Is Tim Keller a Closet Niebuhrian? Post #2 on Center Church by David Fitch

images-4Warning Theological Post Ahead: This post is for theological readers. In other words, the post requires the reader to work through some background knowledge in theology to get the main points of the post. Proceed therefore at your own risk. :)

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I greatly admire Tim Keller. And really admire his book Center Church. So please do not interpret the question that headlines this post as an attack on Dr Keller. Instead I want to parse two different ways of doing church: the Neo-Reformed (or Neo Puritan) approach of say The Gospel Coalition and Tim Keller, and the Neo-Anabaptist approach which I am seeking to articulate (with my co-author) in Prodigal Christianity. At issue is the manner in which the church engages culture and context. In distinguishing these two visions of church, I find it extremely helpful to distinguish the Niebuhrian posture versus an Anabaptist one (Yoderian) because I think it gets at the core differences between the ways many evangelicals understand church in the world (as well as progressive Christians but that’s a post for another day) and us Anabaptist types. So allow me do a little Niebuhrian analysis on Pastor Keller and his book on the church, Center Church.

Back in another post, I defined (this is a riff on Yoder’s famous article in this book) a Niebuhrian as someone:

1.) Who elevates Jesus to a principle so that now He is inapplicable to the political-social problems of organizing our life together in the world. Jesus is relegated to a personal aspiration, not socio cultural issues.

2.) Who defaults to the orders of creation/nature as the source of ethics, and in so doing elevates God the Creator over God the Son as the source of ethics. Over against this move, Yoder pleads that Jesus the Son cannot be separated from the Father. A true Trinitarian ethic starts with Jesus (ala Barth).

3.) Who sees (as a result of the above) culture as something inherently good, stable and monolithic (Vocation, orders of creation). The basic institutions of society are grounded (and set in stone) in creation. The church’s job is therefore to be the training ground for sending individuals into these institutions who already know what is best, bringing each order it to its true created intent. The church is NOT a dynamic culture-creating entity in itself in dialogue (and sometimes in subversion to) with surrounding culture by which culture is transformed.

Does Keller reflect Niebuhrian tendencies in Center Church? I offer two rather bold suggestions for consideration.

1.) Keller’s emphasis on the “the gospel” as justification by faith in his ecclesiology may produce the same effect as the Niebuhrian tendency to “elevate Jesus as a principle.” Of course Keller does not “elevate Jesus as a principle” in the same way as mainline liberal theology notoriously does. But I question whether Keller’s emphasis on salvation as justification does not produce a Niebuhrian effect by making Jesus a personal Savior separated from what He is doing socially in the world? (this is a contentious point I acknowledge). For Keller, the gospel begins with our sins being forgiven and then entering into a personal relation with God through Christ (bottom p. 35). Everything else extends out from here through every area of our lives. Every “element of ministry” into the world is the “result of the gospel.” Yet the social/material effects in society are not to be “mistaken for the gospel” (36-37). Nonetheless, “the gospel,” through its effectuation in the individual’s life spreads into very social area of our lives. This one gospel is “endlessly rich” in its application from the individual’s life to the world and so it can “handle being the one ‘main thing’ of a church.” (p.36).

I have argued here that evangelicalism has had a history of turning the individual’s justification in Christ into an idea and a ritual which makes Jesus into a principle for personal aspiration while detaching us and our salvation from what God is doing in the whole world.  Evangelicalism, for me, has too often defaulted into a version of Niebuhrianism in this way.

Keller I think is valiantly trying to deNiebuhrianize this version of the gospel (for which I applaud him!!). But I wonder if he is successful? I side with McKnight and NT Wright and others who proclaim that the gospel is the announcement that God in Christ has become King and is bringing in His Kingdom. When we as individuals enter into that Kingdom, we are truly justified (as Keller describes), but we cannot be justified separate from what God is doing to reconcile the whole world to Himself (the Kingdom). If the gospel is in effect announcing that “Jesus is Lord” of the whole world, it is hard to separate His person and work, and my personal participation in that, from the social realities He is ruling and bringing under His rule (1 Cor 15:25). For me, the Wright/McKnight explanations of the gospel are truer (in a more comprehensive sense) to the whole New Testament and more readily avoid the danger of Niebuhrianism. As such, I fear Keller’s Center Church can lead us into the same old mistakes of evangelicalism. What do you think?

