Lance summarized Dr. Tim Keller’s preaching methodology by saying,
“In Tim Keller’s preaching seminar he mentions that saying bold things about abortion and homosexuality ‘C issues’ is not helpful when one hasn’t laid the ground work of the Gospel ‘A’ and a biblical worldview ‘b.’ Although he believes these are both… sin, he hits hard on A’ and B’ primarily so that people would actually believe and be saved, rather than always insisting on implications of those, namely C’. Plus, why mis-step with the conservatives and emphasis some sins over others. If we want people to be saved, we must share the A’ and B’ clearly and consistently; rather, than be known for our theological positions, something that won’t save anyone. He’s in the center of the postmodern worldview and we are just about there ourselves. lets take time to unpack things, when we ‘know’ they will be offended and quit listening when we post our theological positions. If you want that preaching seminar PDF ill send it to you. Its be best thing I’ve ever read on preaching. I’m assuming if you were to talk with a homosexual, you would similar things.”
Now, I don’t know Lance and I don’t know if this is a faithful representation of what Keller teaches in his Seminar, but for the sake of dissection let’s say it is. Here is how I would critique such an approach,
I’m pretty sure that one can’t lay out the ground work of either the Gospel or a biblical worldview if one doesn’t deal with prominent sins. Keep in mind that laying the groundwork out means talking about the backdrop of the Gospel which is man’s rebellion against God. Now, it will do no good to talk about a general rebellion of man against God without being somewhat accurate as to what that rebellion concretely looks like. I mean, is Keller looking to convert Abortion Doctors and Homosexuals only to later tell them after being “saved;”
“Now, about those abortions and that Homosexuality, I know you didn’t realize that salvation meant giving that up, but I have a surprise for you.”
This approach looks a great deal like thorough going compromise.
And the smell of compromise gets even heavier when we read Keller’s answer to a direct question on preaching against homosexuality.
Well, it’s much, much, much easier to to have private conversations about it. I think . . . uh . . . can make this short. I . . . I believe in general that if you preach on why homosexuality is a sin . . . uhhh . . . there are . . . at least in my . . . in my . . . in my . . . in my church I know there’s lots and lots of folks who have same sex attraction who know that that’s not . . . as a Christian, I can’t do that. I’m not gonna go there. There’s a good number of them. I’ve got a lot of non-Christians who are present who are friends of gay people but are not gay. Uhhh . . . and then uhh, there’d be a number of people with same sex attraction who . . . are there. And generally speaking, it’s almost impossible to preach a sermon and hit all 3 or 4 of those constituencies equally well. Ummmm . . . it’s just . . . it’s just think about . . . you know . . . you know . . . you’re a communicator. You know you need to . . . well, what’s my goal? Who are my audience and . . . wow! it’s like a conundrum you can’t solve. So, the best thing has always been for me..[CONSPICUOUS COUGH] . . . to not do the public teaching as much as segment my audience through . . . ummm [CONSPICUOUS COUGH] . . . Books, through classes, through one-on-ones, and so on. I think the time is probably coming in which we’re going to have be more public in how we talk about homosexuality. And I haven’t . . . I’m actually thinking quite a lot about it. Uhhh . . . as to how I will go about it or how we should go about it but I’m not prepared to give you 3 bullet points. (Note: ellipses represent pauses)
That explanation that Lance gave in the first blockquote (and I’m not impugning Lance, as it is not, as far as I know, Lance’s opinion) is so full of holes it is downright embarrassing that anyone would try to pass that off as erudite let alone the embarrassment present by seeing scads of people being suckered by such reasoning.
I’ve already exposed one hole
Here are some more
2.) He is suggesting that salvation of people is dependent upon the way he gives the message. If we really believe that the Gospel itself was the power of God unto Salvation we wouldn’t be conjuring up ways to manipulate people into the Kingdom. (i.e. –The thought process seems to be something like, “I can’t speak about homosexuality or abortion because if I do they won’t be swept up into the hurricane of redemption.”)
3.) Presumably “A” and “B” and “C” are all theological positions. You can’t carve “C” out and call it a theological position while suggesting “A” and “B” are somehow something else then a theological position. If he doesn’t want to be known for theological positions then he should keep quiet about not only “C” but also about “A” and “B” as well. Dividing them up the way he does in the explanation above only provides an excuse that when examined only briefly and with the greatest of nonchalance is exposed as utterly vacuous.
4.) If we are going to avoid naming some sins in “A” and “B” why name any sins at all in the presentation? In Keller’s model a God without wrath brings men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.
5.) And what does the fact that Keller is at the center of the postmodern world have to do with anything? Is the subtext with such a statement supposed to be that because he is at the center of the postmodern world therefore he has to speak differently about sin if people are to know Christ?