Tim Keller

Tim Keller: Salvation’s Purpose = Make This World Great

keller

“I’m trying to overcome a typical, wrong, unbiblical attitude on the part of Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, toward this material world.

There’s a tendency for many Christians to think of this material world – the world we’re in now – as a temporary theater for getting saved so that some day you can escape this material world and live happily in heaven forever.  An awful lot of Christians say, ‘this world is going to die, it’s going to burn up, and while we’re here basically the only thing that’s important is to get people saved, and if they get saved eventually they’ll be able to leave this world.’  So it’s a temporary theater for salvation.

Instead, let’s start at the end.  At the end of time when we actually see what the triune God has been doing in creation and redemption through Jesus Christ, when we get to the very end of the Bible we see not human beings individually rising out of the material world and going to heaven forever.  Instead we see heaven, the power of God, coming down and renewing this material world.  That the whole purpose of everything God is doing in redemption is to create a material world that’s clean, that’s right, that’s pure.  A material world in which there’s no disease and there’s no death and no injustice, there’s no unraveling, there’s no decay.  The whole purpose of salvation is to cleanse and purify this material world.

Jews and Christians believe that this material world is permanent – it’s a good thing in itself.  That an eagle’s flying and great music and the ocean pounding on the shore and a great cup of wine are good things in themselves, because God is not temporarily ‘God is here so someday we’re going to live in heaven’ but the whole purpose of salvation is to make this world a great place.

God sees this world as not a temporary means to an end of salvation, but actually salvation is a temporary means to an end – to the renewal of creation.

Saving souls is a means to an end of cultural renewal.  Does the Christian church understand that?  I’m not sure.”

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Tim Keller: Salvation's Purpose = Make This World Great

keller

“I’m trying to overcome a typical, wrong, unbiblical attitude on the part of Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, toward this material world.

There’s a tendency for many Christians to think of this material world – the world we’re in now – as a temporary theater for getting saved so that some day you can escape this material world and live happily in heaven forever.  An awful lot of Christians say, ‘this world is going to die, it’s going to burn up, and while we’re here basically the only thing that’s important is to get people saved, and if they get saved eventually they’ll be able to leave this world.’  So it’s a temporary theater for salvation.

Instead, let’s start at the end.  At the end of time when we actually see what the triune God has been doing in creation and redemption through Jesus Christ, when we get to the very end of the Bible we see not human beings individually rising out of the material world and going to heaven forever.  Instead we see heaven, the power of God, coming down and renewing this material world.  That the whole purpose of everything God is doing in redemption is to create a material world that’s clean, that’s right, that’s pure.  A material world in which there’s no disease and there’s no death and no injustice, there’s no unraveling, there’s no decay.  The whole purpose of salvation is to cleanse and purify this material world.

Jews and Christians believe that this material world is permanent – it’s a good thing in itself.  That an eagle’s flying and great music and the ocean pounding on the shore and a great cup of wine are good things in themselves, because God is not temporarily ‘God is here so someday we’re going to live in heaven’ but the whole purpose of salvation is to make this world a great place.

God sees this world as not a temporary means to an end of salvation, but actually salvation is a temporary means to an end – to the renewal of creation.

Saving souls is a means to an end of cultural renewal.  Does the Christian church understand that?  I’m not sure.”

Piper, Keller, Witherington: God Seeks Own Glory?

In 2002 at my Christian college I remember James MacDonald giving a sermon in which he quoted an Isaiah passage about how God seeks his own glory. In 2003 I read John Piper‘s book Desiring God and was convinced of it.

In 2008 I read Tim Keller‘s The Reason For God in which he talks about God being a trinity and the endless giving that takes place within this relationship. Keller then said something that shocked me:

“That is why God is infinitely happy, because there is an ‘other-orientation’ at the heart of his being, because he does not seek his own glory but the glory of others.”

–Tim Keller, The Reason For God pg.218

Tim Keller & John Piper are on the same page about almost everything; this seems like a pretty big thing, though.

Piper quotes some Bible verses to back up his opinion here.

New Testament scholar Ben Witherington seems to be more in line with Keller’s assertion. He says this on a blog post titled, “For God So Loved Himself? Is God a Narcissist?“:

“I am arguing Christ, the perfect image of God’s character, reveals that God’s character is essentially other directed self-sacrificial love. God loves people, not merely as means to his own ends, but as ends in themselves.”

Does God seeks his own glory or does he seek the glory of others?

Tim Keller on Strong Rationalism

“Strong rationalism assumes that it is possible to achieve ‘the view from nowhere,’ a position of almost complete objectivity, but virtually all philosophers today agree that is impossible. We come to every individual evaluation with all sorts of experiences and background beliefs that strongly influence our thinking and the way our reason works. It is not fair, then, to demand an argument that all rational people would have to bow to…Atheists and agnostics ask for this kind of ‘proof’ for God, but are not alone in holding to strong rationalism. Many Christians claim that their arguments for faith are so strong that all who reject them are simply closing their minds to the truth out of fear or stubbornness.”
–Tim Keller, The Reason For God pg.118

Tim Keller: If you think you understand the gospel, you don’t

Tim Keller

If you think you really, really understand the gospel, you don’t. If you really think that you haven’t even begun to understand the gospel, you do. Gospel theologizing isn’t anywhere near enough if we’re going to change the world with it. There has to be a lifelong process of more and more deeply realizing the wonder of the gospel.

Tim Keller, Desiring God Conference 2006 (mp3)

This is part of a new way of life: to learn more and more of the deeper things and understand less and less, and to be caught up in wonder.

John Piper on the Emergent Church

John Piper

The following is an excerpt (full mp3 here) from a panel conversation (With Justin Taylor interviewing Tim Keller, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll) at the Desiring God Conference 2006, which took place on September 29. John Piper was asked about the Emergent Church, and after shocking the audience by saying a curse word (Justin said Mark must be rubbing off on him), he said this about a lunch conversation that he had with Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village:

I just kinda kept going back on my heels, like, I don’t understand the way these guys think, and so there are profound epistemological differences – ways of processing reality – that make the conversation almost impossible; just kind of going by each other. My question sort of is, how profitable would it be to press on with that when your worldviews seem to be so different and your ways of knowing seem to be different, the function of knowledge in transformation, what the goals of transformation are – all those are so different that I’m not sure we would get anywhere.

These words by Dr. Piper caused me to wonder if this is the reason why some leaders are not in the habit of dialoguing with a lot of their critics, because how profitable would it be when your worldviews are so different? I for one don’t think that Brother John should spend a lot of his energy in dialogue with people who come from a totally different angle (although some is healthy), because it takes him away from focusing his attention on the things that he really feels passionate about. It reminds me of Nehemiah 6:3 – “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

Pastor Piper is doing a great work. I hope that he’s open to correction, yet always working hard at the work he’s been given.