Tim Keller – Pluralism & Doubt

In this section we will review Keller’s approach to unbelief and doubt.  Tim Keller is (by invitation) a constant presence in secular, agnostic and atheistic circles. From progressive, liberal college campuses or the quasi-spiritual Veritas Forum, to the dubious Council on Foreign Relations or the Ethics and Public Policy Center…the world loves Tim Keller. Below is a summary of various interviews and excerpts that paint a clear picture of Tim Keller’s witness to the unsaved world.

Keller at Yale with Professor of Law, Anthony Kronman who identifies as a “born again” pagan. Title: “Disenchantment” – a discussion on the idea of God and modern disenchantment. Keller has been invited to represent his Christian perspective.

(*Note that the term “born again” pagan seems to mean that Kronman likes the “idea of god”, as long as it’s not the God of the Bible.)

Below is a summary of Keller’s witness to Kronman and all who were present in the audience for this discussion-  (the link to the full discussion is below the summary)

-Keller begins by telling us that he has set out to “popularize scholarship because that is what every good pastor does.

-Keller recommends French philosopher and atheist Luc Ferry’s book “Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living” and remarks that “those of us who want to popularize scholarship love books like this! This book is just one source for Keller’s position in this discussion, along with the various writings and ideas of other anthropologists, psychologists and philosophers.

-Keller promotes a false god by demeaning and rejecting the idea of the all powerful God who created man to worship and adore Him “for his own Glory” (Isaiah 43:6-7), and presents instead a “god who has no desire of adoration or worship and therefore only created for the purpose of pouring out His unconditional love on man.” 

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”   Matthew 5:16

– Keller continues, “On top of this, God does not create so he can be worshipped and adored because he already has that in the Trinity.” ?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

– Strangely, in the above section of the exchange, just before using the pronoun he in reference to God, Keller makes the awkward statement, “I’m going to use the word he here….” ?? Well, what other term would you use for God the Father?

-Keller continues by telling us that “because God did not create man to worship and adore Him, but instead created man for the outpouring of His love on mankind- this means God actually unselfishly created.” (I guess creating for His own glory makes God selfish…??)

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.” (Isaiah 43:6-7) 

-Keller sates that “God loves man for man’s sake because He gets nothing out of it and when Jesus died on the cross the Father got absolutely nothing out of it“….

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.   (John 12:27-28)

 – Keller confirms that his “god of love” philosophy “animates his understanding of the universe”, resulting in a commonality of views with the “born again” pagan.

-Keller acknowledges that he and the born-again pagan have somewhat different” views.

-Keller affirms atheist Friedrich Nietzsche’s observation that Christians tend to love “self-righteously”.

-Keller states that his esteem and affection for Mr. Kronman makes him loathe to be too critical of him, he also states the importance of unity between them. He expresses his appreciation for Kronman’s moral values and hopes that they can do great things together for the city.

link to the entire discussion
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23xFpUD72DE  (116.34 min)

*Conclusion- in 116.34 minutes there was no reference to even one passage of scripture and no mention of the Bible.



Keller at NYU with Social Psychologist and atheist Jonathan Haidt.  Title: “The Closing of the Modern Mind”: a discussion of the need for tolerance and cultural pluralism.   (link to full discussion is below this summary)

Keller and Haidt tell us that cultural pluralism is essential for a just (utopian) society. Keller highly recommends Miroslav Volf’s “great book” Exclusion and Embrace for the proper perspective on tolerance that produces a pluralistic, just society.

(From Wikipedia)

