Theologically Sound. Culturally Relevant.

Tim Keller

Is Tim Keller a false teacher?

Category 4

Verdict: Tim Keller is an enemy within the church.

Preface

Part of how this Discernment ministry operates is taking in reader questions about prevalent teachers. Tim Keller currently has the record set for most requests, and due to him leading the field of requests, this investigation into his teachings was undergone. You can make a request here and see our answered verdicts here.

Scope

Just as with the Francis Chan verdict, this verdict will also take a different than usual approach. For the Francis Chan verdict, Evangelical Dark Web examined the claims of various online discernment ministries. For this verdict, Evangelical Dark Web will attempt to characterize and evaluate Tim Keller’s ministry and contributions to the church. Tim Keller is a major figure in the church and so this verdict will address how he has either advanced the true gospel or a false one.

Theistic Evolution

The most obvious issue with Tim Keller from afar is his position on theistic evolution. Theistic evolution asserts that God guided the evolution of creation particularly at the most crucial points: the creation of matter, the creation of life, and the creation of man. Tim Keller is perhaps the most famous, certainly the most prominent, theistic evolutionist in Evangelicalism today. However, the specificities of Keller’s theistic evolution stance are not dogmatic to articulate his personal view or theory on creation. The reasons why Tim Keller is a theistic evolutionist are more revealing than his actual belief of the details.

Creation

The conclusion—we may read the order of events as literal in Genesis 2 but not in Genesis 1, or (much, much more unlikely) we may read them as literal in Genesis 1 but not in Genesis 2. But in any case, you can’t read them both as straightforward accounts of historical events. Indeed, if they are both to be read literalistically, why would the author have combined the accounts, since they are (on that reading) incompatible? The best answer is that we are not supposed to understand them that way. In Exodus 14-15 (the Red Sea crossing) and Judges 4-5 (Israel’s defeat of Syria under Sisera) there is an historical account joined to a more poetical ‘song’ that proclaims the meaning of the event. Something like that may be what the author of Genesis has in mind here.

So what does this mean? It means Genesis 1 does not teach that God made the world in six twenty-four hour days. Of course, it doesn’t teach evolution either, because it doesn’t address the actual processes by which God created human life. However, it does not preclude the possibility of the earth being extremely old.6 We arrive at this conclusion not because we want to make room for any particular scientific view of things, but because we are trying to be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.[1]

Tim Keller concocts a reading of Scripture that is neither natural, nor understood by the rest of Scripture because of his hyperfocus on the genre of the first two chapters of Genesis. In Genesis 1, we see the power of God to speak creation into existence. This was understood in Psalm 33 which emphasizes God’s dictation over creation. Additionally, his closing claim about not reinterpreting Scripture to fit an academic agenda are dubious (see below) for scientific reasons.

Fall

Tim Keller believes that evolution is compatible with the fall of man. But after denying the historical account of Genesis 1 and 2, Tim Keller has little basis for which Genesis 3 cannot also be interpreted in similar light. Genesis 3 is hardly addressed Tim Keller’s seminal essay on the topic, which is concerning to say the least. In trying to reconcile the doctrine of Original Sin with evolution, Tim Keller posits the view of Derek Kidner, but never specifies which view of the Genesis 3 he agrees with.

Here Kidner gets creative. He proposes that the being who became Adam under the hand of God first evolved but Eve did not. Then they were put into the garden of Eden as representatives of the whole human race. Their creation in God’s image and their fall affected not only their offspring, but all other contemporaries. In this telling, Kidner accounts for both the continuity between animals and humans that scientists see, and the discontinuity that the Bible describes. Only human beings are in God’s image, have fallen into sin, and will be saved by grace.[2]

Tim Keller gives credence to the view that one proto-human was made to be the “literal Adam” and that Eve was “created” whilst there existed other proto-humans. This view is juxtaposed with other theologically liberal views of creation. Keller concludes:

How do we correlate the data of science with the teaching of Scripture? The simplest answer for scientists would probably be to say ‘who cares about Scripture and theology?’ but that fails to do justice to authority of the Bible, which Jesus himself took with utmost seriousness. The simplest answer for theologians would probably be to say ‘who cares about science?’ but that does not give nature its proper importance as the creation of God. Psalm 19 and Romans 1 teach that God’s glory is revealed as we study his creation, yet in the end both of those passages say that it is only Scripture which is the ‘perfect’ revelation of God’s mind (Psalm 19:7). We must interpret the book of nature by the book of God. “It cannot be said too strongly that Scripture is the perfect vehicle for God’s revelation…its bold selectiveness, like that of a great painting, is its power. To read it with one eye on any other account is to blur its image and miss its wisdom.”
My conclusion is that Christians who are seeking to correlate Scripture and science must be a ‘bigger tent’ than either the anti-scientific religionists or the anti-religious scientists. Even though in this paper I argue for the importance of belief in a literal Adam and Eve, I have shown here that there are several ways to hold that and still believe in God using EBP.

