What Was Wrong with Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally?

beck I’ve heard it a lot from friends that support Glenn Beck: Come on, Bob! Why are you so upset with Glenn Beck and his “8/28 Restoring Honor” rally on the National Mall in Washington DC? Is it that you are so politically left that you can’t stand a right-winger successfully gathering hundreds of thousands to talk about God and Country?

Even the Huffington Post reports that the “Glenn Beck 'Restoring Honor' Rally Delivers Religious, Not Political Message”. So what’s to criticize about that?


I don’t have a problem with a media celebrity leveraging his or her popularity to advance their political views. I also don’t have a problem with a media celebrity leveraging his or her popularity to advance their religious views. This is America, where everyone is granted the freedom of speech.

But there are huge problems with evangelicals embracing Glenn Beck as a spiritual leader. Beck is very clear: He intended the "9/28 Restoring Honor” not to be a political event but a spiritual one. He talked a lot about how he prayed with people, and he began his main speech by saying, “Lord, speak slowly!”

A commenter on my earlier post, Glenn Beck is a False Prophet, said, “Stop twisting the truth just because you dont believe in the politics that follow a righteous life. Glenn never once promotes Mormonism, just the belief of return to our maker as our founding fathers did.”

Really? I beg to differ.

Glenn Beck’s Mormonism warps his ability to discern myth from truth about America being a “Christian Nation.”

His zeal to “restore honor” to America is directly linked to his Mormon beliefs. At the 8/28 Rally, Beck said,

“The story of America is the story of humankind. 5,000 years ago, on the other side of the planet, God’s chosen people were led out of bondage by a guy with a stick who was talking to a burning bush. Man first started to recognize God and God’s laws. The chosen people listened to the Lord. At the same time those things were happening on this side. On this land, another group of people were gathered here and they too were listening to God. How these two people were brought together, again, happened because people were listening to God. They didn’t have the right to worship God the way they saw fit so they got down on their knees. And they didn't want to come to this land, they just did because they felt that’s what God was telling them to do. And with malice towards none they got into their boats and they came. God’s Chosen People: The Native Americans and the Pilgrims.” (see the video here)

Native Americans and Pilgrims?

The Book of Mormon tells the story that a small band of Israelites under Lehi migrated from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere about 600 B.C. Upon Lehi's death his family divided into two opposing factions, one under Lehi's oldest son, laman (the father of the Lamanites), and the other under a younger son, Nephi (the Nephites). “The Lamanites, from whom many present-day Native Americans descend, remained to inhabit the American continent… The role of Native Americans in the events of the last days is noted by several Book of Mormon prophets.” (Brigham Young University wiki on Native Americans).

Evangelicals might not have caught how Beck slid Mormon theology into his 8/28 speech, but there it is, hidden right under their noses. Why did that sneak by? Perhaps it is because evangelicals have already bought into the myth that the Pilgrims were God’s chosen people to come to America to make this a Christian nation, so they missed the Native American reference.

But the myth that the Native Americans were a tribe of Israel, thus the “Chosen People” of America is just as full of holes as the Pilgrims being God’s Chosen People and that America is some kind of “Promised Land.”

Certainly the Pilgrims saw themselves this way. Pop-historians like David Barton like to quote from the Pilgrims about how they were seeking to create a Christ-centered theocracy in the new world, escaping from the evil bondage of the religious persecution of Europe. Beck is one of these pop-historians, stating that this is proof that God has ordained American as His nation.

But the honest historical and theological question is this: Were the Pilgrims right?


Attention Evangelical Christians: Glenn Beck is a MORMON!

Over the weekend, because of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington DC, this blog was smokin’ with visitors, reading my post “Glenn Beck is a False Prophet.”

I am grateful that so many people were investigating this.

In that post, I said that Beck is a false prophet because he is claiming to hear from God a "Plan" and is acting prophetic in proclaiming that all Christians should "get behind God" concerning Beck’s plan. If Beck were a confessing Christian, I'd be wary of this, but I have a major issue with this because he is a confessing Mormon.

