Posted by: reformedmusings | March 11, 2008

TE Keller Response

Over at The Confessional Outhouse, Solomon Li solicited a response from TE Keller on his interview at First Things. I am reposting it here as the original thread has grown quite long, though worth reading through. From TE Keller:

Dear Solomon:

Hi! Yes I’ve seen the conversations at a couple of websites about the interview. I hope the following is helpful.

1. First, keep in mind I did not write these statements. They were taken down by an interviewer over an hour-long conversation. Then they were transcribed and abridged. This must be borne in mind. Anyone who has ever done interviews knows that the interviewer has to edit and splice the words into paragraphs. You always have to ask the person who was interviewed–”did you say it just like that? Did you mean that?” When I read the interview afterwards I did not think he had at any point twisted my words–but I knew at a few points he strung statements together in a way that might raise questions. I thought people would ask the questions (like you) rather than jumping to conclusions. I don’t want to criticize the interviewer here. I think he did a fairly good job of representing a whole lot of conversation. But it wasn’t perfect.

2. I love the PCA and have no intention of leaving. Everyone who knows me knows that. The PCA is a confessional Presbyterian denomination and I love that. I never said I was ‘putting up’ with Presbyterianism. In fact–if you look–when I was asked if I was hampered by being in a denomination, my point was ‘only a little.’ I explained that in some minor ways being in a denomination is always an inconvenience, because no constitution fits all sizes of churches equally well. But ‘we put up’ with those minor inconveniences (I said originally) because of our commitment to being in a connectional, confessional body.

3. We have never, ever financed or planted Roman Catholic churches. And we never will nor would want to. I didn’t say that in the interview, of course. But my sentence–that I’ve seen God bring people to Christian faith in prosperity-gospel churches and in Catholic churches–came close to my sentences about how we give money to plant non-Presbyterian churches. If you already are suspicious of me, I suppose you might want to believe we plant Catholic churches, but of course we don’t. And we never would. (I don’t know of anyone who has preached the Luther-Calvin doctrine of justification of faith alone more often over the years. ) We do, however, support churches that are Reformed but charismatic (e.g. like C.J. Mahaney’s churches or other similar churches) and other non-Presbyterian churches that we train and we feel are on the same page with us about gospel theology. There are plenty of Baptist, charismatic, churches etc etc that are similar to us in soteriology–are moving toward us. But we put far, far more money into Presbyterian church plants. That keeps us from on the one hand, being sectarian and thinking God only blesses Presbyterian government, but it means on the other hand we give pride of place to our own tradition, which we love. We’ve always identified as ‘Presbyterian’ in our name, as one example.

I don’t plan an extended critique, but you can read my original thoughts on the interview posted here. I’ll simply say that prominent figures or leaders have an extra responsibility to be as clear as humanly possible. Comments like “Everyone who knows me knows that.” aren’t helpful because probably few people who will read the interview will know the interviewee to that level. I doubt that TE Keller really wants to answer emails from dozens of people with questions. If TE Keller felt that he had been misquoted or misrepresented, he should follow up with the publisher. From his note to Solomon, it doesn’t sound like TE Keller is all that concerned. That, in itself, I find a bit troubling.

Overall, I’m glad to hear that a PCA church isn’t putting money into planting Roman churches, although the original interview certainly implied that. However, that a PCA church is financially supporting the planting of non-Presbyterian churches when so much remains to be done in the PCA, amongst other things, continues to disturb me. This is especially true because TE Keller has followers in the PCA who hold his model up as that which all should use. Partnering in the preaching of the gospel is one thing, helping to plant churches in other denominations is quite a different thing. Just my humble opinion…

UPDATE here.



  1. […] from “mindformissions”).  (The clarification is also much more conveniently posted here.)  I am sorry.  That needfully said, I remain greatly concerned — please see my comment #2 […]

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