Redeemer Presbyterian church which again incorporates Emergent/Contemplative Spirituality and Feminism:

“Talking with God” (Sept. 27, 12:10-1:30)“God walks” and “wandering prayer” and “Listening to God” - Lectio Divina (offered Oct. 4, 12:10-1:30 pm) . Instructor for these clases is Pamela Brown-Peterside.

I'll refer you to Peter Masters' great article on the Merger of Calvinism and Worldliness.

Rick Warren also promotes Emergent/Contemplative Spirituality like Tim Keller (although LESS than Rick Warren):

As already said above, Warren talks of God's "immanence": "“The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).”

PDL magazine plugs The Shack, a very New Age book.

Like Keller, Warren endorses Lectio Divina prayers:

How to think like a world class Christian by Rick Warren:

“Begin asking the Holy Spirit to help you to think of the spiritual need of unbelievers whenever you talk to them. With practice, you can develop the habit of praying silent "breath prayers" for those you encounter. Say "Father, help me to understand what is keeping this person from knowing you."”

More on Warren promoting Breath Prayers here.

Saddleback Community Church offers : Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Michael Casey, and Eat This Book: Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading by Eugene Peterson

This Week: The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard

Warren’s Pastors.com site, author James Emery White promotes Eastern mystic Desert Fathers and Thomas Merton, along with Roman monk Benedict who promoted Lectio Divina:


“In his catalog of wisdom from the desert fathers of the fourth century, Thomas Merton tells of a certain brother who went to Abbot Moses in Scete and asked him for a good word. The elder said to him, “Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.”

The power of silence and solitude has been recognized throughout the history of spiritual formation.

Silence is the absence of sound and quiet the stilling of sound,” writes Frederick Buechner.

“Quiet chooses to be silent. It holds its breath to listen.” The rule of St. Benedict speaks of cultivating silence in our lives.

End quote.

Warren promotes Emergent Dan Kimball and Lectio Divina at his Pastors.com website:

Emergent guru Dan Kimball teaches about “sacred space”, and “bringing back ancient religious symbols and some rituals used throughout church history.” He says, “When choosing to implement something like *Lectio Divina* (a contemplative praying of the Scriptures) into a worship gathering, though, take a moment to teach worshipers the history of the practice so that it isn’t perceived as just a gimmick.”

As Keller is feministist, so is Warren: here, he spoke at the Emergent National Pastors Convention in 2004where female pastors were present, and his wife teaches men.

Endorsement of Willow Creek

Tim Keller

Keller’s speaking engagement at Willow Creek for their Leadership Conference this past summer revealed a few things:

He admires Willow Creek Church

“This summer I spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. It was an honor to be invited. No one pulls off a conference like Willow Creek…. Nobody provides more practical help for organizing and leading ministry than Willow Creek."

He goes on to praise the great aspects of also the Emergent Churches and more traditional (a la John Frame of Reformed Theological Seminary) which is very ecumenical.

Rick Warren
In two powerful messages from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren address key characteristics of a leader: an open heart and open hands. Named “Holy Discontent, Wholly Surrendered”

Willow Creek ffers cds and dvds from Warren on leadership .

And finally....

Tim Keller and Rick Warren together

Keller with Warren at the Purpose Driven Network Summit Conference 2008: where he shared the platform with Emergent leader Erwin McManus, potty mouth Mark Driscoll, in May 2008.

According to Deception In the Church , Warren was featured at the "Made For A Purpose" 2004 Conference which includes: "Tony Evans, Cheryl & Jennifer McGuinness, Rick Warren, Larry Crabb, Erwin Raphael McManus, Nancy Leig, Louie Giglio, Jim Cymbala, Tim Keller, Ken Blanchard, Gloria Gaither." -Source I found the archived page here.

In a collaboratioin with Reader's Digest, Warren has put together "Purpose Driven Connection". The writers Warren has enlisted for the premier issue of “Purpose Driven Connection” are a “who’s who” of Christian authors, including Tim Keller, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Ann Graham Lotz, Chip Ingram, Lee Strobel, Kay Warren and others.

Rick Warren endorsed Keller's "The Reason for God" book.

Both Keller and Warren started churches for unbelievers, they promote social justice, hold hands with unbelievers to make the world a better place, and promote Eastern mysticism through Contemplative Spirituality practices and authors.