The "god" of Mormonism is not the God of Christianity. Mormons are polytheists, believing in many gods, each ruling individual planets.

The "god" of Mormonism is not eternal, but was once a man.

The “god” of Mormonism has a physical body and so does his wife.

The “god” of Mormonism does not exist as a Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods.

The “Jesus” of Mormonism was created by sexual union between God and Mary. He was married. His death does not provide atonement for sin.

“Salvation" for a Mormon is not granted by grace by faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but in our exultation into being gods ourselves.

It’s important that evangelicals know that when Glenn Beck uses Christian language—talking about Jesus Christ, salvation, etc.—he is using terms that mean one thing to evangelicals and a different thing to himself as a Mormon. He is increasing his evangelical following because too many people are unaware of his equivocations.

The Apostle John warned about in this in his first letter:
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." (1 John 4:1-3)

Again, in spite of his Christian rhetoric, Beck does not acknowledge the Jesus revealed by orthodox Christianity. Period.

Beck appeals to evangelicals who champion conservative politics because he uses the rhetoric of a radio evangelist. He consistently attacks Barack Obama with religious arguments. Beck recently said,

“You see, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don’t know what that is, other than it’s not Muslim, it’s not Christian. It’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it.”

But I have to ask, What right does a Mormon have to accuse anybody else of perverting the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Brannon S. Howse makes a great point at his apologetics blog, Worldview Times.

Would you approve or disapprove if some of America's evangelical pastors and religious leaders announced they were going to show up at "Oprah's Divine Destiny" meeting at the Kennedy Center for an evening that would include uplifting music and nationally-known religious figures from all faiths as they unite in prayer and recite historical speeches? Would it concern you if you knew that on her radio program Oprah has taught the book called A Course in Miracles written by Helen Schucman? This book and the workbook include such quotes as:

"A slain Christ has no meaning."
"The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself."
"Do not make the pathetic error of 'clinging to the old rugged cross'."
"My salvation comes from me."

True Bible-believing Christians would not approve of evangelical pastors and leaders uniting with Oprah in a self-described, religious and spiritual meeting. Why? Because most Biblically thinking Christians do not agree with Oprah's liberal politics and they know that the truth of God's Word and Oprah's pagan spirituality do not mix.

However, many of these same Christians will have no problem when some of America's evangelical pastors join radio personality and television host Glenn Beck for a spiritual program, because unlike Oprah, they share Beck's conservative, political views. To many it makes no matter that Beck is a self-described Mormon because his political views trump his religious views and for this reason many will justify taking part in "Glenn Becks Divine Destiny" program at the Kennedy Center on August 27th.


Evangelicals Getting Snookered by a Mormon

"A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal."

-Dr. Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, from his blog,
Moore to the Point.


Some of my favorite iPhone apps

On Friday, The Washington Post had an article on "The 18 Best iPhone Apps." Many of the apps that they list are either irrelevant or too expensive, and there are incredible apps that they failed to list that left me scratching my head.

So I thought I'd create my own list. Here you go -
Some of my favorite iPhone apps:

Productivity Tools
Dragon Dictation
No typing is needed, as all I do is speak into my iPhone to text message, email, tweet, update my Facebook status, or send notes and reminders to myself. Free

Awesome Note
I use this all the time for to-dos, to keep track of people's names and info, to jot down notes to myself. Free for Lite version, $4 for full

With Springpad, I use my iPhone to record products, restaurants, wines, or random thoughts. It automatically organizes what I save and then adds extra helpful information, like directions, reviews, showtimes, menus, price comparisons, and other web links to research my thoughts further. This info is always available on my iPhone and also on the web for reading on my laptop. free

Reference Apps
Google app
Why use the Google app instead of just using Google in Safari? The main reason is this: Voice Search. Click on the microphone icon and talk, and Google finds it. How easy is that? Plus it saves all your searches in a list, so you can quickly click on any search from the past that you need the results for again. free

