God “Allows” Bad Stuff, Tim Keller Tells us, But Loves Everybody

Tim Keller— “We are an interfaith gathering today, and I freely acknowledge that every faith has great resources for dealing with suffering and injustice in the world. …Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s Son, divinity became vulnerable to andinvolved in suffering and death. He didn’t come as a general or emperor; he came as a carpenter…..True, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the cross is an incredibly empowering hint. It’s only a hint, but F U grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength. ”


Keller is a PCA clergyman who has signed on to the Westminster Confession which explains in its chapter 3, first paragraph: “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will freely ordain whatever comes to pass.” This is not “allowing”.

Paragraph three of the confession chapter 3: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death.”

For the manifestation of His glory—that is how the Bible itself explains it. Romans 9:13 declares “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Romans 9:22 tells the truth: “God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory.”

The Bible was written to those who believe the Christian gospel (not the message of tolerance and loves everybody), so when Bible readers see a “loves us”, they need to ask the question Tonto asked the Lone Ranger: “who’s the us?”

According to the Bible, God does not love all sinners, and that love is never conditioned on the sinner. God has ordained evil things to happen to both the non-elect and the elect, but the promise of Romans 8:28 is that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

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9 Comments on “God “Allows” Bad Stuff, Tim Keller Tells us, But Loves Everybody”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    every time they accuse—‘you don’t care”
    they add
    “like I do”
    yes, we are narrow and self-righteous
    that’s why we need the forgiveness of our sins, past and future…

    but why say we if you mean you
    if you don’t mean yourself, please don’t mean me
    if you mean me, then say you
    say what you mean, and mean what you say

    I don’t claim to be Reformed
    I don’t claim to be Baptist
    I don’t claim to be us
    I know I am not the we

    Tonto is too pure to be in the same group
    with the white man

    but Tonto’s going to get killed too

    either as the Lone Tonto
    or with the Ranger

    neither will survive
    despite their different self-deceptions

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Calvin: These instances may refer, also to divine permission…But since the Spirit clearly expresses the fact that blindness and insanity are inflicted by God’s just judgment [Romans 1.20-24], such a solution is too absurd. It is said that he hardened Pharaoh’s heart [Ex.9.12], also that he made it heavy [ch.10.1] and stiffened it [chs. 10.20,27; 11.10; 14.8]…for if “to harden” denotes bare permission, the very prompting to obstinacy will not properly exist in Pharaoh. Indeed how weak and foolish it would be to interpret this as if Pharaoh only suffered himself to be hardened!…from this it appears that they had been impelled by God’s sure determination.” (Institutes, Book 1, ch.18, P.2).

    “To sum up, since God’s will is said to be the cause of all things, I have made this providence the determinative principle for all human plans and works, not only in order to display its force in the elect, who are ruled by the Holy Spirit, but also to compel the reprobate


  3. markmcculley Says:

    McDermott acknowledges that Edwards never consciously embraced inclusivism, at least in his published writings or private notebooks.” He concludes, though, that Edwards’s thought contained elements that might eventually have led him to it.”


  4. markmcculley Says:

    Tim Keller—-You need more than just an abstract belief in your legal exemption from punishment; you need a renovation of your view of God.

    mark mcculley—-You need more than an abstract belief in faith as the condition of “union” and then “renovation” follows, because you need legal exemption from not only punishment but guilt.

    Tim Keller—while good works are in no way the reason for our justification, they are absolutely necessary evidences that we have justifying faith. Nevertheless ) such “evangelical obedience”—never in any way become part of our standing as justified before God, a standing that cannot be lost, even when we fall through sin under “God’s fatherly displeasure.”

    mark mcculley–So 1. Without enough works, we can lose the evidence that we thought we had of being justification. So it’s not out water baptism that gives us that evidence, and it’s not our being “in the covenant” nor is it God’s “promise to us” that God will “be our God”? 2. As long as we say that works give us assurance and that works don’t give us the not yet aspect of our justification, no problem? 3. How many works are enough, assuming perfection is not possible? Does the answer to “how many works” depend on what ability God has given us, or does it only depend on what God’s law calls sin? If we do just enough works so that our faith is “not alone”, does that prove that we really have faith? if we do just enough works, does that prove that our faith excludes these works as being any part of our standing? Can we have faith that our works prove our faith without ever believing in our works for salvation?

    Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way—“John Cotton professed himself unable to believe it possible for a person to maintain that grace works a condition in him, reveals it, makes a promise to it, and applies it to him, and still not trust in the work. Even if a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he still probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work…”

    “Grace and works (not only in the case of justification) but in the whole course of our salvation, are not subordinate to each other but opposite:as that whatsoever is of grace is not of works, and whatsoever is of works is not of grace.


  5. markmcculley Says:

    Tim Keller—“To grow in grace comes not simply from believing more in our justification. Growing flows from using the gospel of grace on the root of our sin—the mistrust of God’s goodness and the inordinate love of other things When we behold the glory of Christ in the gospel, it reorders the loves of our hearts, so we delight in him supremely, and the other things that have ruled our lives lose their enslaving power over us. This is not merely telling yourself that you are accepted and forgiven.”


    Tim Keller—Owen argues that the root of our sinful behavior is an inability to hate sin for itself, and this stems from a tendency to see obedience as simply a way to avoid danger and have a good life—not as a way to love and know Jesus for who he is.

    So is Ferguson agreeing with Kant that we need to get the self-interest out of ir, or is he agreeing with Piper (and c s lewis) that being motivated by the benefits is not a problem, but then also (again like Piper) always questioning our ,motives–do we love God enough?

    It’s an one-two punish—they say, now that you are definitely sanctified (regenerated, in union with, have Christ indwelling you) NOW YOU ARE ABLE to love God and to hate sin, but then 2, they keep asking, but do you love God, and will you tomorrow?

