THE GOSPEL IN LIFE: GRACE CHANGES EVERYTHING
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this. I am obviously not alone in my huge appreciation for Rev. Tim Keller, author of four books that we have happily promoted here. From his earliest book Ministries of Mercies to his nearly classic Reason for God, to his small, astute hardcovers (Prodigal God and Counterfeit Gods) Keller has been an author of elegance and class and serious content. If you don’t know his books, I suggest them.
That he is culturally engaged and socially relevant–and yet theologically conservative/orthodox—makes him a very interesting character, indeed. (One New York Times article about him captures this, with an allusion to the ultra-hip Village Voice: “Preaching the Word and Quoting the Voice.”) His growing and fruitful Redeemer church plants in New York city are renown for attracting sophisticated young seekers, offering them relevant, robust faith construed in energetic, but historically orthodox ways.
In many ways, Keller is a symbol, these days, a man and a movement that is attempting to “seek the peace of the city” and encourage culture-making, urban restoration, and a significant integration of faith and the work-world, all of this by plumbing the depths of standard Reformed theology, the call to live vocationally and missionally soli deo gloria. I am only trying to conjure up a bit of an image, but it seems Keller is a bit of old school Puritan (think Edwards on the beauty of God or Baxter on spirituality) with a healthy appreciation for the “all of life redeemed” worldview of Abraham Kuyper and Francis Schaeffer, with a passion for compassionate social involvement and a disinterest in faddish “contemporary” worship. (Granted, Redeemer is fortunate to have members of the Metropolitan Opera and Broadway stars in their choir or worship team so they can offer traditional services with great excellence and power.) He takes the callings and marketplace context of his parishioners seriously. He even wrote a chapter about this–being a pastor to artists–in the Square Halo anthology It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God.
It has been our experience that more mainline pastors seem to appreciate that Keller deeply theological, rooted in classic stuff, is morally serious and engaged and not trendy or programmatic the way some wanna-be-hip independent churches may be these days. (He reads Eugene Peterson, of course.) Evangelicals like his solid doctrine and his constant emphasis on the first things of the gospel. Urban activists and the urban sophisticates like his thoughtful style, his passion for the city, the way Redeemer and its outgrowth ministries are so obviously multi-ethnic. Seekers appreciate his candor and clarity.
And, so, we’ve been encouraging people to read his stuff. We’ve recommended the Prodigal God book and rejoiced when a DVD curriculum was released in 2009. (Just a few days ago a United Methodist pastor friend told me recently how much his congregation has appreciated using this DVD as a Lenten study.) The book and teaching DVD present the “older brother” in the parable as the key figure: it is about those who think they can earn or deserve the blessings of God since they played by the rule and not “blown it” like the younger, rebellious brother. God is the extravagant one, prodigal to the younger son, but the story (told, as it was, to the Pharisees) is finally an offer of grace to those who have kept their noses clean, those who have done the right things, the middle-class church-goers who may not even know they need such grace. Great and urgent stuff for our congregations, a great way to recall the essence of the gospel. Read my brief review here.
I’ve raved about his more recent Counterfeit Gods which is about money sex and power and is the best study of its kind. If you’d like, you can read my brief description here. Scroll part way down–it was in the “best books” list for 2009. As it gains popularity, we are hearing more stories of how it has impacted people’s lives, how profoundly it is being taken, how important it is. Thank goodness!
THE GOSPEL IN LIFE: GRACES CHANGES EVERYTHING
Now, this: oh, wow, am I excited. This is the grand overview, the foundational worldview that sees that Christ’s gospel is not just about being forgiven, or going to heaven but is the force for real transformation, of people and structures and cultures. This is the power of God’s saving grace to impact persons, churches, and neighborhoods. This is Keller at his most classic, offering well- produced, content-rich, Bible and theological teaching for ordinary churches. I suspect that this is going to bear fruit for decades to come. As he puts it in the subtitle–a real theme of true Christianity of any sort, but an emphasis of his own Presbyterian and Reformed heritage—“grace changes everything.” Christ’s death on the cross is not just a simple atoning matter that gets us to heaven, but is gracious power for daily living. It is the Kingdom come, Christ’s victory over all manner of evil, even as we suffering in a fallen world. It is new energy for service, and increasingly being given the gift of inner transformation.
Here are the allusive titles and the subtitle for each serious lesson:
1. City The World That Is
2. Heart Three Ways to Live
3. Idolatry The Sin Beneath the Sin
4. Community The Context for Change
5. Witness An Alternative City
6. Work Cultivating the Garden
7. Justice A People for Other
8. Eternity The World That Is To Come
The lectures are not much more than 10 minutes each. They are designed to be discussed, using the workbook. Both the book and DVD are published by Zondervan.
The workbook is hefty (233 pages) a much, much better-than-average study book, that includes readings to do before the viewing of the DVD, and a substantial amount of leaders notes, too. It is the “discipleship course” many of us have been waiting for. You can see part of a sample lesson, here.
The study book usually costs $10.99. Our price is $8.25
The 8-week DVD usually costs $24.99. Our price is $18.75
You can buy a package of the two together (saving $4.00) for $31.99. Our price is $24.00
Watch a trailer to the DVD here, watching Keller explain what it’s all about.
ask for the special blog discount