2.) Keller, in a Niebuhrian way, sees the church primarily as a place where individuals are nurtured in their faith and then trained/sent out to out into the structures of society. This reveals, it seems, a Niebuhrian posture of cultural engagement. As Keller states:

“Using the concept of sphere sovereignty, it is best to think of the organized church’s primary function as evangelizing and equipping people to be disciples and then sending the “organic church”  – Christians at work in the world – to engage culture, do justice, and restore God’s shalom.”p. 268.

In distinguishing organized church from organic, Keller is following the Kuyperian logic that sees sectors of society as under the rule of sphere sovereignty, God’s created orders (separate from the church). Therefore individuals can go out into the world to bring shalom to the orders of government, education, art, family, neighborhood separate from the church (see p. 240 where Keller talks about Kuyper’s construal of organic versus organized church). This does not have to be, but it appears to be a default habit that we often fall into (again see my post here for explanation).

This combination, of the church sending individuals into culture and sphere sovereignty, leads to Niebuhrian issues no. 2 and 3 listed above. Because of these 2 processes, Niebuhrians have often minimalized how culture institutions can be in rebellion against God (Wink and Yoder  would talk about this in terms of “the powers and principalities”). We send individuals into society missing how we might be sending them into participating in evil. We presume vocations and structures can all be redeemed as are. By mis-recognizing the times when gov’t, education, culture have turned evil, by not having the option to withdraw entirely as an act of resistance, we mis-send individuals to be complicit with the evil structures. This is the danger implicit, if not explicit, in Kuyperian forms of church/culture relation.  My question is, does Keller’s Center Church commitment to the organization versus organic church differentiation, leave his church open to these errors?

These two ideas  – sphere sovereignty and the church as a training institution for sending individuals into culture– also encourage the church to take a posture of presumption over society.  In essence, the Center Church, due to its presumption to read off creation what society’s institutions should look like, subliminally presumes to know what is best for society. It is a posture of presumption. But is this the way God works? I suggest “no.” God is sovereign yes, and through Jesus by the Spirit He is bringing in the Kingdom for the whole world. But the current education institutions may not be what God has in mind (or then again they might be!). God might indeed be at work bringing in something completely new (through the church this has certainly happened in the past, including hospitals, community education, town hall meeting local democracy etc etc). We cannot tell ahead of time what God is doing to renew society. Instead we are to live as communities of the King humbly, incarnationally giving birth to what he would do in and among us giving witness to what God is doing by His work in and among us and then into the world. To me it seems Pastor Keller’s Center Church errs on being too presumptive as to what the redeemed world might look like. And so his extensive plan for the cities entitled “the gospel ecosystem” (371-377) seems a bit ambitious for a humble Anabaptist like me. What do you think? Am I too worried here about the church and its power?

Often (not always) creation and sphere sovereignty (we appeal to creation/inherent logic of society to work for justice) have been the terms by which evangelicals have sought to change in the world. We end up negating that Jesus is Lord bringing in His Kingdom via the Spirit in and through the church as a social entity. But the gospel is Jesus is Lord and He is the one bringing in renewal of all things.

In Summary

In summary, I admire Tim Keller’s book. He has written a comprehensive ecclesiology for the Neo-Reformed/NeoPuritian evangelical movement. It is a significant accomplishment and an advancement for the cause of evangelical ecclesiology. It is compelling in that he tries valiantly to de-Niebuhrianize the evangelical ecclesiology/culture relation. My questions are:

  • Does Keller avoid sequestering Jesus into a personal Savior secluding him from what He is doing in the world?
  • Does Keller avoid the Niebuhrian posture of presumption over the world?
  • The Niebuhrian approach to church/culture is an approach decidedly comfortable in Christendom where the church can presume upon the respect and authority given it in a given culture. The Yoderian approach is decidedly more comfortable in post-Christendom where we can no longer presume upon such respect and authority,. The Yoderian posture is inherently the posture of a church in Mission. Does Keller’s vision of Center Church sufficiently de-Niebuhrianized evangelical church  for the challenges we face?

What do you think?

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Posted in Book Reviews, Ecclesiology, Missional Ecclesiology, Neo-Anabaptist, Neo-Reformed, Prodigal Christianity, Tim Keller, Uncategorized
26 comments on “Is Tim Keller a Closet Niebuhrian? Post #2 on Center Church by David Fitch
  1. Steve Bezner says:

    David, thanks for the great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clarification/question: You seem to argue/believe that the Niebuhrian position is inherently tied to a Kuyperian understanding of creation and, consequently, ecclesiology. Is this accurate? If so, can you clarify why you see the two positions as tied together?

