Why Tim Keller (and Alistair Begg) are Wrong About Christian Winsomeness (Ep. 154)

February 5, 2024

Tim Keller spent his life arguing that through winsomeness we can get people to accept the gospel. If the world sees Christians as good and kind, then the world would see the goodness of God and come to faith. He argued that if we are kind and thoughtful, then people will want to hear the gospel from us. And here’s the thing: if all you are talking about is what the life and conduct of a Christian should look like, there are lots of situations where we would agree with him. But that’s exactly why we take issue with the position. As we say early in the episode, there is no “balance” between being offensive and being pleasant. Our obedience to Christ requires different things of us at different times, and we aren’t responsible for how the world responds to that obedience.

And while Tim Keller died in 2023, this issue is something that the church has always struggled with and will continue to as long as there is sin in the world. In fact, in the last few weeks of January, Alistair Begg has been in the news for an issue that is fundamentally the same. In an interview from September 2023, Begg recounted how he was asked by a grandmother if she should attend the wedding of her grandson whose partner was transgender. Begg’s repsonse was that as long as her grandson understands that her belief in Jesus makes it such that she can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life that she should attend the wedding and buy him a wedding gift. His response was rightly criticized by many other pastors and Christian leaders. But the result has been a number of questions and discussions about where we should draw the line and how Christians should apply the principles and requirements of Christianity and the gospel to many different situations.

In this episode, we try to frame the topic in way that allows us to think about the issue more clearly. “Balance” and “kindness” can often be misleading, because “balance” suggests that we should be trying to find some middle ground that can only be determined by looking at the world’s response to our life and not to God’s expectations of us. And “kindness” causes us to misdefine what the word truly means as all kind actions aren’t necessarily pleasant and agreeable (like waking someone up in the middle of the night to tell them that their house is on fire.). Please join us as we discuss this important topic.

Note: In this episode we misattribute a quote to Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” While the quote is frequently used to make the point we reference in the article, we were wrong about who said it.

Listen to the audio version here: https://theconqueringtruth.com/2024/02/why-tim-keller-and-alistair-begg-are-wrong-about-christian-winsomeness-ep-154-audio/

00:00:00 Kind vs Winsome
00:04:19 Tim Keller or Us?
00:08:18 Offense of the Gospel
00:17:33 Rebuking Offensive Sins
00:26:59 Political Red Lines
00:30:23 Idol of Social Respectability
00:45:38 Showing True Love
00:50:16 Rebuke as Love
00:59:43 Tone of Speech
01:10:22 Looking At Ourselves
01:12:24 Conclusions

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