Thoughts On Keller

There’s an article on Tim Keller and how he started in NYC. Quite an interesting read and because of that it made me think as well as gave a spark of excitement and enthusiasm inside me.

An enthusiasm for ministry as well as the vigorous task of plunging into scholarship and the real world. I really respect this pastor, although i’m not so much a fan of the circle he hangs out with (Reformed) but I find Keller to be an ideal representation of what Reformed should be.

Well it’s just my opinion that is.

Oh and he like’s Wright’s “Resurrection of the Son of God” (that’s just an added bonus to why i like this guy, well this may this had something to do with it.) . Let me just direct your attention to two quotes i took from the artile that made me think (quotes are in italics):

Tim found Manhattan non-Christians amazingly, sometimes naïvely, curious.

Though the borough’s 1.6 million people were used to religious diversity, many had never talked to an evangelical. Tim’s interest in art and music was an indispensable gift in communicating.

His omnivorous reading also helped. New York is a city of high achievers to whom, Keller says, it made sense that a minister should be a scholar of ancient texts, exposing them to ideas and information beyond their experience.

They needed someone who spoke their language, though, and Keller was a quick learner.

“I saw New York mentor Tim,” Sherman says. “There’s something about the density of the city, the way your lives get intertwined with a secular culture.”

One of the things that caught my attention here is the zeal to learn as well as being open to stuff people in general are exposed to (music, arts, etc). Pastors in the context that i live in are especially weak in these area. Again let me say that this observation does not apply to all Malaysia but the small place where i call home. So I hope that might avert some offense on my part, hopefully.

Pastors here are respected to some degree (in spiritual matters) but that is about it. And pastors are those people who ‘abstain’ from the secular world. An example of this is those in ministry are ‘forbidden’ to hear any form of secular music, only the praise and worship kind are acceptable. There were times when books, the Harry Potter series or Twilight series, were publicly denounced by the church and calling for parent not to allow their children read them. There are far worse case scenarios where pastors or those in ministry were only supposed to wear slacks only and no jeans!

I’m not sure if this is still ongoing but I think it still applies in some places. Because of constrains like this pastors are hedged from knowing how to approach the ‘secular’ world or better how to engage in the world. And with that also the way a pastor might communicate to people might have a negative effect as well. Negative in a sense that people engaged in the world cannot understand terms used by pastors, hence there is a sort of communication breakdown.

Because of communication breakdown, teachings and preachings are a dread to people in the pews. So, what can pastors do to maintain proper communication that connect speak to people? Simply get immersed in culture, get to know what people are into, what people like for that matter. Now I’m not advocating that pastors go watch porn because people are into that.

Clearly that is not what i mean! My advice to pastors is don’t be too paranoid of things in the world-music, literature, art and other stuff. Learn to be curious and most of all be a learner. If you want people to know anything about the bible, why not you take time to learn the stuff that interest them? Take Mark Robers who did a post on the Twilight novels that his daughter reads.

Take some advice from him. Read it here.

Sherman relates Keller’s vision to the apostle Paul.

“Paul had this sense of, I really should go talk to Caesar. He’s not above caring for Onesimus the slave, but somebody should go to talk to Caesar. When you go to New York, that’s what you’re doing. Somebody should talk to the editorial committee of The New York Times; somebody should talk to Barnard, to Columbia. Somebody should talk to Wall Street.”

Reading this gave some boost of confidence which at times is sadly not evident to pastors or fulltime workers. A lot of pastors tend to be wimpy probably because they are not well versed in things their secular church members who have degrees to prove their credentials. This might be one reason but I think there are other reasons as well. But reading Keller and what he says about apostle Paul really pumped me up. That’s the kind of confidance i want to have if i were a pastor or want other pastors here to have.

I have to say that as a student of theology, immersed in my culture, i find the state of embracing ministry fulltime to have a bad effect on my confidance. I see things have to change here and the mentality for that matter simply has to change. Well these are simply some thought that came to me when i read the artile. It lighted up my soul. So my mind is still fresh with it!

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