    Perhaps I’ve drunk too deeply at the well of James K.A. Smith, but I haven’t seen Niebuhr and Kuyper as partners previously.

    Help?

    • davidfitch says:

      Steve Bezner
      I addressed the Niebuhrian/Kuyperian relationship in that linked first post from a while back. I think I’ve said what I need to say there, at least initially.
      I think what James K. A. Smith hears when he hears “Niebuhrian” is the Reinhold Niebuhr “Christian realism” “Moral Man and Immoral Society” take on church/culture in which case there is little or no correlation between Niebuhrianism and Kuyper. I don’t know this for sure on Jamie, because we’ve only had a few twitteresque exchanges but nothing substantial in terms of a conversation on this. The Niebuhrianism I am using in this discusssion draws directly from Yoder and has been discussed within Duke theological circles for years. In fact it may be so old there at Duke that it longer comes up there (consider passe). However, amidst my world of evangelicalism, these issues have hardly ever been discussed. That’s why I am pushing the issue.
      Thanks for your comment.
      DF

      • Andy Rowell says:

        No, this is stuff that Hauerwas and others still emphasize at Duke. Allen Verhey thinks there is some good in the Niebuhr brothers so there is some variety.

        Great post–thinking about how it works with the various models in my dissertation. Thanks.

  2. StriderMTB says:

    David, I came across your site today and had to ready your first post on Niebuhrianism vs. Yoderian a few times before I was able to parse the subtle yet profound distinctions. I found this second post to be very thought provoking. I think one reason why the Church often slips into a default embrace of Niebuhrianism is that it is offers straight-forward, clear-cut goals (i.e. our mission is to redeem the lost sectors of God’s ordained, societal institutions such as government, art, music, etc). Although I have read both McKnight and Wright I must confess my engagement with Yoder is minimal, and so I wonder if you might offer readers like me a bit more “meat” for us to sink our teeth into by way of contrast. For example the closest you come in offering a counterweight approach to Church – Culture engagement is:

    “Instead we are to live as communities of the King humbly, incarnationally giving birth to what he would do in and among us giving witness to what God is doing by His work in and among us and then into the world.”

    I agree…but that is so abstract and woolly even a Niebuhrian would have no qualms in giving a hearty “amen.” Other than serving the poor and caring for the orphan and widow, what are some concrete, practical suggestions a Yoder-Anabaptist such as yourself would advocate? I agree that presumption doesn’t serve us all to well…but neither does a passive posture that watches cultural institutions become ever more degenerate and lost. Obviously your not advocating a do-nothing Christianity but it seems a Yoderian paradigm struggles to offer objective, visible, measurable goals (in contrast Niebuhrianism which probably its appeal) for the Church to point too.

    Yet again perhaps that is not really a weakness. After all the Church should ultimately be pointing to the cross and exemplifying the Kingdom (that “doesn’t come through visible display” Lk. 17:20) through acts of self-sacrifice and love. And maybe… just maybe efforts to redeem and recover governmental and cultural institutions may be the greatest distraction the Church has ever undertaken. Much to think about…

  3. StriderMTB says:

    David, I came across your site today and had to read your first post on Niebuhrianism vs. Yoderian a few times before I was able to parse the subtle yet profound distinctions. I found this second post to be very thought provoking. I think one reason why the Church often slips into a default embrace of Niebuhrianism is that it is offers straight-forward, clear-cut goals (i.e. our mission is to redeem the lost sectors of God’s ordained, societal institutions such as government, art, music, etc).

    Although I have read both McKnight and Wright I must confess my engagement with Yoder is minimal, and so I wonder if you might offer readers like me a bit more “meat” for us to sink our teeth into by way of contrast. For example the closest you come in offering a counterweight approach to Church – Culture engagement is:

    “Instead we are to live as communities of the King humbly, incarnationally giving birth to what he would do in and among us giving witness to what God is doing by His work in and among us and then into the world.”

