“I know of no surer way of a people’s perishing than by being led by one who does not speak out straight, and honestly denounce evil. If the minister halts between two opinions, do you wonder that the congregation is undecided? If the preacher trims and twists to please all parties, can you expect his people to be honest? If I wink at your inconsistencies will you not soon be hardened in them?
Like priest, like people. A cowardly preacher suits hardened sinners. Those who are afraid to rebuke sin, or to probe the conscience, will have much to answer for. May God save you from being led into the ditch by a blind guide.
And yet is not a mingle-mangle of Christ and Belial the common religion of the day? Is not worldly piety, or pious worldliness, the current religion of England? They live among godly people, and God chastens them, and they therefore fear him, but not enough to give their hearts to him. They seek out a trimming teacher who is not too precise and plain-spoken, and they settle down comfortably to a mongrel faith, half truth, half error, and a mongrel worship half dead form, and half orthodoxy.
God have mercy upon men, and bring them out from the world; for he will not have a compound of world and grace. “Come ye out from among them,” saith he, “be ye separate: touch not the unclean thing.” “If God be God, serve him: if Baal be God, serve him.” There can be no alliance between the two. Jehovah and Baal can never be friends. “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” “No man can serve two masters.” All attempts at compromise or comprehensiveness in matters of truth and purity are founded on falsehood, and falsehood is all that can come of them. May God save us from such hateful doublemindedness.
This original exchange between Eisenbach and Keller is about 3 years old now. And for three years this exchange has been festering under my skin like an embedded thorn trying to work its way out. You can find the exchange on youtube here,
I take this on because Keller has become the darling of so many “Reformed” people today and yet I’m convinced that the man’s theology is deeply deeply flawed and that he really should be assigned a “Priscilla and Aquila” to tutor him before he is allowed to teach. Of course that won’t happen.
Here are a couple other places where some fine analysis of Keller’s incipient Marxism takes place,
If Keller is Confessional and Biblical Reformed then I’m groupie of D. G. Hart.
Professor EISENBACH begins the dialogue with Keller,
…I wrote a book about the gay rights movement because I was appalled by the oppression and the discrimination against homosexuals in my America [KELLER: uhhmm..]. And this questioner asks, ‘What do so many of the churches have against homosexuals? And what about your church’s approach to homosexuality, is it a sin? Are they going to Hell?
Now this question could have been easily answered by responding to the last two questions above with,
“Yes and Yes.”
A Christian minister might have thrown in a couple references from Scripture to support his affirmatives,
I Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Galatians 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: [i]immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, [j]factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
It also would have been interesting for Keller to ask Eisenbach for some examples of the appalling treatment of Sodomites that Eisenbach references. After Eisenbach answered that Keller could have cited examples of the appalling treatment of Christians and then made a point that in a sin ravaged world appalling treatment is a equal opportunity employer. Personally, I refuse to allow the GLBT crowd play the victim card.
But Keller decides to nuance the question disarming the intensity of the question by using humor thus giving himself some breathing space and time to think,
KELLER: uhhh…let’s talk about my church first which will be a little easier than trying to answer for all the other churches of the world….but I’ll try [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]. I’m representing all the churches of the world alright, you know? [EISENBACH: but Christianity I mean….you, you…] Yeah, I know but let’s start with mine.
I actually applaud Keller here. Humor can be a great way to take the sting out of a question and clearly Keller was being set up here by Eisenbach. There is nothing wrong with using humor as a opportunity to re-frame the question. However, I’m not satisfied with Keller’s re-framing.
Eisenbach returns to the question and Keller responds,
EISENBACH:…. You go to the Bible quite often and there are many evangelicals who would say it is listed as a sin in the Bible [KELLER: sin in the Bible, right.]…and these people are going to Hell.
