In this section I want to examine a revealing letter I came across during my research- it is an open letter to Tim Keller regarding his claim to hold to the biblical teaching on Hell vs. the universalist view of total restoration of all at the end of the age- no need to fear, God’s wrath is a myth! This is a universalistic website appropriately named “God’s Love Wins”, and they hold to the teachings of Rob Bell, Tim Keller, Lesslie Newbigin and Francis Chan. They seem dumbfounded that Keller, when publicly questioned about hell or God’s wrath, continues to claim an orthodox view that clearly contradicts his own teachings. As a result, they decided to write him an open letter. They claim it has been Keller’s books and sermons that have led them to embrace universalism. The below excerpts from their letter to Tim Keller clearly identify him as their strongest influence in arriving at their universal salvation view:
We were introduced to you through a mutual friend back in the early days of New Life Church and the late Jack Miller. Who we are today has been significantly shaped by your ministry. We have been sermon subscribers and have read and re-read all your books. You have shepherded us well through your preaching and example and taught us how to see Jesus and His gospel…
For the past 15+ years you and others, perhaps taking your lead, have been steadily helping us to reformulate and expand our understanding of the gospel from that of a personal salvation into that of being “blessed to be a blessing” to the world. You directed us to Lesslie Newbigin who taught:
“God’s electing grace calls into being a people charged with the responsibility of being the bearers of His universal salvation…To be chosen, to be elect, therefore does not mean that the elect are the saved and the rest are the lost. To be the elect in Christ Jesus, and there is no other election, means to be incorporated into His mission to the world, to be the bearer of God’s saving purpose for His whole world, to be the sign and the agent and the first fruit of His blessed kingdom which is for all.” The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (“The Logic of Election” pgs 86-87)
Whenever we read or hear your words regarding the glorious and breath-taking restoration of creation, we find we are unwilling to add the qualifiers needed to square it with the traditional view. If we did we would have to erase more than 90% of the hope you paint so beautifully in your summaries of gospel restoration. The following are the reasons for why we want to take literally the Biblical passages, as well as your words, which speak of a complete cosmic restoration of all creation…and that, “everything sad is going to come untrue”….You have often reminded us that sin is not breaking God’s rules but breaking His heart. You have said yourself that we need to see the Bible as a Story with principles sprinkled throughout as opposed to a book of doctrines sprinkled with stories. To be honest Dr. Keller, you have brought many of us to this very brink by your expansive and hopeful preaching and we are looking over the edge and we really want to jump. (Many of us already have.) There doesn’t seem like any valid reason not to, and looking back is a swirl of contradictions and irreconcilable doctrines….
This group points out some of Keller’s theological statements that have most impacted their thinking on other doctrinal matters as well, such as sin and the Bible:
….“sin is not breaking God’s rules but breaking His heart.”
4 Whosoever commits sin transgresses the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4
….“the Bible is a Story with principles sprinkled throughout as opposed to a book of doctrine”
16All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
This group has surely heaped to themselves a teacher who scratches their itching ears. They end their letter by posing a question to Keller:
Could it perhaps be that this crisis exposed and stirred up by Rob Bell is God’s way of “smashing plates,” trying to break into our thinking and perhaps expose some “traditions of men”?
These folks have labeled Christ’s teaching on His plan of redemption as the “traditions of men”…...yikes!
They adoringly sign the open letter to Tim Keller as follows:
A small group of your biggest “fans”
Below are a few excerpts from the personal testimony at the end of this open letter to Tim Keller:
I have continually thanked God for your ministry over the years. The truth is you have been extremely instrumental in preparing me for my encounter with Ultimate Restoration a few years ago. My expanded view of the gospel generated by Redeemer’s missional teaching prepared me for this understanding.
You helped me see the Story underneath the story, how “everything sad is going to become untrue,” how God is going to restore everything and make, not all new things, but “all things new.”
Christ’s atonement and love were effectual for all.
