Scripture and the Church

Tim Keller's Gutless 'Gospel'

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
A segment from an interview with Tim Keller shows just how gutless his "gospel" is - a mass of evasions, equivocations, and misrepresentations of God's truth.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part two of a series. Read part one.

A segment from an interview with Tim Keller shows just how gutless his "gospel" is - a mass of evasions, equivocations, and misrepresentations of God's truth.

In our first article in this series, we described Tim Keller's false gospel as one that encapsulates his un-Biblical views of God, the authority of His Word, the origin and present state of His creation, the nature of man, the definition of sin, the purpose of the cross-work of Christ, and the mission of His church. We are going to analyze Keller's false gospel point by point.

But before we do that, I want our readers to see what a gutless "gospel" it is. In the segment below, Keller is being interviewed by NBC News correspondent Martin Bashir, who attends Keller's church. The occasion was an August 2011 meeting sponsored by the Veritas Forum, a broadly-ecumenical campus "faith" organization.


For those unable to view the video, or who want to more carefully examine what Keller has said, here is a transcript:

Martin Bashir: Do you believe that there is only one God, and that there is only one way to approach that God?

Tim Keller: If...yes, if....okay, yes, if...I'm speaking as a Christian here...if Jesus Christ is who he says he is, if he is the Son of God from heaven, if he is, uh, if he really was bodily raised from the dead, and if he was our original Creator, if all that's true, that's what he says, then of course there'd have to be just one way to God, because our souls would need him, or they would shrivel eternally, just like your body needs food or it would shrivel.

I mean, the fact is my body here needs food or it would shrivel, that's not narrow-minded to say, that's just the way it is. If Jesus is who he said he is, then our souls would have to get him in order to be eternally full and thrive. And if we don't get him, then we would eternally shrivel. So, to seems so narrow, to claim that there's only one way to God, to say that actually precludes the possibility that Jesus is who he says he is. I mean, if he is who he says he is, then that's what we're, that's what we have to say.

If he's not who he says he is, then of course it's narrow... So basically you have to sit down and ask yourself the question about the facts about Jesus' life and look at that. And not, not say, "I don't even want to look at Jesus, I don't even want to hear the claims of Christianity because they seem so exclusive."

Bashir: So where does that leave the millions of Muslims, Sikhs and Jews? Are they sadly and completely deluded?

Keller: People who never heard about Jesus, or never really got a hearing about Jesus...

Bashir: I'm not talking about them, because some of those people have heard about [Jesus]. I'm talking about the millions of Muslims, Sikhs and Jews who have heard about Jesus. Where does your thesis leave them?

Keller: Where they are right now, it means that if there's never any change, they don't get Jesus. If he is who he says he is, then, long term, they don't have God. If on the other hand, uh, you know, all I can always say about this is God gives me, even as a minister with the Scripture, a lot of information on a need-to-know basis. And a need-to-know basis means, "Here's all I can tell you: unless you get Jesus Christ who created you to start with, unless you are re-...uh...united with him sometime, there is no eternal future of thriving." It just makes sense.

Again, I'm trying to go back to this idea that, that, if he is who he says he is, you've got to have him. If right now a person doesn't have him, he or she needs to get him. If, if they, if they die and they've never, if they die and they don't have Jesus Christ, I don't know. In other words, I have a need-to-know basis, this is the only thing I know, you need to know Jesus. I certainly know that God is wiser than me, more merciful than me, and I do know that when I finally find out how God is dealing with every individual soul, I won't have any questions about it.

Bashir: Okay, but if this is the only way to God, and if Christians are heading for a place called "heaven," does that mean, therefore, by deduction, that millions of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, all of whom hold their faith with enormous integrity, all of them are heading for hell?

Keller: There's a lot of people who are born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and they grew up in First Baptist Church there, who are also headed for a Christless eternity. Uh, every human being chooses an identity. It's either's either based on the grace of God, or it's basically based on your own performance, and your own ability, and therefore on your own self.

And if a billion years from now, you've put your hope in the grace of God, you will be beautiful and happy. If you, a billion years from now, you've put your, you've based your identity on your own self and your own abilities and your own performance, you'll be miserable. In fact, you can see it even now. Self-centered people are miserable even now, not a billion years from now. So, there are plenty of people who are raised Christians, there's plenty of people who were raised in First Baptist Church, but in their hearts, have not turned toward the grace of God.

People in other religions, unless they find Christ, I don't know any other way, but I also get information on a need-to-know basis. If there's some, if there's some trapdoor, or something like that, I haven't been told about it. But I also don't know. I guess I want to know this: I want to know when a person says, "I need to know everything about how God is going to deal with, you know, all eternity, with all individuals before I can bite down on Christianity," I feel that you actually are maybe projecting your American democratic individualistic, um, understanding of who...You really want a president or a governor or a mayor. You don't really want a king, and I can understand that, because human kings, human beings, are flawed, and therefore, monarchy was not a very good approach to things. But if you have a perfect God, a perfect king, who comes and suffers in Jesus Christ, then at a certain point, I trust him.


A "gospel" based on "if Jesus is who He says He is"?

Being a Christian means that your soul has to "get Jesus"?

God may have "a trap door" for unbelievers that "I haven't been told about"?

Unbelievers are just going to be "miserable" like they are now, a billion years from now?

Eternal damnation means that "we will eternally shrivel"?

"If they die and they don't have Jesus Christ, I don't know" what happens to them?

Dear friends, I know twelve-year-olds who could give a better answer than Tim Keller. They would quote just a handful of passages from the living and powerful Word of God that say it all, such as these:

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:18-19)

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle - I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying - a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:5-7)

For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26)

But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:8-13)

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:15)

Dear friends, this is the Gospel that is "the power of God unto salvation" - not Tim Keller's gutless pseudo-gospel of evasion and equivocation. Clearly, Timothy Keller is ashamed of the one true Gospel, and so he cannot and does not preach it.

What does Keller preach instead? What does he tell his followers to preach? The Lord willing we shall look at Keller's "gospel" in his own words, and his rationale for preaching it, as we continue this series.


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