My favorite app for cooking. I can search for ideas based on “main ingredient,” “meal/course,” “cuisine,” “dietary considerations,” “dish type,” or “season or occasion.” free

Pocket Universe
Looking up at the night sky, I can hold my iPhone up and with its built-in compass it displays the same view of the sky I see in front of me, complete with the names and information about all the stars and constellations. $3

YouVersion Bible &
Logos Bible Software
I use these two Bible apps all time. With YouVersion, you get access to just about every version of the Bible you can name (44 translations in 21 languages), a search function, bookmarking, and reading plans. Logos’ free version has a limited number of translations (including ESV, NLT, NAS, HCSB, and NKJV), but it includes original language texts and tools. Simply tap-and-hold on a Bible word to see the underlying Hebrew or Greek. “Text Comparison” (see picture above) lets you quickly see a verse in multiple versions, with differences highlighted. If you own Logos Bible Software version 4 for your computer, this app gives you cloud access to books from that vast library, running in sync with it (remembering your favorite resources, bookmarks, and settings). free

Utilities and Timesavers
Lose It
I agree with The Washington Post that Lose It is a wonderful tool for keeping track of caloric intake, but it also keeps track of caloric burning too, as I also enter the exercises I do. Set goals and watch the weight come off with weekly reports sent to your email inbox. free

AT&T myWireless
With this app, I can keep track of my usage. It reminds me when my bill is due, and I can pay my AT&T bill within the app. free

Motion X: GPS Drive
While the Tom Tom app costs $50, I get turn-by-turn directions from a friendly female voice for only $1 for the app and $3 each month that I use it (which isn't always, so I can re-up that payment the next time I want to use the app).

Who needs Quicken anymore when all my financial information is tracked and recorded with Mint? The iPhone app gives me password-protected access to information about my budget, cashflow, and investments. Mint.com keeps track of all items in my checkbook and credit cards, assigning them categories so that I can track my spending. I can also access all this information on the web, along with graphs and charts to help me keep a handle on things. And all this is free!

Audio and Photo Tools
Perhaps it’s so obvious that the Washington Post skipped this, but if you don’t already have Pandora on the iPhone, you’re missing perhaps the greatest app ever invented. It’s a personalized radio – simply type in the name of one of your favorite artists, songs or classical composers and Pandora will create a "station" that plays their music and more music like it. free

I can listen to my choice of over 750 local radio stations from across America. free

PhotoShop Express
Taking pictures with the iPhone gets more creative with this app. Crop, straighten, rotate, and flip. Change exposure, saturation, tint, and contrast. Adjust with soft focus, or sharpen. Add effects: vibrant, pop, border, vignette blur, warm vintage, rainbow, white glow, and soft black and white. Add borders. Photoshop Express is a companion to Photoshop.com where you can do even more online, including uploading and storing 2GB of photos and videos. free

Entertainment Apps and Games
ESPN ScoreCenter
Easy access to the sports scores of all my favorite sports, highlighting the teams that I follow. By clicking on a score, I get a detailed recap of the game with a seamless integration with ESPN Mobile Web. free

Plants vs. Zombies
This is a very fun game. Protect your home from invading zombies by strategically placing plants that have different defending capabilities. $3

Tap Tap Revenge
Tap Tap Revenge is a music game in the tradition of games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution that puts your rhythmic skills to the test. Tap through the beats or shake left and right as the arrows fall. Lots of music from which to choose for free, or add favorite artists at an extra cost.


Check out this new blog: "Make College Count"

My friend and CCO colleague, Derek Melleby, has launched a new blog "Make College Count."

Derek is a specialist with the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and CCO on the transition from high school to college.

This resource will be a breath of fresh air for those who care for college freshmen. Check it out at www.howtomakecollegecount.com.

What is Vocation?

what is vocation Stephen J. Nichols offers a concise (31 pages) and lucid biblical explanation of vocation in the “Basics of the Faith” booklet, What is Vocation? (2010, P&R Publishing).