Miroslav Volf (born September 25, 1956) is a Croatian Protestant theologian and public intellectual who has been touted as “one of the most celebrated theologians of our day.” Volf currently serves as the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture at Yale University.
Volf served under Barak Obama as an advisor for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and for several years co-taught a course at Yale with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on globalization. Volf’s main contribution to eschatology is his re-thinking of the “Last Judgment” as “The Final Reconciliation”- Volf argued that the Last Judgment ought to be understood instead as the final reconciliation in which judgment is not eliminated but seen as an element of reconciliation, a portal into the world of love (universalism). The End of Memory is Volf’s sustained theological argument, developed in dialogue with Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Søren Kierkegaard, that remembering wrongs suffered and committed, if done rightly, will ultimately result in non-remembrance of the wrongdoing. The world of love, which is his Christian eschatological hope, will be realized when people and their relationships are healed to such an extent that former wrongdoing would, for lack of affective fuel, no longer come to mind.
Since 2004 Volf has taken part in the Building Bridges Seminar, a yearly gathering of Muslim and Christian scholars chaired until 2012 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. His engagement with Islam intensified after the publication of A Common Word Between Us and You (2007)  Along with the staff at the Center for Faith and Culture, Volf drafted Yale Divinity School’s response (“Yale Response”), which was endorsed by over 300 prominent Christian leaders (including some of the world’s most respected evangelical figures such as John Stott and Rick Warren)   Volf develops his own method of assessing whether Christians and muslims worship the same God and argues that Muslims and Christians do have a common God. As Volf sees it, in Allah as well as in his engagement with Islam more broadly, he is applying to interfaith relations the kind of generous engagement his theology of embrace recommends.   From the start, Volf’s theological thinking developed in dialogue with philosophy, especially Ludwig Feuerbach and Karl Marx—figured prominently as dialogue partners; later, Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche exerted significant influence.  Central to Volf’s theology of the cross is Christ’s death as an “inclusive substitute”, which is to say Christ’s dying for them and making “space in God” for them as “Solidarity with victims”. This teaching was central to his mentor Jürgen Moltmann’s “theology of the cross”. Moltmann was heavily influenced by Karl Barth‘s theology, Hegel‘s philosophy of history, and Ernst Bloch‘s philosophy of hope, Moltmann developed his own form of liberation theology predicated on the view that God suffers with humanity.

As clearly illustrated in the above summary, Volf is a universalist, believing that in the end all will be reconciled into the world of love. He believes Christians and muslims worship the same god and promotes Moltmann’s perverted “theology of the cross”.  Atheists Nietzsche and Freud, as well as self-professed theologian Soren Kierkegaard contributed to Volf’s perverted understanding of sin. He went on the record in October 2016 to endorse Hilary Clinton for president and strongly advised Christians to vote for her, insisting that “her worldview is more in line with Christian principles than that of her opponent.”

Keller was invited to represent the Christian perspective and alongside his reliance on the dreadful philosophy of Miroslav Volf, he continued to make his case with additional opinions and excerpts from the writings of:

-Atheist Alan Dershowitz

-Catholic philosopher Charles M. Taylor

-Harvard Political Philosopher Michael Sandel from his book “Justice: What is the Right Thing to Do?”

-Associate professor of Law and Political Science John Inazu from his book “Confident Pluralism”

-Anthropologist and cultural psychologist Richard Shweder

-Notre Dame Analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga

-Ethics of Authenticity- a Harvard series of lectures

-Author, journalist and lecturer Gail Sheehy from her book “Passages”, a psycho-analytical guide to self discovery!

-British political philosopher Larry Siedentop from his book “Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism”

-German philosopher and “God is dead” atheist Friedrich Nietzsche

link to the entire discussion
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFD5odFv36k  (125.26 mins)

*Conclusion- in 125.26 minutes there was no reference by Keller to scripture and no mention of the Bible.

And why would there be? Christians do not “tolerate” false beliefs (as defined by Haidt and Keller) nor do we settle in to “coexist” in a pluralistic society – we confront it head on with the gospel. We do not merely coexist, because Jesus and His apostles did not coexist. Christ was rejected and despised and His apostles murdered because of the message! Only John was spared, as they chose to silence him by way of confinement on the island of Patmos. So why is Tim Keller’s message so eagerly embraced by the world? Why is he consistently sought after by these godless institutions? The answer is clear, he doesn’t bear witness to the truth because he is one of their own.


Tim Keller on why doubt is a “good thing” from his best-selling book, A Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism:

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it.  People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.  A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.” (p. xvii)

“Believers and non believers will rise to the level of disagreement rather than simply denouncing one another. This happens when each side has learned to represent the other’s argument in its strongest and most positive form. Only then is it safe and fair to disagree with it. This achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing” (p.xix).

