Posted by: reformedmusings | March 12, 2008

The Keller Interview Redux

Well, things get even more interesting on the ol’ Net. Let’s review the bidding first. First Things published an interview of PCA TE Tim Keller on the occasion of Keller’s new book. This humble blogger, The Confessional Outhouse, Borg Blog, and others published our thoughts on some of the things TE Keller said. Solomon Li wrote to TE Keller to get his response, and published it in a comment on The Confessional Outhouse (just over 1/2 way down the page). I republished that response here because it was difficult to find at the Outhouse due to WordPress’ comment system.

Somewhere along the line, Anthony Sacramone, the original interviewer, read TE Keller’s response. He published his thoughts on that response here, linking to my humble blog (thanks, Mr. Sacramone) (HT: from the cheap seat).

OK, a few thoughts. First, human communication remains fraught with imperfection. It seems to me that all involved are sincere and honest individuals, some of whom disagree at points. None of the disagreements come out of the blue. TE Keller has said and written things that some, including me, consider controversial. Some things, not everything by any stretch. From what I’ve read of TE Keller’s theology, especially his sermons, he’s solidly Reformed. Let’s get that out of the way up front.

Next, Mr. Sacramone said in his response:

If Pastor Keller thought my imperfect editing job had in any way, even unintentionally, misrepresented what he had said to me, he has had two weeks to get in touch with me to that effect. I have heard neither from him nor his publicist, to whom I sent a link to the interview the morning it went live. I have not received even a single email or phone call from anyone who knows Keller questioning my representation of his views—quite the contrary; the feedback I have received from people who know and have worked with him has been uniformly laudatory. This leads me to believe that the interview accurately reflects the pastor’s views.

I didn’t say anything in my previous two posts on this subject because I had no data points through which to draw a line. I wondered if TE Keller had tried to clear up any “imperfections” in the printed version of the interview. According to the interviewer he didn’t. I’m not sure what to make of that given the blog response to the article.

Again from Mr. Sacramone:

In other words, I could only reproduce what was there, not what wasn’t. Now, if my editorial skills were are at fault here, then I wish Pastor Keller had stated plainly what was left out of his responses to me that would have provided the context that would have staved off any misconstrual on a critical reader’s part. (In fact, the blogger who reproduced Keller’s response to the interview more or less says the same thing.)

Exactly correct. Leaders have a serious responsibility to be clear on issues. According to Mr. Sacramone’s response, nothing on the cutting room floor alters the meaning of what appeared in the interview. I see a bit of a disconnect, then, between TE Keller’s comments about how the interview was spliced and what the interviewer said happened. Again, human communication remains fraught with imperfection and good people can and do see things differently at times.

After some thought, I decided to leave this situation for the gentle reader to judge for themselves. I have already stated my views in the two previous related posts. I will close by repeating a lesson learned through painful experience: leaders have a special responsibility to speak clearly and guard their words carefully. Having said that, we all fall short on that responsibility in this life. Ultimately, the good that we say and do comes by way of God’s grace. The bad usually winds up on YouTube.

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