Tim Keller on “Work and Cultural Renewal”

How should our work be shaped by the gospel? Tim Keller addresses that question, briefly, in his article “Work and Cultural Renewal,” which is posted at Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City’s

In the article, Keller roughly follows this outline:

1. Christians can’t not be involved in shaping culture.

2. When Christians work in the world, they’ll either: A) assimilate into the culture and support the status quo, or B) act as agents of change.

3. Several examples of how Christians will find unpleasant aspects of the fields of medicine, marketing, business, and the arts, and of how ruthlessly competitive behavior is the norm in many workplaces.

4. This will often lead Christians into one of two mistakes: 1) cordoning their faith off from their work, “laboring according to the same values and practices that everyone else uses,” or 2) loudly and clumsily declare their faith to their co-workers, often without any use of wisdom or grace in doing so.

5. Redeemer (Keller’s church) seeks to emphasize the importance of thinking out the implications of the gospel for all fields.

6. Redeemer also teaches that excellence in work is a crucial means of gaining credibility with colleagues. Shoddy work paired with vocal Christians will only gain disdain for our beliefs. The goal is to do excellent, yet gospel-distinct, work.

7. “The most powerful way to show people the truth of Christianity is to serve the common good.” E.g., the monks of the Middle Ages, as they went out into the pagan countrysides and build academies, universities, and hospitals.

8.  Augustine wrote City of God to remind believers that in the world there are always two ‘cities,’ or kingdoms. 1) the human one, in which selfishness and power are glorified, and 2) the one of God, in which people give up power in order to serve. One is always passing away; the other will always stand.


About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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