KELLER: Right. Now…What you..first…ughhhh…Let’s talk about my church again [nervous laughter]. Let’s go back here. What we would say is…I think it’s unavoidable. (1) I think most Protestant and Catholic and Orthodox Christians over the years have said, you read the Bible and the Bible has reservations. (2) The Bible says homosexuality is not God’s original design for sexuality. (3) Ok? There we are…you have it. (4) The Bible also says, ‘Love your neighbor’. The Bible…in fact, The Good Samaritan parable which is how Jesus tells us to love our neighbor…you put a Jew and a Samaritan there. So, what Jesus is trying to say is everybody is your neighbor. (5) Gay people are your neighbors. Uhhh…people who are of other faiths are your neighbors. People of other….. other…uhhhh….uhhh…races are your neighbors. (6) And it’s the job of a Christian to do what Jesus did on the cross which was to give himself for people who were opposing Him and people who were diff….believe….didn’t believe in Him even. (7) And so, a Christian is supposed to say, ‘I serve the needs and interests of all of my neighbors in the city, whether gay or straight, whether Hindu or Muslim.(8) I mean Hindus, for example, don’t believe in the Trinity. (8a) It’s a different view than what the Bible says. (9) Gay people have a different view of sexuality than generally what you see in the NT. I’m supposed to love my neighbors. (10) So, what I don’t see is…at this point, I see some churches that are…basically, ignoring the places in the Bible that talk about homosexuality in order to love their gay neighbor. (11) And I see other Christian churches taking very seriously what the Bible says about homosexuality but in a very self-righteous way. So, they actually do single out gay people. I mean, there are a number of conservative churches that will love their Hindu neighbors and will love their Muslim neighbors, and not their gay neighbors. And I really don’t think there is any excuse for that. So…that’s what [EISENBACH: Is…is] (12) I mean, I…I….Therefore, I have to take some responsibility for being a member of the Christian Church for the oppression of homosexuals.
(1.) The Bible has RESERVATIONS about sodomy? Reservations? To have reservations is to have doubts or misgivings. The Bible does not have reservations about sodomy. The Scriptures everywhere inveigh against it as sin. Shall we say that the Scriptures have reservations about wife swapping? Do the Scriptures have reservations about blaspheming the Holy Spirit? Do the Scriptures offer reservations regarding idolatry?
For Pete’s sake … reservations?
(2.) The Bible says homosexuality is not God’s original design for sexuality?
Note, here, as above, the word “sin” is avoided. The bible has reservations. The Bible says homosexuality is not God’s original design. What circumlocution will we get next? The Bible frowns slightly on men sleeping with men?
Note in I Corinthians 5 when St. Paul was given a question about sin he didn’t tap dance around the issue with circumlocutions.
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 [a]You have become [b]arrogant and [c]have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and [d]I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord [e]Jesus.
If Keller had to deal with the situation St. Paul speaks of he would have written something like,
“I have some reservations about this man having his Father’s wife and want you to know that such untowardness is not God’s original design. I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already commended all of you for not being judgmental. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to make known my reservations about this behavior not being according to God’s original design. ”
(3.) “Ok … there we are … you have it.”
Bang … right between the eyes.
Never a man spoke with more clarity regarding sin.
(4.) “Love your Neighbor.”
And that means what concretely?
Is Keller implying that loving your neighbor means telling them that God has reservations about Sodomy? Is Keller implying that denouncing sodomy as sin is not loving? What is Keller implying when he reminds us of the necessity to Love our neighbor? Some Christians might think that loving your Sodomite neighbor is to bake cookies for them without giving them law and Gospel.
(5.) Yes, I know who my neighbor is and I know that I am supposed to love them. The most loving thing I can do to my neighbor who is of another faith or who struggles with immorality is to give them law and Gospel. Oh sure, I bake cookies for them, and invite them over to the house but if all that happens without telling them of God’s command for all men everywhere to repent, I’m not being loving to my neighbor.
(6.) Jesus died to give his life as a ransom for many. It is not my job to die to ransom a people.
And when the Christian tells the truth about sodomy, greed, lust, or any sin, at that very moment the Christian is giving himself for those who oppose both myself and my Elder Brother, the Lord Christ. Love is not a word that I get to fill with my own content. Love is defined as acting consistent with God’s law towards others. Love to God and to others is to treat them consistent with God’s propositional revelation.
(7.) The Christian first serves the interest of God before he serves the interest of all those types of people that Keller lists. Indeed, I can’t know how to serve the interests of all those people that Keller lists unless I first serve God’s interests.
Secondly, does Keller understand that how the Christian understands the interests of the non-Christian is monumentally different then how the non-Christian understands their own interests. As such, I could be serving the interests of the non Christian while the non-Christian at the same time is howling at me and gnashing his teeth at me because he does not believe I am serving his interests.
For example, I am serving the interests of the Muslim when I oppose allowing a Mosque to be built. Does the Muslim believe I am serving his interests when I do all I can to oppose Mosque building? For example, I am serving the interests of the GLBT crowd when I oppose their curriculum being taught in the Government schools. Does the GLBT crowd see that as serving their needs or interests?
Keller’s answers are glib and not well thought through.
(8.) (8a) (9.) Hindus have a different view of the Trinity than the Bible? Gay people have a different view of sexuality than generally what you see in the NT
A different view?
Than generally what you see in the NT?