    I agree…but that is so abstract and woolly even a Niebuhrian would have no qualms in giving a hearty “amen.” Other than serving the poor and caring for the orphan and widow, what are some concrete, practical suggestions a Yoder-Anabaptist such as yourself would advocate? I agree that presumption doesn’t serve us all to well…but neither does a passive posture that watches cultural institutions become ever more degenerate and lost. Obviously your not advocating a do-nothing Christianity but it seems a Yoderian paradigm struggles to offer objective, visible, measurable goals for the Church to point to (in contrast to Niebuhrianism which is probably its appeal to many)

    Yet again perhaps that is not really a weakness. After all the Church should ultimately be pointing to the cross and exemplifying the Kingdom (that “doesn’t come through visible display” Lk. 17:20) through acts of self-sacrifice and love. And maybe… just maybe efforts to redeem and recover governmental and cultural institutions may be the greatest distraction the Church has ever undertaken. Much to think about…

    • David, I am with StriderMTB on this one. Can you flesh out the Yoderian perspective for us?

    • Andy Rowell says:

      StriderMTB and Darryl, Robb below gives a nice example of how Yoder hopes that doing Christian practices will speak to outsiders. StriderMTB, you rightly identify one of Yoder’s main problems with the Niebuhr brothers–the explicit attempt to achieve in the world “objective, visible, measurable goals.” (Recall H. Richard Niebuhr’s “Christ transforming culture” as the best approach towards culture). Instead, the church is to do what it is supposed to be doing–Yoder’s book Body Politics is very short (80 pages) and describes 5 such sample practices: “binding and loosing” (Mt 18), disciples break bread together, baptism and the new humanity, the fullness of Christ (utilizing the breadth of gifts in the body of Christ), and the rule of Paul (1 Cor 14–the open meeting). Yoder envisioning these practices spilling over into the world. I have a 500 page dissertation I am just about to finish on Barth ecclesiology (with significant dose of Yoder’s reading of it) so won’t go into this much further. I think StriderMTB may still have lingering questions about whether Yoder’s approach effectively leaves the world to destroy itself in its confusion. But Yoder does positively point to the Old Testament characters of Joseph, Daniel, and Esther as people who were faithful to God first and incidentally improved their nation. The point is that they were not thinking about “transforming culture” but rather being “faithful” and in so doing incidentally were transforming. Hope that helps. If you want to read more of Yoder, you can pick up For the Nations and read two essays which work through this point:
      - Yoder, John Howard. “Firstfruits: The Paradigmatic Public Role of God’s People.” In For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public, 15-36. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1997.
      - Yoder, John Howard. “The New Humanity as Pulpit and Paradigm.” In For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public, 37-50. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1997.
      You can get some sense of what Yoder is doing in these essays just from the titles.

  4. Robb Davis says:

    David – Thanks for this. I have engaged these issues with grad students in a course I taught on “advocacy” and it is clear to me that Yoder offers a very different way of engagement with the state than what is commonly understood within evangelical circles. Hunter’s book “To Change the World” ends with a call to “faithful witness” and though he does not mean to I think he is essentially describing what Yoder developed in the early 60s (late 50s) in his slim volume “The Christian Witness to the State”. I feel that Yoder’s treatment is the most practical and powerful. I don’t just agree with his arguments, I would like to think I am actually a practitioner here in my home town and county.

    The key is that simply “being” church in our communities and doing the things that we do in that “being” is already a powerful witness to the coming kingdom. But that practice also enables us to translate the reality of the broken world and the hope of reconciliation to the “states people” whose policies and laws can increase the brokenness or move in the direction of healing and hope. I am NOT suggesting that the state is the “hope” but it is “ordered” by God (Yoder’s concept) to play a role and we can challenge it as faithful witnesses to be what God intended it to be. That is what Yoder believed and wrote.

    Later today I will meet with the District Attorney to talk about victim/offender reconciliation and the potential to begin using victim/offender conferencing to deal with certain crimes in our community. I am seeing a certain desperation on the part of some officials who want to believe that healing of our community is possible but don’t know what it looks like or where to begin. I will approach the DA as Yoder would (I hope), by offering lived examples of what it looks like and challenging him to take the risk to find healing in these restorative approaches. I approach him as a man who works within a fallen system–a system that I believe God intends for good–but one that (per Wink) God also wants to redeem.

  5. jason smith says:

    I heard there is this great book just out, called Prodigal Christianity which fleshes out David’s approach a little bit.

    • Andy Rowell says:

      Good point. Yes, above, StriderMTB asks what practices David has in mind (“Other than serving the poor and caring for the orphan and widow, what are some concrete, practical suggestions a Yoder-Anabaptist such as yourself would advocate?”). In the book David and Geoff name 8 practices: baptism, the Lord’s Table, proclaiming the gospel, reconciliation, being “with” the least of these, being “with” children, the fivefold ministry, and kingdom prayer.

