American Christianity is in a crisis as of late, with many churches falling toward the traps of this world, trying hard to be “relevant to the culture”, which is not the function of a Church. God is immutable, the Word is immutable, and as such, the messages involved are timeless. They do not “change with the social times”. God’s justice is not “social justice” by nature.
Churches, as I have demonstrated this week, are preaching the same messages as every secular corporation on “anti-racism” and “white privilege” ad nauseum to rebuke their congregations for evils they did not commit, nor had any involvement in.
The reason the churches are turning to this message is simple – No one has specifically sinned and they are pointing to no specific examples, so it is a message which evokes a feeling in the audience, which is also the exact same messages by secular agents are resonating so well in the mainstream culture with these same buzzwords. The feeling created gets a lot of feedback and interaction which creates a sense of community – replacing the Holy Spirit with a biological necessity of the same function, a false spiritual experience.
It’s also an easy message for the church to deliver, since no one has specifically sinned, they can enact the “calling out others for sins” which always feels good to the person doing it in the moment. The congregation, not sinning themselves, easily can smile and nod along. They get the high of pointing fingers of judgment, but without pointing at anyone specifically, so they trick themselves into thinking they’re not casting spurious judgment against Biblical tenets.
After some research, the root of the current wave of this “anti-racism” teaching comes from one Pastor Tim Keller, a popular speaker with a smooth voice who gets many views online. Specifically, it comes from his video “Racism and Corporate Evil: A White Guy’s Perspective”, of which I’ve linked here so you can watch the full video for yourself, and will be giving a breakdown of why this is not only wrong teaching, but crosses the line into heresy.
Keller’s Argument of Corporate Sin
Keller argues that collective, familial, and ancestral guilt are a reality. That anyone involved in a system, company, corporation, group, family, and race, who does not specifically act against a “wrong” in a system, is therefore guilty of a certain sin just as a person who actually committed a sinful act. If this sounds like ascribing guilt to someone based on someone else’s sin, it is. Which is easily refutable and anti-Biblical even back to the Torah:
“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” – Deuteronomy 24:16
His high concept cites a different verse in James 4:17: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him is sin.”
Which, while true, there is a leap of logic applied in the situation of “corporate sin” as he’s discussing “as a white guy”. Keller’s theory is a white person exists as part of a system, of American slavery which occurred 150 years ago and the fruits of such trickle to our culture today. We must therefore make restitutions for it somehow as a society, which is a political statement which he then tries to shoehorn into a theological one. I’ll remind to those who think they are #Resisting: slavery has already been abolished, anyone who partook in it is long dead. What are you as a normal person, then supposed to do about American slavery?
This is the conundrum of Keller’s message and at the same time, it exemplifies why it is so powerful. The preaching of “corporate sin” maintains the feeling of guilt in a people, the guilt which can be used to direct the people toward action, in this case and in most cases where this heretical theology is applied, being used to do a political bidding. Corporate sin, however, is also anti-Biblical in that there is no possible way for objective absolution from this alleged “sin”.
A Family Stoned For The Sins Of One
Keller’s main argument is a bizarre interpretation of Joshua 7, in which Israel as God’s preferred nation and race, is involved in a battle, and they struggle, and the Lord explains the situation is dire and they are not winning his favor because sins have been committed by one of the troops. Achan, one of Joshua’s men, stole some items he was forbidden to, and so Joshua roots out the stealing.
Not only was Achan stoned as the result, but his entire family was as well.
If this sounds like something that doesn’t take into account the New Covenant and Christ’s sacrifice and promise, it clearly doesn’t, which we will address, but this is where Keller makes a strange conclusion even based on a reading solely of this scripture.
Since Achan’s family, including the children were killed in this action, Keller concludes they shared a “corporate guilt” in his sin.
Nowhere does the verse say this nor anything alluding to this, but the Lord enacted punishment as the Lord chose in the situation.
Logically, if the law specifically states children are not to be killed for the sins of the father as, then the reason the Lord enacted this judgment is clearly NOT because of the “corporate sin” passed down to them by someone else, invalidating Keller’s example.
We must therefore conclude that while Achan’s family was impacted by the judgment, the Lord did not ascribe guilt to Achan’s sin to them. They were caught in the crossfire, so to speak. The Lord could have, and more, should have, chosen to punish all the men in the battle, or the entire nation of Israel by the rationale of Keller’s “corporate sin”, but the Lord did not – and it implies this corporate sin is something Keller made up and is attempting to use an out of context verse to justify it.
Daniel And The Sins Of Israel
His next example is Daniel 9, where Daniel laments the sins of Israel. He uses the line “because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers” to justify his position that someone can be judged for the sins of their father. Again, this is contrary to the Torah, and Daniel as a prophet could not have meant to imply Keller’s conclusion.
But Daniel clearly states later in verse 20, “While I was speaking and praying, and confessing MY sin,” –admitting he had taken part of a sin, not that he was free from guilt and merely impacted by the association of others.
While Daniel laments that the whole nation has sinned, and that their fathers also sinned, the guilt for other’s sins is never implied. After the New Covenant, we all should certainly lament that sin exists in the world, but because there is hope and glory in Christ Jesus. Those sins are irrelevant to us and we can take great joy that they have been washed away completely and wholly.
