From time to time, Pastor and notable author Timothy Keller schedules a time on Twitter to answer questions about the Bible, ministry, book recommendations, and his personal life. Below is the most recent #AskTK event that took place July 28, 2014.
For the sake of convenience, I have linked to articles and books he references. Some links are Amazon affiliate links, which means Amazon shares with me a small % of the sale with no extra cost to you (just for disclosure’s sake!).
Q: Favorite puritan?
TK: That’s easy, John Owens because Jonathan Edwards is not technically a Puritan.
Q: Favorite Lewis book?
TK: Another easy one: Mere Christianity.
Q: What is your opinion of “praying in tongues”?
TK: I like Don Carson’s book “Showing the Spirit” on this one. Balanced, thoughtful, and rooted in Scripture.
Q: Was there ever a point in the last several years that you questioned your role in ministry?
TK: When Kathy was sick a few years ago, I questioned if I should leave ministry for a while.
Q: Do you envision a time where we will see a “consolidation” of Christian denominations? church seems too fragmented
TK: As long as The Church strives for both unity AND purity there will always be denominations.
Q: Shake Shack or In-N-Out?
TK: Easy, Shake Shack in NYC. Better quality meat.
Q: Advice for young educators? (I teach English lit to 12-17 year olds)
TK: Similar to a question last time: At that age they need Christianity modeled more than explained.–Doesn’t have to be Christian education, just modeling your faith is important for 12-17 year olds.
Q: Favorite Doctor [Who]?
TK: David Tennant. Bonus: Favorite episode is “Blink.” Of course.
Q: Have you read Harry Potter- if yes, did you like them… If no- why not?
TK: Yes loved them, great examples of sacrificial love conquering evil reminds me of another story.
Q: Favorite coffee shop in NYC?
TK: None. I don’t drink coffee. I’m a Harney and sons Tea kind of guy, not to mention PG Tips.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
TK: The Black Stallion
Q: What advice, counsel, or scripture would you give to a new father struggling with anger?
TK: Get help in discovering what idols are at the root of your anger.
Q: What brings you the most joy in ministry?
Q: Ministry ever hurt so bad you thought your heart couldn’t take anymore?
TK: Of course.
Q: One mistake you witness church planters making more frequently than others?
TK: Concentration on superficialities-such as vibe or look.
Q: The Narnia series or LOTR- preference? Downtown attender Ryan Frater and I have a bet going.
TK: I do not prefer one over the other. They are too different.
Q: Literal Adam, common ancestry, both, or agnosticism on this question?
TK: I believe in a literal Adam and all human beings are descended from Adam.
Q: Should infant baptism be an issue that ends a dating relationship?
TK: You shouldn’t marry someone who will not happily go to the same church with you.
Q: I’ve listened to your sermon on God’s love for cities. How do you feel about rural ministry?
TK: I think its important. See my article “The Country Parson” from 2009.
Q: Can a person be a Christian without being a member of a church?
TK: Yes, but you are not an obedient Christian if u are not a member of a church. You can’t obey Heb 13:17 without membership.
Q: Confused while trying to see story of Jesus/Gospel while reading 1&2 Chronicles. Can you help?
TK: See Michael Wilcock on 1&2 Chronicles.
Q: Your process to teaching someone how to pray?
TK: I have a book coming out in Nov. on prayer and it’s my effort to teach people how to pray more fruitfully.
Q: Calvinism or Arminianism?
TK: Calvinism. You must have known I would say that? 🙂
Q: Advice for someone who wants to be a future theology teacher?
TK: Get some pastoral experience as well as a great academic degree.
Q: How redemptive suffering/pain can remit the just punishment for one’s sins ?
TK: It can’t. See Martin Luther on this.
Q: What is your advice for how to better foster Christian community, particularly in a college environment?
TK: My son says you have to make time for each other, convince them to do it not over the internet, and cultivate vulnerability.
Q: Tips for raising a family in the city?
TK: My wife Kathy has written on “Why the City is a wonderful place to raise children.” It is very good.
Q: Are there any books you would recommend to someone who is grieving? My friends just lost a child at 6months old.
TK: Books are hard with those who are grieving, but try to find Elisabeth Elliot’s book “A Path Through Suffering.”
Q: What would you say is the MAIN difference between teaching and preaching?
TK: The goal. The goal of teaching is inform the mind, maybe warm the heart, but preaching is worship.
