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on 8 October 2013
I read and listen to Tim Keller on a regular basis. However I agree with the contributors to this book that even good men who are doing a good work need to be critiqued. My own concern with Keller is that I think he very successfully succeeds in communicating the gospel in a unique situation but that too many people fail to contextualize what he is saying to their own pastoral situation. I think the chapter by Iain D Campbell on the doctrine of sin, which helpfully critiques Keller's sin as idolatry perspective, is a salutary reminder that what is fresh and new is necessarily biblical and balanced. I think that some of the other chapters are over-critical and that the chapter on creation/evolution by William M Schweitzer is misguided. Seven day creation and modern creationist movement should not become the new orthodoxy and the criterion of someone's evangelical credentials.
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on 13 August 2013
The essays in this book are gracious but firm responses to areas of concern in Tim Keller's writings. However, the authors have included much solid, orthodox teaching which means that this book can be used in a much wider context.
The chapters on sin and hell will be helpful to anyone in contexts where those doctrines are challenged. The chapter on social justice is a wonderful summary of scripture on this issue. The essay on hermeneutics could be given to anyone starting out in teaching and preaching as an introduction to rightly handling the word.
The authors are to be commended on their work - they have critiqued Keller in a firm yet loving way.
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on 10 September 2013
I admit that I love writings and sermons of Tim Keller. After reading scholarly books where they used language only understood by the ivory tower academics, writing about every minor thing in the Bible, apart from the gospel. It was actually Keller who first explained the gospel to me in words I could understand. I will always thank God for him! Once I understood the gospel explained by Keller, I could have moved on to writers recommended by Keller like Luther, Calvin or Edwards.
This book is to me a way of trying to pick holes in Keller's teachings, which may have its place, but I think that it may also be a way of attempting to be noticed by these scholars. Hardly anyone knows them and they have not written many books, so hey why not to make a book about Keller when so many people read him. Maybe then people will notice us. I wouldn't say they are only straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel, but this is a case in many instances in this book. Good thing about this book is that it reminded us that no one's doctrine is 100% perfect. If books were written about the scholars who are 'engaging' with Keller in this book, and every sentence they have ever written was scrutinized, I am sure they could find many errors in each others works too. I don't agree with Keller in everything (eg. in regards to theistic evolution, or 'Trinity dance', or some of C.S Lewis's quotes- though I heard Keller himself saying that he doesn't agree with him in many things as he is not reformed and he errs in many ways). But I don't think one has to focus so much on details and 'engage' in those issues. I am aware that the scholars make a living out of it but so many in this world have not heard the simple good news about Jesus Christ, the explanation why Jesus had come, suffered and died and what are the implications of it for us today. Simply nobody explained to them the meaning of the gospel. Yes, we can 'engage' in debates, I myself love debates -though think they are very easy and comfortable comparing to preaching the gospel and serving others. But unfortunately I have not seen many people being brought to the kingdom of God by this kind 'engaging' with others and by Keller's work many are already in it. Though I don't agree with many things in this book it is still worth reading.
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on 25 August 2013
I have found this book very helpful. All the authors engage graciously but thoroughly with Keller's teaching. Highly recommended especially for church leaders.
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on 31 July 2013
Evangelical Press (EP) is a Christian publishing company and it is encouraging to find such a largely British contribution in this collection of essays on Tim Keller whose ministry is centred in New York. The writers in this book are not out to bash Keller - this they make very clear in their reasoned and gracious approach to him. Tim Keller was approached some years ago regarding issues detailed by these authors, but he was apparently unable to make time to engage with them. It is important and necessary at the outset of this review to note that the topics outlined in this book by these reputable theologians and pastors are not minor concerns.

Each contributor deals with fundamental aspects of theology in relation to Keller's teaching, topics like the trinity; exegesis of passages in Scripture; the definition of sin and it's application today; hermeneutics; creation/evolution and finally Keller's ecclesiology - all serious matters. A number of the authors also interestingly detail their concern of Keller's using CS Lewis as an authority on and example of sound theology. They are right to question, for example, Keller's use of Lewis as an orthodox guide in such a matter as hell. I was particularly struck by Keller's metaphor of the trinity being described as a dance. Kevin J. Bidwell gives a fine, balanced but frank and critical analysis of Keller's exposition of this metaphor, especially comparing and contrasting it to the Nicene Creed and teaching of early church theologians. This essay gave me much food for thought, and it's apposite references to orthodox church history typifies the depth of accurate learning these authors bring to their contributions.

Dr. Darryl Hart ends the book with a chapter questioning Keller's adherence to Presbyterian ecclesiology. This is rightly given a high importance by Dr. Hart as Presbyterian church government requires it's adherents to faithfully uphold it as a Biblical imperative for church ministry. Keller's church practise is detailed as clearly not upholding this position; rather he seems to pursue a Gospel Coalition model of a more generic, inclusive evangelical flavour which will at least give him a broader appeal and influence. I was left wondering after reading this chapter why Keller is still known as a Presbyterian for he appears not be in any obvious sense a pastor who promotes it as a primary Reformed model.

