Monday, November 30, 2009

"New York itself isn’t the problem"

New York magazine has published an interesting article about Tim Keller and Manhattan's Redeemer Presbyterian Church, "Tim Keller Wants to Save Your Yuppie Soul." Some excerpts:
.... His belief system is not the fundamentalist strain running through many of the Bible Belt megachurches—the “saved” us versus the “heathen” them. Nor is it the new-school “be a winner, praise the Lord,” Christian self-esteem-building ideology of Joel Osteen. Keller advocates something of a third option. He wants to call people’s attention to the emptiness of a way of living that overvalues worldly achievement and to help them see the spiritual benefits of accepting Jesus Christ, and all he stands for, as their savior. But Keller wants to do that in a way that’s not intellectually insulting or morally hectoring. What he refers to as “idols,” he says, are the things we’re so wrapped up in, it’s as if we worship them as gods, in place of the one true God. Traditional vices like sex and drink can be idols, he says, but more insidious can be traditional virtues like hard work and family—“good” things that we can mistake for “ultimate” ones. ....

.... Keller insists his church allows for political diversity. “There’s this foolish idea that if you believe in God and Jesus is the Son of God, you’re going to be against gun control,” he says. “Actually, I think you simply can’t get orthodox Christianity into one political mold.”

But when it comes to sexual morality and gender issues, Keller takes a strict, traditional Christian line. That is to say, he believes things that enlightened urban Americans generally do not: that women should not be ordained as ministers (Kathy Keller opted out of becoming a pastor when she decided that female ministers were unbiblical); that abortion is unequivocally wrong; that sex out of wedlock and homosexuality are sins. Keller treads this ground cautiously. He knows these positions make Redeemer a potential target. They have significance in his ministry, he insists, not as cultural litmus tests but as expressions of God’s will as revealed in the Bible. ....

.... At Redeemer, I tell Keller, you may teach that you should treat your gay, pro-choice, or, for that matter, atheist neighbor with respect, even love, but as a matter of belief, you know that he or she has the misfortune of being wrong. “Well, you know what,” he says, “you can’t teach what we teach—that you must be born again through belief in Jesus Christ—without saying most of the world is wrong.” .... [more]
Why Are So Many New Yorkers Flocking to Evangelical Christian Preacher Tim Keller? -- New York Magazine