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Four Theological Problems With Tim Keller and Why He Should Be Avoided



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Tim Keller is the former senior pastor and founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York and is a best-selling author of several books relating to theology and apologetics. He is also one of the founders of The Gospel Coalition — an Evangelical blog consisting primarily of Southern Baptists and Presbyterians who share a common interest in practical theology.

Keller is held in high regards as one of the most profound theologians of the modern New Calvinist movement and his influence is on par with that of other theologians such as John MacArthur and the late R.C. Sproul. His teachings are part and parcel in practically every Evangelical church in America from Calvinist-leaning to Arminian.

Yet, Tim Keller, as popular and influential as he may be, holds to, practices, and teaches some very dangerous theology.

Theistic Evolution

Tim Keller is a staunch advocate of theistic evolution — that is, the belief that evolution, as taught by Darwinians, is mostly true with the exception that God has played a hand in it. Keller teaches that God used evolution as his method of creation and that the biblical account of creation is not literal.

In a paper he published at Biologos, he argued that in dealing with people who are unable to reconcile science with their Christian views, Christians must figure out how to present the Scriptures to them in a way that seems compatible with science. Theistic evolution was also heavily pushed in his 2008 book, The Reason For God, where he sought the solution to doubt — which he insists is normal and healthy — is to reconcile the secular view of evolution with the biblical creation account.

The compromise is extremely dangerous because it undermines the truthfulness and reliability of Scripture. Not only does it call into question the reality of the fallen nature of man and the curse the world is under because of sin — it also calls into question the reliability of the doctrines of the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Himself.

Eastern Mysticism

Tim Keller practices and teaches such things as contemplative/centering prayer — also known as “wordless prayer” — which is a method of emptying one’s mind into solitude.

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In 2009, Keller’s church taught a class called The Way of the Monk which involved several dangerous practices including contemplative prayer.

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Under the guise of “biblical mysticism,” Keller has continued to promote this dangerous practice.

Roman Catholicism

Tim Keller has sought common ground with the most subversive false church in all of history — the Roman Catholic Church. Keller has spent much time platforming the works of Roman Catholic mystics and theologians such as Flannery O’Connor and Peter Kreeft.

In his book, The Reason For God, Keller cited Flannery O’Connor as his favorite example of a depiction of God’s grace, over and above the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley. The fact that a so-called “Reformed” theologian would cite a lost, Roman Catholic mystic with a false gospel as someone whose works were worthy of exemplifying God’s grace is more than baffling, it’s disturbing. Perhaps this is why one of his most famous church members left his church to convert to Roman Catholicism while he stood silently by.

Social Justice

But perhaps the most dangerous of Keller’s views and teachings are his teachings on social justice. It is important to understand that Keller has redefined the gospel to include works. It is in the same category as the Galatian heresy of adding to the gospel. Tim Keller, in one sermon, said posed the question “How do you know you’re saved by faith?” He responded to this with a gospel of social justice, stating,

You care about the poor. When you see people without resources, your heart goes out to them. If it doesn’t, maybe you’re saved, but you’re lacking the evidence of salvation. Justification leads to justice. Justice is the sign of justification. It’s all through the Bible.

You can see the entire sermon here.

Keller has continued to advocate the false conflation of justice and “social justice” which translates into a gospel of works righteousness. It is no more than the heresy propagated by the early 20th-century theologian, Walter Rauschenbusch who wrote A Theology For the Social Gospel.

This article is not exhaustive by any means but is meant to be a primer on the many ways that Tim Keller has compromised the gospel and the body of Christ with his false teachings. It is also meant to serve as a launching pad for you to research these serious errors and heresies on your own. Faithful pastors should not, under any circumstances, turn their flock toward such a dangerous and subversive man — to do so would be to feed them spiritual poison. Jesus said to feed them, not poison them.


