Tim Keller is NOT this generation’s C.S. Lewis.
Tim Keller of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, has ascended to the role of “favorite evangelical intellectual,” though he possibly shares that role with N.T. Wright. Due to his great popularity and prolific output of books, Tim Keller has also earned the moniker “the C.S. Lewis for our generation.” A kind honorific, indeed.
But he is NOT the next C.S. Lewis.
Let me be clear, I have profited greatly from Tim Keller’s teachings. I admire the work he has done in creating a church that engages the hard, skeptical intellectuals of New York City, offering honest answers to honest questions. Redeemer has been a shelter in which intellectuals can flourish and learn to worship God with all their hearts and their minds. Tim Keller has been used mightily by God, and we do right to sit at his feet and learn from him.
But please, can we not call him another C.S. Lewis? Any time we call a great person “another” anybody, we are doing disservice to both figures. Lewis’ vocation was to serve as a man of letters who wove his faith into his writing. Keller’s vocation is to be a pastor and equipper who employs writing as but one of his tools.
These are two totally different vocations.
Lewis crafted fiction and imaginative literature; Keller sticks with straightforward nonfiction. Keller built a community of faith that gave birth to a church planting movement; Lewis gathered a few close friends about him, but forged no new organization. Beyond a love of Jesus and an interest in apologetics, the two men’s vocations have been as similar as apples and drillbits.
I repeat Tim Keller is NOT the next C.S. Lewis. Let’s stop calling him that, for it sounds trite. We might make fruitful comparisons with Keller and Francis Schaeffer, but I think it would be best to not call Tim Keller “the next” anybody.
Perhaps we would do well to remember that Lewis, Schaeffer, and Keller’s work centers on helping us grasp the character of the living God. The most fitting honorific for any of these men is to quit talking about them, and spend more time talking about the God they would have us know.
Soli Deo Gloria
2 thoughts on “Tim Keller is NOT this generation’s C.S. Lewis”
Point taken although I think there are far greater crimes we could be committing. If I were to liken Keller to Lewis, I would be doing it in the sense of saying that their usefulness transcends their theological camp. Staunch arminians quote Keller and staunch calvinists quote and benefit from Lewis. I think it is helpful in a sense to be able to tell someone, “don’t worry about their ‘camp’, just be edified”. Perhaps we need better language for it, but its still a helpful notion.
Fair enough point, Mike. Though I am mildly amused, given how you have reminded me from time to time of my generation’s over-use of Lewis as a referent 🙂