“Over the course of Keller’s career, he perfected a unique brand of winsome compromise, which resulted in magically retaining his orthodox street cred even as he promoted Darwinian Evolution along with BioLogos, chronicled the neo-Marxist origins of his theology in his books…and regularly peddled a Christianized version of the kind of mind-mushing rhetorical confusion that would have made Saul Alinsky blush.”
(David Morrill) It is not unloving nor hypocritical to say that we are praying for comfort for Tim Keller’s family and church, and at the same time striving for clarity and open discussion regarding his teaching, which will endure in his absence. Those who reflexively claim it is unloving or inappropriate to criticize him in the wake of his passing are content to let doctrinal clarity be subjugated to personality and “respectability.” We are not.
It should first be noted, especially since he has received the praise of so many should-be hated by the world believers, that Keller was not by any definition hated by the world (John 15:18). Rather, the world embraced him as one of their own. Nearly every “respectable” publication – from The New York Times to Christianity Today – wrote fawning pieces on Keller’s passing, holding him up as the modern example of how to bridge the gap between Christianity and a world that, according to scripture, wants no part of the true Christ (John 15:18-19). Keller’s bridge was built smack dab between the church and the depraved culture, undergirded by a synthetic gate of orthodox terminology and faux-intellectual (often nonsensical) doublespeak wide enough to drive a New York City garbage truck through.
Keller’s pragmatic winsomeness and pseudo-erudite nuance garnered a great deal of influence with spiritually immature seminary students (1 Cor. 3:1-2) and Calvinist-leaning pragmatists who were not wise enough to see through Keller’s rhetorical deconstruction of the methods of revelation – much less the damage he was doing to the revelation itself in pursuit of his social justice sympathies. Statements like, “One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do” would ordinarily cause any true disciple of Jesus to immediately recall 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, followed by examining what Keller meant by unique and radical. Instead, mind-scrambling, Yogi Berra-worthy statements like this were met with the same awe and wonder that never questioned why this faithful minister of God never seemed to share His enemies.
Over the course of Keller’s career, he perfected a unique brand of winsome compromise, which resulted in magically retaining his orthodox street cred even as he promoted Darwinian Evolution along with BioLogos, chronicled the neo-Marxist origins of his theology in his books (Gustavo Gutiérrez and Reinhold Niebuhr were two of Keller’s favorites), and regularly peddled a Christianized version of the kind of mind-mushing rhetorical confusion that would have make Saul Alinsky blush. His 5000+ attendee congregation (in truth buoyed by spiritually disaffected post-9/11 spiritual seekers) was all the evidence market-minded pastoral imitators needed to validate Keller’s brand of culturally relevant wisespeak. Note: See Keller’s 2012 book Every Good Endeavor for examples of him praising Alinsky-inspired churches implementing socialist economics as worthy examples to follow.