Tim Keller: Cross of Christ Is Offensive in All Sorts of Ways

Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, gives remarks at The Gospel Coalition Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. | (Photo:

Best-selling author and pastor Tim Keller stated Wednesday that the "cross of Christ is offensive in all sorts of ways" and that it is central to understanding the Christian faith.

During a lecture at the annual Gospel Coalition Conference in Indianapolis, the outgoing senior pastor of the New York-based Redeemer Presbyterian Church spoke about the Bible passage of Galatians 6, namely boasting in the cross.

In order to accept the central importance of the cross, Keller told those gathered at the conference on Wednesday morning that they must accept "the offense of the cross."

"You don't understand the doctrine of the cross, you never truly come to grips with it unless you feel the offense of it," said Keller.

"The cross is offensive to everybody ... And if you haven't come to grips with it, if you haven't felt it, if you haven't ever struggled with it, I don't think you get it. And therefore it's not going to change you."

Keller also stressed the importance of the cross of Christ in transforming a believer, noting that if a person wants "deep healing" they must understand the "doctrine of the cross."

"You've got to understand the cross, which means that's a doctrine. Your life will not be changed, the world will not be changed unless you understand the doctrine of the atonement," added Keller.

"When you get the doctrine of the cross wrong, you are doing Satan's bidding. You are Satan's missionary ... There's a lot of people in the world, including in the church, that get the doctrine of the cross wrong and yet it's the basis for everything."

Keller's speech closed out the multiday conference of The Gospel Coalition. Held in Indianapolis, the theme for this year's conference was "No Other Gospel: Reformation 500 and Beyond."

"The Gospel Coalition 2017 National Conference celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, unleashed by God in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door," explained TGC's website.

"As we reflect on the momentous events that unfolded 500 years ago, we also give thanks for God's continued promise of faithfulness to his church. This conference celebrates God's work beyond Europe and North America and beyond the walls of the church into government, work, and the arts."

In addition to Keller, other speakers included Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at University Reformed Church of East Lansing, Michigan; Jackie Hill Perry, writer and artist known for having left homosexuality; and John Piper, founder of Desiring God and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, among others.

In March, Keller garnered headlines when Princeton Theological Seminary decided to rescind its Kuyper Prize award for Keller over his denomination's conservative views on homosexuality and female ordination.

"I have ... had helpful conversations about this with the Chair of the Kuyper Committee, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Reverend Keller," stated Seminary President M. Craig Barnes last month.

"In order to communicate that the invitation to speak at the upcoming conference does not imply an endorsement of the Presbyterian Church in America's views about ordination, we have agreed not to award the Kuyper Prize this year."

Though he will not be receiving the award, Keller has agreed to still give the Abraham Kuyper lecture Thursday evening.

Watch Keller's talk from the Gospel Coliation Conference here.

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