Q: What would you say is the primary purpose of apologetics?
TK: To clear the way for evangelism.
Q: Is the Problem of Evil the biggest objection to faith people have today?
TK: It is still in the top 2. The other one is the charge of narrowness and bigotry, but that has many forms.
Q: Would you care to mention one of your failings that we might find encouraging? Many thank yous.
TK: Not one-I have struggled with sins of all types-not enough love, not enough faith, not enough hope, self-pity, selfishness, more
Q: Why did God create people. Did His own great value compel Him with an irresistible enthusiasm to share Himself?
TK: Read Edwards “Concerning the End for which God created the World.” [or Kindle version]
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would tell your younger self, or something you wished you knew then that you know now about The Lord?
TK: I would tell him that prayer is way more important than he thinks.
Q: Recommend any bible reading plans?
TK: I like to use M’Cheyne’s first three columns. That takes you through the Bible once in a year, three chapters a day.
Q: Why are so many of our fellow Reformed believers so bitter/angry?
TK: In fairness, those opposing Reformed theology seem pretty bitter and angry too. It may be “the age” and the internet.
Q: What’s your favourite book this year?
TK: Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age.
Q: Should Christians believe in souls, or just bodily resurrection?
Q: What has been the hardest book to write & why?
TK: The book I just finished, because it was on Prayer.
Q: Serious question: Have you read @james_ka_smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular? If so, any thoughts?
TK: Yes, It’s a very subtle and sophisticated critique of secularism. Christians need it.
Q: What was your favorite Theological class? Undergrad or Grad
TK: Meredith Kline’s class on Old Testament theology.
Q: How much does your wife influence how you think, prep, and preach?
TK: Enormously. More than any living person.
Q: Any plans for a new apologetic book to come out?
TK: Yes, someday I hope.
Q: What’s the first step you take when you begin writing a new book?
TK: I read a lot of other books on the subject.
Q: An open endorser of BioLogos would almost certainly be outside the theological bounds of TGC. Why do you get a pass?
TK: Theological statement is on the website and council members are free to believe in an Old Earth.
Q: (This is real question) point me to a good understanding of “women will be saved through childbearing”?
TK: Many theories-one good one is Paul is thinking of Eve in Gen and the promise that the Savior will come through her offspring
Q: Is broccoli acceptable in casserole form?
Q: And where do you get your news from?
TK: NYT, WSJ, New Republic, Atlantic, and my sons.
Q: CS Lewis space trilogy or Chronicles?
TK: Depends on my mood.
Q: What’s your favorite color?
TK: I don’t have one.
Q: Any plans to release a daily devotional?
TK: No, I don’t however we are working with the Youversion Bible App to get stuff like that on it.
Q: Who did you want to win the World Cup?!
TK: I won’t watch or really follow many sports or sport teams. I know that makes me strange.
Q: What is the most significant theological understanding you’ve come to cherish?
TK: Simply put, Grace.
Q: What is most important when choosing someone to marry?
TK: Besides being of the same faith, it would be someone who can forgive and repent regularly.
Q: Biggest problem you see in modern evangelism efforts?
TK: Talking past each other is happening more and more as we have less and less common ground to stand on.
Q: Atonement theory: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution? Or maybe, both?
TK: Yes. Paul uses many different paradigms and we can too.
Q: How have good stories helped mature your faith?
TK: They put theoretical truths in ways I can relate to them.
Q: How was Christ able to satisfy God’s eternal wrath against man in only three hours?
TK: Longer answer needed. When Christ was separated from the Godhead, it was the first time ever that relationship was broken.
Q: Advice on raising pure, godly boys in this sex-crazed world? Or books to read on the topic?
TK: Pray for them, model faith for them, and put good filters on the internet in your home.
Q: How do you respond to the accusations that you are endorsing theistic evolution ?
TK: I’m published and on record on this topic. The problem is people have different definitions of this term.
Q: Why do you have that AWFUL popcorn ceiling?! Get out of the 70’s, man!
TK: I’m on vacation with my family. #notmyfault
Q: What cultural idols are the hardest to combat for a church in NYC?
TK: Extreme individualism, and materialism.
Q: How does one deal with the charge of narrowness and bigotry without compromising on the truth of the gospel?
TK: I talk about this in Reason for God some. The charge of narrowness is usually a culturally imperialistic assumption.
Q: How do you stay charged up during your 4th sermon in one day?
