In the wake of the passage of The Reproductive Health Act in the state of New York (abortion right up until birth), it would seem fitting to examine the state of the visible church in New York, in terms of those with influence. Is God’s truth boldly proclaimed (2 Corinthians 4:2)?
The Redeemer Church network, founded by Dr. Tim Keller, is the most influential religious organization in New York. It is often observed as an “elitist” church, as their pews are regularly filled with journalists, professors, activists, politicians and some of the most influential people in the city. Keller is a NY Times best-selling author who regularly rubs elbows with New York elites as a highly sought-after speaker in political and academic circles. He has a massive organizational presence in the state, consisting of countless parachurch organizations and four large Redeemer church campuses:
Redeemer City to City , their church planting center chaired by Keller, has planted over 100 smaller churches in the New York metropolitan area. The New York Times reported that “pastors from around the world are beginning to come in a steady stream to New York City to glean what they can from Dr. Keller and Redeemer.” After transitioning out of his position as senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Keller moved into a full-time role with City to City, focusing on global church planting in New York City and beyond. He and City to City’s global leaders work together to invest in and pass along what they have learned to a new generation of ministry leaders. As of January 2018, City to City has helped start 495 new churches in 70 cities, trained more than 16,000 leaders in city ministry and evangelism, provided resources in 25 languages to help recruit, empower and develop these leaders, and served 57 gospel networks around the globe. https://www.redeemercitytocity.com/
Given their massive influence, what is Redeemer’s official position on abortion?
Keller does not speak on the subject and his church does not publicly support the pro-life movement. You will not find any anti-abortion material or pro-life references anywhere in his massive network; on the subject of abortion there is a deafening silence. BUT, if pressed on the issue Keller claims to believe abortion is wrong. I guess he’s a closet pro-lifer?
I think the below post best exemplifies Keller’s position:
Posted by Pastor Mike Kendall
”One of the things about Christian ministry is that my motives are equally as important as what I do.
Take abortion. Why would I preach on abortion? Listening to Tim Keller this morning, on ‘Preaching to the heart’, I was interested to hear him talk about this. When it comes to issues like abortion, he said: “There’s a real danger that we preach on it in order that we can pat ourselves on the back and say that we’ve addressed a difficult cultural issue, but that can’t be right- Especially when there are non-Christians out there, who don’t believe the authority of the Bible and can’t see it’s wrong. The danger is that we just put them off.“
“Put them off?” Nearly every apostle of Christ was murdered because people were “put off” by the truth! And John was silenced by exile into solitary confinement. Could it be that a theologian of Keller’s caliber does not know that God’s truth is always offensive to the world?
Speaking about a woman who approached him to thank him for not preaching against abortion from his pulpit, https://world.wng.org/2014/01/still_silent_shepherds Keller writes:
“Do you think abortion is wrong? She asked. I said that I did. I’m coming to see that there may be something wrong with it, she said. As we spoke, I discovered that she was an Ivy League graduate, a lawyer, a long-time Manhattan resident, and an active member of the ACLU. She volunteered that she had experienced three abortions. “I want you to know,” she said, “that if I had seen any literature or reference to the ‘pro-life’ movement, I would not have stayed through the first service.”
Please note Keller’s clever tactic of sanctimonious silence to eliminate any condemnation of abortion in the church. For Keller, the pro-life movement represents religion that makes people feel really bad about themselves, hence, his promotion of spirituality over religion. Keller’s religion-less spirituality promotes silence in the face of sin, which is in direct opposition to scripture but accomplishes three things that are of primary importance in his man-centered ministry, which are to:
1) offend no one
2) preserve self-esteem
3) redefine Christianity
As I pointed out in a previous article, Keller posits abortion as an “experience” rather than a committed act. This is an important distinction that cannot be overstated, as Keller’s clever manipulation of language detaches a person from personal responsibility and the reality of their sinfulness; dulling the conscience and robbing them of the freedom of true grace that flows only from a deeply heartfelt grief over sins committed. And he does it all under the banner of “love and kindness.”
After an exhaustive internet search, I found one sermon that at first glance appeared to be pro-life, but not so fast: Preached on November 30, 2008, the sermon was titled, “In the Image of God,” and the text was Genesis 1:26-2:3. Keller said:
“What if we took the image of God seriously? First of all, we would know abortion, except to save the life of a mother, is a violation of the image of God. Number two, the women who have had abortions, and the men who have helped them have abortions, would not feel like scum, because James 3:9 says you don’t disdain, you don’t demonize, you don’t curse, you offer grace to everybody. You see if we believed in the image of God and say abortion is wrong, we wouldn’t make women who have had abortions feel terrible, like scum or something. And we wouldn’t be single issue people, we would be for all of the poor and all of the weak and all of the marginal. And we would be a very unusual community, wouldn’t we? Now let’s be that!”
Well… that quickly went from pro-life to “shut up about abortion it’s making people feel bad!” Dr. Keller insists the church stop making the unrepentant, *shout out my abortion* crowd feel bad and focus instead on income inequality and social injustice. And the sheep’s clothing drops to the floor, exposing a sermon that first appears to be pro-life but is actually open criticism of any public condemnation of murdering babies. He labels pro-life Christians as “single issue people” who disdain, demonize and curse people, withholding grace by making them feel terrible, “like scum or something.” https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/in-the-image-of-god-5979/
For a professing pastor to chastise the condemnation of sin, and marginalize a sinner’s desperate need to feel the full weight of their sin, is an affront to a Holy and righteous God. See 2 Samuel chapter 12: 1-15.
Do not doubt that Nathan left David feeling “terrible, like scum or something,” as this was God’s intent, for it was God who sent Nathan to devastate and devour David. And it is God who has sent his church.
Reject Tim Keller, his organizations and all who partner with him. And please, warn the brethren.