What do Tim Keller and Brian McLaren have to do with each other? Both have addressed similar issues in recent days. The differences in how they deal with these issues couldn’t be greater.
Brian McLaren has released a new book. He suggests that we read the Bible as an inspired library that records “an ongoing vigorous conversation with and about God.” It’s more of a messy conversation with an evolving view of God than a final authority. McLaren also takes issue with the concept of a violent God, arguing that we’ve moved away from primitive understandings of a tribal deity. We need to read Scripture differently, and we need to get past our outdated issues of a wrathful God.
Tim Keller preached a sermon on February 14. This series was planned in advance, and I doubt that Keller was thinking of McLaren as he preached. From the passage, Keller showed that Christ’s view and use of Scripture is higher than ours. He also spoke on the doctrine of God’s wrath, explaining that this view of God is more loving and leads to greater concern for social justice.
I’ve read many reviews of McLaren’s book, but this one sermon by Tim Keller would be enough. And yet there’s no indication that Keller was even thinking of McLaren. Maybe we don’t need more reviews. Maybe we just need a better grip on theology clearly communicated from our pulpits on a regular basis.
If you’re a preacher, like me, we’d better take this seriously. Let’s not wait until a book comes out before we give our people an understanding of important issues like the doctrine of Scripture and the nature of God.
But let’s also be encouraged. Keller just preached the text in front of him and it was covered. Of course, Keller knows the issues in our culture that the text addresses. As we stick to the text and allow it to speak to our culture, many of the important issues will be covered.
Maybe we don’t need more book reviews. Maybe we just need better preaching.