His speaking style is disarmingly low-key, almost professorial, but only the rarest professors make every word count the way Tim Keller does. For 16 years, he has been preaching at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, distilling biblical teaching into arrestingly simple phrases that convey the radical surprise and gracious truth of Christian faith. One such typically piquant phrase is the source of the Christian Vision Project's big question for 2006: How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good? Keller's vision of a church keenly committed to the welfare of its city attracts 4,000 worshipers each week to Redeemer's four rented locations, sends them out into many forms of charitable service through the church's ministry Hope for New York, and fuels a church-planting effort that embraces Baptists and Pentecostals as well as Presbyterians, immigrant neighborhoods as well as Manhattan. Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians.
In the winter of 2006, two movies mirrored the fractured and confusing relationship between Christians and culture. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe struck fear in many secular hearts. Some journalists saw it as an ominous sign of growing right-wing power that a company like Disney would make a movie that had such profound evangelical appeal (and, arguably, content). And why did Disney pull the plug on the gay-friendly TV reality series Welcome to the Neighborhood? Isn't this, the pundits asked, what happens when you let Christians influence culture?