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Thursday, April 08, 2010
Doug Wilson has a helpful critique of something Pastor Tim Keller said recently. Wilson wonders if Keller is presenting the Gospel completely if he ignores an elephant of sin in the room. What is interesting is that by ignoring sexuality, Keller actually sets sin up as unequal, whereas Wilson treats it all equally when he says that it all must be addressed. By not recognizing that people need just as much freedom from enslavement to sexual sins as other sins, Keller unwittingly supports either the idea that people don't need redemption and freedom from those particular sins, or that Jesus is unable (or uninterested) in freeing them in those cases. Either way, it puts sexual sin on a reverse pedestal from the one Scripture puts it on.
But what this does is raise questions about evangelism, faithful witness, and moral courage. It raises questions about the strategic value of an evangelistic and apologetic strategy that is not prepared to confront, directly, some of the central sins of the people you are addressing.

And by "confronting sin," I do not intend to commend the kind of preaching that gets its jollies from calling other people sinners. That is a problem, but it has to be confessed that in this age, this era, it is not our problem. We should want to preach about the central sins because as preachers of the gospel, we have scattered through the dungeons, with our gospel keys. In that circumstance, why wouldn't we want to unlock the biggest and thickest chains?
If a surgeon wants to do gospel work on the heart, he has to first open the patient up -- and nothing will do for that but the knife of the law. Without that, evangelical preachers are reduced to applying their treatments of the heart through various forms of accupressure.

Relevant gospel ministry, relevant evangelistic ministry, is willing for the rich young ruler to go away saddened. It is willing for riots designed to get you and your message out of town. I have written recently about the utter irrelevance of an undue concern for relevance. Out of all the practicing homosexuals in Manhattan, are there none who want to hear liberty proclaimed to the captives? Out of all the professing Christians who struggle with same-sex temptations, should they not be able to hear clear, biblical instruction about what they should do with their temptations? Would that not be relevant?


D.J. Williams said...

Well, Keller didn't exactly hit a home run when answering that question, but having read a lot of Keller of late I can say he's a lot better on the subject than he comes across there. Wilson's points are well-taken, though.

Darius said...

I agree, DJ. Keller got caught off-guard and said some dumb things in response... if Keller recognizes the foolishness of what he said (or at least how it could be interpreted as license for a type of preaching that doesn't address sin), then hopefully he'll retract or modify it soon. Keller aside, Wilson's larger point of confronting sin is very good.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

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