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Tim Keller on Justification and Justice

Tim Keller talks about his book Generous Justice and shows how Christianity is not a hindrance to doing justice, but that its central doctrine – justification by faith – is essential to having a heart for justice and the poor. The talk took place at the Christ and City conference in Chicago.

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If you want to hear more from Keller on Biblical justice, check out his lecture on Doing Justice or his sermon on Isaiah 58.

How should Christians disagree?

Some helpful thoughts from Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, and Michael Horton on how we can disagree with one another while being faithful and winsome.

Understanding the life of Jesus and what it means for us

In this video, Pastor Tim Keller talks about the story of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark and the cosmic, historical, and personal implications for each of us.

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The Unique Gift of Christmas

“No other religion–whether secularism, Greco-Roman paganism, Eastern religion, Judaism, or Islam–believes God became breakable or suffered or had a body. Eastern religion believes the physical is illusion. Greco-Romans believe the physical is bad. Judaism and Islam don’t believe God would do such a thing as live in the flesh.

But Christmas teaches that God is concerned not only with the spiritual, because he is not just a spirit anymore. He has a body. He knows what it’s like to be poor, to be a refugee, to face persecution and hunger, to be beaten and stabbed. He knows what it is like to be dead. Therefore, when we put together the incarnation and the resurrection, we see that God is not just concerned about the spirit, but he also cares about the body. He created the spirit and the body, and he will redeem the spirit and the body.

Christmas shows us that God is not just concerned about spiritual problems but physical problems too. So we can talk about redeeming people from guilt and unbelief, as well as creating safe streets and affordable housing for the poor, in the same breath. Because Jesus himself is not just a spirit but also has a body, the gift of Christmas is a passion for justice.

But Christians have not only a passion for justice but also the knowledge that, in the end, justice will triumph. Confidence in the justice of God makes the most realistic passion for justice possible.”

Tim Keller in Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas, edited by Nancy Guthrie (Crossway Books, 2008).

Faith and Doubt

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenceless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart sceptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.

Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts – not only their own but their friends’ and neighbours’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to sceptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.”

Tim Keller, The Reason for God (Hodder 2008), pages xvi-xvii.

Half a God is no God at all: Tim Keller on The Shack

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer PCA in Manhattan, offers his impressions of the best-selling novel, The Shack:

“Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible. In the prophets the reader will find a God who is constantly condemning and vowing judgment on his enemies, while the Persons of the Triune-God of The Shack repeatedly deny that sin is any offense to them. The reader of Psalm 119 is filled with delight at God’s statutes, decrees, and laws, yet the God of The Shack insists that he doesn’t give us any rules or even have any expectations of human beings. All he wants is relationship. The reader of the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Isaiah will learn that the holiness of God makes his immediate presence dangerous or fatal to us. Someone may counter (as Young seems to do, on p.192) that because of Jesus, God is now only a God of love, making all talk of holiness, wrath, and law obsolete. But when John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, long after the crucifixion sees the risen Christ in person on the isle of Patmos, John ‘fell at his feet as dead.’ (Rev.1:17.) The Shack effectively deconstructs the holiness and transcendence of God. It is simply not there. In its place is unconditional love, period. The God of The Shack has none of the balance and complexity of the Biblical God. Half a God is not God at all.”

Read the whole thing at the Gospel Coalition blog.

Jesus, the Poor Man

In Proverbs and Matt 25, God identifies with the poor symbolically. But in the incarnation and death of Jesus… God identifies with the poor and marginal literally. Jesus was born in a feeding trough. At his circumcision Jesus’ family offered what was required of the poor (Luke 2:24). He said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matt 8:20). At the end of his life, he rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, spent his last evening in a borrowed room, and when he died, he was laid in a borrowed tomb. They cast lots for his only possession, his robe, for there on the cross he was stripped of everything.

All this gives new meaning to the question: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?” The answer is—on the cross, where he died amidst the thieves, among the marginalized. No wonder Paul could say that once you see Jesus becoming poor for us, you will never look at the poor the same way again.

Tim Keller in The Gospel and the Poor, Themelios Vol 33, Issue 3, Dec 2008.

Tim Keller interviewed at the Washington Post and other videos

Tim Keller sits down in an interview with Sally Quinn, one of the editors of Washington Posts On Faith discussion site. Keller discusses several questions, including his journey to become a Christian, certainty and the possibility of dialogue between Christians and agnostics, getting mad at God and suffering, and Kierkegaard’s definition of sin.

Source: JT and Kevin Cawley

Keller is the author of the best-seller The Reason for God, and also of a new book coming out this month, The Prodigal God, on understanding Christianity through the story of the prodigal son.

The Gospel Coalition has several other good segments of Keller answering more questions on their site:

Who are the New Atheists?

What is the New Atheist message? How should we engage them?

How do you respond when people say that science has buried God?

How is Christianity relevant for today’s culture?