The overall impression of this book is that Keller has undoubtedly good, sincere intentions and a sharp intellect. However, the good men who contribute to this book and have provided much helpful insight cogently demonstrate how Keller's theology and ecclesiology contains some significant flaws which should not be swept under the carpet. The pragmatic and articulate approach to church life and outreach Keller exemplifies in a post modern world will continue to have a positive resonance with many British evangelicals. The Reformed authors in this thought provoking and well written book provide a necessary check on the virtually unchallenged Keller, calling for a qualified assessment of this influential man's teaching. As book publishers such as the Good Book Company and influential parachurch organisations like the Gospel Coalition continue to uphold Keller as a template for church growth and teaching, this timely contribution provides a constructive, necessary brake and balance to his growing estimation in the eyes of many.
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on 10 August 2013
Engaging with Keller is written by half a dozen British Presbyterian ministers criticising Mr Keller's expression of his views on sin, Hell, the Trinity, social justice, his hermeneutic, creation and Presbyterianism. As the authors are careful to point out they are not doubting Mr Keller's intentions or his profession to hold to reformed orthodoxy; as they consistently maintain: Mr Keller is a godly man seeking the glory of Christ. What they are calling into question is whether Mr Keller achieves his goal of teaching orthodox truth to post modern society without compromising on the message.

As should be fairly clear, the authors disagree with Mr Keller on the issues mentioned. Yet what is good about the book is that they do not allow their disagreement to become personal. They confine themselves to discussing the theological problems rather than straying into any form of personal attack. It is a mature, sensible, adult conversation they are having - would all such discussion be conducted so! Engaging with Keller typifies the irenic spirit so easily lost in theological debate and a graciousness that befits godly men.

In a time when many churches seem to operate a theology light approach to the Christian faith then it is nice to see a group of ministers standing up and saying: "No, this is too important to let slide." For the way we express the truth is of vital importance! Their main problem with Mr Keller's teaching is nicely summed up in the conclusion: "Tim Keller intends to teach the orthodox truth in a way that is relevant to contemporary culture. The problem is that some of his teachings seem to be better at being relevant than they are at conveying the fullness of biblical truth. Our goal has been to discuss these tensions openly,"

This book achieves it's aim and is well worth a read. It definitely spurs the reader on to further thought on the matters discussed. My only real criticism is that I would have liked some of their thought to have been developed more but they admit its only a start.
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on 19 July 2013
I bought this book with some sense of anticipation as well as dread. I will write a fuller review but for now let me say that this is probably one of the most discouraging, depressing and pointless books I have ever read. The main question is why would reformed evangelical Christians write a book which is quite clearly a sustained polemic against one of the leading reformed evangelical Christians of our day? I know that it is supposed to be irenic and loving and to enable theological discussion. But apart from the very first chapter by Iain D Campbell, I found it anything but. It is clear that the purpose is to warn people about the dangers of Keller's teaching - apparently he is not sound on hell, creation, the church, the social gospel, interpreting scripture and the Trinity. It is a pretty damning list - no matter how 'peacefully' and 'nicely' the words are put. The fact that none of the authors have actually engaged with Keller and only one has actually had any correspondence with him is itself indicative of what is wrong with this book. Is Tim Keller really that important that several ministers can find time to write about his writings? Why not just write about the subjects that concern them? This seems far more like a personal attack than a theological discussion.

The claims by a couple of the authors that Keller is just mistaken or does not really know what he is talking about (whereas of course they do) are breathtaking in their arrogance. I'm afraid this arrogance comes across in several (though not all) of the writers. DJ Hart's attack on working with other churches (through the Gospel Coalition) is particularly depressing. The first essay is, as I said, worth reading - it is well written and makes some good points - but I was struggling to find where Dr Campbell actually disagreed with Keller - he admits that he is 'sound' on the doctrine of sin - so it just seems to be about style and presentation. However after that the whole book descends into the pit pretty quickly. I found myself getting more and more depressed reading it. I suspect the book will sell reasonably well, because people like a fight, and they like gossip and they like to see 'heroes' being brought down a peg or two. I very much doubt it will achieve its intended purpose (to get people to talk theologically about hell, creation etc) - it will cause controversy and do harm. I know that God can bring good out of even the most pointless things. But the question still remains - what is the point and purpose of this book?

Incidentally I don't buy into the hero worship thing - although Tim Keller has been very helpful to me in his writings and sermons. It does not really work in British culture. And that for me is another problem - a group of writers, mainly associated with one tiny English (and Welsh) Presbyterian denomination have written a book which sadly makes them look small minded and petty. I doubt it will make much difference to the work of Tim Keller, but in American church politics (which can be as bad as church politics anywhere) I suspect this book will be widely used by those who have a dislike of and agenda against Tim Keller. That is why it is such a depressing book - why oh why does the church keep shooting its own people?! It may be that the authors are well intentioned (I cannot claim to know their intentions - although that does not stop a couple of them stating that they know what Keller's intentions are) but if so they are incredibly naive to think that this book will do anything other than stir controversy.
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on 15 August 2013
In short, the Tim Keller of this book does not strike me as the Tim Keller of reality. How is it that several very clever men can be so misinformed as to the ministry and writings of a ministry they have studied in depth?

One quick example. In Chapter One a false dichotomy is drawn between sin as law-breaking and sin as relationship-replacing. Keller is said to choose one over the other. This is, at best, an overly simplistic and unfair version of what Keller writes and teaches on the matter.

Read with caution. This book misrepresents the ministry of Tim Keller.
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on 19 September 2013
Several straw man arguments and mis representations of keller's view. I would have liked a bit more of careful scholarship. It seems that they are trying to convince a not very well informed audience on the issues discussed here.
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