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Engaging with Keller: Thinking Through the Theology of an Influential Evangelical Paperback – May 17, 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rev. Dr. Iain D. Campbell is pastor of the Free Church of Scotland in Point on the Isle of Lewis. Prior to that he was the pastor of Back Free Church of Scotland, also on Lewis. He was Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland in 2012.

Ian Hamilton has had a range of careers over the span of his life, from journalist to diplomat, but it wasn't until a health scare that he sat down to write his first novel. Ava Lee was the heroine that came to him and so the series was born. Hamilton's journalism has been featured in "Maclean's" and "Saturday Night" "Magazine." He is the author of "The Disciple of Las Vegas", "The Wild Beasts of Wuhan", "The Red Pole of Macau", and "The Water Rat of Wanchai". He lives in Burlington, Ontario, with his wife, Lorraine. He has four children and seven grandchildren.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Evangelical Press (May 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0852349289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852349281
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #960,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Dekker on November 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a book of essays critiquing certain aspects of Tim Keller's theology. It is written by Presbyterian ministers, acknowledging that Keller is committed to Reformed orthodoxy (p. 20) but taking issue with the way he has chosen to express certain things (p. 21). Now, I like Keller (and have for the last fifteen years) but I found this book surprisingly convincing.

Of course, there are three levels at which one must be convinced:

1. Does Keller really say these things?
2. Is he wrong?
3. Does it matter?

There is no question that the book is accurately portraying Keller's ideas, and the critics seem to be on the right side on some of the points discussed. As to how important Keller's unfortunate phraseology is, I'm not sure. Nor am I sure that it was worth writing a book about it.

Anyway, here are the chapters of the volume, with a running score:

Introduction - the editors do a fine job defending the publication of the book, but I am still uneasy. Is it really worth the effort? The editors asked Keller to write responses (p. 22), but he was too busy. That's a real shame, I think, and at this stage the points are shared.

Keller ½, Critics ½

Sin - when Keller talks to "moderns" he talks about sin as disobedience, but in preaching to postmoderns he emphasises sin as being idolatry. Are we allowed to emphasise different aspects of biblical truth like that? I see no reason not to.

Keller 1½, Critics ½

Hell - following C. S. Lewis, Keller argues that people in hell are there because they chose to be.
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Influential public theologizing calls for public critique. Rarely is such critique carried on in a way that is open and edifying. This book, Engaging With Keller, is a refreshing exception. Not only did one of the editors communicate personally with Tim Keller on the main topics of the book prior to publication, but the book is written in such a way that it demonstrates love for the truth, for Christ's church and for Pastor Keller. Clearly the writers wish him well and want to see the many positives of his ministry prosper. Not every point of criticism is equally weighty but the overall concern of the writers is to address in Pastor Keller's thought an issue that transcends his ministry, a matter of grave concern to Reformed ministers and congregations, namely, the matter of contextualization. The writers believe that Dr. Keller has helped to put the church on an unbiblical trajectory on the matter of how she relates to culture. One case in point is Pastor Keller's tolerance for and encouragement of the evolutionary viewpoint of BioLogos. If I in my ministry were teaching viewpoints that my fellow ministers believed were having a widespread and detrimental effect on the witness of the church despite my best intentions, the kind of criticism offered by the respected pastor theologians in Engaging With Keller is the sort of straightforward but gracious critique I would desire. This reviewer hopes that the content of the book dealing with many matters but with the overall theme of how the church should relate to culture will be taken seriously and that the stated desire of the authors to encourage open, free, honest and thoughtful debate will result.
David B. McWilliams, Ph.D.
Sr. Minister, Covenant Presbyterian Church Lakeland, Fl.
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I have read 12 Tim Keller books. Engaging With Keller was a healthy read for me.

Not because Keller's theology is wrong, but because no preacher's expression of their theology is ever perfect.

In making my way through the various critiques of Keller's preaching of sin, hell, the Trinity, the mission of the church, and other areas, I was shown with an irenic spirit the areas of Keller's theology that may not come across in his ministry as strong as they could. It should be said that there is nothing wrong with this fact. We all have our blind spots. If only we all had caring critics who critically and yet charitably helped us to see them.

Admittedly, the authors of Engaging With Keller set themselves an unusual task, to analyze and critique a popular figure's theology from a survey of his published popular works. I wonder if this is entirely fair to Tim Keller, given that Keller's books do not claim to be theological treatises aiming to express all there is to say about a certain theological topic. They are popular level books, written to a broad audience to Christians and not.

Nonetheless, this is a helpful book I would recommend primarily to previous readers of Keller, to sharpen their perspective on an influential figure, with the goal of improving their own personal theology and ministry practice.
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Format: Paperback
The writers bent over backwards both to affirm their honor of Tim Keller and to interact with him personally regarding the issues they raise in this book. I am not sure what else they could have done in order to avoid the criticisms I have read from certain reviewers except, perhaps, to keep their concerns to themselves? Are we not allowed to critique? Once something is published (such as Keller's writings), are we not allowed to interact with them in published form for some reason?

This book is very clearly and carefully written.

I appreciate how the writers show that a certain emphasis (or neglect of a certain emphasis) in doctrine can have serious implications for those who are being taught (as well as for the teacher).
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