Archive for the ‘Tim Keller’ Category

Tim Keller’s 5 clues that point to the existence of God in his book The Reason for God:

Clue 1: The Mysterious Bang — Either God created the universe, or it “just happened” – and both require faith.

Clue 2: The Cosmic Welcome Mat — This clue is also called the anthropic principle (or fine-tuning argument), which recognizes that humans could not exist in any other universe than this one. If any of this universe’s constants were different, we would not be around to observe them.

Clue 3: The Regularity of Nature — Continued regularity is a matter of faith. There is nothing guaranteeing the universe will be here tomorrow, or that it will operate according to all the cycles we’ve been observing throughout the years, with all its laws.

Clue 4: The Clue of Beauty — “We may, therefore, be secular materialists who believe truth and justice, good and evil, are complete illusions. But in the presence of art or even great natural beauty, our hearts tell us another story. … regardless of the beliefs of our mind about the random meaninglessness of life, before the face of beauty we know better. … Isn’t it true that innate desires correspond to real objects that can satisfy them? … Doesn’t the unfulfillable longing evoked by beauty qualify as an innate desire? We have a longing for joy, love, and beauty that no amount or quality of food, sex, friendship, or success can satisfy. We want something that nothing in this world can fulfill,” (134-135).

Clue 5: We Trust Our Belief-Forming Faculties — The belief that all of our beliefs and values are naturally selected and not to be trusted—is not to be trusted. The fact that we do trust our belief-forming faculties is a clue to God.

This is an excerpt of the summary found in this post.



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This is part 3 of my notes and comments on Tim Keller’s talk on The Sufficiency of the Gospel in a Postmodern World.

Part 1 is here.

2. Gospel Realizing.


In Jonah 2:9 he says “Salvation is of the Lord.”  Some say this is the whole message of the Bible.  Didn’t Jonah know that?  Yes, but he did not fully grasp it.  We really haven’t begun to understand the gospel.  It is a life-long process. 

Religion is – I obey, therefore I am accepted.  The Gospel – I am accepted, therefore I obey.

The Gospel is scary because we are not in control.  There is nothing God cannot ask of you.

The self-worth of many ministers is tied to attendance.  If your self worth is tied to anything but God, you do not understand the gospel. 

We are like Coke machines- the money has gone in but the pennies have not dropped.  God has to pound us to get the pennies to drop.


From studying revival, he learned that revival is when the pennies drop for a whole group of people.  It is when the wonder of the gospel is understood, and lives become radiant.

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Five Marks (or “Vitamins”) of a Renewed, Vital, Revived, and Dynamic Church

From the sermon:

Blueprint for Revival; Introduction 2
From the series: Revival
by Dr. Timothy J. Keller
August 5, 1990
Acts 2:37-47
Duration: 41:01

5 things:

1.  Vibrant Worship

2.  Intimate, Exciting, Loving Fellowship and Community

3.  Teaching With Theological Depth

4.  Effective Communication of the Gospel (Aggressive Evangelism)

5.  Compassionate Social Concern

Keller lists these things at the 10 and 19 minute marks in the sermon.


I hope to supplement this post in the near future.


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This is part 2 of my notes and comments on Tim Keller’s talk on The Sufficiency of the Gospel in a Postmodern World.

Part 1 is here.


Six point approach to communicating the gospel in a post-modern society.

The first 3: 1. Gospel theologizing 2. Gospel realizing 3. Gospel urbanizing.

1. Gospel Theologizing

Jonah 1:1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah saying, “Go to Nineveh and preach.” Keller used to think that the gospel was the basics, and theology was the advanced stuff. Now he sees that all theology has to be an exposition of the gospel.

Clear and Present WordMark Thompson has a book called Clear and Present Word about the clarity of the Word in a postmodern setting. He comes up with a view of human language that is gospel-based. It is based on the trinity. The goal of God speaking is divine saving action. Human language is an imperfectly utilized gift from God. The whole purpose of language is gospel.

Every part of our theology has to be an exposition of the gospel.



We also have to bring theology to bear on the gospel. Keller has not seen a gospel presentation that really addresses postmodern people.

The older ones (four spiritual laws) were: God, sin, Christ, faith. They got across grace not works, but there was no story arc. Systematic theology but no biblical theology. As a result, they were individualistic and almost consumeristic. The idea of the Kingdom of God was not there. The lordship of Christ over all of life is not part of them. It does not follow on from them.


When you go to the emerging church, the post-liberal church, it is all about the kingdom. The redemption story is there. We had a world that we wanted, lost it, Christ has created a people, brought the kingdom. Now you need to be part of God’s kingdom program which is going to heal the world of injustice. Emphasis on corporate, not individual, but you lose the emphasis on grace v. works and substitutionary atonement. In the end it is kind of a liberal legalism.


We need to develop user-friendly gospel presentations that merge both so that people can grasp it rather quickly and easily. But there has to be a process.


Comments to follow.

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This is the first part of my notes and thoughts on Tim Keller’s message The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World.  Minute markers are in red. 

Tim Keller
The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World


Intro by John Piper


How do we do evangelism in a postmodern world?  The postmodern world presents a crisis to us.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones talks about Mark 9.  Jesus sees the disciples who could not cast out a demon.  In vv 28-29 the disciples ask, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”  Answer:  “This kind only comes out by prayer.”

The demon is in too deep.  You are business as usual.  Your ordinary way of doing things won’t work.

