Defender of the Faith: Tim Keller

Evangelizing to a post-modern culture requires Believers to speak to the head as well as the heart. Our culture is smarter, more savvy and more gluttonous on information than any of its previous generational incarnations. Simply saying "You've got to have faith" isn't going to fly. At least not as a singular strategy.

Tim Keller (if you haven't already). This guy slays the stereotype of Christian as dunce. His body of work is not only wide-ranging and Biblically sound, it challenges us on an intellectual level and turns our model of evangelical ministry on its head.

That's especially true of his latest book The Reason for God. (at least that's the kind of reviews he's getting; I haven't yet read it myself). Keller is now out on a nationwide tour promoting not only his book but his brand of reaching both Believers and unBelievers.

For a little sneak peak, read his interview with Christianity Today. Don't have time right now? You'd be well-served in bookmarking and coming back to it. In the meantime, here are some highlights:

On how some Christians are at a loss to effectively witness
"I do think a lot of Christians — because they don't understand the grace narrative — get out into the world and find it very tough to navigate. I think it's because they don't understand the gospel, not because they can't answer all the theological questions."

On the difference between marketing Christianity and spreading the Gospel
"Marketing is showing how Christianity meets the need, and I think the gospel is showing how Christianity is the truth...C. S. Lewis says somewhere not to believe in Christianity because it's relevant or exciting or personally satisfying. Believe it because it's true. And if it's true, it eventually will be relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying."

On one pastor's response to a controversial issue
"He went through all the various theories that evangelical Christians with a high view of Scripture have come to. He showed the strengths and weaknesses of every one. Nobody does that anymore. Nobody says different Christians might come down in different places here and still have a high view of Scripture. Instead, they identify their take as the wise one, and say everyone else is selling out or something."

On dealing with Jesus first and other issues after that
"I point out that it's a red herring to go after (intelligent design versus evolution) before you decide whether Jesus died and rose again. Two people said [last night at a Veritas forum]: 'I can't believe in Christianity, because look at the fossils.' And I was trying to say, 'Because you believe in evolution does this mean that Jesus Christ couldn't be raised from the dead?' One said, 'No, that has nothing to do with it.' If he was raised from the dead, then you have to take seriously the Scripture and you have to work on all this. If he wasn't raised from the dead, who cares about Genesis 1–11?"

So, if you were going to design a new way of "doing" evangelism, what would it look like? How much can intellectual arguments really sway unBelievers toward a relationship with Jesus? Where do appeals to one's intellect stop and a simple act of faith start?

For more about Tim Keller, visit the Web site of Redeemer Church in New York, where Keller is pastor.

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