Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tim Keller's Gospel for the Post-Modern

This Sunday, every church member is going to give their testimony in 59 seconds. It's part of an attempt to think more clearly about the Gospel, our salvation and the meaning of it all. While doing my research on the Acts29 website, I found this interesting quote by Tim Keller. In context, he's just explained his gospel for the religious. Now he explains the Gospel he preaches to the areligious (Post-Modern). Remember that Keller is a New York City pastor :

"However, Manhattan is also filled with ‘post-modern’ listeners who consider all

moral statements to be culturally relative and socially constructed. If you try to

convict them of guilt for sexual lust, they will simply say, “you have your standards

and I have mine.” If you respond with a diatribe on the dangers of relativism,

your listeners will simply feel scolded. Of course, postmodern people

must at some point be challenged about their mushy views of truth, but there is

a way to make a credible and convicting gospel presentation to them even before

you get into such apologetic issues.

I take a page from Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death and define sin as

building your identity—your self-worth and happiness—on anything other than

God. That is, I use the Biblical definition of sin as idolatry. That puts the emphasis

not as much on ‘doing bad things’ but on ‘making good things into ultimate

things.’ Instead of telling them they are sinning because they are sleeping with

their girlfriends or boyfriends, I tell them that they are sinning because they are

looking to their romances to justify and save them, to give them everything that

they should be looking for from God. This idolatry leads to anxiety, obsessiveness,

envy, and resentment. I have found that when you describe their lives in

terms of idolatry, postmodern people do not give much resistance. Then Christ

and his salvation can be presented not (at this point) so much as their only

hope for forgiveness, but as their only hope for freedom. This is my ‘gospel for

the uncircumcised.’"

You can find the whole PDF manuscript of the Dwell conference here

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