Center Church is Timothy Keller’s text book for pastors. It is Keller’s goal that this book be used to help pastors “maximize their fruitfulness for the sake of the gospel,” and there is no doubt that this book will have a lasting impact on evangelicalism.

And there is much that is helpful in Center Church (CC). Yesterday I summarized the book, and you should really read today’s post in light of that. And I noted that there are three major areas of disagreement that I have with the approach to pastoral ministry presented in CC:

  • Contextualization—this immediately shapes our view on the methods of evangelism and equipping, how the church is built, who gets the credit for building the church, and how we evaluate ministry efforts
  • Common Grace—this immediately shapes our view on the cultural mandate of the church and the goal of the church in the world
  • The Church—the definition of who makes up the church has an immediate impact on how the gospel is manifested to the world

Today’s post will focus on that second point: Continue Reading…

Timothy Keller’s recent work, Center Church (CC), is a substantive book on ecclesiology and philosophy of ministry.  It has received a lot of attention since it was released last September.  With its graphic, glossy hardcover, and double columns throughout, the 395-page volume has the look and feel of a textbook.  I believe that is what it was intended to be—a textbook for pastors (particularly in an urban context) to maximize their fruitfulness for the sake of the gospel.  Keller’s popularity and acceptance within mainstream evangelicalism have positioned this book to hold significant influence on the American church.

After thoughtfully considering this book and weighing it against Scripture, I have a few concerns.  In spite of areas of agreement, I found the heart and soul of the book to be biblically off-center.  I fear that the theological vision of CC will cause more harm than good in American churches.

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In case you haven’t heard. . . next year’s Shepherds’ Conference promises to be one of the most memorable and impactful yet.

If you’re thinking about coming, you should plan to register sooner than later. (The conference is already more than half full.)

You can check out the promo video here.

inerrancy

 

brideLinda Lou Taylor only got married once…for love.

It was in 1957. Linda was sixteen and she married 31 year old George Scott, whom she loved deeply. The marriage lasted seven years, ending in a regrettable divorce. After that Linda gave up on the idea of marrying for love, and instead began to marry, it seems, for sport. She wed and divorced with a dizzying frequency.

She tied the slip-knot in rapid succession, collecting a string of ex-husbands form all walks of life, including a plumber, a preacher, a bartender, a musician. To add valuable rare items to her collection of erstwhile hubbies, she married a one-eyed convict, two homeless guys, and two gay men.

She creatively upped her matrimonial stats by “committing” to one fellow, Jack Gourly, on three separate occasions. Her shortest marriage lasted a mere 36 hours.  It seems her goal was to immortalize her hubby-hobby with a dubious entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “most married woman.”

She accomplished this notoriety by wedding Mr. Glynn Wolfe in her 23rd wedding. The marriage was unabashedly performed solely for the publicity of getting into Guinness. You may ask yourself, what kind of man would marry a woman just to help her get into a record book? Good question. The motive was hardly difficult to discern, as that wedding happened to secure for 87 year old Mr Wolfe his own record as “most married man,” when Linda became his 29th bride.

He died a year later, and Linda, age 63, has been single for ten years now, but she told a journalist that she’s on the prowl for husband #24.

Personally, I rankle at the recurring spectacle of those who degrade the sanctity of marriage with such reckless abandon. But it does remind me of another far-fetched story of serial marriages. One that was not trying to mock the sanctity of marriage, but rather to mock—of all things— the doctrine resurrection.

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And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
- John 12:23–26 -

Jesus is acknowledging that the time for His crucifixion is near. We learn from the next verse (which we’ll look at in a minute) that He was troubled. And that’s not terribly surprising. It’s not that He’s just going to die an agonizing and ignominious death at the hands of those who have perverted His Father’s holy Law, and have subjugated His people under a yoke of slavery that no one in history has been able to bear (Ac 15:10). That would be enough to trouble any of us, certainly.

But Jesus’ trouble went deeper than that.

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Death by ObedienceJesus’ food was to do the will of His Father (John 4:34). He had come down from heaven, not to accomplish some sort of independent, personal agenda, but to carry out the will of the One who had sent Him (John 6:38). And that total, loving, delightful allegiance to His Father doesn’t stay in the realm of the theoretical. Jesus’ obedient submission to His Father’s will doesn’t keep Him on Easy Street. He had received a commandment from His Father to lay His life down (John 10:18), and He was intent on continuing His obedience.

To the Point of Death

Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Surely, as the eternal Son of the Father, Christ had always, from eternity, obeyed His Father and experienced the joy and the fellowship of that obedience. But in His incarnation, obedience to the Father meant greater and greater opposition from all those who were around Him, until they eventually would kill Him.

Here is humility shining like the sun in its full strength. “How can it be, that Thou, My God, shouldst die for me?” The Author of Life humbly submits to death. The One who is without sin humbly submits to sin’s curse. The One who has life within Himself (John 1:4; 5:26)—the One who gives life to whomever He wishes (John 5:21), humbly releases His grip on His own life in submission to the Father and in love for those whom His Father has given Him. “’Tis mystery all: Th’immortal dies!”

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