Lighthousetrails Research has info on Tim Keller as does Apprising Ministries. Both also have information on Rick Warren and also on Contemplative Spirituality as does Crossroad.


Tim Keller was a featured speaker at the very emergent Leadership Network's Innovation 3 Conference this year.

Tim Keller, "Turning Your Biggest Idol Into Your Biggest Benefit": Apparently from the official notes here, Keller calls Peter a racist based on Gal. 2:14.


Keller like Warren also can't seem to boldly state to anyone, even his own "audience" (his word) that homosexuality not only is a sin, but it leads one to Hell (2010). Here's the article.


Keller's church continues to teach Contemplative Spirituality.


tkaione said...

It is a comparison that is unfortunately accurate. Tim Keller's "star" seems to be on the rise and his false teaching needs to be exposed.

Thank you for compiling all of this information and putting it in one post.

Denise said...

You're welcome grace. You know, I was disturbed at the uncanny similarities between the two men--the more I read regarding Keller, the more I kept hearing Rick Warren. Very weird, yet not surprising. Keller was going emergent years ago, but no one listened.

I wonder if they are listening now?

Jesse said...

Apparently you have problems with Keller and other Christians that emphasize "cultural renewal" and "social justice".

What is the distaste and distrust you have with these terms?

Christians have been involved with social justice from the very beginning-- weren't Christians like William Wilberforce and others responsible for the end of slavery in the British empire? Orphanages are a Christian contribution (John Wesley, George Whitfield, and countless others beforehand)to "cultural renewal", as are public hospitals, public education for all (no matter of socioeconomic class or gender)

Does your preference for churches and christians not emphasizing social justice mean that you would prefer a world without orphanages, without public education, without charity, public hospitals, and with institutional slavery?

If Keller being associated with Warren through speaker lists supports your argument of them being similar, wouldn't that mean you have to condemn Max Lucado, Larry Crabb, Gloria Gaither because they appear with Warren as well?

As for trying to reach unbelievers, didn't Paul try to do the same thing when addressing the Athenians with their statue to an "unknown God"? Wasn't he trying to reach uncreached people by entering into dialogue about their belief system and how the gospel both fulfills and challenges it?

Or is it a matter of word semantics and what you are perceiving as the meaning of "cultural renewal" and "social justice" is different than what the meaning keller is using for the word? (and maybe the emerging church types have even a different and overlapping semantic map?)....?

Denise said...


Its interesting you picked out the social justice aspect to be concerned with. What about all the Eastern mysticism that these two men espouse? Doesn't that bother you, since its pagan to its core?

Re: social justice: Scripture doesn't command Christians to be warrior for social justice. It does talk about helping others in need when the Lord gives opportunity, but especially of "the household of God". Priority always goes to Believers first, who are in need:

Act 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

We see the same thing in Acts 4:31-35 about BELEIVERS.

The problem with social justice is that its Man-centered. It thinks in the temporal, not eternal; it sees perceived problems as most urgent, not the spiritual; it centers on the physical "needs" (and "need" has to be defined!), not spiritual things.A dead culture can't be "renewed". Its DEAD. The world HATES God. In fact, in Acts through Revelation, as the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His life, death and resurrection was being proclaimed, the culture wasn't being renewed: Christians were being imprisoned and tortured and slaughtered, and finally dispersed (Heb. 11; 1Peter 1). It seems you are looking at things from an American viewpoint instead of a biblical one.

The purpose of the local church (ecclessia) is not to bring social justice: we can't do that, nor should we. In fact, 1Cor. 6 says we have NOTHING in common with unbelievers and should separate ourselves from them. There will always be injustice. Our focus is to be on growing in Christ Jesus, ministrying our gifts within the local assembly of believers, being in the Word, and proclaiming the Gospel.

You won't find social justice in the Great Commission nor anywhere else. Compassion, yes, but again always with the priority to Christians in NEED. Again, "need" must be defined clearly.

Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."

Denise said...


And as for condemning Lucado, Crabb, and Gaither: I don't condemn; rather its God that does, according to Scripture (nice try though). No one gets a free pass, no matter who applauds them. Crabb is a proponent of Easter mystical Contemplative Spirituality, btw. Gaither holds to feministic Charismatic doctrine which isn't according to Scripture.

Re: Paul reaching unbelievers, do you realize he did this by proclaiming the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ? He didn't go around starting hospitals or orphanages. He proclaimed the Gospel, told people of their sin against the HOLY HOLY HOLY God, and their need to repent and turn to Christ Jesus, the ONLY Savior. The Gospel didn't fullfil pagan religion, it was diametrically OPPOSED to it. Paul proclaimed that which they DID NOT KNOW. They were worshipping pagan gods and had no faith in the True God.

Scripture shows that doctrine matters, and what we believe will affect how we behave. We MUST worship God in spirit and in TRUTH. Worshipping the wrong Jesus means one also has a false gospel, and neither can save. Good deeds don't save, nor can they earn us favor with God. Even pagans have "good" deeds, but it is not of faith and therefore is earning them Hell.

2Jo 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

2Jo 1:10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Social justice is grounded in Roman Catholic Liberation theology. Better check that out.

John Jones said...

Denise and Grace,

Jesus Said in Matthew 22:34-40 Love your neighbor as yourself. In Luke 10:37 the "expert" correctly said that the one that showed mercy is the neighbor and that we should go and show mercy also.
As regard your desire to have nothing to do with sinners Denise, Jesus was accused of doing this Luke 5:30 and justified his actions in verse 31.
1 Cor 6 does not say separate yourself from sinners but from SIN
Acts 2:45 goes on to say that they share with ANYONE.
We do need to Love God 1st and others 2nd as Jesus said Matthew 22. I want to give Glory to God by obeying what Jesus asked me to do, John 5. Do you know Jesus? Matthew 7:21-23. Have a real relationship with him? Do you know his heart for the lost? If you do know Jesus don't you realise that he saved us all whilst we were sinners knowing that we would continue to sin against him.

Grace, if you want to stop false teaching there are plenty of other places to fight against before Tim . C'mon stop fighting against people on the same side and fight against the lies that Satan uses to make people put their trust in his schemes of the world, money sex, status, position, worldly wisdom.
Jesus came on a mission, lets get on it! Matthew 18:10-14

Denise said...


I find your remarks quite insulting and lacking the love and tolerance toward me you seem to want to show "sinners". But in your mind, I'm what? As bad as the Pharisees, as you suggest? Then you should be loving me, eh? But alas, its missing. The irony of judging me as judgmental isn't lost on me, btw. ; )

Your opinion of 2 Cor.6 (I'm assuming you mean 2Cor. 6 as I did, but I made a typo in the comment section--so you didn't bother to read the verse?) is completely way off course. It is about separating from unbelievers, particularly in spiritual matters (see the CONTEXT from chapter 5 through chapter 6). There's nothing here, nor did I ever imply, about evangelizing. As I have

Contrary to your own "expertise" that it has nothing to do with unbelievers, "1 Cor 6 does not say separate yourself from sinners but from SIN" )-- it ACTUALLY says:

2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,

Just as God told Israel to be separate from the nations (Is. 52:10-11), so God commands us to be separate from unbelievers, the world. "Their" referrs to "unbelievers" in the context.

Should you actually want a exegesis of 2Cor.6: 14, go to http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/47-44.htm as I posted portions of this sermon recently on my blog. I guess you missed it.

Acts 2:45 is in the CONTEXT of believers. You pick out verses and misinterpret/apply them, to your shame, then you turn around and slam Christians (I won't be posting your FIRST comment which was more of the same, uh, "encouragement" and "grace").

I find it interesting how the Keller fans are concerned with everything but Keller's error, particularly the Contemplative Spirituality & Emergent practices. God says doctrine DOES matter.

Denise said...

Keller isn't on the same side as Scripture. He's trying to mix with the world to accomplish what he thinks are spiritual things. THAT'S the problem and THAT'S EXACTLY what 2 Cor. 5-6 is all about.

Instead of partnering with Christ, he partners with those of the world for fleshly attainments, not eternal ones.

As I already noted, Jesus' commission doesn't include Social Justice.

Try again.

John Jones said...

Hi Denise,
Thanks for posting my comments on your Blog. I don't want to get into an argument, it's clear we have different opinions. i just read the scriptures and cannot reconcile them to the statements you are making from Matthew 22:34-40. Luke 10:37. Luke 5:30-31.
I think this statement from a far more learned man sums up where I stand
"So, look, Paul didn't leave the world. He didn't run from it. He got right in the middle of it for the purpose of leading people to the knowledge of Christ. He is not calling for isolation. There's no place for isolation from unbelievers. If God wanted us isolated from unbelievers, He would have saved us and instantly catapulted us into heaven. He is not calling for isolation. In fact, we are mandated to intersect with the unsaved all the time."

