I’m enjoying reading through Tim and Kathy Keller’s The meaning of marriage and I’m enjoying reading it slowly. It’s a book written by a man with a pastor’s heart, with Reformed and gospel-centred convictions and with 37 years of marriage experience. It’s a book that can and will breathe life, hope and renewed focus into any marriage.
For a taster here’s an extract from Revelant magazine entitled ‘You never marry the right person’.
Typical, you wait years for a book on marriage and then two come out within a couple of months of each other. I’m talking about The meaning of marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller and Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll.
Given that most of us will probably choose one or the other (at best) how do you go about deciding between the two.
Tim Challies considers one to be ‘my new favorite book on marriage and the best of all the books I read in 2011‘ but when assessing the other concludes ‘Would I want to read it with my wife or would I encourage her to read it on her own? Would I recommend it to the people in my church? In both cases the answer is no.’
Read his reviews to find out why and if you’ve the time and the money to read both make up your own mind!
Tim Keller speaks to Google staff on the essence of marriage from a Christian perspective. A very helpful and stimulating look at defending marriage before a sceptical audience.
During his final talk this morning at City to City: Europe here in Berlin Tim Keller gave a 10 point guide to conversational evangelism.
1. Let people know, casually and naturally, that you are a Christian.
2. Ask questions about your friends religious beliefs offering NO comment or response. Just asking thoughtful questions.
3. Invite someone to share with you about a problem they are having. Make it clear that you pray for people you care about and offer to pray for them.
4. You share a problem or issue in which your faith has really served to help you, illness, bereavement, lonliness, unemployment, etc.
then if your friend, neighbour or colleague wants to take things further
5. Share a book or recording that you think they might find helpful
6. Share your story of faith
7. Ask whether there are any problems that they have with Christianity
8. Take them along with you to church
And if they’d like to take things further
9. Meet regularly to read the Bible
10. Take them along to a discovery group eg Alpha or Christianity Explored.
I’m with 4 others from 2020birmingham and in total 500 church-planters, network leaders and city catalysts from around Europe meeting in Berlin for the next 3 days. Our goal; to consider just how we reach the great cities of Europe with the gospel and how through such a network as this we can work together to see it happen.
Here’s Tim Keller on speaking at CitytoCity Europe
For more details about the conference visit citytocity: europe
A great summary here from Tim Keller on what it means, in daily practise, to preach the gospel to ourselves and how we build that into our prayer lives.
Back in 2008 Tim Keller was interviewed by Martin Bashir at Columbia University after the publication of his book The Reason for God. As part of the evening Keller also takes questions from the audience.
For his interesting answer to a question on homosexuality listen in at around the 50 minute mark.
For a great answer to ‘do atheists have faith?’ go to 48 minutes.
Justin Taylor has helpfully produced a breakdown of all of the questions, produced below.
Q&A with Martin Barshir
0:18 – Why did you write Reason for God now?
2:22 – Are faith and reason contradictory?
5:35 – Is God just a projection of our cultural circumstances?
9:10 – Is belief in God a mental defect?
11:39 – Is it narrow to believe in one God? Is everyone else going to hell?
18:30 – Is the Bible trustworthy?
23:59 – What about the behavior of so-called Christians?
30:33 – Are you resolutely convinced today that Christianity is true?
Q&A moderated by Dr. David Eisenbach
35:25 – How could God allow evil and suffering?
44:04 – Is there any reason to believe in God in a chaotic world?
45:48 – Does giving a reason for faith undermine its value?
48:49 – Does it take faith to be an atheist?
50:48 – What does Christianity have against homosexuals? Are they going to hell?
57:29 – Why is Christianity so exclusive?
1:03:58 – What do you believe about politics?
1:11:25 – How do you get to heaven?
1:13:13 – Why would God make people who sin?
1:16:58 – Why did God put that tree in the Garden of Eden to begin with?
1:199:34 – What happened for you to have so much peace?
Listening to this Tim Keller talk he quoted an extract from an essay by Miroslav Volf entitled Shopkeeper’s Gold. Volf speaks with prophetic power into our country’s situation after the events on our streets in recent weeks.
Could the hope for the inner cities lie in part in the retrieval of the doctrine of justification by grace? How could dead streets receive life from a dead doctrine? Imagine that you have no job, no money, you live cut off from the rest of society in a world ruled by poverty and violence, your skin is the “wrong” color – and you have no hope that any of this will change.
Around you is a society governed by the iron law of achievement. Its gilded goods are flaunted before your eyes on TV screens, and in a thousand ways society tells you every day that you are worthless because you have no achievements. You are a failure, and you know that you will continue to be a failure because there is no way for you to achieve tomorrow what you have not managed to achieve today. Your dignity is shattered and your soul is enveloped in the darkness of despair.
But the gospel tells you that you are not defined by outside forces. It tells you that you count – even more, that you are loved unconditionally and infinitely, irrespective of anything you have achieved or failed to achieve, even that you are loved a tad bit more than those whose efforts have been crowned with success.
Imagine now this gospel not simply proclaimed but embodied in a community that has emerged not as a “result of works” (Eph. 2.10). Justified by sheer grace, it seeks to “justify” by grace those who are made “unjust” by society’s implacable law of achievement. Imagine furthermore this community determined to infuse the wider culture, along with its political and economic institutions, with the message that it seeks to embody and proclaim. This is justification by grace, proclaimed and practiced. A dead doctrine? Hardly.
As I was reflecting on the social significance of justication by grace, I remembered a passage from Nietzsche’s Thus spoke Zarathustra … “O my brothers, I direct and consecrate you to a new nobility: you shall become begetters and cultivators and sowers of the future – truly, not a nobility that you could buy like shopkeepers with shopkeepers gold: for all that has a price is of little value.”
Justification by grace, I thought, musing on Nietzsche’s profound observation, is so deeply at odds with our “shopkeeper’s culture”. It takes the price tags off human beings not so as to devalue them but so as to give them their proper dignity, a dignity not based on what they have achieved but rooted in the sheer fact that they are loved unconditionally by God. Divine love is that indispensable nourishment for the human soul of which the prophet speaks when he calls, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters: and you that have no money come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isa. 55:1)
The hope for our communities, for our cities, for the next generation is the life-transforming gospel of grace.
The title for this post comes from Tim Keller and is taken from a paper pointing out the terrible consequences both for ministers and for churches of working from a wrong foundation and wrong motivators. I’ve suggested on this blog before that ALL ministry is either a search for a secure identity or flows out of a secure identity. In this paper Keller highlights what becomes of a Pastor who is working for his own justification;
Ministers must be willing to admit that their ministry-success is often the real or main basis for their joy and sense of significance, much more so than the love and regard they have from the Father in Christ. It is what they look to in order to feel they can stand with confidence before God and others and even their own reflection in the mirror. In other words, we look to ministry success to be for us what only Christ can be. All ministers who know themselves will be fighting that all their lives. It is the reason for turf-consciousness, for jealously, for comparing yourself to other ministers, for the need to control the church, for the feeling that when your ministry is criticized you are criticized.
The danger for many in gospel work is simply that somewhere down the line the functioning motivators change. As a young minister maybe it really was all about God and not about us. Maybe it really did flow out of a joy from being a child of God. But then maybe just as a result of forgetfulness or maybe as a result of jealousy or maybe the results of either success or failure the gospel was subtely replaced by a different and destructive motivator, self-justification. And when it did it started to change everything and to undo minster and congregation. No wonder Keller says we will fight it all our lives but fight it we must.
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