I recently learned through Twitter of a video from 2016 of some dancers doing a ballet presentation during a church service at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City where Tim Keller served as senior pastor for many years. This interpretive ballet was apparently depicting events of the Lord’s life leading up to and culminating in His crucifixion. Some evangelical leaders said that these dancers were doing what they considered to be “gay” ballet. That seems exaggerated but you decide. https://vimeo.com/200056401
While I am not a fan of this sort of interpretive dance in church, I would not make an issue of it on social media or on my radio program. The three men were dressed in modest attire and their ballet seemed to be pretty standard ballet. But some of the commentary coming from a few evangelical men diverted to gay humor and slanderous words depicting their ballet. Did they know they were gay? Were they quick to judge because they were men doing art through ballet? Did they assume they weren't saved? And what does it say about them labeling their ballet as gay with unsubstantiated slurs, innuendo, and legalistic acerbic charges based on a video post by the church?
To bring this example to a present crisis of “interfaith dialogue” that is pervasive in evangelical circles today will prove helpful. Some of you might be saying at this point:
- How can they attack a man (Tim Keller) that has been in the ministry for so many years and has shared the gospel with so many people?
- Have you watched every video and read every book ever written by Tim Keller before speaking out?
- Have they contacted Tim Keller privately before attacking him publicly?
- These people are just attention seekers looking for more followers.
Here's my concern: the ones attacking this ballet video from Tim Keller’s church, making fun of the dancers, saying slanderous things about them cloaked in degrading humor – and therefore by implication are calling into question the ministry of Tim Keller and Redeemer Church were the same ones lobbing similar moral judgments against my character and those I work with. They strongly suggested I could not challenge Dr. White as to his interfaith alliance with Yasir Qahdi because of James’ long standing years in apologetic ministry. But they feel completely justified trashing Pastor Keller, Redeemer and these dancers based on literally the viewing of a video that proved their accusations entirely wrong? You can see the problem, right? This is utter hypocrisy on multiple levels. They cut up people they disagree with without batting an eye. And doing so with seedy humor, gay slurs, and cheap words. But when those of us who want to hold evangelical leaders to a biblical standard of ministry cry foul when we bring them justified, real concerns both biblically and on national security grounds, we are demeaned in doing so. It appears that the double standard has become the rule of the day for the evangelical mafia. Listen, my colleagues Usama Dakdok and Shahram Hadian (and myself) were unfairly taken to task for addressing some serious and weighty biblical issues regarding James White and his interfaith dialogue and relationship with Muslim Imam Dr. Yadir Qahdi that can and will have grave impact in evangelical churches for generations to come.
Perhaps if Tim Keller were a member of the good ol' boy club his critics run in, this ballet performance would have gone unmentioned. Don’t you find that revealing and sad at many levels?
Holding each other as Christians, pastors, apologists, etc. accountable to the one rule and standard for all matters of life and godliness – the Word of God – should be applauded and not pooh-poohed. It is the Berean standard extolled by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:10-12.
Truth should welcome scrutiny, but error seldom wants to be challenged. May we all be champions for that which is true and even when our methods are not profitable for the ministry, in and out of the church, may we be quick to abandon them for the sake of the gospel and the glory of our God.
Thank you for the assistance of a ministry partner in editing this article
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