TK: It is hard. Best answer: practice.
Q: Do you play sports?
TK: No, though I do run regularly.
Q: I’m starting seminary next month. biggest piece of advice you can give me?
TK: Always ask the, “So what?”–question. When studying we can forget “the WHY we are” question.
Q: I’m getting married in 2 weeks. Just finished “Meaning of Marriage” – thanks! Any last minute words of wisdom?
TK: Have fun getting to know each other!
Q: Yoga: a danger for Christians? or a harmless workout?
TK: Depends on how you are using it. Some it is just stretching and body movements, for others its a religious position.
Q: What is the best way to get a seminary education while living in NYC?
TK: Don’t quote me on this, but we are working on an option beginning sometime in 2015 (maybe).
Q: If you could speak about one apologetic for Christianity to a group of college skeptics what would it be?
TK: Probably show that there is no such thing as a non-religious view. All views are inherently religious.
Q: What’s the difference between prayer and meditation?
TK: Prayer is the conversation between you and God-Meditation is thinking on God’s words in Scripture that can often lead to prayer
Q: Is this your first Twitter Q&A, and what do you think of Twitter for this?
TK: Nope, 4th or 5th? There are summaries of old #AskTK out there. I think Twitter is a great medium for Q&A if the answers can be shor
Q: Been a fan of your work for a long time. My Q: how are you planning to engage w the arguments in Vines’ new book?
TK: I’m not sure yet, but many of the arguments within have been around for a while.
Q: Do you have a best practice for saying “no” to others in a constructive way?
TK: Saying it in love? Whatever that looks like, depending on the context.
Q: How would you respond to the charge that the Christian faith is too narrow?
TK: Simple. Every faith is “narrow.” Even the faith that says all faiths are equal excludes those who disagree. Can’t help it.
Q: Is that why I didn’t got an answer last time? 🙂 not possible in 140 characters?
TK: Many of the questions I choose not to answer can’t be in a single sentence. So I choose not to. So–maybe!
Q: My husband and I have been married 9 months. What advice would you give us?
TK: Make you have regular “check-ins.” Communication tends to be one of the main problems with newlyweds.
Q: What’s more difficult in today’s American culture: to be married or single?
TK: They both have their unique challenges. Every era has different ones for married and singles alike.
Q: Favorite Chronicles of Narnia book?
TK: The first one, properly known as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Q: If you could recommend one book this year, what would it be?
TK: Words of Life by Timothy Ward is a great book on Scripture I read recently.
Q: What drew you to Presbyterianism, as opposed to CRC/RCA, Anglicanism, etc…?
TK: Roger Nicole’s stuff on infant baptism help start it, but Kathy was there first.
Q: How come you don’t like/pay attention to sports?
TK: It often takes too much time.
Q:Which apologetics methodology “camp” do you most ID with? Classical, evidential, Van Til, Clark, G. Lewis, etc.
TK: Probably a soft version of Van Til, though I see benefits in all the different apologetic streams.
Q: I’m attending seminary next Spring. How do you make sure that Christianity doesn’t become a purely intellectual pursuit?
TK: Keep asking the practical questions. The so what and why questions, means there is a reason for your learning.
Q: Does your wife make you watch #TheBachelorette like mine does?
Q: Who are your favorite puritans\ saints or preachers of old?
TK: John Owens, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Brooks…
Q: I know I’m late to the #AskTK party but if @timkellernyc ran a 5k with @ThabitiAnyabwil who wins?
TK: @1NickMiller Winning, but I am a one trick pony. Running is all I do.
Q: Late to #AskTK: any one theologian/pastor to study and get to know well while at GCTS? (eg Calvin, Edwards, or Bonhoeffer)
TK: Yes. All, but more likely one. Also good is Bavinck.–I would do Berkhof and then every page of Calvin’s Institutes.
Q: When is your book on prayer going to be available on Kindle?
TK: Nov, when it is released.
Q: Will Kathy be writing any more? Jesus, Justice & Gender roles best book ever read on subject
TK: I hope she will. Nothing coming out soon.
Q: What is the biggest thing your wife, Kathy has done to support you in ministry over the years?
TK: Move to New York to start Redeemer when she didn’t want to.
Q: What’s your favorite book on the Holy Spirit?
TK: Last #AskTK answer for a while. See Ferguson’s book and JI Packer’s book. They are old but good. –Packer’s book is called Keep in Step with the Spirit.