TIM KELLER ON THE 3 BIGGEST IDOLS IN WESTERN CHURCHES TODAY
In Tim Keller’s eyes, here are the three biggest idols in western churches today, followed up with secondary points that Keller includes:
- Instead of looking to the Word of God to be their norm and their guide, people tend to look to their own experience, feelings, intuitions, and impressions to be their guide.
- This is part of [Western] individualism.
- Emotion and expression are very good, but when you make it more important than the Word of God, or put it higher than the Word of God, it becomes an idol.
- This might surprise some people that I say this.
- But I do think some people make an idol out of doctrine.
- There are some sectors of the church that say if you have your doctrine straight, and if you have your doctrine right, then you’re pleasing to God.
- If you have your doctrine right, they say, then you are part of the solution, not the problem: you’re not heretical like everyone else.
- There is a pride and a smugness about having good doctrine that, to me, almost puts it into the place of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
- Instead of looking to the church to give themselves into community, people look to the church to get the services they want.
- They have emotional, vocational, and relational needs and they go to a church because it is a good place to network.
- People see the church as a mall, rather than a family that they give themselves to.
- Consumerism becomes the idol – that is, my felt needs become an idol; they are more important than being apart of a community.
From Keller’s point of view, these idols are the ones that are most prominent. But this is not the consensus – not every church struggles with the same idol in the same way. Keller adds, “These idols don’t exist equally across the whole church. Certain sectors of the church struggle more than others, but these idols are all there, and they hurt us quite a bit.”
About Tim Keller
Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.
He is also Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for faith in an urban culture. In over ten years they have helped to launch over 250 churches in 48 cities. More recently, Dr. Keller’s books, including the New York Times bestselling The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, have sold over 1 million copies and been translated into 15 languages.
Christianity Today has said, “Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians.”
Dr. Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He previously served as the pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and Director of Mercy Ministries for the Presbyterian Church in America.