Nichols briefly explains the history of the notion of vocation (from the Latin word vocare, “calling”). In the Middle Ages, the idea of “calling” moved away from how God calls each person made in His image to participate in work for His glory and toward a very particular thing: exclusively church work. “Priests, nuns, monks—they each had a calling. Everyone else in medieval culture, from merchants to peasants, from nobles to knights, simply worked.”

But the Reformers recaptured the idea of calling for the everyman. “To Luther, all work and all the roles that we play were potentially holy callings, which could be fulfilled for the glory of God alone.” Johann Sebastian Bach would sign his musical compositions with two sets of initials – JSB and SDG (“Soli Deo Gloria”). Bach knew that “all work—all types of work, not just the work done in the service of the church—was a calling.”

That means that a doctor, a lawyer, a businessperson, a homemaker, a student, a janitor, a landscaper, a millworker, a mechanic, an engineer, a teacher, a (fill in the blank here!) are all participating in God’s calling on their lives if they do their work for the glory of God.

But there is a problem that we see in twenty-first century evangelicalism: More often than not, evangelicals still define “calling” or “God-glorifying work” as only that which is church-related and/or evangelistic. Sure, we can talk about Christians in the marketplace glorifying God with their work, but what we really mean is that they are “called” to use their secular work as a means for evangelism or (worse) for financing the work of those in “full time ministry,” like pastors and missionaries.

I heard this attitude the other day as I shared with a couple of my ministry peers a passage from 1 Corinthians 15. This magnificent chapter talking about the importance of the resurrection ends with a wonderful affirmation of our work in this present life and how it matters, lasting into the next age after Christians are resurrected.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)

I said to my two ministry friends that this affirms that what Christians do in this life, whether it be composing a song, writing a novel, designing a building (or whatever!, as long as it is the “work of the Lord”) is not labor done “in vain.” God will take these things into the next age of resurrection life.

They looked at me sideways. No, they insisted, “the work of the Lord” is evangelism – sharing the good news of the resurrection with people. This work is what we should “give ourselves fully to.”

I appreciate their focus on evangelism. Yes, I affirm that everything that we do is a witness to the Kingdom of God and to the King who is ruling in our lives, and that we are to give ourselves fully to the work of proclaiming that Jesus is the Lord of all things.

But without knowing it, these friends (who I deeply respect) had disparaged work in and of itself as a legitimate means for bringing the Kingdom of God to bear in this world. Certainly proclaiming the Kingdom through articulating the gospel to people is something we are all called to do. But doing "Kingdom work" is more than that. It includes everything that we do to bring God's will on earth as it is in heaven. Everything. Certainly included as a subset of this everything is the actual articulation of the atonement found in Christ. But another subset of this is working to bring justice in the world. Or reconciling people who are in conflict. Or giving a cup of cold water in the name of the Lord. Or creating a cultural artifact, like a painting or a song. Or simply serving others through doing our work with excellence.

Upon reflecting on that conversation, I wondered if my friends were reversing the Reformation’s teaching, heading back to the age that said that only church work is the “work of the Lord,” that the only work that really counts for the Kingdom of God is evangelism. As they disciple Christians, are they teaching in subtle yet harmful ways that the only “real” work for a Christian is evangelism, that a person’s pursuit of a career calling outside of vocational ministry was (in the words of Stephen J. Nichols) “settling for something lesser,” that any other work is not as important as a pastor’s or missionary’s work? Were they not sending signals that if people pursue a career outside vocational ministry that the only real reason to do so is to use that career as a platform for evangelism? Were they not implicitly stating that work, in and of itself, is not important?

Nichols does a great job of explaining the biblical teaching on vocation within the story of “Creation-Fall-Redemption.” The “creation mandate” or “cultural mandate” was established when God placed Adam and Eve as his vice-regents on earth, to “have dominion over” the creation and to “work” or “cultivate” it. Nichols says, “This theological framework raises work to a whole new horizon of understanding. As we think it through, we begin to see that in our work we are in service of the King, making work both a duty and a wonderful privilege.”

