Truth or denial about Tim Keller?

A9 Collective
2 min readMay 30, 2023

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms but keeps us in denial about our flaws.” — Tim Keller

The way in which Keller is being remembered is proof that pastors, ministers, and those higher up the ecclesiastical hierarchies and bureaucracies are their own separate class. With their own culture, they have their own circles and inner rings and insulate themselves from everyone else, from laity and congregants. How many of the people who have really been affected negatively by Keller’s ministry will have their views and their critiques and their experiences and their perceptions taken into account? Sadly, as we watch the hagiographies roll out, much energy has been spent on silencing critics. It seems that folks need to be sentimental rather than honest but as Keller himself said, that leads to denial not truth. For a man who claimed to be about apologetics and the Evangelical mind, embracing falseness is a twist. We’ve come to expect it from Kellerites like Eric Metaxas, twisting faith into hatred, but the impulse hurts when once-LGBTQIA-allies lift the flag of Keller revisionism.

We foresee biographies about Keller, will they include voices at the margins of his ministry? If the past is a prelude, doubtful.

Not all of this is Keller’s responsibility. Much is a byproduct of celebrity culture and is unfortunate. His fans and acolytes have built a monument Keller possibly could have hated. However, when men benefit from power both materially and figuratively, they should be held accountable.

We should wake up to the dangers hidden behind the winsome whitewash Keller is receiving. We must wrestle with all sides of man. The book, Good Faith by Keller mentee Gabe Lyon and his frequent collaborator David Kinnaman gives us an example. They recount a meeting in which they and other pastors including Tim Keller, went to meet then-President Obama. Their specific ask, “Don’t legalize gay marriage.” Their masks were off and the Evangelical demand for exclusion was led by men praised by folks now as kind and welcoming. Given the chance to meet with the President, Keller sided with exclusion and asked our country to deny rights and to continue a legacy of harm.

That has become part of his legacy and it’s good and correct for honesty about that. The hagiographies deny the truth and the truth shall set us free. For those tempted to buff out the edges, ask yourself if you are listening to the man himself. Are you dedicated to the truth or denial?

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