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Norma Price

Hello Jeff Maples, Thank you for writing this article. I wish someone would write a book. My husband and I have been combating the issue of Tim Keller for at least seven years. Warning many (including our own children) … only to fall on deaf ears. This past year the church we currently attend (an ev free church) has increasingly shown signs of going the way of what we call Tim Kellerism/Social Justice/Missional mindset. It saddens us. Three younger (40's) pastors that are increasingly quoting people like Keller, Keller himself, catholic priest authors, psychologist etc. etc. We head up one… Read more »

judi VanderMark

Norma, I can so relate to what you are saying. I am also concerned with the Social Justice movement and how there is a Social gospel replacing the true gospel..our son lives in NYC and attends elsewhere yet I cannot help but think that many of the NYC pastors have laid hold of these unbiblical solutions to man's basic problem of sin. I long for Pastors to teach through the Bible precept upon precept, line upon line rather than topically–I think that is how these additions to God's Word come about…thank you for your comment….judi

Diana Yovanovich

I have been in a PCA church that embraced Kellers teaching; Prodigal God is required reading for membership; a book I was most uneasy with. I do not like to blog personal stories – but mine is real and involved, and there was a bruising- but I can agree that I was not wrong in my discernment about Tim Keller. Its been a lonely time since my membership was dropped, as I drifted away the church -due to personal issues in my life that needed payer and support – The Lord is my Sheperd and I trust Him to Love… Read more »


Due to the utter impossibility of the gradual formation of a living, irreducibly-complex cell, darwinism cannot possibly be a scientifically-proven fact. Thus, the claim that it did is based solely on faith.

Darwinism is a heretical denial of the first 11 chapters of the bible and of what Jesus said about our first parents that has major soteriological implications (Romans 5:12)!



Bob Schuckert

As tired as it sounds, Western Christianity has been "evolving" in reformation as well as in developing the "correct" interpretation of God's Word. When mere humans decide that their theology (perceptions of God) is more important than "knowing" God (re-read the book of Job and realize that this is one of the main themes of the story (symbolic or literal) we need to re-think our "state of being" in Christ. I believe that God's warnings are as applicable today as they were when originally spoken and followed by the original disciples and Apostles: 1 Corinthians 4:6  ”6 Now, brothers and… Read more »

Ed Garrison

How horrid! 1. Tim looks intelligently at Genesis and sees all the hallmarks of the allegorical genre. 2. He looks back on the deeply contemplative techniques of ancient mystics and encourages frazzled modern-day Christians to consider them. 3. He seeks common ground with Christian brethren in the largest Christian denomination. 4. He desires justice in society as well as among individuals. Disgusting! Here's the solution 1. Let's ignore the true meaning of scripture and take everything literally, so the 23rd Psalm proves that David was actually turned into a sheep for a while. If we don't like the results of… Read more »

Frank C Goss

I am of average intelligence. I can read and study on my own and come to conclusions which I believe are properly founded. Also, I can "sense" something is going on within the American church that should be addressed. The spirit of the age is infecting the pulpit and our seminaries. Secularism is staking out its ground among our leaders and it is evidenced within the lives of the congregations. The Germans use the word, "zeitgeist", we say "spirit of the age". I read history and enjoy it immensely. I have books which are old and worn which depict the… Read more »

Dawn Gifford VanWing

Thank you for this article. There is a group who is writing about what’s going on in the church .. namely the apostasy that is spoken of here called “ Lighthouse Trails “ Young people today are being so caught up in the New Calvinist Movement …Tim Keller organizer of it , John Piper is the spokesmen / orator Al Mohler writer Mark Driscoll is the evangelist for it and it was started with new covenant theology You can’t call them all new Covenant because some are Amil but they are all “ progressive sanctification “ They don’t mention the… Read more »

A. Tan, Jr.

The error in Keller is subtle because he uses Scripture to justify his social gospel position. For example, he equates justice with helping the poor. This is not valid. Secondly, he ignores total depravity and asserts that the world will realize their need for justification just by watching Christians care for the poor. (This is in his talk on Justification and Justice). Third, his definition of sin is watered down and very Aristotelian. Man's primacy sin, as Van Til pointed out is autonomy, which is rebellion against God. That cannot be gleaned by pagans watching the church do "justice" to… Read more »


Wow! I only recently heard of Tim Keller and watched him on youtube. I didn't understand him to say any of what you propose he stands for. What I understood him to say is that the entire old testament points to Jesus as our savior. That the Bible is about Jesus, not about our works. That it's about his Grace given freely for which we don't deserve.

Fane Conant

Beware falling out with a brother over secondary issues. Does Tim Keller preach the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ through faith? YES! The Apostle Paul would encourage him.

Have people been converted through Tim Keller's ministry? YES! If only more people were like him.

Has God blessed Redeemer Church through him? YES! Beware of castigating a brother who God is blessing.

Robyn Hamilton

Tim Keller does not preach salvation by works. He goes to great lenghths to say that forgiveness is a gift and cannot be achieved by any act of ours. He is very biblical in all of his approaches in his sermons and speaks with great insight. You are being critical where you do not need to be! This man is a gem and has helped me through so much of my doubting to come to a place of real peace and joy in the salvation which is mine through Jesus Christ's shed blood for me and His consequent resurrection.


You, sir, made my night. Thank you for giving my wife and I something to laugh about.

on a serious note I was telling my wife there's five guys besides Jesus that have helped me grow most in my life I proceeded to list them out (Keller made the list) and before I got to the fifth my wife blurts out "the babylon bee guy?" 😂

I love that woman.

Evelyn Namusoke

God bless you


From the article: "The compromise is extremely dangerous because it undermines the truthfulness and reliability of Scripture. Not only does it call into question the reality of the fallen nature of man and the curse the world is under because of sin — it also calls into question the reliability of the doctrines of the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Himself." That might be the laziest argument I've come across in a long, long time. "Basically, I disagree with Keller's views on evolution, therefore he also questions the virgin birth and the resurrection." And (gasp) Keller has the nerve… Read more »


All I can say is, I am in this world but not OF this world any longer. Enjoy your doctrines, dogmas, and finger-pointing while you can people. The Puritan Joseph Alleine prayed: "…Stand open, everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in! Amen."

dennis richardson

Philip Ward pastor at Golden Hills Community church in Brentwood, California is driving knowledgeable people away by promoting Tim Keller. However the phony Corona Virus is doing the same thing due to unemployment. Difficult to know to what degree those that have left are because they believe what I believe, Tim Keller is a False Teacher. Keller promotes unity with the 'False Christian' Roman Catholic church which is extremely unwise. That is a very great truth. I could not convince my mother that the democratic party was and is Satanic and communistic, but it is as the 2020 re-election of… Read more »


I hope he gets well but he is a FALSE teacher,leading people to HELL,ruining the church,the people & this country & I really hope he gets SAVED!!! I really hope God heals him & he is convicted of being on his way to HELL & needs to turn to Jesus for true Salvation & quit catering to this social justice garbage & read what the KJV Bible says!!!


Me too, Albert, I've listened to many of his teachings on his podcast. I find them to be thoughtful, loving, straight shooting and rich in scripture – rooted utterly in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have ministered to me greatly. There are some areas on which I do not agree with him, but I consider it all and take it to the Lord. I think there is some 'error' in all of us. God bless us all, yes sometimes false teaching is blatant and severe and needs to be called out, but I don't find his teaching that at… Read more »


Excellent response. Many on the pew no longer fear God, they fear flesh. They want to fit in instead of being set-apart in Christ. We who have not bent a knee to Baal must remain faithful to Christ, the Word of God Who has not, does not and will not change!

God bless you my brother and all those who stand with the Christ of God!

Laurie Milam

Frank, that was an excellent reply, and echoes my exact beliefs, and many of my friends' as well. I say, 'stay the course' Biblically-speaking. We must not deviate from His written Word, nor to 'adjust' the Scriptures to fit popular narratives, nor look to mystics for any 'further revelation' of Him. The Word of God IS sufficient, as is. God is Sovereign, and rules Supreme. His Authority is FINAL, and I have placed my faith, hope, and trust in Him alone.

Laurie Milam

Amen! Keller, and his ilk are counting on people NOT reading/studying/knowing their Bibles, so that when they are busy cherry-picking/twisting/desecrating God's Word, to fit their narratives, their congregants won't recognize it, because they either are too lazy to pick up their Bibles and READ/STUDY/KNOW what it says-for themselves, or just don't care. Keller and his ilk also conveniently label those of us who BELIEVE God's Word literally- as 'intolerant', 'legalistic', 'inflexible', 'lacking understanding', and 'antiquated.' I become angry when I read just how easily these false teachers have wormed their way into main-stream evangelical churches, bringing in their poison, and… Read more »

[…] for this particular label. First, he positively cites Tim Keller (pp. 52, 72, 108-109). Keller is a false teacher who claims that the Scriptures say that if you have white skin, you’re involved in injustice, […]

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