I was finally able to convince someone to with me to hear Tim Keller at the University of Chicago Friday night. My roommate's non-girlfriend, Kelly, headed down with me and we made it right on time, but were put in the overflow room. They had a nice video projector up and it seemed like the sound was going to be great, but when Tim got up to talk, the problems started. It was very annoying and distracting throughout, but I know the sound guys were freaking out about it more than anyone else in the room. Parts of the audio were lost, or truncated, at times, but, Lord willing, the message overcame. Oh, and they were using Macs, unlike another popular pastor.

In typical Keller fashion, he was able to come across winsomely and intelligently. He clearly explained that everyone is believing in something. Whether it's Christianity or Atheism, both are based on empirical arguments that have exclusivity claims. When he went to frame the Gospel, he did so in a very unique way. Instead of coming out and saying "here's the Gospel" or now listen to this, he first joked that "Now, I'm going to solve all our problems. And you can say you were here when it happened." Then he told us Christians to listen up, because he was talking to us, but he wanted the skeptics to overhear.

The Q&A was very well done, having both written comments and personal questions being asked. Further he answered very well, first deconstructing their argument and then answering them in a non-offensive way. One example: some one asked about the Christian sexual ethic. First Christianity has a way of offending someone from every culture. Jesus says to forgive 70 times 7, and we say "Yes, of course. Forgiveness is good." But then we question when sex is brought up. "Sex only between a man and a woman in marriage? That's crazy." But if you go to India, they say, "Yes, sex is only between a man and a woman in marriage, but forgiveness is a horrible idea. Vengeance is the way." But as Christians we are called to love our neighbor. So, in Tim's words, my neighbor who is Indian, I love. I care for him in whatever way I can. But he's not an elder in my church. Every community, he continues, has its standards for who's in and who's out. That's what defines a community. Christians are just the same.

I don't know how many people who read "me" know who Keller is, but he's the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NYC. He just put out a book called The Reason for God, which I did end up buying Friday night. If you haven't heard of him and don't want to drop the $14.95 at Amazon, he has some great audio out there. On the website for the book, there are some downloads, but the three that I would suggest one listen to are from a Resurgence conference (sessions 6, 7, 8) he did a couple years ago. Further, Steve McCoy has a bunch of Keller audio on his site. And I just found, Veritas has his talk that he did at Columbia University.

Below are my notes from the evening, which may or may not make sense. Please enjoy responsibly.

Tim Keller- Veritas Forum
7 March 2008 UChicago

  • Doubting
    • Jude "Be merciful to those who doubt."
    • Matt. 18 "Please help my unbelief."
  • Why are people so skeptical?
    • The exclusivity claims of Christianity
      • divisive, narrow.
      • Yes, they are one of the main reasons.
  • Five ordinary ways people deal with the exclusivity claims
    1. Hope it away
      1. The Still Born God, Mark Lilla
        1. The liberal mainline god
      2. science
    2. Outlaw it away
      1. China-- just makes it more indigenous
    3. Argue it away
      1. deconstructs evolutionary thought
    4. Condemn it away
      1. It's exclusive
    5. (I don't have this one)
  • Jesus: John 14
  • All religions are equally right?
    • Utterly impossible
    • Jesus says "I am God come to find you"
    • All other religious founders say "I am here to show you God."
    • Elephant analogy
    • It's not narrow to make an exclusive truth claim, everyone is trying to make an exclusivity claim.
    • Narrowness is your attitude toward people, not toward other beliefs.
    • Cultural claims are exclusive.
  • Tim's Suggestions
    • we need to realize our secular world-view as privileged
    • Christians need to recognize that we have been part of the problem, only then can we begin to be a part of the solution.
  • Moral performance narrative
    • Hard not to look down your nose.
  • Grace narrative
    • Christ went to the cross and died
    • A salvation that is accomplished in weakness can only be accepted in weakness.
  • "Have you ever seen an Amish fundamentalist?"
  • Depends on your fundamentals
    • A man dying for his enemies
  • Christianity absolutely atrophies when it gets into bed with power.
  • Cultural Biases
    • Sexual vs. Forgiveness ethics
  • Figure out which 2/3s of your beliefs g-kid's won't accept.