3 Wrong Ways to View the City

Tim Keller | July 21, 2017

Several big ideas have shaped Redeemer Presbyterian Church over the years. Kathy has written about the most important one—the centrality of the gospel. Another I’d like to reflect on is the importance of city ministry.

The Bible teaches several things about the city—including, first, respect for its importance, and second, realism about its evil. Theologian Geerhardus Vos observed that the city, while an accumulator of the energy of culture, is also an accumulator of the potencies of evil. The city draws and aggregates people’s talents in such a way that the greatest works of culture are produced there, but it does the same thing with human sin. So the city is like a magnifying glass, bringing out both the best and the worst in human beings. 

Further, the Bible teaches that the city should draw out our love. God chastises Jonah for not being moved to compassion for the massive spiritual need in the great cities of the world (Jonah 4:11).  

Three Attitudes 

Christians today have several different attitudes toward cities. Some romanticize the city, and they often use the language of “loving the city.” But it might be more accurate to say they love the experience of the city—the excitement, the energy, the…

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