When Derek Kidner concluded his account of human origins, he said that his view was an “exploratory suggestion…only tentative, and it is a personal view. It invites correction and a better synthesis.” That is the right attitude for all of us working in this area.[3]

Keller ends with a false dichotomy fallacy as opposed to remaining faithful to the text and how the Bible interprets itself. In the process of presenting this for BioLogos, he hardly articulates his own views. Rather, he attempts to justify them.

Third Wayism

During Keller’s essay, he digresses to simp for eventual pro-infanticidal maniac mass murderer, Francis Collins, who was being attacked by notorious atheist Sam Harris. Keller writes:

[General Theory of Evolution] is fast becoming what Peter Berger calls a ‘plausibility structure’. It is a set of beliefs considered so basic, and with so much support from authoritative figures and institutions, that it is becoming impossible for individuals to publicly question them. A plausibility structure is a ‘given’ supported by enormous social pressure. The writings of the new atheists here are important to observe because their attitudes are more powerful than their arguments. The disdain and refusal to show any respect to opponents is not actually an effort to refute them logically, but to ostracize them socially and turn their own views into a plausibility structure. They are well on their way.[4]

Yet Keller never concludes that the dogmatic assertion of Darwinian Evolution from the academic community undermines the very theory that they hold to. Darwinian Evolution has many flaws as a scientific theory that make it scientifically untenable, especially as it is popularly understood. For instance no matter how many times we genetically engineer dogs through selective breeding, we still end up with dogs and not a whole new species of animal. Yet Darwinian Evolution suggests that their would be a change in species through mutations becoming dominant through random breeding. Additionally, animals seem incapable of evolving to adapt to “Climate Change” yet survived ice ages. And of course, the fossil records supporting evolution are insufficient.

In his own ministry’s response to Tim Keller’s famous essay, Matt Recker writes:

By his skewed view of sin, death, and the true Adam made directly by God from the dust of the earth, Keller is taking away from the Gospel and diluting it. To state that only spiritual death but not physical death was the result of Adam’s sin is an indirect attack against the Gospel, for Christ died a physical death and rose again bodily never to die physically or spiritually again.

This is a dangerous accommodation and deliberate re-interpretation of the Bible to conform to the worldly spirit of our age. Evolutionary teaching that allows for a hominid creates far more problems than it solves, and it attacks the foundations of the Gospel.[5]

Despite all of this, Tim Keller still needs to work this evolution into his hermeneutic of Genesis. The end result is a third way that is both an unnatural read of Scripture and unaccepted by the academic community. It is difficult to argue that Tim Keller’s views on creation are not theologically liberal. And while they are not as theologically liberal so as to deny Original Sin like the views of William Lane Craig, they are still outside the bounds of orthodox theology.

Social Justice Gospel

The Social Justice Gospel is the other theology that characterizes Tim Keller’s ministry. Jon Harris of Conversations That Matter and Enemies Within The Church produced a mini-documentary aimed at helping believers understand why Tim Keller is woke. The answer dates back to Tim Keller’s theological upbringing.[6] The following is part of the documentary transcript.[7]

In 1970, Keller heard a message which revolutionized his approach to political issues. Some of his friends attended InterVarsity’s Missions Conference called “Urbana 70″ where the Harlem evangelist, Tom Skinner, spoke about a “revolutionary” Jesus who was incompatible with “Americanism.”[12] Skinner taught that the evangelical church had upheld slavery in the nation’s political, economic, and religious systems. While greedy landlords paid off corrupt building inspectors, police forces maintained the “interests of white society,” and the top one percent controlled the entire economy, evangelicals were silent and even supported the “industrial complex.”[13] The 20-year-old Keller already resonated with the New Left critique, but Skinner’s way of incorporating it into Christianity was new for him.

His friends gave him a tape recording of Skinner’s talk and Keller “could not listen to this sermon enough.”[14] Skinner claimed that a “gospel” that did not “speak to the issue of enslavement,” “injustice,” or “inequality” was “not the gospel.” Instead, he fused the incomplete gospels of both “fundamentalists” and “liberals” into a salvation which delivered from both personal and systemic evil. Jesus had come “to change the system” and Christians were to preach “liberation to oppressed people.”[15] The sermon astounded Keller. It was just the kind of reconciliation he was waiting for and it left him unable to “think about politics the same way again” after hearing it.[16] Tom Skinner, however, was not the only voice which helped Keller cultivate New Left ideas in Christian soil.