As regard "Grace" I believe this word means Unmerited favour. I believe I have shown this by taking the time show you how I understand Jesus and what we wants from his servants.

Sorry if I caused any offence.

Denise said...

Hmmm, interesting application of grace, John.
Insulting a Christian = grace.

Saying 2Cor. 6 is not about unbelievers but "sin", when in fact it says repeated "unbelievers" = grace.

You didn't point out error on my part John. You merely revealed your defense of a man who's clearly doctrinally and practically unbiblical (you've yet to deal with that)and your rash judgment of me ("As regard your desire to have nothing to do with sinners Denise..." when in fact I said no such thing) your "I didn't mean to cause offense" seems weak at best.

I have thick skin, so don't worry. But I think your remarks and blindness to what 2Cor.6 says as well as Acts 2:45 speaks volumes. I can only hope you go back and read the context.

This issue here, isn't ME; its Tim Keller and Rick Warren. THEY are not in line with Scripture, as I pointed out. So, I hope that Keller defenders would actually see the problem with him and deal with that.

Unless you folks agree with Eastern Mysticism....

Denise said...


Interesting you quote John MacArthur in the very sermon I pointed out to you AND posted on this past week. You yet again, to his comments out of context (not surprising). Clearly Paul discusses the parameters of separation. Yet you failed to deal with the actual text where Paul is talking about "unbelievers" with "believers".

For the record, let me show you how you took MacArthur out of context from his sermon called "Separating from Unbelievers, Part 1" on 2Cor. 6:14(even the title shows you took him out of context)

After explaing what it DOESN'T mean (and by your inference, you think I did, when I did not), MacArthur goes on to say:


Now just at first reading it is clear from this passage that the Apostle Paul identifies two opposing worlds, two opposing realms or spheres or kingdoms or dimensions of life.Two societies, two realms, two spheres utterly different, utterly distinct, completely incongruous and incompatible. And the Apostle says there is no possibility for people in these two kingdoms to be bound together in common work, no partnership, no fellowship, no harmony, no commonality and no agreement does or can really exist.

What we're talking about here is any linking together with an unbeliever in any religious or spiritual enterprise. That's what we're talking about. We're not talking about mutual funds, you can rest easy. We're not talking about you should quit your job cause you work with non-believers. We're not talking about Christian pulling out of the school because he doesn't have a Christian teacher. We're not talking about leaving your neighborhood. We're not talking about any of that. We're talking about a spiritual enterprise, worship, ministry, evangelism.

Religious cooperation between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light is ridiculous. Why would we want to give Satan access? You say, "Is this...is this a problem?" Is this a problem? This is Satan's number one ploy.

Unbelievers and believers cannot be yoked in common spiritual enterprise. Truth and error cannot go together. They are opposite in nature, they are pulling in opposite directions, they are headed toward opposite goals, they are motivated by opposite desires, and they're controlled by enemy leaders. We have to separate from non-Christians in every...every activity that has anything to do with the advancement of the gospel...they can have no part...no part at all. They can be on the receiving end, that's it.

The heathen who do not know Christ, who do not have a genuine place in the Kingdom of God cannot join the enterprise of the church. A lot of them are completely pagan on the outside. The ones you have to watch for are the most religious, and watch this one, the most subtly like Christians. Satan is wily, covert, subtle and crafty.

End quote.

And THIS is what has been my point.

Follower of Christ said...


I found this blog post while searching on John Piper's recent decision to host Rick Warren at his Desiring God National conference... and were reading your comments regarding social justice.

You clearly argue against social justice because you claim it is man centered. I'm still undecided on this position, but my question is (and this argument stems from "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Sterns, president of World Vision:

How would you interpret Matthew 25:34-45?

Some specific questions:
1. In that passage, does "stranger" refer to a Christian, non-Christian, or we don't know from the text?
2. What does this look like practically to follow Jesus' commands to feed, clothe, shelter, take care of, and visit those in need?


Matthew 25:34-45

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Denise said...

Hi Follower, I'll cover this in a few parts.