  6. David
    Good post, It really pushed me to thing about a few issues.

    I note that while the church is gathered from across a city to hear teaching and receive encouragement, then it has no option but to train people and send them out, if wants to have influence in society. Local churches will have to begin living in their neighbourhood, for something different to happen.

    Your point about miss-sending individuals to be complicit with the evil structures is really important. I have worked in a government agency for twenty plus years. I was well prepared in terms of theological foundations and political and economic understanding, but it is still hard. It is hard to challenge an institution from within it. It is hard to get to a position of influence, without losing the capacity to influence. I notice that many Christians who go down this path achieve very little for the price that they pay.
    Ron

  7. StriderMTB says:

    Thanks for the follow-up comments Andy and Robb! You have given me much to think about it and have motivated me to pick up Yoder and Fitch’s books. Now that I can see the distinctions more it is somewhat paradigm shifting.

  8. Stephen Edwards says:

    David,

    Thank-you for continuing to engage Keller’s book and the discussion. I have been influenced by you and others enough to recognize that ecclesiology is a critical area of reflection for evangelicals concerned for mission in North America today.

    That being said, I have some issue/questions – but perhaps I’ll just start with one. Is it so much that the Church is presumptive over culture (and therefore its institutions where its members are living their ‘every-day’ lives), or rather, that Christ is ‘presumptive’ over culture, as him in whom all such forms are given meaning (Col. 1; Eph. 1)?

    This is not, of course, to try to discount sin. The case of the Church could be taken as an example. We must discern faithfulness in exactly our current situation as you note (exile); and yet that which we are is entirely given by the life of Christ, and thus so too by the forms which denote Christ given in Scripture – Israel under mercy, judgment, regnant, and in slavery. (this is partly I think, forgiving my own poor reading and summary of it, the argument of Ephraim Radner in, for example, Hope Among the Fragments).

    Our presence then, in these cultural institutions, having been sent by the Church, certainly includes often our complicity with them, but also our ‘faithful presence’ (to use Hunter’s term), and thus our denotation of Christ, in our care/prayerful discernment (together with the Church) of how to act in such a place, and in God’s giving over of Christ’s life to us there – again, in mercy and judgment.

    What seems to me critical about what you are saying regarding the practices of the Church and extending them into the neighbourhood is God’s formation of us as his people via them – just so we might live such a faithful presence; even – indeed, especially – as we are ‘sent’ from the Church into the world. Thoughts?

    • davidfitch says:

      Stephen Edwards
      Thanks for the good clarifying questions. I think we agree that Christ is Lord over culture. It is the manner which God has chosen in Christ to bring “all things subject” (1 Cor 15:25) that we disagree on. God has come in Christ incarnationally, vulnerably, non violently. He shall rule the world via the victory of the Lamb who was slain. We therefore cannot follow Christ into the world via a posture of alignment with the world’s power unless it already aligns with his purposes and we bring the way of Christ.
      The presumption comes when we the church assume to speak for Christ. Instead, following Christ, we should be present in the culture discerning what indeed God is at work doing in and through Christ. I contend this is a different posture altogether than the typical Reformed approach which has been prone (but not always) to default to the orders of creation (or sphere sovereignty) for authority to speak to what should be set right in culture separate from the work of Christ. This leads to or depends upon a presumptive Christendom posture that we can tell culture what to do. This is the only way such pronouncements make sense. My other posts try to make this clearer.
      On your second question, there’s nothing inherently presumptive with sending individuals in the world to inhabit humbly in the above described posture of discernment. Yet when we default to Nieburhian categories we often overlook the ways the powers and principalities are at work and thereby we unbeknownst become complicit.
      There’s much more to be said. We need to continue the conversation

  9. Robb Davis says:

    David – your additional comments of March 30 are very helpful in teasing out the key issues here. I really like your use of the word “posture”. I think it takes much discernment (praxis) to learn how to walk faithfully in our communities–especially when that “walking” brings us into contact with the state (at all levels) or other “powers”. My critique of the Niebuhrian way of cultural engagement is that there appears to be very little room for the work of the Holy Spirit (or a need for such work). “Technique” (in the Ellulian sense) dominates the approach. In contrast, I believe our “posture” should be faithful witness with the attendant prayer to God to “give us the Holy Spirit” (a la Luke 11).

