Keller, worship, and truth, beauty, and goodness

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:

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I heard it put like this once, that “For the Jews, they believed in the beauty of holiness; the Greeks believed in the holiness of beauty”. And that is the key misbelief on show here, that beauty is intrinsicly holy. It isn’t.

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Having never heard of the Episcopal bishop Paul Moore, I looked him up. Some men’s lives are striking examples of spiritual ruin.

You can read the biographical summary on Wikipedia for yourselves, but Moore was said to have been the best known Episcopal cleric in the United States during his time. He came from enormous wealth and as a priest worked in impoverished urban areas where he honed his activism regarding housing conditions and racial discrimination. His first call was in Indianapolis in 1957 before he went to Washington DC in 1964 and finally New York City in 1970. He was the bishop who ordained the first openly lesbian woman (Ellen Barrett) as a priest in 1977.

He was married twice, losing both wives to death. His first wife was mother to his nine children. According to one source, none of his nine children were part of the church as adults. One of his daughter’s says her father was a closeted bisexual who engaged in many adulterous relationships throughout both marriages.

In 2018, when the Episcopal Church had its #metoo moment lamenting its role in prior sexual abuse and coverup, Bishop Moore’s name came up again. The current Bishop of New York Diocese went so far as to call Moore a “serial predator” with a long-time pattern of abuse against “priests, seminarians and laypersons in our diocese.”

According to the biography attached to his papers held in the Archives of the Episcopal Church, this section refers to the time period of the Phillippe Petit display and his desire to use the cathedral as a setting for art and dance:

As diocesan bishop from 1972 to 1989 and into his retirement, Moore continued his activism within the Church and in the political arena. He also found time to restart construction on the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, which had ground to a halt in 1941. With Cathedral Dean James P. Morton, Moore’s vision for the Cathedral gave it new life, and the space became a popular setting for music, dance, art, and cultural festivals. He was passionately dedicated to the vibrant life of cities, and was particularly influential in bringing a new civic attention to the plight of New York City during the worst of the urban crises of the 1970s.

For a taste of his own framing of spiritual matters, I’ll leave you with these wicked words from his final sermon:

I charge you to be free in your mind to push forward the boundaries of theology, to liberate your thinking from the dusty metaphysics of the past to a new dynamic of the Gospel, so that the vigor of its love invades the issues of the day.


My favorite quote concering Episcopalians is from this profile of Moore that ran in the April 28, 1986 issue of The New Yorker:

STANDING OUT THERE ON THE ISSUES: PROFILE of the Right Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Episcopal Bishop of N.Y.

By Jervis Anderson

April 20, 1986

Non-Episcopalians still tend to view the Church as a gathering mainly of America’s Protestant élite—“the Tory party at prayer,” as it has been called. If the view isn’t as valid today as it once was, neither is it entirely groundless. Old-family Episcopalians have traditionally regarded themselves as the nation’s economic, political, and cultural elect. When William T. Manning, a former Bishop of New York, was asked whether salvation could be found outside the Episcopal Church, he replied, “Perhaps so, but no gentleman would care to avail himself of it.” The old patriciate founded such élite prep schools as Groton, Kent, Choate, and St. Paul’s, and it was at those and other academies of the ruling class that they educated their children. Their influence at the higher levels of the national government has been disproportionate to their numbers in the population.

I might add the PCA is also better understood as a social class than a community of faith. It’s just that the social class isn’t as high as Episcopalians. It’s middle and upper middle class rather than upper class. Docs, lawyers, engineers, middle management, and thus its most trustworthy mark of identification is risk aversion. Witness their refusal to discipline anyone anywhere for anything. Those w/ears…


And not only in America. In New Zealand, the view back in the day was that the Anglican church “was made up of doctors and lawyers”, the Presbyterian church “was made up of engineers and accountants” - one of my best friends, a Presbyterian, was both! - and the Baptist church “was made up of office workers and factory workers”. The rural Open Brethren fellowships were made up of farmworkers. While things have moved on for our Baptists since then, the sociology of churches does explain a lot.

