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False Teacher of the Day #15: Tim Keller

by | Jun 1, 2021

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Tim Keller may not seem like the stereotypical charismatic, tongue-flapping, prosperity gospel-preaching false prophet that many false teachers we’ve covered so far in our False Teacher of the Day series, yet, his influence on the Evangelical Church cannot be understated. Keller is held in high regard as one of the most profound theologians of the modern New Calvinist movement and his influence is on par with that of other theologians such as John MacArthur and the late R.C. Sproul. His teachings are part and parcel in practically every Evangelical church in America from Calvinist-leaning to Arminian.

Tim Keller is the former senior pastor and founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York and is a best-selling author of several books relating to theology and apologetics. He is also one of the founders of The Gospel Coalition — an Evangelical blog consisting primarily of Southern Baptists and Presbyterians who share a common interest in practical theology–particularly, social justice.

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Yet, Keller fits the description false teacher for a number of reasons; here, we shall explain why.

Keller is a proponent of theistic evolution, essentially a Christianized version of the evolutionary worldview that contradicts what the Scriptures actually teach about Creation. In a paper he published at Biologos, he argued that in dealing with people who are unable to reconcile science with their Christian views, Christians must figure out how to present the Scriptures to them in a way that seems compatible with science. Theistic evolution was also heavily pushed in his 2008 book, The Reason For God, where he taught that the solution to doubt — which he insists is normal and healthy — is to reconcile the secular view of evolution with the biblical creation account.

The compromise is extremely dangerous because it undermines the truthfulness and reliability of Scripture. Not only does it call into question the reality of the fallen nature of man and the curse the world is under because of sin — it also calls into question the reliability of the doctrines of the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Himself.

Under the guise of “biblical mysticism,” as he calls it, Tim Keller also practices and teaches contemplative/centering, also known as “wordless prayer,” which is a method of emptying one’s mind into solitude. In 2009, Keller’s church taught a class called The Way of the Monk which involved several dangerous practices including contemplative prayer.

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Making matters worse, Keller has spent much time platforming the works of Roman Catholic mystics and theologians such as Flannery O’Connor and Peter Kreeft.

However, placing him directly into the category of false teacher, Tim Keller has completely embraced the false gospel of social justice and is one of the leaders of the woke church movement in Evangelicalism. Tim Keller was pushing social justice as an alternative to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ long before the woke church movement became popular. Tim Keller has redefined the gospel to include works–particularly, social justice.

It is in the same category as the Galatian heresy of adding to the gospel. Tim Keller, in one sermon, said posed the question “How do you know you’re saved by faith?” He responded to this with a gospel of social justice, stating,

You care about the poor. When you see people without resources, your heart goes out to them. If it doesn’t, maybe you’re saved, but you’re lacking the evidence of salvation. Justification leads to justice. Justice is the sign of justification. It’s all through the Bible.

You can see the entire sermon here.

While the Scriptures do teach that works are evidence of grace, the Scriptures do not teach that a particular kind of work–especially, a work that is contrary to biblical teaching on justice–is evidence of grace. Keller is essentially branding all people who aren’t involved in social justice as probably not saved.

Keller has continued to advocate the false conflation of justice and “social justice” which translates into a gospel of works righteousness. It is no more than the heresy propagated by the early 20th-century theologian, Walter Rauschenbusch who wrote A Theology For the Social Gospel.

Tim Keller should be avoided because, though many have argued that some of his works are good and useful to the Church, in reality, his influence has caused far more damage than good. One must ask; why platform someone who holds to such serious theological errors and gospel compromise when there are far better resources available to the Church?

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