Does this guy ever eat meat?
Why do we limit God’s teaching on the subject to the NT?
(10.) At least Keller here admits that some Churches are ignoring the sin (he doesn’t use that word) of homosexuality in order to love their gay neighbor. But the problem is, is that if the Churches in questions are not confronting the issue of homosexuality as sin then, contra Keller, those Churches are not loving the Sodomite. It is not love to ignore the issue Tim.
(11.) (12.) The question starts with the issue of Homosexuality and in these sentences we see Keller’s harshest words for Christians. The way he speaks here turns the sodomite into a poor poor victim of nasty Christian meanness.
Can Christians be mean? Absolutely. Can Christians be self righteous? All the time. But calling out Homosexuality as sin is not mean and not always self righteous. And the fact that Christians might be inconsistent in calling out Homosexuality and not other sins is not unfair to homosexuals. What is unfair is that they are not calling out other sins as sin. If there are 8 cars going 95 miles an hour and I get pulled for going 95 mph it is not unfair that I get a ticket for speeding all because the other cars got away with it. Just so, if there are a host of different sins being engaged upon and only one of them gets hammered as sin, that does not make it unfair to the sin that was rightly called out all because the others weren’t called out.
And lets keep in mind also at this point that the GLBT crowd are the ones who are organizing in order to mainstream their sin into our society and culture. It is they who are the ones who are forever keeping this subject alive so that Christians have no choice but to respond to it. The love that once dare not speak its name now won’t shut up. What else can Christians do except to respond to it. If liars or kleptomaniacs or the greedy were to officially organize as liars, kleptomaniacs and the greedy in order to advance the cause of liars, kleptomaniacs and the greedy the Church would have to speak just as regularly against those organizations. So, away with all this nonsense that somehow the Church has a fixation on the issue of sodomy. If the sodomites would quit screaming their ruddy lungs out in order to advance their agenda the Church wouldn’t have to whisper back about “reservations, and that sodomy is not according to God’s original design.
EISENBACH: Are committing homosexual acts sin….against God?
KELLER: uhhhh….What do you mean by ‘sin’? The answer is ‘yes’.
Well, at least he said, “yes,” even if he had to ask what was meant by sin.
KELLER: Now see. Here’s the problem with that. You don’t go to Hell for being a homosexual…..
This is so facile it is beyond belief. Keller here begins to introduce a false dichotomy.
Of course a person goes to Hell ultimately because they have not trusted Christ alone. But when a person doesn’t trust Christ alone the consequence is that they remain in their sin and so not having their sins covered they are thrown into hell by God because of their assorted sins.
EISENBACH: …..but committing homosexual acts will get you to go to Hell?
KELLER: Noooo. Wait a minute. Wait, wait [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER].
Why is the audience laughing? They are laughing because they know that despite of Keller’s tap-dancing he is on the horns of a dilemma. And Keller knowing what the audience knows raises his protest “Noooo. Wait a minute. Wait, wait.”
EISENBACH: well, you know. Some people say, ‘Well, it’s not the homosexuality or being gay. It’s being/doing gay stuff that’s the problem’.
KELLER: No, no.
Despite, Keller’s seeming dismissal of Eisenbach offering, I do think it is possible for one to have the besetting temptation to homosexuality and yet have no sin because they resist temptation and don’t do gay stuff.
KELLER: First of all, heterosexuality does not get you to heaven. I happen to know this [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER/CLAPPING]. So, how in the world could homosexuality send you to Hell? And actually…uhhh…The Bible…Listen…..This is…this is true. Jesus talks about greed 10x more than he talks about adultery, for example. Now, one of the problems Christians have here is partly…let’s be nice to Christians. You know when you’re committing adultery. I mean you don’t say, ‘Ohhh, you’re not my wife’ [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]. I mean you know when you are committing adultery. But, almost nobody knows when they’re greedy. Nobody admits…thinks they’re greedy. You know cause everybody is comparing yourself to other people and so, it’s a frog in the kettle kind of thing. Ahhh….however, the fact of the matter is…the Bible is much harder on greed/materialism. It’s a horrible sin, terrible sin. Will greed send you to Hell? No! What sends you to Hell is self-righteousness – thinking that you can be your own savior and lord. What sends you to heaven is getting a connection with Christ because you realize you’re a sinner and you need intervention from outside. That’s why it is very misleading actually to say, even to say, ‘Homosexuality is a sin’ because most people…Yes, of course homosexuality is a sin because greed is a sin, because all kinds of things are sins. But what most Christians mean when they say that and certainly what non-Christians think they hear when they hear that is ‘If you’re gay, you are going to Hell for being gay’. It’s just not true. Absolutely not true.
