search this site

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Get the eNews

* indicates required
Email Format
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    find ben simpson on facebook
    twitter updates

    Entries in Timothy Keller (5)


    Tim Keller on MSNBC

    Two weeks ago I shared a few thoughts on work, using the work of Timothy J. Keller as a springboard. Keller was recently a guest on the MSNBC program Morning Joe. Below, you'll find Keller discussing his latest book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work.

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


    A tip of the cap to Eric Huffman, who drew my attention to this clip on Facebook.

    You Might Also Be Interested In:

    Gardening and Culture Making :: The Pattern for All of Work
    Christianity and All Forms of Work
    Common Grace :: Appreciating Good Work in All Forms


    Common Grace :: Appreciating Good Work in All Forms

    Año Mozart

    Common grace is a notion that is having a bit of a resurgence, and for good reason. In a predominantly Christian culture, the occurrences of grace outside of Christian circles are seldom noticed, for it is seldom experienced. But in a post-Christian culture, where more and more Christians find themselves working alongside or in partnership with non-Christians, experiences of truth and beauty apart from Christian belief widen our conception of God's work and God's grace, and with good reason. While God is at work in a unique way within the communities and individual lives of those who profess faith in Jesus, God is not confined to those circles. And thank goodness!

    Today we consider common grace as we continue meditating on work. "Common grace," or the notion that God dispenses good gifts to people of all races and cultures regardless of belief in him, is testified to in the Bible and has a rich history within the Christian theological tradition. This doctrine has implications for work and for our interactions with others in society, and is quite liberating for our relationships with friends and neighbors who are do not believe in Christ. A robust understanding of common grace frees us to engage with and study all of human culture, and to work together with people of good will who are also unbelievers, when our purposes overlap.

    Timothy Keller is again illuminating:

    Without an understanding of common grace, Christians will believe they can live self-sufficiently within their own cultural enclave. Some might feel that we should go only to Christian doctors, work only with Christian lawyers, listen only to Christian counselors, or enjoy only Christian artists. Of course, all non-believers have seriously impaired spiritual vision. Yet so many of the gifts God has put in the world are given to non-believers. Mozart was a gift to us--whether he was a believer or not. So Christians are free to study the world of human culture in order to know more of God; for as creatures made in his image we can appreciate truth and wisdom wherever we find it.

    Common grace means that good work can be found in every field of endeavor, being performed by Christians and non-Christians alike. But Keller, again with wisdom, says, "Christians' work with others should be marked by both humble cooperation and respectful provocation." Our tradition gives us the resources to work with others outside our community for the common good, while also naming "how our own Christian faith gives us powerful resources and guidance for what we are doing."

    You Might Also Be Interested In:

    Gardening and Culture Making :: The Pattern for All of Work
    Christianity and All Forms of Work
    Tim Keller on MSNBC


    Christianity and All Forms of Work

    Janitor brushing the walkway

    Christians have varying attitudes toward work, but many fail to make a connection between their form of work and belief in the gospel. If work is to be Christian, it is thought, it will fit within a particular kind of subculture, somehow distinguished from other businesses, not only in terms of form but also in content. But if you work as a handyman or craftsman, you are left out in the cold. How does one work as a "Christian" floor tile expert, or "Christian" roofer? Nothing about those particular fields of endeavor is uniquely Christian, at least in terms of the finished product.

    This week, I'm meditating on work, using Timothy Keller's book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, as a guide. In his chapter "A New Story for Work," Keller makes a helpful distinction concerning how Christians should view the gospel as it pertains to their work. Instead of the gospel serving as something to "look at", Keller suggests Christians should see the gospel as something to "look through."

    Keller states:

    [W]hen we say that Christians work from a gospel worldview, it does not mean that they are constantly speaking about Christian teaching in their work. Some people think of the gospel as something we are principally to "look at" in our work. This would mean that Christian musicians should play Christian music, Christian writers should write stories about conversion, and Christian businessmen and women should work for companies that make Christian-themed products and services for Christian customers. Yes, some Christians in those fields would sometimes do well to do those things, but it is a mistake to think that the Christian worldview is operating only when we are doing such overtly Christian activities. Instead, think of the gospel as a set of glasses through which you "look" at everything else in the world. Christian artists, when they do this faithfully, will not be completely beholden either to profit or naked self-expression; and they will tell the widest variety of stories. Christians in business will see profit as only one of several bottom lines; and they will work passionately for any kind of enterprise that serves the common good. The Christian writer can constantly be showing the destructiveness of making something besides God into the central thing, even without mentioning God directly.

    Keller goes on to argue that while the Bible is not "a comprehensive handbook for running a business, doing plumbing, or serving patients, it does speak to an enormous range of cultural, political, economic, and ethical issues that are very much a part of how we all live." Looking through the gospel at any field of endeavor can make a tremendous difference for how that particular work is undertaken, with the applications as diverse as the fields themselves and the practitioners who peer through a gospel lens, seeking to do their jobs under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

    How might understanding the gospel as lenses to "look through" influence how you approach your work?

    You Might Also Be Interested In:

    Gardening and Culture Making :: The Pattern for all of Work


    Gardening and Culture Making :: The Pattern for all of Work

    Gardeners Area

    Last week I wrote a post on work that got a bit of attention from readers, and I have a number of guesses concerning why. Most of us recognize the deep challenges and the great rewards that come with work, and I have yet to speak with someone who is not seeking meaning or significance in their jobs or vocations. We would like to believe that our work is worthwhile, not simply for the pay, but because it contributes to the common good, the up-building of human society. If we believe in God, we hope that our service has a connection to our faith.

    In the Bible, the first occurance of work is in Genesis 1, where God forms and fills the earth by the power of his word. In Genesis 2, prior to the moment where the man and woman take from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," God places the man in the garden to "work it and care for it." Work was included in what God deemed "good." Intuitively, we sense this, for while work can be toilsome, we have experienced the deep pleasure that comes with a job well done.

    Timothy J. Keller is one of my favorite authors, and in his book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, he explores the Genesis 1 and 2 passages, drawing out implications for us as God's representatives on this earth concerning work. Keller contends that as "God's image-bearers with regard to creation...we...carry on his pattern of work." Quoting Al Wolters, Keller notes that as an extension of God's work to form and fill the earth, "[we] carry on where God left off." Keller argues that in the pattern of the gardener, "[rearranging] the raw material of the garden so that it produces food, flowers, and beauty," we find the pattern for all of work.

    Keller writes:

    Farming takes the physical material of soil and seed and produces food. Music takes the physics of sound and rearranges it into something beautiful and thrilling that brings meaning to life. When we take fabric and make a piece of clothing, when we push a broom and clean up a room, when we use technology to harness the forces of electricity, when we take an unformed, naive human mind and teach it a subject, when we teach a couple how to resolve their relational disputes, when we take simple materials and turn them into a poignant work of art--we are continuing God's work of forming, filling, and subduing. Whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and "unfold" creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God's pattern of creative cultural development. In fact, our world "culture" comes from this idea of cultivation. Just as he subdued the earth in his work of creation, so he calls us now to labor as his representatives in a continuation and extension of that work of subduing.

    Let these words dignify your work and inject them with meaning.

    You Might Also Be Interested In:

    Christianity and All Forms of Work
    Common Grace :: Appreciating Good Work in All Forms
    Tim Keller on MSNBC 


    5 Books I'm Reading Right Now

    Reading in Solitude.

    1. Timothy J. Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work

    As with most of what Dr. Keller has written, this book is fantastic. Biblical, theologically grounded, incredibly practical, and filled with delightful illustrations from literature, film, and life, Every Good Endeavor helps Christians understand their work as a meaningful contribution to community life, whether one works as a janitor or CEO of a major corporation. It is common within Christian discourse to consider only a narrow range of activities as "spiritual," while work is thought to be a necessary toil or a consequence of the curse. Dr. Keller's work is a corrective, and a building block. It is possible to find true joy in one's work, no matter your occupation, when understood rightly in light of human nature, the gospel, and the eternal hope of the redemption of all things. I can't wait to recommend this to working professionals I know.