After graduating from Bucknell, Keller worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Boston, Massachusetts and attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he met fellow seminarian Elward Ellis. Ellis was a student leader for InterVarsity and had previously been a “key leader in recruiting black students to attend Urbana 70 through a film that he wrote and produced” entitled, “What Went Down at Urbana 67.”[17] The film challenged the notion that missions was “Christian racism” and promoted the idea that those of non-European descent could “preach the gospel the way it should be,” instead of the “honkified way of preaching the gospel.”[18] Carl Ellis, an InterVarsity leader who had “enlisted Tom Skinner as a speaker” for the event, narrated the video.[19] Like Skinner, Elward Ellis also imported New Left thinking into Christianity.

Ellis introduced Keller to concepts now referred to as “systemic racism” and “white privilege” by showing him that “white folks did not have to be personally bigoted . . . in order to support social, educational, judicial, and economic systems and customs that automatically privileged whites over others.”[20] On one occasion Ellis called Keller a “racist” even though he admitted that Keller didn’t “mean to be” or “want to be.” Ellis told Keller that he simply could not “really help it” since Keller was blind to his own “cultural biases” which he used to judge “people of other races.”[21] White Christians, Ellis maintained, practiced discrimination by making their “cultural preferences,” such as singing and preaching styles, “normative for everyone.” White people, in general, were also ignorant of the hardships racial minorities underwent in navigating “Euro-white culture.”[22] Keller gladly accepted Ellis’s “bare-knuckled mentoring about the realities of injustice in American culture.”[23] He now understood, in greater detail, certain aspects of the New Left critique, but still needed to further develop a Christian response to the unjust status quo. But first, he needed a job.

Tim Keller is not suddenly hopping on the woke bandwagon. He was always on the woke side. Tim Keller has a lofty view of Karl Marx and his disciples. [8]

Like most leaders of the early evangelical left, Keller’s main critique of Marxism was its materialism, not its moral claims. Karl Marx’s solutions were incorrect because he grounded them in atheism and ignored the reality of human sin.[48] However, despite these major flaws, Keller believed Marxist hearts were in the right place. He stated in a sermon at Redeemer:

The people I read who were the disciples of Marx were not villains. They were not fools. They cared about people. . . there are vast populations, millions of people, who have been in absolute serfdom and peasantry and poverty for years and years, and there’s no way they’re going to get out. There’s no upward mobility. See, the people who read Marx said, ‘We have to do something about this.’ They weren’t fools.[49]

Keller also singled Karl Marx out as the only “major thinker,” other than God himself, who “held up the common worker” with a high view of labor.[50] Unfortunately, for Marx and New Left thinkers downstream, like Ronald Dworkin, R. D. Laing, and Jean-Paul Sartre, their moral claims could not be justified apart from the moral foundation Christianity provided which had a “basis” for racial, social, and international justice.[51] Like progressive evangelicals before him, Keller addressed this problem by combining aspects of New Left thinking with Christianity.

The documentary concludes:[9]

From his earliest and most formative years as a Christian and theologian, Keller, who already stood politically with progressives, was influenced by the evangelical left. Tom Skinner, Elward Ellis, Harvie Conn, Richard Mouw, and John Perkins all contributed to helping Keller integrate his faith with his politics. Keller often interpreted scriptures concerning politics and economics in ways consistent with neo-Kuyperian and liberation theologies. Keller then successfully marketed his ideas to the evangelical world. Today, having stepped down from pastoring at Redeemer Presbyterian in 2017, Tim Keller teaches for Reformed Theological Seminary and works with Redeemer’s City to City church planting network, where he continues to spread his ideas on “contextualization” which he first learned from Harvie Conn. Keller’s contribution to moving evangelicals in a leftward direction cannot be underestimated. The impact of his teachings will be felt for years to come.

Tim Keller is a protégé of false teachers and has been instrumental in fueling the Social Justice Gospel in the church, not only by his works but also by those who are influenced by him.

The Gospel Coalition

The rampant errors published by The Gospel Coalition spark a debate about the degree in which Tim Keller is culpable for the false teaching propagated by this corporation. Tim Keller is the founder of The Gospel Coalition[10] and still remains on their leadership board. Therefore, to some degree, Keller is responsible for the content on The Gospel Coalition.

The goal of this section will not be to itemize every false teaching of The Gospel Coalition but to provide a brief synopsis of them. The most pervasive of the errant teaching at The Gospel Coalition are as follows:

The Social Justice Gospel

Most notoriously, The Gospel Coalition promotes the false Social Justice Gospel. This is not only in regular articles but also in activism with promotion of organizations like the And Campaign.Even their bookstore promotes work by Jarvis Williams and Curtis Woods.[11] Additionally, The Gospel Coalition unveiled a Marxist podcast series titled “As In Heaven.”

