Tag Archives: Timothy Keller

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 5:1-6

classism image 2

Here we are finally in the last chapter of James making a slow descent toward the runway to land this thing. We’ll be taking just the first half of chapter 5 today and finishing up next time.

As I’ve been saying all along, James’ letter addresses and undresses classism, the idea and lifestyle that one human is better than another based on external factors, like economics and social standing. You can’t be the kind of Christian that James, to say nothing of his half-brother Jesus, approve of, and at the same time, judge the relative worth of other humans based on their socioeconomic success or race or any external factor.

As in previous posts, I’ll be whetting your appetite with some hors d’oeuvres from my podcast on these verses from James 5. Please listen to the brief-ish audio and share it with someone you love!

A final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.” The Message Bible

“Making a killing” to describe a good financial deal in stock market or real estate market is an interesting colloquialism, don’t you think? Who or what is being “killed” and who benefitted from the killing? Continue reading


When is a Sword Not a Sword? (Part 2 of 2)


In part 1 of “When is a Sword Not a Sword?” I talked about the danger of using the Sword of the Spirit as a weapon against pre-Christians. Peter was granted a sword and then used it to hurt a man instead of helping him. Some more along those lines…

Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. Proverbs 29:20

Peter was pretty much of a swing-first-and-ask-questions-later kind of guy, to say nothing of his swordsmanship. I’m guessing that he wasn’t aiming to surgically sever Malchus’ ear, but like a lot of Christians whose MO is to just let it fly, he was just swinging that thing at whatever he could hit! It’s the mantra called: Ready, fire, aim! This practice dates back to the Crusades where we slash whatever is in the path of our sword and blame it on Providence! Continue reading

Is the Bible Outdated? (Part 2 of 2)

worn-out-bibleLast time we talked about how the Bible is a more reliable source of self-identification than one’s culture.

When we define ourselves based on our desires rather than on something as unchanging as the Word of God we’re either being dishonest or unaware of how our current culture affects our sense of who we think we are. For example when someone today says: “I have same sex desires, therefore that’s who I am. I’m gay.” Keller, using the same two issues above (turn the other cheek and homosexuality), proposes the following contrasting scenario.

Take an Anglo Saxon warrior from the shame and honor culture in the year AD 1200. This particular warrior has two strong impulses. The first is to kill people who are a threat to him. His culture says that might is right! The man with the bloodiest sword is the best man in the territory. To be aggressive is to survive. So when he has the urge inside to cut off the heads of his enemies and display them on stakes he’s acting in such a way that his culture applauds. He self-identifies as a man of honor. “That’s me. That’s who I am. I’m a warrior!” Continue reading

Is the Bible Outdated? (Part 1 of 2)

worn-out-bibleIf I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times that the Bible is outdated and therefore can’t be trusted to speak to our modern world. Our 21st century western culture has evolved past 1st century times, where it’s message and mores were more relevant. We’re better informed today about how the universe works and how society functions. We’ve advanced beyond the constricting limitations of a 2000 year-old book.

Which culture are we talking about?

My question is if culture is the plumb line for assessing the reliability and relevance of the Bible, which culture are we talking about – Western, Asian, Middle Eastern, African…? Continue reading

My favorite book on “justice” so far (other than the Bible, of course)

justice 3I’m ashamed to admit that I came to the table late on the social justice topic. As an aspect of God’s compassionate personality and as a significant portion of our responsibility as his followers, somehow over the years this ubiquitous Bible theme eluded me. I’ve since discovered that with the possible exception of idolatry, the Bible addresses injustice with greater frequency than any other sin.

Though “justice” is mentioned 134 times in the Bible, in my three decades of pastoral ministry I never gave one message on the concept of justice for the poor and powerless. In fact, until just a few years ago, I’d never even heard a message on it. (That’s not coming to the table late – as in during the dessert. That’s arriving after the table has been cleared and the dishes washed and put away!) Nevertheless, to coin a phrase, “Better late than never.” Continue reading

On being neighborly (Who do I have to love and how much?) Part 3 of 5ish

love your neighbor“Regardless of their record or character, all human beings have an irreducible glory and significance to them, because God loves them.” Timothy Keller

“The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.” C. S. Lewis

Neighborly: Characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, kind, obliging, helpful, hospitable, civil, generous…

In Parts 1 and 2 we’ve been looking at our call to neighborliness and just how far one has to go to respond to it. Who do I have to love and how? It seems to me that some of us are confused about this. We’re pretty good about loving our families, not God-awful with the way we treat the people in our own churches, somewhat shoddier with those in other churches, and then less than that with those who live in the square mile around our homes. But when it comes to those from “bad neighborhoods” or emaciated people from other countries it seems to be in vogue to be, let’s just say, woefully inhospitable, if not outright inhumane. Continue reading