    2. David P. Gushee, Editor, A New Evangelical Manifesto: A Kingdom Vision for the Common Good

    In the post-election cycle, there has been a great deal of discussion on the future of evangelicalism and American politics. The first article I read in the fallout reflected grief and panic. Others were more hopeful. A New Evangelical Manifesto strikes a different tone. There is a fair share of diagnostic work on the state of the church in America, as well as laments for where Christianity has gone wrong. And in light of the problems, some constructive work for a theology that might move us forward is undertaken. But the latter half of the book, which addresses a broad range of issues from an evangelical Christian perspective, is what drew my interest. Essays on sex-trafficking, women's concerns, the abolishment of nuclear weapons, a strong statement against torture, and peacemaking compel me toward engagement, not only in theory, but in action. For evangelicals, the chapters are written by a familiar cast of characters: Brian McLaren, Glen Harold Stassen, Jennifer D. Crumpton, and Richard Cizik. I don't agree with everything written in this collection of essays, but I'm glad to see other Christians engaging in public life, working for the good of all.

    3. Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus

    This book is a bit of a phenomenon. Marketed aggressively by Zondervan and used as a rallying point for many churches, Not a Fan is a call to discipleship, not simply belief. And for this reason, it is a book to be lauded. Calling on the name of Jesus should not lead to lukewarm lives, but radical transformation. Jesus' words are challenging, his commands are clear, and the cost of following him is high. To many observers today, the gospel that has been preached has yielded a shallow Christianity, and an impoverished witness to the power of God.

    I'm still working my way through Not a Fan, and thus far Idleman reads like a preacher. Unfortunately, as is common in church leadership circles, it appears to me that Not a Fan uses broad generalizations and overstatement in order to move people. By saying, "No one is really following Jesus and taking his words seriously! Everyone is depending on Jesus for the merits of his blood without really entering in to the transformation he offers!", one overlooks the fruitful lives of many humble, quiet Christians who walk with Jesus as parents, employees, and church members. There appears to be an expectation within evangelicalism that those truly following Jesus will "win" many to Christ, that churches will, as a consequence, grow numerically, that the culture will someone be transformed through means of power rather than service, and that zeal will be evident everywhere we look. Though the research is a bit dated, Christian Smith showed in 1998 that evangelicalism at that time expressed a similar angst, yet was growing and healthy. Bradley Wright has also written that many who lament the decline of Christianity are simply not reading the data correctly, or are producing research tools that are designed to paint a dire picture, so as to set up a stark contrast for leaders crying out for increased zeal.

    Idleman's basic point--that Christianity is filled with challenges and that discipleship to Jesus is required of all who believe on him--is well taken. And for some Christians, this book might help them get off the couch and in to the game. But there is an alternative tack to take, I think, and that is discovering an articulation of the gospel that helps people realize and enter in to the love of God, taking up the "easy rhythms of grace." The evidence for truly following Jesus is not an excess of trying hard to improve, but rather a plain and visible communion with the Master.

    I'll keep reading this book. I have a friend to discuss it with.

    4. Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

    I'm just beginning this book, but am already impressed. This is the type of creative nonfiction I love to read. Drawing from personal interviews, psychology, sociology, and other fields, The Power of Habit demonstrates that we can engineer our lives to move us toward a desired result through rhythms and routines. Habits truly make us who we are, and thus should be considered carefully and chosen with wisdom. If you're a social science or leadership junkie, I recommend this book strongly. And for those who lead in the area of discipleship, this book will provide plenty of grist for thinking about how people are formed, how they change, and how we can introduce tools that establish habits leading to holiness.

    5. Allen Verhey, The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus

    Death and dying are not popular topics of conversation among Christians, and this is tragic. We do not have a sound vision for dying well. I'm reading The Christian Art of Dying for an essay I'm composing, and have been reading this alongside Fred Craddock's Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church's Voice in the Face of Death, a wonderful book in its own right.

    This book is more on the scholarly end, so it is not for the faint of heart. But Verhey's meditations on modern medicine, dying, and Christian practice is enlightening and theologically complex. I'm 32 years old, so death, ideally, is thought to be "far off." But as Verhey notes in his opening sentence, "People have been dying for a while now." My day will come, as it will for us all. Preparation for dying well, and for helping others to experience God in their dying, is increasingly important within a culture that idolizes youth, and denies death. If I may be so bold, youth is a modern god, worshipped at many unnamed altars. But if this is so, the youth cultus, which denies death as primary dogma (or keeps it hidden in hospitals), is but a new incarnation of something old. The Greeks called her Hebe, the Norse, Idun. N.T. Wright observed in one of his works that the difference between ancients and moderns is this: the ancients named their gods. We simply worship them while denying their existence, and thus preserve our ignorance, as well as the potential to reject false gods for the One True God.

    That's what I'm reading. What are you reading?