Tim Keller on Tribal Criticism

I’ve been impressed with Tim Keller’s advice that he gave in a 2007 talk in London, England. I think often of what he said, especially as new rounds of controversy seem to arise online pretty regularly between various factions of Christianity.

Here’s my summary and adaptation on what he said:

  1. Learn from criticism, even when it seems unfair. To respond, we must understand and practice biblical repentance as a result of believing the gospel. This will allow us to admit our sins, even if we disagree with 80% of the criticism, and the remaining 20% is expressed poorly. To the degree that we understand the gospel, we will be able to freely admit our shortcomings.
  2. Right doctrine doesn’t mean you’re right. Don’t ever think that we can respond to legitimate criticisms of our practice by defending our doctrine. In defending our doctrines, we have not responded to the criticisms of our practices. Orthopraxy is part of orthodoxy.
  3. Treat other tribes with grace and love. It is necessary to draw boundaries. What really matters is how we treat the people on the other side of those boundaries. People are watching. We’re going to win the younger leaders if we are the most gracious, kind, and the least self-righteous in controversy. The truth will ultimately lose if we hold the right doctrines, but do so with nasty attitudes and a lack of love.

I love this paragraph:

We need to approach the controversies with a repentant heart corporately and say, “Despite all the bad things that are being said here, there’s a core of truth here and we need to deal with it.”

Wise and timeless advice.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada