Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Tim Keller at Urban Plant Life

Dr. Keller did not disappoint. He delivered helpful talks on preaching, the city and integrative ministry. I have never received such full handouts at any conference I have attended. He clearly has spent a lot of time thinking about ministry in a city context.

One example of his creatively orthodox approach to preaching, can be found in how he handles the kinds of topics that our culture finds offensive.

He talks about "A" doctrines and "B" doctrines. "A" represents those doctrines that a culture finds attractive and "B" those that it finds offensive. These differ from culture to culture. For example, in the West people find the Christian emphasis on forgiveness an attractive doctrine, whereas God's justice and judgment offends. In other cultures it is the other way round.

He says that we can communicate the "B" doctrines on the back of "A" doctrines. He compares these two categories of doctrine to a pile of stones and a pile of logs that you want to get across a river. If you try to float the logs on the stones, it doesn't work. However, if you tie the logs together and put the stones on top, you can float the whole lot across the river.

The logs are the "A" doctrines and the stones are the "B" doctrines.

He used an example from a sermon he delivered recently on abortion. He based his appeal on the Western idea of human rights founded on the image of God in man - which Westerners find attractive and presented his pro life position (which is a divisive issue in our culture) on that basis.

I thought that approach was really good. The whole day was worth it for that one insight!

Thanks to London City Mission for hosting the event.

I hope that the talks will be made available to download. Some previous Keller talks at LCM can be found here

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