    Cary, Good News for Anxious Christians, p 84–”There is nothing more self-centered than the project of being unselfish. Why would genuinely unselfish people bother trying to be unselfish? Love is not about itself. We need to love our neighbors, not our motivations. So it would be perverse to wonder whether you had the wrong motivation for seeking their good. If what you’re trying to accomplish really is good for your neighbor, then that’s good enough. For Christian love is about the good of your neighbor, not how good your heart is.

    mark—and yet, how can we know it’s not dead fruit until we know first that it’s not a dead tree? The irony is that Cary makes me think more and be more anxious (not less) about my motives

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
    Bashir: So where does that leave the millions of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews? Are they sadly and completely deluded?

    Tim Keller: People who never heard about Jesus, or never really got a hearing about Jesus . . .

    Bashir: I’m not talking about them, because some of those people have heard (about Jesus). I’m talking about the millions of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews who have heard about Jesus. Where does your thesis leave them?

    Keller: Where they are right now, it means that if there’s never any change, they don’t get Jesus. If he is who he says he is, then, long term, they don’t have God. If on the other hand…all I can always say about this is God gives me, even as a minister with the Scripture, a lot of information on a need-to-know basis.

    And a need-to-know basis means, “Here’s all I can tell you: unless you get Jesus Christ who created you to start with, unless you are reunited with him sometime, there is no eternal future of thriving.” It just makes sense. Again, I’m trying to go back to this idea that, that, if he is who he says he is, you’ve got to have him. If right now a person doesn’t have him, he or she needs to get him. If they die and they’ve never, if they die and they don’t have Jesus Christ, I don’t know. In other words, I have a need-to-know basis, the only thing I know is you need Jesus.

    I certainly know that God is wiser than me, more merciful than me, and I do know that when I finally find out how God is dealing with every individual soul, I won’t have any questions about it. . . People in other religions, unless they find Christ, I don’t know any other way; but I also get information on a need-to-know basis so if there’s some , if there’s some trapdoor or something like that, I haven’t been told about it.


  7. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2010/10/those-pesky-shelf-doctrines/ Mouw openly agrees that he does not teach what the other famous Reformed guys don’t teach either

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Anne Lamott– “if we are to believe that there is meaning in our brief time here on earth, that mercy is the ground of our being, and love is sovereign — do we explain childhood cancer, earthquakes, addiction? Where is mercy in a beloved’s suicide? In the Christian tradition, we say that Christ continues to be crucified, in tsunamis, sick children, political prisoners, and that we must respond.

    This is what I believe, so I show up and get water for people, real people, which is to say, annoying people. Cradling strangers at dawn is very romantic, but in life, there’s also your thirsty bigoted father, your lying sister, the whole human race, living and dying and rising with Christ.

    In the rabbinical tradition, there is great insight in the notion that when we see suffering, we remember that this is only the sixth day. We’re not done here. The good news is that God isn’t, either. God is searching with us for a cure for cancer. God rejoiced at the cure for smallpox.”

    OPC pastor preaching his father’s funeral–we were not created to die, because God loves us too. But death cuts us off. Death puts a stop to that. God did not create us to stop loving. He did not create us to stop living. He created us to join his eternal love. God didn’t create us to say goodbye to our Fathers. That’s why it is so hard.
    . Jesus wept. — you should read the whole chapter. You might not believe in God, you might not believe the Bible is his inspired word. But as a piece of literature, the eleventh chapter of John’s Gospel is one of the most remarkable stories you will ever run your eyes over.Jesus wept at the sight of his friend’s grave

    Francis Spufford,Unapologetic,

    The theodicy that comes nearest to working is probably We suffer because the world is NOT AS GOD INTENDED IT TO BE, and indeed, it has a long and distinguished history as a Christian idea that’s compatible both with experience and with keeping GOD’S LOVE THAT WE CAN RECOGNIE…The state of things requires, in turn, an explanation of how they got like that…

    You get more for your money, emotionally speaking, if you just howl, and kick as hard as

    r it is one of God’s functions, and one of the ways in which He’s parent-like, to be the indestructible target for our rage and sorrow, still there, still loving, whatever we say to Him. The element of useful truth in this last and best of theodicies is the reminder it contains that the creation is not the same as the creator. He may sustain it all, He may be its bright backing, He may be as near to us at every moment as our neck-veins: but creation is not Him, creation is in some mysterious sense what happens when God isn’t…

    How, then, do we deal with suffering? How do we resolve the contradiction between cruel world and loving God? The short answer is that we don’t. We don’t even try to, mostly. Most Christian believers don’t spend their time and their emotional energy stuck at this point of contradiction. For most of us, worrying about it turns out to have been a phase in the early history of our belief. The question of suffering proves to be one of those questions which is replaced by other questions, rather than being answered. We move on from it, without abolishing the mystery, or seeing clear conceptual ground under our feet…We take the cruelties of the world as a given, as the known and familiar data of experience, and instead of anguishing about why the world is as it is, we look for comfort in coping with it as it is.

    We don’t ask for a creator who can explain Himself. We ask God to be a friend in a time of grief, a true judge in a time of perplexity, a wider hope than we can manage in time of despair…The only comfort that can do anything—and probably the most it can do is help you to endure—is the comfort of FEELING YOURSELF LOVED. ..Our hope is not in time cycling on predictably and benevolently under an almighty hand. Our hope is in time interrupted, disrupted, abruptly altering from moment to moment. We don’t say that God’s in His heaven and all’s well with the world; not deep down. We say: all is not well with the world, but at least God is here in the world with us.

    mark mcculley—which “we”, dude?

    in any case, who cares about love when things don’t go as God intends

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