Social Justice is first of all, defined mainly by unregenerate people. Its modern thrust is founded in the Roman Catholic liberation theology movement and is heavily promoted by the false and worldly Emergent churches. Such promise freedom when they themselves are slaves of corruption (2Peter 2:19).

Social justice focuses on the temporal at the exclusion of the urgent, eternal issue of salvation. It does this so much, that the person and work of Jesus Christ and His Gospel are changed, softened, twisted, distorted, to take the focus off of sin, God’s wrath, Man’s ungodliness, God’s holiness, and the reality of Hell and Heaven. It turns the thrice Holy Lord Jesus Christ into a Soup Kitchen Jesus that everyone loves and offends no one. This isn’t the Jesus of Scripture.

Consider the following passage of John 6 and contrast this to what happened with the woman at the well in Samaria. Jesus claimed to come and preach and save the lost, not bring social justice (Rome, who ruled over Israel at the time of Jesus, was often the example of utter injustice.)

Joh 6:26 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." 28 Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."34 They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." 35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.... Joh 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this?...63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

As soon as He preached the reality of the necessity of faith in Him alone, they didn’t want HIM or the food anymore. His feeding them was fine as long as He kept quiet about Himself as the TRUE BREAD and ONLY way of salvation. The people didn’t want truth; they wanted free food and full bellies. Its no different today.

Jesus’ healing of so many people wasn’t a means to bait them in, but it was the fulfillment of Isa. 53:4 as Matt. 8:16-17 says. He always proclaimed the Gospel, which was the reason He came; to save those that were lost. Jesus always had the eternal in mind, not mere temporal. See Matt. 26:6-16.

Denise said...

Part 2

The corruption of this world necessitates that there will always be poor people, sick people and all will die of something. Mere man cannot make it better. Sometimes its God’s judgment on a nation (see what happened to Israel—also in Revelation). Who are we to seek to ease the horror of HIS judgment?

Scripture shows what the nature and purpose of the local church is to be: an assembling together of believers for the preaching of God’s Word, breaking of bread, baptizing new believers, the worship of the Triune God, ministry of spiritual gifts to each other, caring for the needs (defined as true needs), the Lord’s Table, the equipping of the saints to grow in maturity in Christ and to go out and proclaim the Gospel, making new disciples of Jesus Christ, and baptizing them. 2Cor. 6 prohibits joining hands with the ungodly for fellowship or likeness of mind (since that’s impossible).2Ti 2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one
who enlisted him.

As for Matthew 24:34-45, the context is the Kingdom of God. Jesus is showing the distinction between those who are saved and unsaved (sheep not goats). Mat 25:40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' “My brothers” qualifies to whom they are ministrying.
1Jn 3:17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?
Gal 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

An example of helping others and the qualifations given by Scripture:
1Ti 5:3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.9 Let a widow be enrolled if she …..11 But refuse to enroll younger widow…. (please see the whole passage).

Family is to be the first ones to step up and deal with those in need in their family. And “need” MUST be defined. It must be a true need, not a lack of what they THINK they need or really what they want, but what they really and truly need. (Here in America, and many Western countries, our government takes our taxes to feed and house the poor anyway, so this is being done on a daily basis by all tax payers). When people squander this that's their own fault.

Churches can help out other churches that are truly in need. See 1Cor. 16 and 2Cor. 8-9. Note that the Gospel and Christ are still paramount. The World will hate true Christians, like they hated Jesus, because they told them of their utter sinfulness and alienation from the Holy God and are under His wrath unless they repent. The fact the ministry of Jesus was not focused on feeding and clothing people, but rather to preach the Gospel, should be ours as well, which is why He gave us the Great Commission. However, entire “ministries” today are consumed with feeding the God-haters, hoping that might make them like Jesus more. This is wrong and goes against clear Scripture (John 6). Or are the servants better than the Master? See Matt. 10.

Denise said...