http://godslovewins.com/ (website link that includes this letter to Tim Keller)
God’s redemptive plan according to God’s Love Wins:
“Electing grace calls into being a people charged with the responsibility of being the bearers of His universal salvation– to be chosen, to be elect does not mean that the elect are the saved and the rest are lost, it means to be the bearer of God’s saving purpose for His whole world and a blessed kingdom which is for all. Christ’s atonement and love were effectual for all”
God’s redemptive plan according to the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ:
6 I have manifested thy name unto them which thou gave me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gave them to me; and they have kept thy word. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gave me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I do not pray for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. John chapter 17
9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in His teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 2 John 1:9-11
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZOmuHl2qHg (Paul Washer 8.53 mins) The Hatred of God
On a totally different website, ChristianUniversalism.com, the teachings of those they believe support their belief in a “global understanding” of salvation are promoted. In an article titled The “Grace Teachers” Lead Us Toward A Global Understanding of Salvation they list Tim Keller as the leading proponent of their view in the reformed church: http://www.christianuniversalism.com/category/tim-keller/
From their “About Us” page they heavily promote Keller’s book Generous Justice and its concept of global restorative justice, which is a deeply universalistic concept: http://www.christianuniversalism.com/about-us/
Their article titled Tim Keller: Foundation for Ultimate Restoration claims this:
“It was Tim Keller who opened up the vistas for understanding the Gospel as so much more than a “personal relationship” with Jesus that insured a place in heaven when we die. Keller brought a wide sweeping picture of the Gospel that could be traced from Genesis to Revelation. It was a vision that engulfed all of life not just the soul. As Dr. Keller preached on the Kingdom that is “already and not yet” I began to see that Christ’s life, death and resurrection applied to a truly cosmic restoration culminating in “all things new.” This brought a new sense of the sacredness of all space and all practice as everything was now seen as on a heaven-bound trajectory of restoration. This kind of teaching brought incredible hope and a renewed eschatological vision for all of creation. I had never before heard preached the passages where we find astounding promises of restoration over Egypt, Assyria, Sodom, Israel, and “all peoples.” Here in these passages we are promised the sure hope of a new heavens and a new earth where “God’s dwelling place will be with man.” All these ideas Keller has emphasized and unpacked through his preaching, writing and missional ministry.” (Isa 19, 25, 45, 61; Ez 16, 37; Rev 21) http://www.christianuniversalism.com/2012/03/tim-keller-foundation-for-ultimate-restoration/
No one can fail to see the staggering contrast between the theology of these apostates and the word of God- and they owe it all to Tim Keller, Lesslie Newbigin, et al. It is clear that these folks do not believe the Bible and clearly it is their “doctrine” that is actually the ear-tickling “traditions of men”. May God deliver them from the jaws of the wolf.
”So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 51 Then Jesus said unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.” Matthew 13:49-51
The more I researched the more I found a constant barrage of double-speak in the theology of Tim Keller.
deliberately euphemistic, ambiguous, or obscure language: intended to deceive or confuse people. The words used in doublespeak can often be understood in more than one way.
By their own admission, Keller has confused these folks. He will emphatically claim to hold to certain truths while methodically undermining and teaching in total contradiction to that truth. Keller uses the same manipulative language skills often found in the political realm or big business that in modern times has become known as double-speak. As a result, he regularly finds himself in the awkward position of defending the actions of his network, or releasing “clarification statements” regarding his public comments and teachings; it is important to note that his “clarifications” are usually a complete contradiction of what he actually said. What might be the intention of someone engaged in these language manipulation tactics? I think this question is best answered by novelist George Orwell from his 1946 essay entitled Politics and the English Language:
“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real aim and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”
One’s real aim vs. one’s declared aim- I believe this is the sum of Keller. A political ideologue masquerading as a pastor. Why? This can only be understood by first asking this question: What has always been the biggest obstacle to godless, progressive Marxism and the utopian fantasies of their political power-structure? The answer is Truth, which exists only in the true church. So infiltration into what is perceived to be the most soundly orthodox religious institutions is absolutely necessary. Once established within a church or denomination they work to redefine Jesus and re-interpret the scriptures in order that their perfectly just utopia can be established here on earth with the full cooperation, rather than opposition, of the visible church. Through all of this, Christians can hang onto their “religion” because they’ve been conditioned to believe that Marxist ideology is The Great Commission and the real message of Jesus was love that is best demonstrated by tolerance. As a result, the Bible is no longer the obstacle it has always been for these movements throughout history. And the biblically ignorant, which make up the vast majority of the visible church, are easy prey. If it all sounds a bit too conspiratorial, ponder these questions:
With all the ultra-liberal denominations and progressive (so-called) churches that exist in the 21st century, why would a radical liberal like Tim Keller want to be in what is perceived to be a reformed, conservative denomination?
And if he wanted to go Presbyterian, why not the liberal PCUSA? They would have loved him over there! Why would he have ever chosen the traditional, reformed Presbyterian church for his liberal, progressive mega church?
Keller’s constant promotion of Catholic mysticism and heavy reliance upon Catholic philosophy to shape his theology and ministry surely makes one wonder why he doesn’t join the Catholic Church?
Catholic Jesuit priest Luigi Taparelli developed the concept and coined the phrase “social justice” while Liberation Theology was developed and heavily promoted by Catholic priest Gustavo Gutierrez; Keller is devoted to both so would not Catholicism be the ideal fit for Dr. Tim Keller?
Why not join one of the many man-centered denominations that believe exactly what he teaches? No questions asked and no double-speak necessary?
Why does he continue to run in circles where he might find himself under pressure to walk back a statement or clarify “what he really meant“? I mean, c’mon- this has to be a real pain after a while!
The answer is infiltration, and he has had great success inside these circles with his “new kind of Christianity.” There are precious few left in the PCA, or the mainline Presbyterian church as a whole that can or will speak out against Tim Keller. And as a master of language manipulation, he is winning them over. Apparently a little time in the hot seat is well worth the victory.
The real atrocity of the liberal, man-centered gospel is that they actually believe that men…utterly depraved, corrupt and sinful men, can and will “set things right” on the earth. Believers know when things will be “set right” and we know the only One who truly has that power to set things right:
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:1-3