Keller and St Teresa

Tim Keller and St Teresa of Avila

Dr Tim Keller is one of the biggest names in Reformed Christianity, and widely accepted as a leading spokesman of the New Calvinism movement.  He is part-time adjunct professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, which claims to be committed to ‘the systematic exposition of biblical truth known as the Reformed faith’.[1]  According to the website: ‘In addition to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, the Seminary treasures the rich and harmonious diversity of creeds and confessions within the historic Reformed tradition.’[2]

A book about Keller’s theology, entitled Engaging with Keller; Thinking through the Theology of an Influential Evangelical (2013) is written by a six of prominent reformed theologians, who are all ordained elders in confessional Presbyterian churches. The authors acknowledge that ‘Keller has become one of the most influential evangelical leaders of our time’. Keller’s orthodox Reformed credentials are clearly spelled out. ‘Keller has consistently demonstrated his commitment to Reformed orthodoxy in numerous ways. He is ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America, a communion which is dedicated to biblical orthodoxy as understood by the Westminster standards. He chooses to serve at seminaries such as Westminster Theological Seminary which are explicitly committed to confessional standards. He affirms catechetical instruction and has published a New City Catechism that, for the most part, simply reiterates pre-existing Reformed confession and catechisms… These things all indicate to us that Keller is orthodox in his beliefs.’[3] So there is no doubt that Dr Keller is one of the best known figures in the Reformed world.[4]

The authors of Engaging with Keller, while finding a number of flaws in his theology, ‘gladly acknowledge that Keller intends to teach the orthodox truth’.[5] So in the eyes of a prominent group of Reformed Presbyterian theologians, Dr Tim Keller is a sound orthodox teacher and defender of the true Reformed Faith.

In view of Keller’s massive influence in the Reformed world, and his reputation for teaching orthodox truth, his view of Roman Catholicism and Catholic mysticism is surely of great significance. Is Keller’s view of Roman Catholicism consistent with the teachings of the Reformation, which he purports to defend?

The purpose of this article is to show that there is a large difference between Keller’s image as a Reformed Presbyterian, and reality of what he actually teaches. The evidence presented in the two videos is based on Dr Keller’s series on meditation and prayer which he taught to Redeemer Presbyterian church, New York in 1998. This series, which can still be accessed on the Redeemer website, focuses on the mystical writings and methods of St Teresa of Avila (15-1582), Dominican friar Venerable Luis de Granada (1505-1588), spiritual theologian, Father Jordan Aumann, OP (1916-2007) and other Catholic mystics. In these videos we learn much about Tim Keller’s attitude to the mystical practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

And lest anyone should think that the 1998 series was a one off, in 2009 an article posted on Surph’s Side blog drew attention to the fact that Keller’s Redeemer Church, New York, was teaching their flock how to practice the spirituality of ‘The Way of the Monk’, a method of prayer and worship that is grounded in Catholic mysticism. Here is the link to the article:

Here is some information on the Catholic mystics mentioned in the videos, ‘Keller and the mystics Part 1’ and ‘Keller and the mystics Part 2’.

 St Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582)

Teresa of Ávila was a prominent sixteenth century Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun and writer of the Counter Reformation. In 1662, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV.  Her writings on prayer and meditation are recognized to be of such great value to the Roman Catholic Church, that she was made a Doctor of the Church in 1970.  Her books, which include The Interior Castle, describe her mystical methods of prayer and meditation

Luis de Granada (1505-1588)

Luis de Granada was a Dominican friar, who was noted as a theologian, writer and preacher. At the age of nineteen he was received into the Dominican Order in the Priory of the Holy Cross in Granada, Spain. Through the turbulence of the 16th century Reformation, his teaching and writings were firmly orthodox, completely Catholic. Some of his books are regarded by the Catholic Church as masterpieces of spiritual theology. He wrote a tract on prayer, which developed into his first book, The Book of Prayer and Meditation, published in 1554, which has served as a manual of prayer for countless souls.

Father Jordan Aumann (1916-2007)

Father Jordan made his profession of vows through the Order of Preachers in 1939, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1945. He was a Dominican friar and an expert in spiritual theology.

He taught for years in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.  He wrote many books including Spiritual Theology (7th edition 1980) and Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition (1985).

These videos provide incontrovertible evidence that Dr Keller, who puts himself forward as a Reformed theologian and minister of the true gospel, and teaches practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary actually promotes and practices Catholic mysticism and is devoted to the mystics of the Roman Catholic Church. What does this evidence of heresy say about the Presbyterian Church in America and The Westminster Theological Seminary? What does this evidence say about The Gospel Coalition? What does this evidence say about the New Calvinists who openly support Keller’s heretical ministry? Those who support and defend Keller’s heretical views of the Reformed Faith have much to answer for.

You can learn more about Dr Tim Keller, Pastor Mark Driscoll and Pastor John Piper in the book, The New Calvinists (2014), published by The Wakeman Trust and Belmont House Publishing. The book is available from The Metropolitan Tabernacle bookshop or from Amazon  More on John Piper and his Christian Hedonism at The Real John Piper website



[2] Ibid.

[3] Engaging with Keller, edited by Iain Campbell and Williams Schweitxer, EP books, 2013, p21

[4] The Aquila Report website;