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Tim Keller on Homosexuality

In The Reason for God discussion DVD, in which Tim Keller sits down with six skeptics to ask honest questions about Christianity, one participant asks, “What is the Christian view of homosexuality?”

There are three things that Christians say that I think have to do with homosexuality:

First of all, the Good Samaritan parable and the very model of Jesus dying for people who opposed him means that all Christians are duty-bound to love and serve their neighbors, regardless of their beliefs, regardless of them being people of other faiths [or] other views of sexuality. We are supposed to make this city a great place for everybody to live in regardless of their beliefs. That’s important. In other words we have to love people regardless of where they are on that spectrum of belief.

Secondly, the gospel of Christianity, which is that you’re saved not by good doctrine, not by good works, but by sheer, unmerited grace, pulls out the self-righteousness and superiority that tends to go along with religious belief, which has actually made a lot of gay people suffer. A lot of people have suffered out of that kind of [self-righteous] attitude, which the gospel takes away from us. And that is good, for a lot of gay people.

Thirdly, when the Bible tells us something about how we should live, like sex, money, power, it always does it like this: it says, God created us, and therefore God in his Word in the Bible is giving you directions for how you should live according to your own design. It’s not busywork. It’s like when the owner’s manual comes to a car and says something like, “Change the oil every so many thousand miles,” it’s not busywork, it’s saying that’s how the car was designed, [and] if you violate that you will actually hurt the car. So the Bible does say sex is for a man and a woman inside marriage to nurture love and commitment in a long term permanent relationship of marriage. Which means polygamy, it means sex outside of marriage, it means homosexuality are considered violations of God’s will, but also violations of our own design. So the Bible’s actually saying you’re missing out if you do those things. So the Christian view of homosexuality is you’re going against your own design and you’re actually missing out on God’s best for you.

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Tim Keller Article Notes — The Lord of the Rings and Redemptive Art

In this article (conveniently posted as a pdf and archived at Redeemer City to City’s website), Tim Keller talks not only about one of his favorite series of novels, but also about how Christians can engage culture in the city.

Mini-overview:

I. The Importance of Christian community

II. The Difference between Christian Art and Propaganda

III. Christian “Messages” in LOTR

 

 

I. The Importance of Christian community

  1. LOTR was prodded along by the Inklings, most notably C. S. Lewis. Were it not for Lewis, Tolkein implies, LOTR would never have been finished, let alone published.
  2. Christians who come to the City to make an impact, beware: it won’t be down outside of a “stimulating and supportive community.”

II. The Difference between Christian Art and Propaganda

  1. Many believe that art that does not evangelize is inferior to art that does.
  2. Tolkein purposefully excluded any hint of “religion” in the LOTR world; instead, he allowed the “religious element” to be “absorbed into the story and symbolism.”
  3. Tolkein’s beliefs fertilized his imagination, rather than shaping his story in an allegorical or deliberate way.

III. Christian “Messages” in LOTR

  1. “Good vs Evil” is highly nuanced and biblical. No characters were bad in the beginning (not even the Dark Lord), and the greatest, most powerful characters have the greatest danger of succumbing to “the seductive power of self-glorification and lust for power.”
    1. There are no stock “very good” or “very bad”  characters; several good characters go bad, several bad characters are redeemed, and Gollum, a broken character, makes progress until a final destructive lapse.
  2. Rather than being a heroic quest, this is an anti-quest
    1. Characters aren’t trying to get something, but to lose something
    2. Heroes aren’t the strongest, they are the weakest
    3. Ultimately, salvation comes not from the amassing of power, but from the surrender of it.
    4. Frodo becomes so wounded by his task that “he loses the ability to enjoy or live in the world in order for others to have and keep the world” (Keller).
  3. A Christian, non-sentimental hope
    1. The ending of LOTR is sad; many have perished; Frodo’s wounds will never fully heal; Tolkein knew, as a Christian, that the world was more marred by sin than we cared admit
    2. Yet, the songs and poems in the story whisper of a future consummation, in which “everything sad will become untrue.”

Closing:

“Since they originally “unconsciously” shaped the story, these messages do not demand that the reader convert to Christianity to understand or embrace them. Peter Jackson, the director of the movies, is a man of uncommon artistic skill and integrity, but he shows no evidence of sharing Tolkien’s Christian doctrinal commitments. Nevertheless, in an interview with Charlie Rose, he expressed so much admiration for the power and quality of Tolkien’s work, that he said, “We decided to honor him by not injecting our own messages into the movies, but rather by letting his messages come through without tampering.”That is remarkable. It shows that Christians may find less hostility to the gospel in the world if we incarnate it with the excellence and imagination that Tolkien did in his art.”

(See the full article at Redeemer City to City here).