But the Fall warps the purpose of work and the way we work. Because sin runs through everything like a cancer, it damages our calling. We work not in service to and glory of the King, but in service to our own desires and for our own glory (Why is it that we seek the promotion or the recognition award at work? Why is it that we buy the latest technological gadget, drive the slickest car, or dress in the clothes that we do? Why is it that, as Nichols points out, “in our consumer culture we have come to attach greater value to those who produce and consume more than those who produce or consume less”?).

The Redemption found in Christ is the key to re-establishing work as God intended it. In the Incarnation of God in Christ, Nichols writes, “we see Christ as fully and truly human, as well as fully and truly divine.” Jesus was a son, a brother, a person living under the Roman Empire, and a carpenter. “Christ demonstrates the value and integrity of the roles for us, and the value and integrity of work. But more than this, Christ through his redemptive work undoes what Adam did in the fall. And he restores to us the ability and the capacity to be image-bearers as God intended us to be.”

We evangelicals appropriately focus on how we are made in the image of Christ the Redeemer – thus our emphasis on evangelism and mission. But before Redemption there was Creation. While being a Christian is no less than participating in the work of evangelism and mission, it is also so much more. We are created in the image of the Creator and Redeemer God, which means that the Gospel of the Kingdom has as much to say about our work as creators and culture-makers as it does about our work as missionaries and evangelists.

Since Christians are agents of Redemption in the world, Nichols offers us helpful practical guidelines for “how not to work” and “how to work.” He walks the reader through Ephesians 6:5-9, where we are commanded to “serve wholeheartedly, as serving the Lord, not men.” He also helps us reconcile the fact that we get our paychecks from our work. “Culturally, we have by and large attached work to a paycheck…But paychecks are not the sole factor in legitimizing work. And work done for a paycheck is not the only type of work there is.”

Can we establish in our minds the idea that God calls us to work? Can we begin to read our Bibles without medieval notions that the only “work for the Lord” is ministry-related (church, missions, evangelism)?

If so, we can hear God’s calling to his people in a whole new, breathtaking way. Verses like Psalm 90:17 take on incredible significance:

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;

establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands!”

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Why Pastors are Suffering Burn-Out

2412866 G. Jeffrey MacDonald, in an op-ed published today in the New York Times, gives good insight into why pastors are feeling like they are losing their calling: “congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.”

The pastoral vocation is to help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses and adopt higher, more compassionate ways. But churchgoers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them. It’s apparent in the theater-style seating and giant projection screens in churches and in mission trips that involve more sightseeing than listening to the local people.

Pastors are often placed between a rock and a hard place: They know what they should be doing for their congregations, but few in the congregations want that. And like so many American institutions, “success” is defined by numbers. If attendance goes down, then you are failing. Never mind the fact that in a consumerist age, people may not want to attend a church that challenges them too much.

The trend toward consumer-driven religion has been gaining momentum for half a century. Consider that in 1955 only 15 percent of Americans said they no longer adhered to the faith of their childhood, according to a Gallup poll. By 2008, 44 percent had switched their religious affiliation at least once, or dropped it altogether, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found. Americans now sample, dabble and move on when a religious leader fails to satisfy for any reason.

In this transformation, clergy have seen their job descriptions rewritten. They’re no longer expected to offer moral counsel in pastoral care sessions or to deliver sermons that make the comfortable uneasy…

…Congregations that make such demands seem not to realize that most clergy don’t sign up to be soothsayers or entertainers. Pastors believe they’re called to shape lives for the better, and that involves helping people learn to do what’s right in life, even when what’s right is also difficult. When they’re being true to their calling, pastors urge Christians to do the hard work of reconciliation with one another before receiving communion. They lead people to share in the suffering of others, including people they would rather ignore, by experiencing tough circumstances — say, in a shelter, a prison or a nursing home — and seeking relief together with those in need. At their courageous best, clergy lead where people aren’t asking to go, because that’s how the range of issues that concern them expands, and how a holy community gets formed.