Please contrast Keller with the scriptures pasted below each of his statements:

-Dr. Keller tells us that you cannot have genuine faith without doubt:   Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

-He says a Christian must ask hard questions as to why they believe what they believe:   Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not to your own understanding.  (Proverbs 3:5)

-He makes it clear that hard questions will produce doubt but this is absolutely necessary in order to escape a smart skeptic or the tragedies of life:   For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”  (James 1: 6-8)

-He warns that our faith can collapse overnight if we fail to “listen patiently” to our doubts:   “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”   (John 10: 27-30)

-He issues the usual clarion call for pluralism, cautioning us not to denounce unbelief:    When I say unto the wicked,” O wicked man, thou shalt surely die”; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.  (Ezekiel 33:8) 

-He advises us to learn how to represent unbelief in a strong, positive form before disagreeing with it- he warns that it just isn’t fair, or safe to be too disagreeable:  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”  (Mark 16:16)

-Dr. Keller warns us never to dismiss our doubts until we have long reflected on them:  Below are excerpts on the downward spiral into unbelief of evangelist Charles B. Templeton, after a long reflection on his doubt:

From Wikipedia:

In 1936, Templeton converted to Christianity and became an evangelist. In 1941, Templeton founded the Avenue Road Church of the Nazarene, in Toronto, in a building that formerly housed a Presbyterian congregation, where he served as senior pastor despite his lack of formal theological training. In 1945 Templeton and Torrey Johnson of Chicago, Illinois met with a number of youth leaders from around the United States at Winona Lake, Indiana. Their agenda was to form a working group that would become an organization known as Youth for Christ which was born in 1946. Torrey Johnson was elected as its first president and Billy Graham was hired as the first full-time evangelist. Shortly afterward, Graham and Templeton made an evangelistic tour of western Europe, frequently coming together, and holding crusades in England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden and other countries.

In 1948, Templeton attended Princeton Theological Seminary. Templeton hosted a weekly religious television show on CBSLook Up and Live, in the early 1950s.  In 1957, after a long struggle with doubt, Templeton declared himself an agnostic.

From BannerofTruth.org:  Templeton was a very gifted communicator. However he soon questioned the authority of Scripture and eventually walked away, not only from preaching but from the Christian faith altogether. He became an author, one of his books being entitled “Farewell to God: My Reasons For Rejecting The Christian Faith”.

The below excerpt is from Keller’s article titled “The Faith to Doubt Christianity” posted at the Gospel Coalition website. He tells us that all worldviews are really just based on “assumptions” so we need to show that doubt takes faith.

First, I try to show that it takes faith to doubt Christianity, because any worldview is based on assumptions. For example, the person who says, “I can only believe in something if it can be rationally or empirically proven” must realize that this itself is a statement of faith. This “verification principle” cannot actually be proven rationally or empirically, making it an assertion or a claim, not an argument. Furthermore, there are all sorts of things you can’t prove rationally or empirically. You can’t prove to me that you’re not really a butterfly dreaming you’re a person. (Haven’t you seen The Matrix?) You can’t prove most of the things you believe, so at least recognize that you have faith. I normally make this point by considering an objection to Christianity, to show that at the heart is some sort of faith assumption.

A gospel-shaped apologetic starts not with telling people what to believe, but by showing them their real problem. In this case we are showing secular people that they have less warrant for their faith assumptions than we do for ours. We need to show that it takes faith even to doubt.

Again, please see the glaring contrast between Keller and God’s word:

-Keller tells us that any belief system, including Christianity, is based on assumptions:    “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue”   (2 Peter 1: 2-3)

-He tells us that the unbeliever’s real problem is that they have less warrant for their assumptions than Christians have for their own assumptions, but scripture tells us that their real problem is sin, which manifests itself in unbelief:   “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed”   (John 3:18-20)

-He warns us not to tell people “what to believe”:   And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!   (Acts 16:31)

-Keller concludes by telling us that doubt is an act of faith and suggests that this concept might be best understood by watching The Matrix!

”And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”   (Mark 9:24)

Doubt is a “wile of the devil” and can surely enter into the mind of believers, but if a believer experiences doubt they should fall on their knees before God, pray, meditate on His word and just as the child’s father from chapter 9 of Mark’s gospel, cry out to Him to crush doubt and unbelief! A believer should never do any of the following:

-Accept it as an attribute of genuine faith

-Start asking hard questions as to why you are a believer in the first place

-Listen patiently to your doubts and seek to understand them

-Agree to disagree rather than denouncing the sin of unbelief

-Learn to represent unbelief in its strongest and most positive form

-Never dismiss doubt until you have reflected on it a really long time

Doubt must be decimated by the power of God through prayer and the study of His word; it is an attack of satan on the mind-  And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Gen. 3:1. “Hath God really said” originates in the pit of hell!  What shepherd of the flock would advise God’s people to  “embrace”, “reflect upon” or “patiently listen to” this demon called doubt?  Reject this.


The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon