Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I'm re-reading Tim Keller's The Reason for God, and here he talks about his Manhattan-based Church of the Redeemer, which has a congregation of some 6,000...
Redeemer's basic doctrines - the deity of Christ, the infallibility of the Bible, the necessity of spiritual rebirth through faith in Christ's atoning death - are in unity with the orthodox, supernatural beliefs of the evangelical and Pentecostal churches of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the US South and Midwest. These beliefs often put us in conflict with views and practices of many people in the city. At the same time, we have been delighted to embrace many other aspects of urban, pluralistic culture. We emphasize the arts, value racial diversity, stress the importance of working for justice in the city for all its inhabitants, and communicate in the language and with the sensibility of our city-centre culture. Most of all we stress the grace of a Saviour who ate with people the establishment called 'sinners' and loved those who opposed him. All of these things are very important to Manhattan residents.
Some years ago a man from a southern US state visited Redeemer. He had heard that though we held to orthodox Christian doctrine, we had grown large in the midst of a sceptical, secular city. He expected to find that we were attracting people with avant-garde music, video monitors and clips, dramatic sketches, exceptionally hip settings, and other kinds of eye-catching spectacle. To his surprise he found a simple and traditional service that, on the surface, seemed identical to those in his more conservative part of the world. Yet he could also see that the audience contained many people who wouldn't have ever attended the churches he knew. After the service he met me and then said, 'This is a complete mystery to me. Where are the dancing bears? Where are the gimmicks? Why are these people here?"
I directed him to some 'downtown art-types' who had been coming to Redeemer for some time. They suggested that he look beneath the surface. One person said that the difference between Redeemer and other churches was profound, and lay in 'irony, charity, and humility.'
quotes from pages 42/3.
So where's Brent Stavig, you say? Why would you ask that in a post about Tim Keller and the remarkable Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer in Manhattan? Particularly since Stavig isn't in Manhattan, and hasn't even been in New York City for some time - last I heard, back in 2007, he was living in Seattle. Anyway, he's now managed to appear, in his turn, in this post.