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Should We Take a ‘Winsome Approach’ to Culture? Christians Debate If Tim Keller’s ‘Moment Has Passed’

Rod Dreher, senior editor of The American Conservative, responded to French in an article titled, “Tim Keller & Myxomatosis Christians.” “Myxomatosis” is a life-threatening disease in rabbits that causes inflammation around the eyes and other areas of the body with mucous membranes. Dreher said that French is “a friend” and “always worth listening to,” but that he is “quite wrong” about Keller.

After summarizing Wood’s and French’s disagreement about Keller’s “winsome” approach, Dreher argues that French missed the point when he made the case that Christians faced hostility prior to 2014. “Renn is not claiming — it would be absurd to claim — that there was no hatred of Christianity in Positive World,” said Dreher. “Nor is he claiming that Christianity is everywhere hated. He’s generalizing about American culture — and he’s absolutely right about Negative World….Christians who count themselves as progressive on woke issues — LGBT, race — don’t experience Negative World as intensely, if at all. And, if you have been a vocal Never Trumper, as David French has, you gain a lot of points in Negative World with the people who run it.”

Regarding French’s point that Christians are to love our enemies at all times, Dreher agrees that we are, but says, “Loving one’s enemies does not mean that one should close one’s eyes to the fact that they are enemies, and wish to do us serious harm.” And while it is true, Dreher says, that politics should not shape our faith, we must not be afraid to take a political stand. 

Dreher agrees with Wood that winsomeness will no longer cut it in the “negative world.” Says Dreher, “Winsome World Christians are failing to prepare themselves, their families, and (if pastors) their flocks for the world that exists today, and the world that is fast coming into being.” He concludes that “based on everything I’ve heard and read about [Keller], he seems like an exceptionally good man, and certainly a man who has done vastly more for the Kingdom of God than I have done. But it does make him yesterday’s man, fighting yesterday’s war.”

People who took the time to comment on this debate tended to fall clearly on one side or the other. SBC presidential candidate Tom Ascol tweeted Dreher’s article, and Daily Wire author Megan Basham tweeted it as well, expressing her support for Renn and Wood.

Dr. Derwin Gray, pastor of Transformation Church in South Carolina, tweeted French’s article, saying, “Great work.” Dr. Anthony Bradley of The King’s College in Manhattan tweeted French as well, but expressed bewilderment at the debate.

In a May 8 tweet, Tim Keller reflected on dealing with criticism, saying, “Re online criticism. Remember – 1) Only a tiny % of people see it, 2) you can sometimes learn from it, even when ill-meant, 3) in the end it’s a compliment. They think you dangerous and therefore important.  That’s nice but don’t let it make you feel noble and better than them.” He added, “…and no this isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, just a general truth I’ve observed and need reminded of myself.”

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Jessica is a content editor for ChurchLeaders.com and the producer of The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past five years. When Jessica isn't writing, she enjoys West Coast Swing dancing, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.