The Tim Keller Gospel Challenge!

When I went to Tim Keller’s Redeemer church, the word “gospel” was spoken so many times that you could easily be fooled into believing the Gospel was actually being taught. But the more time I spent there, the more I began to wonder, just when and where is it being taught exactly?  I have to this day still never heard Dr. Keller clearly explain the Gospel of salvation.  I have never heard him explain how we are saved or what we must do to be saved.

Google shows that the word “gospel” appears 1,210 on the church’s Redeemer.com website.  With that many appearances, it sure appears the Gospel is being proclaimed there.  But let’s take a closer look at how the word “gospel” typically appears.

You have:

  • gospel renewal (this one is a favorite)
  • gospel in life
  • gospel in the city
  • gospel movement
  • prayer and the gospel
  • gospel and culture
  • artists & church: a gospel movement
  • race, reconciliation and the Gospel
  • the gospel and humor
  • the gospel and our future
  • why work matters: Gospel & Culture
  • art Matters for God’s sake – Gospel & Culture
  • unity and the gospel

It would be nice to see something like, “The Gospel and Salvation”.  But come to think of it, I can’t think of a single time I’ve heard a clear message presented on salvation at Redeemer.  And I’m including not only Tim Keller, but all the associate pastors as well. And I’m not just talking about what they say in sermons, I’m talking about what they’ve written in books and said in talks outside the church or have posted on their website.

The closest thing I can find is an article by Keller titled, “Who is Jesus?” (https://www.redeemer.com/learn/skeptics_welcome/who_is_jesus/)

I’m fully aware however, that I have surely not heard or read every single thing Keller or the other leaders of Redeemer have said or written.  So my Gospel Challenge is to ask if anyone can show us where and when Keller or other Redeemer pastors have given a clear message on what we must do to be saved.  Just leave a comment on this post.  If anyone can provide a link or evidence that a clear message of salvation has actually been spoken or written by the leaders of Redeemer, I will happily (most happily actually) withdraw this post!

5 Replies to “The Tim Keller Gospel Challenge!”

  1. First and foremost, thank you for sharing. It is always good to see a difference of opinion and I hope that we can continue agreeing that we can disagree. I myself have read and listened to many presentations of Dr. Keller and have found him to be amazing at the way he presents the truth of the gospel. I know you disagree but, that is fine. What I want to disagree with you is (if you would allow me) that not everyone has to present the truth in one way and not everyone will respond the same, especially if you’re telling them that they are dirty sinners and that Jesus died for them. I think most people have heard that. I think it is God who gives us the understanding of how dirty we are and it is He who shows us how much we are loved. So, no, I don’t agree that Dr. Keller is not preaching the true gospel; he is preaching it in the way God has gifted him. Be well and pray one for another.

    1. Rene, I appreciate your comments. And especially your kind and gracious tone! Second, we don’t disagree on everything!

      I agree with you that of course, not everyone has to present the Gospel in the same way. But they do have to present the same Gospel as revealed in Scripture.

      There are a thousand ways to explain it – and a thousand things to say about it. But there are certain basic components to it that are absolutely essential. If they go unspoken, then the Gospel has not been explained or shared. You can say these things in many different ways, but they must be said.

      You seem to be suggesting that we shouldn’t tell people they are dirty sinners and that Jesus died for them. I’m curious, if that’s the case, then what is your understanding of the true Gospel? For instance, if you were to explain it to an unbeliever, what would you tell them?

    2. Rene, I was hoping that you were going to come back and have a conversation with me, but apparently not.

      In light of that, I won’t be able to clarify what you meant and will have to go on what you actually said.

      I think your comments while very graciously given, really show the problem here. Those who say Keller does clearly explain the Gospel, don’t understand it themselves. And those who understand know that he never (in my experience) clearly explains it. That’s why I asked and was hoping you would come back and tell us what your understanding of the Gospel is.

      To say that you shouldn’t tell people “that they are dirty sinners and that Jesus died for them” – on the risky assumption that everyone’s already heard it – is to leave out the entire Gospel. Because that – in its most essential form is what it is!

      We are sinners, deserving of eternal hell but God in his mighty grace and mercy sent His Son to die in our place to suffer the punishment that we deserve. How can you share the Gospel and not mention those two most elemental parts of it?

      I know this isn’t what you intended but with that comment you actually illustrated my point. He doesn’t clearly explain the Gospel because if you don’t talk about those two most essential elements, that we are dirty little sinners and that Jesus did die for for those whom He will save, then you haven’t shared the Gospel at all.

  2. The silence is deafening, and the utter absence of evidentiary responses is profound.

    It’s been nineteen months, and still counting since this challenge was posted.

    I think you’ve got your answer, Jonathan.

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