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Book Review – Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller

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11 thoughts on “Book Review – Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller

  1. Ryan

    Another excellent review. Thanks Aaron. I have cone to appreciate your take. Not too short where I am left thinking I know nothing of the book and not so in depth that I have no need for the book! It’s enough to wet my appetite and make me break down and buy it!

  2. Brady

    I’m glad to see this being addressed. Of course it isn’t anything new. Reformed churches are notorious for not participating in missions. It’s all about doctrine and intellectual snobbery for them. We don’t have this issue in evangelical churches. Our problem is making the entire message about ministries of mercy and a gross neglect of the gospel. Neither tradition has it all but books like this help to bridge the gap.

  3. Jason Herber

    I read this book a number of years ago and am glad to see they are still publishing it.

  4. Charlie

    I am a big Keller fan but haven’t read this book yet. I’m looking forward to buying it!

  5. Samantha

    Does Tim Keller’s vision of this ministry include preaching the gospel or simply participating in “feel good” acts of charity in order to display your piety?

    • ajcerda

      Good question Samantha. Keller devoted a chapter on the topic of balancing word and deed. He emphasises that while the primary recipients of this ministry are those within the church (who already have the gospel) we are also called to display mercy to those outside the covenant community (who do need the gospel). In his exposition of the parable of the good Samaritan, Keller points out that Christ’s telling of the parable was a preaching of the gospel to the expert in the law who had approached him. ..

      “Jesus’ goal was to show the law expert, who believed he was spiritually rich, that he was spiritually bankrupt. To be bankrupt is to declare yourself unable to make good your debts. It means you are out of resources. That sounds desperate! Yet Jesus pronounces as “blessed” anyone who has come to that condition. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs [no one else’s] is the kingdom of heaven . . . We see, then, that Jesus’ true goal was to show the law expert he was poor, and to prepare him to seek spiritual riches in the mercy of God. Our most righteous deeds, says Isaiah, are like “filthy rags.”

      • Samantha

        Thank you for answering my question. You don’t know how much it means to me. A lot of times I will comment on a blog and never hear back. I am also happy with the response itself and am more likely to get the book with that in mind.

        • ajcerda

          You are welcome Samantha. Do get the book. It is worth it. I have provided a link to Amazon on the review if you need help finding it.

  6. Jacob M.

    Probably the greatest hindrance to mercy, true mercy, in the lives of Christians is a view of doctrine set forth in the reformed churches. Especially those in the theonomy camp. They lack mercy, they thrive in division, and pretend to be fulfilling God’s law while the are the least loving and least giving. In my experience as a pastor and also many other pastors I have spoken with, it’s the theonomists who insist that everyone follow the laws but who also break them the moat often. This is especially true in economic law. Theonomists will insist on the tithe as a binding law but are the least likely to tithe in my experience. So they have two things at least working against them if they are to have a ministry of mercy. One, they don’t know what mercy is beyond being able to give a textbook definition, and two their lack of giving to the church ensures that they will never have money to fund such a ministry.

    • ajcerda

      Jacob, I agree mostly with what you said and appreciate your comments. I happen to know a couple theonomists in my congregation who are not like this at all but they are the rare exception. Now, I don’t know their giving habits (as a pastor I intentionally stay out of this so I’m free of accusation of favoritism) but I suspect they live consistently with their beliefs. That aside, I have heard and read other pastors who suggest that your experience with theonomists and giving isn’t rare.

      Keller addresses this quite covertly by quoting a lesser known theonomist (Chilton) on this very topic…

      “God’s simple requirement is that we give ten percent of our income; once we have paid that, we know that no more is demanded.”

      While he didn’t single out theonomists, those familiar with Chilton will recognize that the statement is meant to address a certain mindset.

      This is what you are saying if I understand correctly. The mindset that obeying the letter of the law is fulfilling the law leads inevitably to a lack of love and mercy.

      • Jacob

        Thanks Aaron. I have yet to meet a so called merciful theonomist but I suppose I have to admit that with God all things are possible. I have seen nothing but strife and division with the ones that join my congregation. They are a thorn in my flesh and I am glad to see that Tim Keller exposed one of them for the kind of attitude I have come to expect from them. I would love to meet a nice theonomist. Maybe you can send one my way to teach mercy amd love to the ones here!

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