When Keller does his little humor bit about heterosexuality and homosexuality it might be easy to conclude that sexuality makes no difference whatsoever in terms of heaven and hell.
Keller then goes on to talk about greed thus seemingly suggesting that Christians who oppose homosexuality are being hypocritical because they don’t oppose greed adamantly enough.
Next, we have to note Keller continuing in his false dichotomies. It is true that self righteousness is that which sends you to hell but Homosexuals and all those (greedy, materialists, adulterers) who are embracing their sins are by definition those who are seeking to establish their own righteousness and so are by definition “self-righteous.” So Homosexuality does send one to hell because the Homosexual is by definition “self-righteous (i.e. — one who has rejected Christ’s righteousness for his own).
Keller seems to want to communicate to sodomites that sodomy doesn’t preclude the possibility of God’s grace and forgiveness but if that is what he is trying to say he could have been far far clearer.
Note that Keller says it is misleading to say that homosexuality is sin even though he immediately contradicts himself by saying … ‘yes of course homosexuality is sin.” Which is it Tim?
And how does the below come close to making any sense,
“of course homosexuality is a sin because greed is a sin, because all kinds of things are sins.” (?)
Of course what it seems Keller is trying to do here is to suggest that all sins are equal therefore it is wrong to focus on homosexuality.
And yes Tim … if the homosexual doesn’t repent they will go to hell for their homosexuality which was part of their attempt to establish their own righteousness.
EISENBACH: So then, what’s….then how is homosexuality a ‘sin’. I’m not….
KELLER: ….Well, homo…[sigh]..Greed is a sin. In other words, it doesn’t help human flourishing. Basically, Christianity has an account of what we think human beings were built to do and what will therefore, help human flourishing. So, we would say if you spend all of your money on yourself, that’s bad….not only for your own soul, but for everybody elses. We would say homosexuality is not the original design for sexuality. Therefore, it’s not good for human flourishing. We want people to do things that are good for human flourishing. But that’s not what sends you to heaven or Hell. Now, there…maybe we ought to talk about that [NERVOUS LAUGHTER]. What sends you to heaven or Hell really has to do with your faith in the Gospel which is that you can’t….uhhh…be your own savior through your performance and your good works. Now here, I’m coming at this like a protestant now. You know…ummm…everybody’s gotta be a particular kind of Christian and there’s differences of opinion within Christianity about this. But uhhhh…no. being gay doesn’t send you to hell and sin doesn’t send you to Hell like that. The sin underneath the sin is, ‘I am my own savior and my lord’. And that’s the reason why pharisaism, moralism, Bible-believing people who are proud and think God is going to take people to heaven because they’re good…that’s sending them to Hell. I mean, I know that this is a lot to take in at once.
Homosexuality is seen as sin according to Keller because it doesn’t help human flourishing. Tim doesn’t mention that homosexuality is sin first and foremost because it is rebellion against God and His law word. Certainly it is true that homosexuality doesn’t help human flourishing, but homosexuality is a sin because it is rebellion against God before it is a sin because it doesn’t help human flourishing. When we treat sin only as a horizontal problem we lose the majesty of God and His authoritative Word.
Keller then seems to imply that his Protestantism is just one of the Baskin-Robbins flavors of Christianity among which one can legitimately choose from. Hints of postmodernism is all over this answer from beginning to end.
And Keller, in a question that has to do with whether or not Homosexuality is a sin, saves his harshest words for false Christians. Now, I quite agree that false Christians are not going to heaven but for Pete’s sake this question was about Homosexuality.
EISENBACH: It’s a lot.
KELLER: I’m…well…yeah…I mean….[EISENBACH: I want to go back to……]but inside our church…[EISENBACH: right.] There’s just not going to be this disdain of homosexuals [EISENBACH: right.] There just can’t be…not when I’m teaching the gospel like that.
No Christian congregation should have disdain for any individual who is looking for answers to their sins. However, there should be great and heaping disdain for any individual who looks to mainstream their sin and demands that Christians speak in even softer terms regarding homosexuality then even Keller does.
9 thoughts on “Spurgeon and McAtee Contra Keller On Sodomy”
I am so glad you posted this, and I am so pleased that you are refusing to let Keller and his theology languish in obscurity, far from the adoring eyes of those who read him and listen to him and admire him. This sorry incident figured large in my resigning as a ruling elder in the PCA and in my withdrawal from organized churchianity. Back when I first found out about it,I showed this clip to numerous pastors and elders, along with a couple of seminary grads and influential churchmen. The response was split about 50-50. Half of them squirmed like Keller, “Ah-ing” and “Umm-ing” their way through weasel answers. The other half rhetorically shrugged and said, “So what?” This guy is a respected lion in the PCA/OPC, and they simply won’t say, “He’s a lying, dissembling bastard who has no business teaching the word of God to anyone.”