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: “The Real Jesus” — Sermon #12: “With the Powerless” 1996-1997

The teaching is based on Luke 7:36-50, Story of woman washing Jesus’ feet with tears in Simon the Pharisee’s house.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

In this excellent series of sermons, Keller seeks to give his congregation a biography of the life of Jesus. Prior to Christmas, the sermons focus on the incarnational stories. Following Christmas and leading up to spring, it focuses on the encounters and events of His life. Leading up to Easter, it focuses on the final week of Jesus’… well, I can’t say His life, because He’s still alive… but you know what I mean.

Tim Keller tends to relax and humble me in Christ, whereas Mark Driscoll tells to get me excited and bold in Him. Both preach the gospel and tend to teach through books of the Bible.

For me, a guy who tends to gravitate toward extremes, it is very good for me to listen to both of these men to combat my generally religious, I’ve-got-to-earn-Jesus tendencies.

I generally listen to sermons while running or driving, so these notes are far from complete–but since I try to jot down notes afterwards anyway, I might as well share. I heartily recommend purchasing Tim Keller’s sermons from his website, and heartily encourage you not to rationalize stealing them!

This sermon hit my religious bones good, hopefully crushing them a little more.

With the Powerless

(Luke 7:36-50, Story of woman washing Jesus’ feet with tears in Simon the Pharisee’s house)

  • The story is about two people–the woman and Simon
  • The story is about two seekers–Simon invited Jesus over (invitation to relationship) and the woman came to him
  • Simon had conditions: he wanted a discussion, a high-minded conversation; he didn’t want touching and weeping and letting down of hair!
  • The woman had no conditions–she came and gave her fear (letting her hair down in front of these men could have been dangerous), her money (the alabaster jar of perfume was expensive), her very livelihood and career (wearing an alabaster jar of perfume around your neck increased your sexual appeal; she was a prostitute; to pour out these jars required breaking them due to the narrow neck). Shecame to Jesus unconditionally; if He was who He said He was, she implied, He could have what little she had.
  • Aspects of Simon religion:
    • Jesus says, You don’t get it! You don’t see that you can’t make it!
    • Simon thinks he can pay the cost for the forgiveness of debt.
      • Whether a spider bite kills you are a lion rips you to shreds, you’re still dead–one person is pretty-looking dead, the other is ugly-looking dead, but both are dead. The same with our debt.
      • Forgiveness never happens without someone getting hurt–someone gets wronged, and either the person who owes it pays it or the person who deserves to get it has to absorb it. We can’t pay it, so God has to get hurt.
      • Some ppl bristle when Keller says, “If you don’t come to God through Jesus, you have an impersonal religion”
        • What did it cost your god to have that personal relationship with you. Where is the agony? Where are the thorns? Where are the nails?
          • Don’t believe all that is necessary? Well that’s exactly why you’re not weeping and letting your hair down and laying all you at the feet of Jesus! That’s the reason it’s impersonal! It cost nothing.
          • Your religion is more like Simon’s, not hers. You don’t see or know the cost.
          • If you get rid of the messenger and just have the message, there’s no weeping, no tears, no joy, no power.
    • Simon’s religion is academic.
  • Because of the two understandings:
    • Simon gets exactly what He wants–a seminar. An academic experience. And an insult, and a cold shoulder.
    • The woman gets an ability to love she didn’t have before. The reason she’s able to love now is because she sees that she’s forgiven.
      • Your ability to love people and life is completely due to how deeply you see your sin and your ability to be forgiven.
      • If you have too high a view of yourself, you’ll see yourself as undeserving of the hurt you receive, and if you have to low a view of yourself, you’ll see yourself as undeserving of forgiveness–and either way you won’t be able to forgive.
    • She didn’t just get the ability, she got a love that could fill her up.
    • She doesn’t care what anybody thinks. When everyone turns around, she lets her hair down (an outrageous action). In doing this, she showed courage. She didn’t run. By surrendering to Jesus, she got power. She found that she would never have to surrender to anyone else.
      • Your faith has saved you–past tense! In Simon religion, you never have a past tense! You’re always hoping you’re saved.
      • Jesus says, literally, “Go into peace.” The power you give to me, the more you’ll get back.
  • Do you have Simon religion?
    • Look at this woman. This is the gospel–it’s not the powerful, it’s the marginal who show you how to become a Christian.
  • Are you a believer?
    • Do you love like this woman? Do you have this kind of satisfaction in Jesus Christ? Are you having trouble loving life?
      • It’s in your power! You have forgotten your debt. You have forgotten His life.
      • Hymn: Take my love, my Lord, I pour / At Thy feet its treasure store; / Take myself, and I will be, / Ever, only, all for Thee. / Ever, only, all for Thee.