    You also note: “…we often overlook the ways the powers and principalities are at work and thereby we unbeknownst become complicit.” I have puzzled over the lack of analysis of the concept of principalities and powers in the American evangelical context. I wonder if it is because those who have been most helpful in increasing our understanding of these concepts (Wink, Stringfellow, Berkhof, Yoder, Dawn, etc.) are a bit suspect to evangelicals or simply not on their radar screens?

    I look forward to learning more from you on these issues and thank you again for launching these discussions.

  10. Stephen Edwards says:

    Thanks – I’ll have to think about that. And explore more what you mean practically in terms of a Niebuhrian posture.

    The matter of presumption seems so tricky to me, though. Discerning in culture what/where God is at work in Christ is slightly different than discerning how it is that God is at work in Christ (and thus proceeding from the base conviction that this is the case), no?

    The point being that ‘we’ seem to ‘control’ God’s work in the gift of Christ’s life if ‘we’ are discerning where that is the case vs. how that is the case (figurally, with Scripture). From my limited perspective, this where/what (vs. how) seems emphasized by a contrast community ecclesiology (Anabaptist) because it is as if in our faithful and separate practices of the Church we constitute the place where the gift of Christ’s life is given ‘rightly.’ Again though, I have limited understanding of these categories, and so severely limited critique.

  11. Nathan says:

    The Niebuhrian elevation of Jesus to principle and source of personal aspirations, meaning, etc. is deeply entrenched in the language of evangelicals.

    I don’t think this problem is mitigated simply because evangelicals really really really believe that Jesus was divine or his miracles really really happened. Or, more importantly to most evangelicals, they really really really like/love/feel something for Jesus too.

    If Jesus is elevated to principle, and thereby simultaneously reduced to an abstraction it leaves you in the same place. Jesus is still nothing more than principle (even if it elicits warm feelings).

    That seems pretty “notorious” to me and, for all practical purposes, really no different in the end than the “notorious mainline” Niebuhrianism.

    The fruit of all this is a high school student at the church i serve in asking me what is the point of Christianity besides moral-ethical formation of the individual? If that’s the only or even the highest point of Jesus…then we’re in deep weeds.

  12. Ben P. says:

    David, have you seen Keller’s recent interview with Ed Stetzer? http://www.edstetzer.com/2013/03/tim-keller-interview-recap.html

    He interacts a little bit with your criticism here. I find it interesting that Keller is getting a little bit of pushback from anabaptist folks like yourself but also from the more conservative neo-reformed folks. I think he is trying to bring together the best of both worlds. In any case, he says that while the “theme” of the bible is the broader “Jesus is king-renewing the cosmos,” the gospel strictly speaking is about how the individual gets right with God. He points out that whenever Paul or someone else presents the gospel in Acts/ the NT to AN INDIVIDUAL, he goes to the personal aspect (justification). When you present the renewing the cosmos gospel (which he affirms), the danger is “loading sanctification into justification”: where implicitly you may be communicating, to be a Christian it means to live in community and to do good works of social justice, which can lead to a kind of legalism. Although I know you would never say this, I do think that is a danger. And I do think the average person on the street hearing this type of gospel may assume this.

  13. tommy ab says:

    ” we mis-send individuals to be complicit with the evil structures.” … well, … eating bananas is co-opting in land expropriation of farmers in central america. Going to any franchise is participating in evil economic system which destroy local economies. Watching TV is participating in the process of propaganda by the big corporations…

    this is a question that existed since forever… of “being in the world, but not from it”, and the answer to that question is always a conversation that will never end, because the situations change.

    Brueggemann gave a serie of very interesting speaches about that…. Very interesting: https://vimeo.com/album/2340897

  14. tommy ab says:

    to see structures as evil, but still going into them, like Jeremiah staying in the midst of Jerusalem, or Daniel in Babylon, or Naaman staying into his position of army general and participating in idolatry… The call is specific and different for every christian. But the pratices of the church are meant, among other things, to make the christians aware to a greater reality, and not be naive about the institutions of the worlds, which are grounded in idolatry.

  15. Dave Chang says:

    IMHO it’s tragic that we put a wedge between the Jesus is King gospel and the Jesus is Savior gospel… I thought McKnight did a good job in a CT article recently by pointing out that Jesus is the gospel (or Piper would say God is the gospel), and justification/cultural transformation/etc are outworking from that… if read him right :)

    I think Keller would agree with that

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David Fitch
Betty R. Lindner Professor of Theology
Northern Seminary
DMin in Missional Leadership
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