The Doctor is allegorizing here.  The disciples are like the church.  The boy is like the contemporary world.

6:00  In earlier days people were apathetic.  They needed to be roused from their slumber and apathy.  The spirit of this age is different.

The western world is now a mission field.  It is a post-Christian mission field.  It is has been inoculated to Christian message.

Lesslie Newbigin says the same thing.  Most Americans feel that they already know about Christianity, and they think it is bad. 

What won’t work anymore is a campaign, a program, a gospel presentation.

9:00  A great book, The Barbarian Conversion, by Richard Fletcher.  Looks at 500 to 1500 AD in Europe.  Most of the countryside was pagan.  It took a long time for people to get the full Christian worldview.  But after 1500, most Europeans had a Christian worldview, and programs and campaigns worked.

Now we are back to the point at which the Christian worldview is no longer accepted.  Ordinary evangelism will not work.

There are still sections of America where there are people who are what Flannery O’Conner would call “Christ-haunted” people.  They are traditional in their values.  They just need to be roused.

14:00  Michael Wolf –  There is a fundamental schism in American life.  Urban-oriented, morally relativist, etc.  and the small town traditional,  etc.  Two nations.  There are fewer people who are Christ-haunted.

Certain evangelistic magic bullets have died on the vine.  Billy Graham crusades- no one thinks that’s the future.  Evangelism Explosion worked well then, but not now. 

16:40  1990’s used the seeker services.  Too early to say that’s over, but 20-somethings are turning away from the traditional church services.

Alpha courses are the new best format.  They are right for our time.  But even this is not enough anymore.

18:00  There is going to have to be a complete transformation of everything by the gospel.  The gospel has to recapture us, or nothing will work.  The demon is in too deep.

Now in a postmodern setting, our traditional evangelism is even less effective, because you have 3 problems:
1.  The truth problem – all truth claims are perceived as constraints and power plays.
2.  The guilt problem – not everyone has the sense that they need to be good.
3.  The meaning problem – there is a doubt that text and words can get meaning across.  Meanings are unstable.



My Comments:

Interesting that Lloyd-Jones allegorizes from Mark 9 instead of using a text that directly supports the points.  eg 1 Pet 3:15, or becoming all things to all men.

Not everyone has a postmodern worldview.  Many people have a jumbled mess of a worldview.  This is hitting on good points, but the approach has to be crafted to the woldview of the specific individual.  Also, we have to listen to people and understand them to know what approach is appropriate.

Guilt problem- many have no guilt problem (they feel lots of guilt), or they feel the church is the guilt problem.  We need to break down stereotypes of the church.


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I recommend this mp3 download:

Tim Keller:  The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World

I plan to blog through it over the next few days by providing an outline and comments.

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Tim Keller On Evolution

This is from a Timothy Keller interview with First Things from February 2008:

 In The Reason for God, you make a very brief argument for the validity of evolution within a limited sphere. It would seem to me that apologists for the faith must address this issue at some point. But doing so can call into question the historicity of the Fall and the very need for a savior. How do you talk about evolution without confusing people?

Over the years—it’s not bad, but I’ve gotten sort of hit from both sides.

Oh, it’s a little confusing, but actually I’m just in the same place where the Catholics are, as far as I can tell. The Catholic Church has always been able to hold on to a belief in a historical Fall—it really happened, it’s not just representative of the fact that the human race has kind of gone bad in various ways.


At the same time, if you say, “There is no God and everything happened by evolution,” naturalistic evolution—then you have “theistic evolution”: God just started things years ago and everything has come into being through the process of evolution. You have young-Earth six-day creationism, which is “God created everything in six 24-hour days.” To me, all three of those positions have perhaps insurmountable difficulties.

The fact is, the one that most people consider the most conservative, which is the young-Earth, six-day creation, has all kinds of problems with the text, as we know. If it’s really true, then you have problems of contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2. I don’t like the JEPD theory. I don’t like the theory that these are two somewhat contradictory creation stories that some editor stuck together—some pretty stupid editor stuck together. I think therefore you’ve got a problem with how long are the days before the sun shows up in the fourth day. You have problems really reading the Bible in a straightforward way with a young-Earth, six 24-hour day theory. You’ve got some problems with the theistic evolution, because then you have to ask yourself, “Was there no Adam and Eve? Was there no Fall?” So here’s what I like—the messy approach, which is I think there was an Adam and Eve. I think there was a real Fall. I think that happened. I also think that there also was a very long process probably, you know, that the earth probably is very old, and there was some kind of process of natural selection that God guided and used, and maybe intervened in. And that’s just the messy part. I’m not a scientist. I’m not going to go beyond that.

I do know that I say in the book, “This is an absolute red herring—to get mired in this before you look at the certainties of the faith. Because the fact is that real orthodox believers with a high view of Scripture are all over the map on this. I can line up ten really smart people in all those different buckets, which I’ll call “theistic evolution,” “young-Earth creationism,” and let’s call it “progressive creationism” or “semi-theistic evolution.” There are all these different views. And when you see a lot of smart people disagreeing on this stuff, well . . .

How could there have been death before Adam and Eve fell? The answer is, I don’t know. But all I know is, didn’t animals eat bugs? Didn’t bugs eat plants? There must have been death. In other words, when you realize, “Oh wait, this is really complicated,” then you realize, “I don’t have to figure this out before I figure out is Jesus Christ raised from the dead.”

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