Side B Theology

The voices most supported by The Gospel Coalition on the topic of homosexuality and transgenderism are generally supporters of Side B Theology. Side B theology teaches that homosexuality is innate and that the behavior sinful but not the desires or the identity of homosexual. Side B proponents would debate the merits of the identity of “gay Christian” whereas the orthodox position would reject the label entirely. One such is false teacher, Rachel Gilson who passionately articulated that using the preferred pronouns of transvestites was a question of Christian liberty.

Branch Covidianism

Around the globe, The Gospel Coalition is a force for evil promoting and justifying Branch Covidianism, a false religion built behind devotion to coronavirus. In addition to promoting lockdowns, mandates, vaccine passports, they also attacked pastors and churches that stood up for biblical ecclesiology which places Christ not the state at the head of the church. When gathering in obedience to Hebrew 10:24-25 became a fashionable position to take, TGC editor, Collin Hansen published a book advocating what he and coauthor Jonathan Leeman vehemently opposed.

Effeminacy

Effeminacy is a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The Gospel Coalition is generally characterized by its effeminate articles that poorly address the issues of modern day culture and promote winsome behavior instead of biblical behavior.

Premise

If Evangelical Dark Web published the material that The Gospel Coalition does, a believer would rightly doubt my faith in Christ. The Gospel Coalition has repeatedly shown to be an enemy within the church, and this is reflective of the legacy of Tim Keller.

Conclusion

The concerns with Tim Keller are simple; however, because Keller is a huge name in Evangelicalism, there is greater resistance to drawing the same conclusion you would draw to a lesser known figure. In this way, this verdict is quite similar to John Piper. However, it is undeniable that Keller is far worse than Piper. When it comes to creation, Tim Keller is theologically liberal, which is a euphemism for apostate. Keller clearly uses Darwinian Evolution as a framework for interpreting the creation account in Genesis. In this process he has legitimized evil men like Francis Collins in the eyes of Evangelicalism who denies the biblical Adam. Darwinian Evolution is a separate religion from Christianity. It’s an incompatible creation story and there is no basis for morality with Darwinism. Yet this syncretism is highly apparent in Keller’s theology.

Additionally, Tim Keller is highly influential in advancing the Social Justice Gospel. But Tim Keller is not jumping on the bandwagon of Social Justice. Keller is not merely taken captive by vain ideology of Cultural Marxism. He has been a Marxist this entire time. Keller has not changed.

Tim Keller’s legacy will undeniably be one of great harm to the church. Even his own church post his retirement, would institute medical apartheid. Most recently, the prospect of terminal cancer has Keller becoming more brazen with his beliefs, actively pushing a seminar that promoted third-waysim and promoting Stephen Colbert’s false gospel.

What many would consider an abysmal finish for one of the top names in Evangelicalism is more accurately described as the unravelling of someone who was groomed by theological liberals to advance theological liberalism. The conclusion of the entirety of Tim Keller’s ministry is that he has been an enemy within the church. This would merit a Category 4 rating.

[1] https://biologos.org/articles/creation-evolution-and-christian-laypeople/

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] https://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2016/06/22/timothy-kellers-view-on-creation-part-2/

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC8BwvQv6f8

[7] https://web.archive.org/web/20210124024807/https://enemieswithinthechurch.com/2020/08/22/tim-keller-and-progressive-evangelicalism/

[8] ibid

[9] ibid

[10] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/profile/tim-keller/

[11] https://store.thegospelcoalition.org/tgc

Support the Evangelical Dark Web

It's not about the money. It's about supporting the mission in contending for the faith against false doctrines. Consider becoming a member of the Evangelical Dark Web. If you aren't willing, comfortable, or able to, that's cool. And if you still like our content, at least subscribe to the newsletter below.
Receive the Evangelical Dark Web Newsletter

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest

4 Responses

  1. Thank you for this Ray and for all you do to keep God’s people informed.I wish you would do an article on
    the IF: Gathering events.

  2. He also encourages Catholic mysticism. He is in bed with Collins and Biologos as mentioned. Believers need to go back to the Old Paths; and contemporary ministers should be reading/proclaiming Luther and other Reformers as well as European Baptists for their public sermons instead of putting their contemporary spins on theology. That doesn’t mean that contemporary ministers shouldn’t preach their own sermons from time to time; but if the Old Paths were proclaimed more so, there would be less theological error and confusion; and men like Keller would not have developed such a large following. The Lord warns us of men like this (Jude 1:4).

  3. The co founder of the gospel coalition and intellectual elite is quoted every Sunday nation wide by those who worship at the altar of intellectualism, proving their intellectualism. It can’t be stopped and to directly refute it would immediately get you out on your ear.
    These are the tares among the wheat. Soon they will have answer for their self worship.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: