Friday, April 1, 2011

Preaching the Entire Word vs. The Theology of Silence

Tim Keller is a fine preacher with a lot to say, but he doesn’t say everything he needs to say. In an interviewer-prompted conversation with Keller on the subject of “justice” at the Ethical Culture Society, his silence spoke loudly. When Keller was asked if he thought that gay marriage was a civil rights issue that the church should promote, Keller was evasive and ambiguous.

He is not alone in this. Many pastors decline to speak on the hot red-button issues lest they prevent the Gospel from being heard. Although this concern might be noble, it is also naïve and un-Scriptural. It is naïve for many reasons. For one thing, the gay agenda is not merely one of marital equality; it also entails the silencing of any critical voices, even if it requires the persecution of people who don’t share their opinions.

Already, many Christians have been targeted because their opinions haven’t meshed with a full acceptance of the gay lifestyle. The Ocean Grove Christian Association was targeted. A lesbian couple challenged them for the use their pavilion to get married. was targeted to require this Christian organization to carry gay meet-up ads, even though this would require them to violate their beliefs. Many have already lost their jobs because they risked speaking up off the job on this explosive issue. A lawsuit was brought against a Bible publisher charging that the Bible is “homophobic.” Churches are being intimidated merely because they believe in the traditional understanding of marriage. Christian groups that are offering assistance to those who want to leave the gay lifestyle are also being harassed, and those who carry their ads are being threatened.

In light of this, we see that silence will not produce a real and lasting peace. It can’t! Meanwhile, faithfulness requires us to take a stance for truth (Jude 3). If we are going to be embroiled in a defense for the faith – and faithfulness requires this – it is better that we take our stance where Scripture draws the line.

Given the present trajectory, it is only a matter of time before Keller is backed into the corner by homosexualist agenda and forced to declare one way or another. This is what happened to Rick Warren, who now conveniently denies that he ever was against gay marriage.

More importantly, such a strategy of silence is un-Scriptural. Paul, in his final meeting with the Ephesian elders, declared his innocence before them by virtue of the fact that he had not withheld from them any of the teachings of the Bible:

• Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:26-27)

This indicates that if we fail to speak even some of the teachings of God, we are culpable. This is especially true when we refuse to speak against certain very prevalent sins, and sin defiles, deceives and ultimately kills (Romans 7:11). Therefore, the pastor’s job is to afflict those comfortable with sin – those in denial – in hope of rescuing them from the clutches of sin (2 Tim. 2:24-26; Titus 1:7-11; James 5:19-20).

The prophets of Israel contended with the false prophets for this reason. The false ones were always preaching a very comfortable and marketable message, but this message angered the Lord:

• Jeremiah 8:11: They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace.

• Ezekiel 13:10: Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash,

Silence preaches acceptance. It says, “There’s no big deal about your behavior. If there was, as a pastor, I would have told you.” When we refuse to call a sin a “sin,” we are in essence preaching “peace” where there is no peace. We are denying our listeners the hope that comes through repentance:

• Lament. 2:14: The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity.

Love may not be expedient, but it seeks the best for the one who has not yet repented of his sins. Jeremiah lamented the fact that, although the false prophets were teaching a comforting message, it didn’t go deep enough. It failed to “expose…sin” in the hope of bringing healing.



Dear, Daniel,

Thank you for writing. Dr. Keller is not able to review or respond to individual articles. However, for Dr. Keller's publically stated position regarding gay marriage, I would suggest you look at the Manhattan Declaration (, of which Tim was one of the original signatories.

In Him,

Andi Brindley
Assistant to Dr. Tim Keller

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