Paul Vander Klay
April 27, 2011
Great evangelists rarely make great pastors or teachers. Charles Finney is an example of a powerful, spirit-filled evangelist who made a terrible Theologian. Evan Roberts, leader of the Welsh revival was tremendously successful as a revivalist and was a disaster as a teacher or pastor. I love both of these men, Franklin Graham and Tim Keller. Graham wears his passions on his sleeve and is transparent and this means sometimes you cringe when he speaks. Tim Keller is smart, wise but sometimes I wonder where his passion is. You won't get me to choose between them or elevate one above the other because I believe their gifts and temperments differ and both have a strong ministry to the church and the world.
I am a devoted Christian, but I believe politics and the Church should be kept separate while allowed religion to be practiced. I recently donated to an excellent Christian charity,<a href="https://www.bibleleague.ca/donate.php" rel="nofollow">Bibleleauge.ca</a> and I noticed they discuss this topic in depth. It will forever persist.
Echoing Rickd, great evangelists/pastors/teachers rarely make great politicians either, and they can often make us cringe when they comment on politics. Franklin Graham may be on target when he suggests the government may have supplanted the churches and non-profits in giving relief to the poor, but I hope he would also support his brothers and sisters at Sojourners, whose biblical interpretation of "social justice" has been hammered by political and religious conservatives. Both are calling on society to address great needs; perhaps the tension of both approaches are needed. Justice and mercy and walking with God are the provenance of the church and its ministers; making political statements or associations, or commenting on government policy that may be tangentially related to the church's mission, can hurt a great evangelist's/pastor's/teacher's standing and ministry.<br>That being said, I was impressed with ABC's choices for the interviews. Both Graham and Keller are large figures in greater evangelical circles(and beyond), and garner a lot of respect along with attention.
Francis Schaeffer Nancy Pearcey Chuck Colson and the topic of Christian worldview helps us see as God sees.
I tend to look at people like Dr. King and Desmond Tutu as models for the politically-engaged Christianâ€”people who are unafraid to talk about God's demand for justice and right relations with one another, but for whom it was obvious that their expressing God's demand for justice came out of a deeply-held, and deeply-suffered-for, belief that God's justice is inseparable from God's love and compassion for all people.<br><br>Dr. King delivered a serious and prophetic message, steeped in decades of theological study and a lifetime of lived theology as as someone who literally put his life on the line every day for God's cause of justice. He was active politically in engaging the leaders of the day and pushing them in the direction of racial, economic, political, and social justice. He was unafraid to pronounce God's justice toward a society in which racial, economic, and social injustice were (and in many ways still are) the rule of the day. And he put his life on the line, believing in a God whose love and compassion for humanity would lead God to stand with the oppressed and bend the "arc of the moral universe" toward justice.<br><br>Bishop Tutu was/is similar, organizing international coalitions against the evil of apartheid and devoting his life to reconciliation between peoplesâ€”a mission he has continued to uphold throughout his lifetime, particularly after the fall of the apartheid regime (though he has now retreated somewhat from public life, taking a well-deserved rest in his retirement). He has been nothing but serious about God's demand for justice and right relations between peopleâ€”but at the same time, I defy you to find anyone who's ever encountered him interpersonally or even from a distance who doubted for one second that he was filled with God's love<br><br>As for the question of a prophetic statement of justice versus addressing people's deeply-felt personal needs, it strikes me as a bit of a first-world problem, and even more narrowly, a first-world problem for those who are relatively financially stable and of European descent. For those suffering from economic, racial, sexual, or political oppressionâ€”as many in this country and outside of it do sufferâ€”it seems to me that dealing with their "felt needs and personal issues" and working for economic, social, racial, sexual, and political justice and right relations among the world's peoples would be inseparable from one another. <br><br>That isn't to say that I don't think people's emotional needs need to be addressedâ€”in fact, the church traditions that most strongly demand justice also tend to be those with the strongest emotional undercurrents pervading their worship and communal life, as engaging the emotional needs of the oppressed in the context of the church community becomes a matter of survival rather than comfort.<br><br>A prophetic religious rhetoric of justice and reconciliation for allâ€”the kind preached and practiced by Dr. King and Bishop Tutuâ€”seems to me to be an ideal solution, emotionally and psychologically fulfilling for the oppressed <i>and</i> empowering the oppressed, witnesses to their oppression, and even those who would be counted among their oppressors to engage in the struggle to loose the bonds of oppression and break every yoke.
Anyone who has read Tim Keller, or Francis Collins, or Philip Yancey, or Richard Stearns, knows that they would agree with you on King and Tutu.<br><br>1 John 2.18: Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.<br>
Interesting point. I can see how gifting is specialized with great leaders.<br><br>Luis Palau might be an example of one who is a powerful evangelist and also an effective teacher. I don't think he'd claim to be a relational pastor or theologian (he likes to say his wife, Pat, is the real theologian in the house :). <br><br>Anyone else familiar with Luis? Agree/disagree?
Luis Palauâ€™s heart and soul is in evangelism, my father (who was a missionary to eastern europe during the bad old days) has been on his board and my brother has traveled with him to China. He has preached in our church many times, but I would not call him a teacher. He knows his gifts. For all the criticism of Franklin Graham (calling him a culture warrior) there is no one more missional. Samaritanâ€™s Purse and Franklin are first on the scene to help in ravaged tornado country, Haiti or Japan. He has no fear of talking about Jesus. I am the kind of person that would respond to Franklinâ€™s evangelistic invitation to give my life to Jesus whereas Keller might earn my respect or mental assent and actually have more influence on me as a Christian.
<br>"You won't get me to choose between them ... [Franklin Graham and Tim Keller]."<br><br>Really? That's a shame. Clearly, Christiane Amanpour is smart enough to spot the huge differences between them. That's why she presented those two interviews, side by side, in stark contrast.<br><br>Malachi 3.18: Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
So, am I understanding you to say Gavin that Franklin Graham is unrighteous, wicked and does not serve God and Keller does? What did you mean by quoting this scripture?
The intellectual, social justice approach to Christianity is not a saving faith. Tim Keller (The Reason For God) shows us that CS Lewis, Martin Luther King and Bono go together. A poisonous blend -- though Keller certainly doesn't say that -- like Rob Bell, Origen and Desmond Tutu.<br>
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