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My up close and personal observation of broadly evangelical American Protestants is that this aversion to discipline of the clergy anywhere for anything matches what was (and still is) the consistent pattern in these churches.

And the Romans are the same vis-a-vis their clergy, as Mankowski observed in his analysis of the sources of the sex abuses within the Roman clergy.

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Thanks much, John.

The video from Keller’s church can be found here Gayer Than the Kiwi Queen of the Fire Island Fruit Festival | Blog & Mablog.

Pastor Bayly, I deleted it by accident so reposted. We have a bunch of Keller fanboys at our church and I had been looking for it last week.

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The video of that haka - I’m a New Zealander, and the Christians in my country who come from that culture/ethnicity would have no problem in using something like this in their own worship.

I’m sorry. Your country is in great need of prayer, as is mine, if you find this as anything but offensive to a Holy God.

The video of that lala erotica - I’m a U.S. citizen and the Christians in my country who come from that culture/sexnicity have no problem in using something like this in their worship.

Sorry. If you think using a haka in a worship service is cause for prayer, your aesthetic is far too culture-bound.

New Zealand desperately needs prayer, but not for that reason.

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It would probably help communication if all participating knew what was being discussed. Namely, this video of a haka, which Wilson put in contrast to the gay dancers of Redeemer:


Thank you … if we go back to Doug Wilson’s original piece, I read it as his contrasting the effeminate display at Redeemer (what were they thinking?!) with the militancy, and manliness, in the haka. Doug wrote:

Leave aside all regulative principle considerations (which I do not leave aside, btw), but just leave it aside for the sake of discussion. Why would a trendy Reformed church never perform something like the below for their offertory? I will tell you why. It would trigger half the session, with the other half hiding in a safe space at the nearest community college.

So that’s why I commented as I did.

Aren’t macho chest-thumping and gay entwining pretty similar, fulfilling for the audience the same sort of prurient desire? Seems clear to me.

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It occurs to me to wonder if anyone would have objected to the inclusion in worship of the musical performance sans the dancing? This is the deeper question that I ask whenever I am in worship services that put on display cultural sophistication and highbrow taste. As I quoted in the original post of this dance on Baylyblog, brother David has observed that all the applause in classical music concerts is self-congratulatory. We need to be very careful with music, which is the reason we moved our music away from highbrow to lowbrow. Unprepossessing. Workmanlike. Grounded. Unpretentious. Simple. Basic. Good words, tunes, and rhythyms, but not complicated—let alone pretty. Usually manly but sometimes womanly. Redeemer's effeminate worship... | BaylyBlog


Unfortunately, we are not talking about your culture but we are talking of New York City where Keller allowed this abomination. In our culture this is celebrating homosexuality. Keller was not thinking of New Zealand. These men were from a local dance troupe comprised of all sodomites. Keller knew exactly what he was doing.

John, did you see my post above, with the video of rugby players, (not ballet dancers)? That’s what a “haka” is, and right now communication still appears to be broken down.

@tbbayly Thank you. This is precisely right in the context of a worship service. But as a method of delivering the challenge to the opposing team where you then proceed to actually smash into them on the rugby pitch, I guess it’s not quite the same level of falseness. Furthermore, the desire behind enjoying the haka is to see the enemy destroyed. Sports is mock battle, so the question just becomes to what degree love of sports is prurient or how false sports is. (And for the record, rugby is less false than most sports on the question of “combat.”)

On the other hand, the desire behind gay ballet is… gay, which is wrong in and of itself. So there’s certainly a difference.


Pastor Joseph, I have seen several haka performances but they were done by New Zealand warriors as they prepared for battle during WW2 in the Pacific where my father served. They were feared warriors and while I don’t know if there is any religious connotations attached to a haka, it would seem the videos that I have viewed that the haka was a traditional way of preparing for battle. I don’t think a haka or ballet by sodomites is appropriate in worship regardless the culture.

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