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Archive for the ‘Tim Keller’ Category

The 2d Circuit Court of Appeals upheld last year New York City’s efforts to deny access to public schools for those who have been holding worship services there, even though every other kind of activity is permitted.  But there is good news: the District Court has granted a temporary injunction to stop the evictions.  The evictions are hitting many poorer and minority congregations, since these are the ones who cannot afford more expensive locations and are scrambling to find alternative space:

“These churches are running into the harsh reality that in New York City, it is difficult to find reasonably priced facilities,” said Jordan Lorence, an attorney who argued the churches’ side in the court case. “They are very expensive in Midtown, or they’re nonexistent in some of the poorer areas of town, where the churches do their work.”

Minorities make up the congregations of many of the churches being evicted, said city Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who is pastor of a Bronx church that’s not affected.

“There’s Koreans, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, African-Americans,” said Cabrera, who was arrested last month while protesting the city’s stance. “They’re staples in our community and they provide a volunteer base that the city can never pay for.”

The 2nd Circuit opinion relies on some pretty strange theology:

The prohibition against using school facilities for the conduct of religious worship services bars a type of activity. It does not discriminate against any point of view. The conduct of religious worship services, which the rule excludes, is something quite different from free expression of a religious point of view, which the Board does not prohibit. The conduct of services is the performance of an event or activity. While the conduct of religious services undoubtedly includes expressions of a religious point of view, it is not the expression of that point of view that is prohibited by the rule. Prayer, religious instruction, expression of devotion to God, and the singing of hymns, whether done by a person or a group, do not constitute the conduct of worship services. Those activities are not excluded.

So groups can meet to sing hymns, but they cannot meet to have a worship service and sing hymns.   Groups can meet for religious meditation services, but not for religious worship services.   Groups can meet for anti-religious teaching, but not for religious teaching if it is part of a worship service.   (It is an unfortunate coincidence that most Christian churches have their primary religious instruction in the context of a worship service.)

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Tim Keller on civil discourse, from Reason for God Introduction pp. xviii-xix:

Believers and nonbelievers will rise to the level of disagreement rather than simply denouncing one another.  This happens when each side has learned to represent the other’s argument in its strongest and most positive form.  Only then is it safe and fair to disagree with it.  That achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing.

Tim is talking about discourse between believers and unbelievers. How much more does this apply to discussions among believers?

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I highly recommend Tim Keller’s sermon on “exclusivity.” Here is a summary from the web link page:

Religion poses a danger of creating division or intolerance between groups of people. However, the gospel leads us to three things: humble service, reconciling behavior that is neither patronizing nor self-righteous, and a love toward people who hold different beliefs than we do.

He discusses two alternatives to the gospel, and shows why they are inadequate.

Here is a quote from Lesslie Newbigin to which Keller refers in his sermon:

In the famous story of the blind men and the elephant, so often quoted in the in the interests of religious agnosticism, the real point of the story is constantly overlooked. The story is told from the point of views of the king and his courtiers, who are not blind but can see that the blind men are unable to grasp the full reality of the elephant and are only able to get hold of part of it. The story is constantly told in order to neutralize the affirmations of the great religions, to suggest that they learn humility and recognize that none of them can have more than one aspect of the truth. But, of course, the real point of the story is exactly the opposite. If the king were also blind, there would be no story. The story is told by the king, and it is the immensely arrogant claim of one who sees the full truth, which all the world’s religions are only groping after. It embodies the claim to know the full reality which relativizes all the claims of the religions.

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Biologos links to another blog with another statement of Bruce Waltke’s position on evolution and related topics:

Here is Waltke’s summary of his own position (pages 202 and 203 – note, the capitalized ADAM below refers to humanity):

The best harmonious synthesis of the special revelation of the Bible, of the general revelation of human nature that distinguishes between right and wrong and consciously or unconsciously craves God, and of science is the theory of theistic evolution.

By “theistic evolution” I mean that the God of Israel, to bring glory to himself,

1. created all the things that are out of nothing and sustains them

2. incredibly, against the laws probability, finely tuned the essential properties of the universe to produce ADAM, who is capable of reflecting upon their origins

3. within his providence allowed the process of natural selection and of cataclysmic interventions – such as the meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs, enabling mammals to dominate the earth – to produce awe-inspiring creatures, especially ADAM

4. by direct creation made ADAM a spiritual being, an image of divine beings, for fellowship with himself by faith

5. allowed ADAM to freely choose to follow their primitive animal nature and to usurp the rule of God instead of living by faith in God, losing fellowship with their physical and spiritual Creator

6. and in his mercy chose from fallen ADAM the Israel of God, whom he regenerated by the Holy Spirit, in connection with their faith in Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, for fellowship with himself.

It looks like Waltke is another person who accepts scientifically detectable evidence of design, at least based on the fine tuning of the universe. He seems to accept the same kind of design argument from nature that Tim Keller uses in The Reason for God. Does anyone know if he has elaborated on this?

In addition, his version of “theistic evolution” is quite different from other formulations. Specifically, he believes that God specially intervened in human history, and “by direct creation made ADAM a spiritual being.”

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