But I’ve said it. And I’ll continue to say it.
Thank you again for posting this, and for your devastating line-by-line critique of his foolishness.
Thank you Mr. McPherson for your kind words.
There remain 7000 who have yet bowed the knee to Baal.
I am an unprofitable servant who has only done what I ought.
When men love the praise of men, they will jump through all sorts of hoops, even if it is only to seem tolerable.
I think most homosexuals sense that much of Christianity is in retreat, and instead of feeling like they are fighting against an unassailable wall, they think they can finally chew us up and spit us out for good. You can see it in the posture that gays like Andrew Sullivan take–they think they own the moral high ground, despite the Biblical claim that homosexuality is the sign of a culture in decay. I wonder whether “winning the man” is always the right approach. Sometimes I just want an articulate, non-emotional, reasoned presentation of the Biblical data that is unflinching it demonstrating the stupidity of the moral claims of homosexuals, and in particular homosexuals who want to claim Christianity.
“Winning the man” has put us in the place we are now. Evangelism is not done ultimately to win the man. Evangelism is done ultimately to glorify God by heralding His truth. God isn’t selling. God is commanding all men everywhere to repent. Why should we care if the man doesn’t like being told he has to repent? Winning the man is armininian theology. It is evangelism by humanist sociology instead of evangelism by Theology.
I saw this Tim Keller “spectacle” a little over a year ago. Since then, I have began writing poetry in response to such stinging discoveries that I encounter. Please indulge me this poem as comment. Though broader in scope than your excellent critique, I believe It makes a lovely chaser to your analysis. Thank you.
Serpent’s Redux (Family Style)
Problems you’ve got. Come one and come all.
The solution “we” have, and one size fits all.
Homebody mothers, boss fathers to blame.
Let’s tweak now these roles, so they’re both more the same.
Husband and wife, should work as a team.
Agree now with me this, is no way obscene.
Now “Division of Labor”, is all for the best,
Roles tenderly “fixed”, ignore the unrest.
Your covenant roles, vowed before God,
Gently updated, biologically flawed.
Years of abuse, that patriarch system,
Demand your rights, a small retribution.
Now every decision, a strict compromise,
Negating the order, from God the all wise.
Each other a god, you will treat from now on,
With all servant’s hearts, we’ll all get along.
Husband and wife, the language of God,
Next renamed “partners”, a “literal” fraud.
New language in place, what could come next?
“Partners” now gay, marriage unsexed.
With heteros dueling, just like the wild west,
Dissolving the home, the once sacred nest.
Approved business model, two-earning spouses,
With plans to reside in separate houses.
Your “traditional” marriage has outgrown its use.
Your households are full of neglect and abuse.
Haters and bigots, move out of our way,
Give us a chance to be joined gay today.
And watch what “you” say, and watch what “you” preach,
“Our” feelings upset, means criminal speech.
To each his own, stop all this fuss,
Respect our new franchise, and equalize us.
Agree God’s a person of strict compromise.
Don’t try to persuade, anyone otherwise.
With the blessing of God, we’ll ignore what he says.
We’ll teach by example, in less prejudiced ways.
Happiness is, what it should be about, not following rules and laws,
Extend to me a happiness spree, my feelings, my only because.
Blessed Christian spokesmen will keep you in line.
“Accept now these sinners, or from faith resign.”
All sin’s now the same, new partial truth bomb.
We “all” share the blame, sweet collectivist psalm.
Examine “yourself”, take the plank out “your” eye,
And then, only then, will “we” grant you decry.
For the common cause, we stand sainted troops.
“Jump when your told, we’re holding the hoops.”
Drawing the lines, for diversity’s cause,
We’ll eliminate hate, by passing more laws,
Or perhaps diagnosis, some invented disease,
One fresh pseudo-phobia, good man, if you please.
We all must agree to each others action,
Ignoring absurdity, through thought contraction.
An irrational world where we do what we please,
To fulfill our lust, and ignore God’s decrees.
A good chaser at that Jeffery.
Composite feller, Mr. Keller
Not too weak, and not too strong,
Dialoguer, story teller,
Balancing old right and wrong,
Not too hot, and not to cold
Leaves the story, half untold.