I’d add that in the many ministries I’ve been involved with, the congregants haven’t taken kindly to challenges to their lifestyles (especially in suburban, affluent churches), or challenges to their political ideologies (especially when they’ve equated what Glenn Beck and the rest of the Fox News Channel propagate with Christian doctrine), or calls for their families to live sacrificially for the sake of others (especially when they’ve bought into the “American Dream” and believe that, in order to be good parents, they must give their children everything that they want to be happy).

It’s enough to cause a pastor to lose heart.


Evangelicals' Disdain for Institutions

"Christians need to learn to love institutions again, and they won't get very far in transforming society unless they do."

It is an ongoing tension I feel.

As I discuss my vision for ministry with good-hearted evangelical Christians, they are suspicious of my embrace of the University as a God-given institution. I explain to them that as a campus minister, I am called to be a blessing not only to the college students that I interact with, but also to the institutions themselves.

For a long time, evangelicals have been trained to see cultural institutions as the devil's domain, that evangelicals need to separate themselves from them. Parents of students heading to state universities openly display their anxiety: They worry about how that godless institution will destroy the faith of their child.

Campus ministers for a long time operated under a "save and protect" paradigm. They were asked to reach out to students trapped in these secular humanistic institutions to save them from the studies that they are engaged in. The idea that one can be academically engaged on a secular campus was skoffed at; the only thing that a campus minister should do is provide safe haven from the godlessness on campus through a Christian fellowship group, training believers to disdain the subjects that the school is seeking to teach them. The campus ministry provided a counter-culture that had as its ultimate priority getting people out of this godless world and on their way to heaven, while protecting believers from the sinful world in the meantime.

Certainly there is a need to help Christian students to discern that which is contrary to God's will and that which aligns with it. But that is different from having a blanket disdain for institutions.

David Naugle, professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University and author of wonderful books like Worldview: The History of a Concept and Reordered Love, Reordered Lives, has written a great little piece on our need to re-embrace institutions: "Habits of the heart—individual AND institutional."

There has been a growing recognition recently among evangelical Christians of the part institutions play in culture and cultural change. One example is political philosopher Jonathan Chaplin, who in an April 2010 article titled “Loving Faithful Institutions” wrote that despite prevalent skepticism regarding institutions, and though “dynamic relational networks” are all the rage, “Christians … need to learn to love institutions again, and they won’t get very far in transforming society unless they do.”

Similarly, James Davison Hunter in his much-discussed volume
To Change The World (Oxford 2010) has asserted that while ideas in the hearts and minds of individuals are very important, “without understanding the nature, workings, and power of the institutions in which those ideas are generated and managed, one only understands half of what is going on in a culture.” Thus Hunter states, “It is better to think of culture as a thing … manufactured not by lone individuals but rather by institutions and the elites who lead them."
Is such an emphasis on institutions biblical? The word “institution” is rarely used in English translations of Scripture. For example, the New American Standard uses the word only once for the Greek expression anthropine ktisei in I Peter 2:13-14.

Other biblical teachings, along with some sanctified, sociological human wisdom, will undoubtedly influence our understanding of the role of institutions in human life and cultural change. But one question keeps coming to my mind, and it is this: should the focus of Christians be on major and minor league institutions, or on grassroots individuals, as the swing factors in culture and cultural change? I keep coming back to the—“Well, of course, it’s both”—answer.

See the rest of this article here.


Ministering to Shrinking Enclaves

"A looming crisis for all American evangelical churches is that they cannot thrive outside of the shrinking enclaves of conservative and traditional people and culture.

We have not created the new ministry and communication... models that will flourish and grow in the coming post-Christian very secular Western world.

Our vision should be to develop campus ministries, new churches, Christian education/discipleship systems that are effective in those fields in North America."

- Tim Keller