Tim Keller has proven himself to be a master manipulator of the Scriptures—so much so that some of the best and most well-intentioned pastors of our day have bought into some of the falsehoods he teaches. Keller is a perfect example of those Jude spoke of creeping into the church unnoticed and perverting the Scriptures (Jude 1:4).
In a recently surfaced video dug up by Woke Preacher TV, Keller uses the parable of the good Samaritan to say that the gospel alone isn’t enough to convince people to come to Christ and that unless it is accompanied by works of justice, nobody is going to listen or believe you.
The purpose of the parable of the Good Samaritan was to demonstrate that nobody can be saved by The works of the law and was not a prescription for social justice. Jesus is setting up the Good Samaritan’s demonstration of love as the de facto standard that one must achieve in order to attain salvation. And the details are extremely important.
This was a person who was his enemy—Jesus famously said love your enemies. And the Samaritan risked his own safety, spent the best of his own resources, and stayed with the man all night ensuring that he would be okay. He then gave the innkeeper enough money to pay for two months of care and a promise to pay whatever might be lacking in what the man may need.
In other words, the Lord was showing that nobody loves like that. Certainly not consistently. Therefore, since nobody could attain the de facto standard to achieve salvation on their own, it is necessary for one to trust in Christ alone who achieved that salvation.
Similarly to the parable of the Rich Young ruler where Jesus hones in on the one area the man would not let go of and shows him that he is not fit for eternal life. The gospel response would be the response of David in Psalm 51: Have mercy on me oh Lord. Instead, the Rich Young ruler went away sad because he wasn’t giving up his riches. The idea here wasn’t that giving up his riches was a pre-requisite to coming to Christ—that would be works righteousness. The idea is that Jesus was showing him that he was unable to attain salvation on his own, he needed Christ.
In the case of Luke 10, the Samaritan loved the victim in a way and on a level that somebody would only love themself. Jesus sets that up as the standard, again to which the gospel response should be: Have mercy on me oh Lord, I can’t do that.
The idea that somebody is fulfilling what they think is the point of this parable by doing some charity work in the name of social justice is idiotic. Not that there isn’t a point to be made that people should see Christians actually practicing what they believe, but as usual, Keller’s focus is wrong. The parable of the Good Samaritan is not a do-gooder story, it’s an illustration of how out-of-reach salvation is according to our own works.