“Hell is the greatest monument to free will there is. If you want to live without God, then He will let you make that choice,” Pastor Tim Keller said during an interview with bestselling author Eric Metaxas, which is available on Metaxas’ website currently for viewing.
When Metaxas asked the pastor of New York City Redeemer Presbyterian Church if he thought preachers had backed off preaching about Hell too much in recent years, Keller responded that, “We probably have backed off too much from preaching about Hell in recent years. You know history is like a drunk man riding home on his horse. At one point he will fall off his horse on one side. Then he’ll get back up on his horse and in an attempt to correct his previous mistake, he’ll fall off the other side of his horse.”
Keller was referring to the fact that there was a time when the topic of Hell was probably preached about more than was necessary. Now, the trend is in the opposite direction.
Keller also said about Hell that, “Luke 16 is the only place in the Bible that actually depicts Hell. In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, you’ll see that he never asked to be let out of Hell or said that he repented of his rejection of God. He requested only that Lazarus be allowed to cool his tongue.”
During that fascinating interview at the New Canaan Society Retreat, Keller further said he believed in the inerrancy of the Bible.
“Jesus believed in the authority of the Bible, and if we are followers of Jesus it makes sense that we should also believe the Bible,” the native of Allentown, Pennsylvannia said in response to another Metaxas question.
Keller said he made a decision to enter the ministry at age 21 after thinking about careers in journalism and history. He was pastor of his first church at age 24 in Hopetown, Virginia.
“In Virginia everyone was a Baptist. Even the dogs and cats are Baptists. I even encountered an atheist who said he was a Baptist atheist because the church he didn’t attend was Baptist,” Keller said.
Metaxas then moved on to the area of Adam and Eve. He asked Keller if he believed Adam and Eve were actual people.
“Yes, I do. If you’ll look at 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul is referring to a real Adam and Eve who are people,” the pastor of one of the largest churches in Manhattan said.
Keller said he doesn’t believe the Bible teaches New Earth. He said, “If you’ll look in the first chapter of Matthew and also First and Second Chronicles, you’ll see people are skipped over. When those Scriptures say somebody begats somebody else they could be their father, their grandfather or their great-grandfather.”
The point Keller was making is that the Bible is not saying the age of the earth can be measured by assuming each begat means only one generation.
Metaxas’ and Keller’s sense of humor were both on display during the interview. Metaxas started out by saying he would like to ask the New York pastor about every topic possible. Keller replied, “Please don’t ask me about auto mechanics. I don’t know anything about auto mechanics.”
Metaxas replied, “I don’t know if I believe that. I’ve got an old Plymouth I’d like you to take a look at after we finish this program.”
Metaxas is the bestselling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy. He is also bestselling author of Amazing Grace. He also wrote earlier books entitled All The Questions About God You Were Afraid to Ask and Veggie Tales.
Keller is a celebrated pastor well known for his thought-provoking sermons and books. He still serves as pastor at Manhattan’s New York City Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
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