Part 3

The Great Commission isn’t to feed the world, but proclaim the Gospel and make disciples. Is there a time and place for individual compassion? Sure. But it must be biblical compassion, motivated by eternal issues not temporal ones, and must be subservient to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, many professing Christians think they are earning God’s grace by doing “good works”. Yet Jesus will send them to destruction in the end.See Mat 7:21 -23.
One last thing. Using the bait of food, medicine, water, etc. to get people saved is manipulation or like Jesus, is really underhandedness, man-centered (we can’t get anyone saved) and demonstrates faith in the power of the Gospel:
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Besides this, feeding the poor, etc. is not spiritual in nature; its something even God-haters do. It doesn’t in the least set out Christians apart from the world. Most of the time, it blurs the distinction, and Scripture says there is to be no hand-holding with unbelievers. Their motivation and means are not of Christ. And the pragmatism of “the ends justify the means” is rebellion against the Lordship of Christ. HIS ways are not our ways. HE has already told us how to make disciples: go out and preach Christ Jesus. See 2Cor. 3.
2Co 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life…. 2Co 4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.

Unknown said...

About two years ago, after reading The Reason for God, I began researching what I felt were the emergent and seeker-friendly tendencies of Tim Keller. The only critique of Keller that I could find was an honest review of the book by Gary Gilley. That was about it!

After reading about half of The Reason for God, I was convinced this guy was an emergent, seeker-friendly, man-centered theologian, wrapped up in reformed cloaking. So few people saw it then, but that's not the case now.

I still can't understand why the PCA considers him a rock-star, while basically letting the likes of R.C. Sproul float on the periphery.

I'm glad that Keller is now being exposed for his errant and false teaching. Thanks for the thoughtful and honest comparisons written here.

exilio said...

How do you understand Eastern Mysticism? How is Lectio Divina similar (or not similar) to Eastern Mysticism?

Denise said...


Here's a start for you: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/lectiodivina.htm

xyz said...

hi denise, always absolutely fantastic to meet a child of Christ!
i like the way you use the Sword, all our own methods and arguments pale into insignificance before it.
you have been blessed with a mighty dose of discernment - such a lacking but vital quality amongst 'christians'.
i would like your take on chip ingram.
God bless

Meg Howard said...

Tragic how you tear down Christian family. You are responsible to the One you claim to serve. Slander is as dire a sin as murder, adultery and any other sin.

Diagnosis: The religious false self is your prison. Read M. Robert Mulholland's The Deeper Journey if you desire freedom in the Truth. Jesus s the Truth and freedom is only in HIs Way.

Denise said...


I don't know why you have issues with the report I gave.

I hope you realize you are doing the very thing you accuse me of doing. That's hypocrisy.

You didn't bother to read the entire article, where I give evidence and links.

The fact is, Keller IS a Reformed version of Rick Warren and I proved that. He's as unbiblical as Warren, too. I've linked to previous articles about Keller's and Warren's doctrines and why they are wrong in light of Scripture. But you would have had to read the whole article to know that.

So unless you want to be in denial about the facts, your accussations are just that: accusations and slander.

DMG said...

Slander? How about boldly contending for the faith? Jude 3.

Keller promotes EXTRA Biblical practices. (contemplative spirituality)

How about using the book, "The Way of the MOnk?"

He has an unBiblical view of creation:




In contending for the faith we go to God's Word as our final authority. This "attack" is on men who teach false doctrines. That is what all of this is.

Church-- wake up!

Denise said...


Yes exactly right.Thanks.

Jack Morrow said...

This reminds me of Thomas Dixon's novel The One Woman, published in 1903, about a liberal clergyman who tries to reform New York City. The book is still timely, and you can find a copy if you search at www.abebooks.com.

Susan Young said...

Dear Denise,
I commend you for being a faithful Berean and earnestly contending for our precious faith! God bless and use you in these days of great apostasy. As Jesus said, "Those who have ears, let them hear." Sadly many do not hear for as Paul warned, "I fear as the serpent beguiled Eve through His subtle craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity of Christ." II Corinthians 11:3 The Bible is filled with warnings lest we be deceived. When the disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age, the first thing He said was, "See to it that no one deceives you for many will come in my name. He warned of false teachers, false prophets and lying signs and wonders." Matthew 24:4,5,11,24. Denise, you are being faithful to "preach the word; ready in season and out to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering and patience for the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine but having itching ears they will accumulate to themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from the truth and be turned aside to myths. II Timothy 4 May you continue faithfully fighting the good fight of faith sister and may our great God bless and keep you until that day!:)

Denise said...


Thank you so much for your generous and kind words of encouragement. I am quite humbled by them. May the Lord be glorified and give His children more discernment and wisdom and a love of the Truth as the days grow darker!