The true rationale in both of Kellers examples are ones of leaders taking on the burden of the sins of Israel. Israel contextually is a nation in a covenant directly with God as a nation.
Israel then broke the covenant on multiple occasions. It’s like breaking a treaty, but of course, when breaking a treaty with the Almighty, one had best be prepared for heavy repercussions.
But neither of these examples nor in any of the examples other than Keller’s personal feelings on topics give credence, to anyone having to bear the guilt of someone else’s sin.
There are countless verses describing how sins do not get passed down via generations, and how each man is responsible for his own actions, but few more poignant than Jeremiah 31:29-34 which outlines via prophecy what’s going to occur in the New Covenant, which to us, is that which has transpired through the sacrifice of our Lord Christ Jesus:
“In those days they shall no longer say: “‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Christ’s covenant with us ensures this ancestral guilt is NOT something to be ascribed to us, reaffirming the law in Deuteronomy.
Adam’s Original Sin
The final Biblical example Keller gives is the concept of original sin, where Paul, in Romans 5 writes of the sin of Adam and how it tainted humanity. This verse is very clear on the scope of original sin, that being ascribed to one person who represented humanity wholly and completely at the time, something which never occurred again. The verse speaks to Adam in the singular, and never mentions sins of Moses, sins of David, etc. going down the line as if we bear responsibility for those. Adam, much like the example of Israel, was bound directly by a covenant with God personally and responsible for said covenant.
Keller says, “you are responsible for the sins Adam and Eve did,” though the verse doesn’t mention Eve at all. Eve did not represent humanity in the covenant in the garden, which is why Paul in his wisdom left her out of the message. I remind we should not ever add to scripture, it is a sign of false teaching as referenced in Galatians. Only Adam bore said responsibility in the scripture. Which is in line with the law that we are not responsible for the sins of our fathers, their fathers, nor anyone else. There is but one original sin, just as there is but one God, and one final sacrifice to cleanse all the sins of the world.
The Heresy of Corporate Sin
This is where the sermon goes from bad preaching on Keller’s preferred politics, to the much more dangerous heretical. If we are all guilty of sin by system, by ancestry, by race, it necessitates Christ Jesus who was born a Jew, living in an oppressive society of Rome would have therefore had to have been personally guilty of “corporate sin.” But scripture is clear that Christ was flawless, being in his very nature God. Jesus had to not even be guilty of original sin, even though Mary was descended from Adam.
When it gets into Keller’s personal examples for application, his doctrine becomes even more precarious. He claims he grew up in the south, under racism (which he never bothers to define why racism is a sin. I have covered why racism is not a Biblical sin in another essay), which stems back to slavery in the 1800s. His theory is because this system allegedly harmed African people, whites are somehow now still guilty.
Let’s look at this logically, and not just of the emotion the thought of tortured slaves evokes, as we have already examined the scriptural passages and compare what scripture says to this.
Posing a hypothetical, let’s imagine Tim Keller’s great, great, great grandfather was a slave owner who beat, raped, and murdered Africans while in this position. 99.9% of people at the time had nothing to do with this sin so it would be miraculous if true, but let’s say it was true for the sake of argument.
What if, then, for example, Keller’s great, great, great, grandfather confessed Jesus is the Christ and God raised him from the dead?
Scripture says this absolves one of sins and grants eternal life. “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from ALL sin.” – 1 John 1:7. All sins, as the Apostle John says, not just some sins.
It means that Keller’s ancestor had this sin cleansed, and it was washed away. If he did not confess faith in Jesus as the Christ and Keller’s theory of corporate sin is true, at least someone along the line of his ancestors, hopefully at least Tim Keller himself, has confessed faith in Christ and been absolved of any and all sin.
Since Christ absolves all sins, this is therefore a moot point which has already been resolved by and through his sacrifice and the confession of faith.
But Keller’s implication here is that the sin is not absolved. It still exists. It still permeates through countless generations (though oddly, he’s only concerned with white people and two specific incidents, much like most modern extreme leftists – 1800s American slavery and Nazi Germany).
If we are to believe Keller, Christ’s sacrifice only applies to some sins, corporate sins not being covered by the Blood of the Lamb. Who, then, is then the arbiter of what sins get absolved and which are not since the Scripture is silent on this matter?
This is an anti-Biblical and heretical take. Jeremiah 31:34 states, “The Lord declares, ‘I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more'”. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”.
If we are the righteousness of God, it means our sins naturally have been washed away. They are no longer remembered, and nor should they be under our personal covenant with the Lord.
Ascribing that Christ’s sacrifice and our confession of faith does not have the power to absolve sins, that these sins will permeate forever unless we perform some deed of #Resistance against the government is a dangerous message. It opposes the grace and mercy of Christ. It nullifies his sacrifice and makes a claim that his sacrifice was not enough.
It is why this message must be roundly rejected by any Christian. There is no tenet of the Christian faith more important than Christ’s blood sacrifice covering all sins for all of those who believe. Tim Keller is therefore preaching heresy of the highest of magnitude and deceiving Christians everywhere into a false religion.
His message of “Corporate Sin” must be condemned, especially as so many Christian churches are being influenced by this deception and sorcery today.