In new book, Keller engages in
reflection and teaching of the text
By Walter L. Taylor, Special to The Layman, August 16, 2011
Inspired in part by scholarly developments in the modern “quest for the historical Jesus,” Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, has written a theologically solid yet generally accessible work, King’s Cross. As a pastor living and working at the crossroads of the world, Keller has applied his abilities as a Biblical expositor, cultural critic and compassionate pastor to produce a reflection on the Gospel of Mark that should be in the personal libraries of pastors, elders and serious Christians everywhere. Opening his work with a discussion of modern critical rejections of the Gospels as nothing more than the life of Jesus recreated, Keller argues that recent scholarly developments have shown that these hyper-critical rejections need no longer to be taken seriously.
But rather than get bogged down in endless debates over the veracity of the Gospel, Keller does what every Reformed pastor should do; he engages in serious
reflection and teaching of the text. Keller’s application of the Gospel of Mark to real life draws from examples and illustrations as varied as Homer’s Iliad, Harry Potter and the New York Times, yet always illuminates the message of the Biblical text itself. What also makes King’s Cross a joy to read is that while Keller views critically the increasingly secular culture of American society, he does not write in the way of an angry diatribe, a temptation many of us face when engaging critically with the culture. Rather, he writes as one who shows complete confidence in the power of the Gospel to find its own following simply by its being
King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus.
New York: Dutton, 2011.
presented to the world. Keller summarizes this confidence when he writes:
“If secularism, psychology and relativism on the one hand and religion and moralism on the other don’t actually give us what we need to be unselfish, what does? The answer is, we need to look somewhere else besides ourselves. We need to look to at Jesus. If He is indeed a substitutionary sacrifice, if He has paid for our sins, if He has proved to our insecure, skittish little hearts that we are worth everything to Him, then we have everything we need in Him. It’s all a gift to us by grace” (p. 151).
Keller’s exposition and application of the Gospel of Mark does for the reader what it should do (at least it did it for me); it makes the reader want to pick up the Bible and study it all the more. What Keller reminds us of in this work is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to be good news to the world, the wisdom of God that need not fear anything from the wisdom of the world.
Keller’s work is careful. He has done his homework on the text. He has also done his homework on the world. Keller knows the Word, but he also knows the world he is addressing. In this, King’s Cross serves as a fine example to pastors and teachers everywhere that we must know both the text of Scripture as well as the people we want to address with its message. Keller has given us a wonderful example of how to do this.
Rev. Walter L. Taylor is the pastor of Oak Island Presbyterian Church, Oak Island, N.C.