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Christianity under attack – Hot Springs Sentinel

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Pastor Chuck DeVane
Special to The Sentinel-Record
On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
— Matthew 16:18, ESV
Tim Keller was a rock who rolled away earlier this year. For those of you who are not familiar with him, Keller was a stellar pastor, sometimes professor, consistent leader, and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had recently retired as founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He authored several excellent books and was a much sought-after speaker at conferences. He fought cancer valiantly and left behind a testimony of courage and complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ.
Keller was one of my heroes, as most of this Baptist preacher’s heroes are Presbyterians and old-school Anglicans. We attended the same seminary where he was a rock star and I was a pebble. He had the most beautiful balance of truth and love, intellect and spirit, seriousness and joy. He believed in the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and the traditional values established by the Scriptures and held by Christendom for the past 2,000 years.
For his biblical, orthodox, and historic beliefs, Keller was viciously verbally attacked. The venom came out when Princeton University (a historic Presbyterian college and seminary) announced he would receive the prestigious Abraham Kuyper Award (named after another old-school Reformed hero, whose beliefs would line up and down the line with Keller’s). Faculty, students, and alumni of Princeton went ballistic and demanded the reward be rescinded, and it was.
The reason Princetonians rose up to attack Keller and take away his award is simple but scary. Keller was a Christian, who preached the Christian Gospel, and held to the Christian beliefs of the Christian Bible. Christianity like Keller’s has been under attack since the first advent of Christ, and won’t stop until the second. But these days it is an inside job, coming from those who profess to be Christians, but subvert the Christian faith and its churches and institutions.
One Princeton alum, ironically a Baptist pastor, seemed to best represent the school’s spirit. He said Keller’s biblical and historic beliefs are “an oppressive force, intent on repression and exclusion.” Then he added this telling tale: “Refusing to endorse Keller is important precisely because it is his Christendom that must fall for Christianity to be reborn.”
Look at those words carefully. Biblical, historic Christianity is under attack by those who want denigrate the Gospel, delegitimize the Holy Scriptures, and redefine completely what it means to be a Christian, a Christian Church, or a Christian institution. They have certainly succeeded at Princeton, Harvard and Yale, too, and all the other Ivy Leagues schools that ironically were founded by people who believed just like Tim Keller. They have succeeded by subverting once great and faithful denominations of churches, most recently the United Methodist Church.
Tim Keller was attacked, by professing Christians at Princeton, for believing Christ is the only way of salvation. They call this “triumphalism,” in a most negative context. But the Gospel is triumphant, positively, conquering sin and death by grace through faith in Jesus Christ! And the Lord Himself must have been a narrow-minded exclusivist, for He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).
Tim Keller was denounced by Princeton for being part of a denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) that holds to biblical standards of gender and sexuality. So does mine (the Southern Baptist Convention, of which I am only loosely affiliated). Ordaining females to ministry is something upon which we can agree to disagree. Loving and caring about LGBTQ peoples is something upon which we should all agree. But I also agree with Keller that when the Bible speaks on such issues, it is the gold standard given to us by God for His glory and our good.
Tim Keller lost his award from Princeton. But when he passed from this life to the next, he received an infinitely greater award from our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. And, so will we, if we repent and believe the gospel, speak the truth in love, and worship and serve the Lord. Let the attacks come, from without or within. We know who wins in the end.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].
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Written by: Christianity Today

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