And the Ghouls Come Out

It was rather a dark question between Syme and I when he asked how long I thought it would be before the ghouls came out of the woodwork to dunk on Tim Keller after his sad passing. I wondered aloud if it would be woke progressives first or the far right discernment bloggers. Syme turned out to be correct in predicting it would be the right. Which made me mad.In fact the whole premise should make all reasonable people mad.

Tim Keller was a good pastor, insightful author, lively theologian, and by all appearances a lovely man. He was faithful to the last and anyone who would say otherwise has failed to grasp the point of the Old Testament. All the faithful men there failed in one way or another because they were sinners just like us. But by God’s grace they ended well, and were covered with the righteousness of Christ, just like Keller. It is almost unnecessary to comb through his works and make sure to highlight all of his failures. Or in the case of the discernment circle, failures to meet their legalistic standards. It is certainly indecorous to do so immediately after his passing.

Kevin DeYoung has vitally reminded us that loving your neighbor also means loving your historical neighbor. With the judgement you reserver for others it will be applied to you. If you want to be remembered charitably, it starts with you being charitable toward those who have gone before you. On of my hobby horses on this blog is the ingratitude for those who were formative and have become passé as we might evaluate them now. In the case of Tim Keller his Center Church playbook or Winsome Apologetic has not aged well. But neither will the next strategy. The world changes, we have to adapt while keeping the message clear. In the case of Keller the message was always clear, even if he clung to a now compromised strategy. I would submit the failure of “winsomeness” was not Keller but those who idolized him and it. Again it is unseemly to have taken much good from Keller and learned from him only to turn around when the winds shifted and act as if you always knew better.

Unless you are a Stephen “Don’t Taze Me Bro” Anderson type, with your storefront, KJV only, mental* “Church.” Then it is more than likely you owe some debt to Keller. Either directly through his varied ministry outlets, or indirectly through his influence on church leaders that ministered to you. Be grateful. It is ingratitude to be angry that Keller was not better than he was. God ordained him for his time and place. To paraphrase Scripture, “Be grateful for such Kellers as ye have.”

There is something of the pharisee and the publican surrounding much of the online dunking around the death of Keller. Much of it can be summed up in the prayer, “I thank the God that thou hast not made me a liberal like Keller.” It is pretty plain what Kellers prayer would be and it is not difficult to remember which one Jesus said went home justified…

Ultimately, (and because this will not be our first rodeo Piper, MacArthur, Carson, etc. are not getting any younger), it would be best to lead with the fruits of the spirit when it comes to this moment and remember this man. Gratitude, charity, patience, gentleness, goodness, self- control none of these would be out of place. As opposed to what is easily found: enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy you get the point. Also the Fruits of the spirit are not like spiritual gifts where you may have a few but not all. Every Christian is to display them at all times. They are the natural manifestation of the indwelling of Christ and His outworking through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, run the self diagnostic, with that tweet, blogpost, youtube video what are you revealing about yourself in your words on Keller. I will also point out,

there will be abundant time for considered critiques later. It is the purview of the biographer to work though those things. A pastor will need to bring up concerns when a congregant inquires about this Keller fellow he just discovered. But honestly, I’m willing to bet cashy money that if you have an online platform, your audience already has a full idea of every minute disagreement you had with the man, a rehash is just grandstanding and profiteering. It is ghoulish, it is ungodly, maybe stay in the woodwork.

*I would say fundamental but they have taken the fun out and are only insane now, so just mental.

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