Tim Keller at Berkeley and Stanford

Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and he is one of the bright lights of evangelicalism today. We all could stand to learn a great deal from Keller about how to engage this generation with the gospel.

Recently, Keller spoke at Stanford University and at Berkeley. The video of his two presentations is available online, and I recommend them to you. Not only are the presentations very well done, but the question and answer times are instructive as well. Keller fields questions from Christian students as well as from atheists and agnostics.


Stanford University

(HT: Justin Taylor)


  • Patrick Chan

    Thanks for these, Denny. 🙂

    By the way, I hate to be a spelling cop, but it’s “Berkeley,” not “Berkley.” (And I’m mainly such a stickler in this case because it’s my alma mater.) 🙂

  • Tristan

    Thanks for posting these videos. I found them helpful. I posted this question in another thread after seeing the video, but I didn’t really receive a satisfactory answer. In the Berkley Q&A, when responding to the atheist about hell, Keller tells him that a proper understanding of hell is that everyone who is there wants to be there, meaning they wouldn’t submit to God if given the opportunity. In light of atheism, this makes sense, because people would rather worship man or nature than to turn their faces toward God. But my question is: What about those who are trying to get to heaven, but by the wrong means? Keller seems to assume that everyone in hell WANTS to go to hell because they don’t want to worship God. Keller even suggests that this is the only “just” view of hell since it gives everyone what they want. But what about the people who strive to worship God and WANT to go to heaven, but in reality they are worshiping a false god, or their own good works? It doesn’t seem to me that these people want to go to hell and are merely “getting what they ask for”. Am I wrong here? Can anyone shed some light on how Keller (or Dante, Lewis, you, etc.) might respond? I am not questioning whether or not God is just sending people to hell. I just wonder, can we rightly say that everyone who goes to hell WANTS to go there? Thanks for the help.

  • Denny Burk


    You wrote: What about those who are trying to get to heaven, but by the wrong means? . . . What about the people who strive to worship God and WANT to go to heaven, but in reality they are worshiping a false god, or their own good works?

    I think Keller would answer this way (and so would I). If you don’t want God, then you don’t want “heaven.” Biblically, heaven is the place where God is. If a person is striving to get into a place called “heaven” and if their conception of “heaven” has nothing to do with the biblical God, then they are not really striving to get into heaven. In other words, it’s impossible to strive for “heaven” without striving for the biblical God.


  • Kevin J


    I do not think anyone would actually “want” to go to hell if they truly understood what hell actually is. I understand your question and I have a hard time believing that a person would actually “want” to go to hell. I believe a person who will not submit to God “wants” to be anywhere but where God God is. Biblically speaking the only place in eternity where God “is not” is hell, therefore they “want” to go to hell.

    I do not know if this helps but I tried.


  • Tristan

    Thanks, to all for the answers. They are helpful. I guess the other part of my question is, do we think it is fair to say (as Keller suggests) that all those in hell don’t want out of hell. Keller says that it’s not like God is keeping people in hell who don’t want to be there. I wonder about the person who has been worshiping a tree their whole life, when they stand before the Lord of the universe won’t they realize their error (but be sent to hell nonetheless)? Or would we suggest that even when faced with the majesty of God they will still reject Him and choose to be separated from Him for eternity? I realize that the Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable and can’t be taken too literally but in that parable it doesn’t seem like the rich man wants to be where he is. It seems he has realized his error but still must suffer knowing he was wrong. Thanks for the replies.

  • Kevin J


    I am not so sure that the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. Parables usually do not have a person’s name involved.

    However, I do not agree that the people condemned to the lake of fire will actually WANT to be there. But there will be no true repentance allowed by God but only eternal torment and those who reject Christ will suffer MORE than those who never had a chance to repent (Sodom & Gomorrah). I believe this is an eternal sorrow and torment for their rejection.

    Also, I do want to clarify that biblically God is everywhere including hell. The lake of fire is direct eternal torment directly from the hand of God. God is omnipresent but His glory is only shown and enjoyed where God wills that it be.

  • Darius

    Tristan, you bring up the story of the Rich man and Lazarus. Keller actually mentioned that in one of his sermons that led up to his new book. He points out that the Rich Man doesn’t ask to be rescued from hell. “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.”

    Why didn’t he ask to be tranferred to heaven? Or for some more lasting peace and soothing than just a quick lick of water? Instead of asking to get out of hell, he asks Lazarus to come down to it.

  • Darius

    Kevin, Keller discussed the issue of names in that same sermon. He said that many scholars believe that it’s pointing out the fact that in heaven, the last shall be first and those who went ignored by the world shall be known (thus the name) in heaven. Meanwhile, those who found their worth apart from God on earth and in praise from other men will be nameless in hell. Whether or not that’s the reason Jesus assigned a name, I don’t know. That’s Keller’s standpoint.

  • Kevin J


    I think that the rich man implies that he would not want to come to hell if he had a choice at that point by asking Abraham to send people from the dead to witness to the rich man’s family so that they would believe and not go to hell.

    If he really “wanted” to be there then he would also want his family to be there, wouldn’t he?

  • Darius

    He seems indifferent to his location. Maybe he’s just resigned to the fact, I don’t know. He does show that he still doesn’t get it, treating Lazarus like a servant.

  • david h

    I think you guys reading too much into the parable. Jesus is trying to make a point about His resurection. So trying to form any theology based on the supposed thoughts of a fictional character in a parable, that has nothing to do with the meaning of the parable, might not be the thing to do. I also have a question for everybody how would predestination factor into if someone wants to go to Hell. If God does not choose someone to go to Heaven does that person ever have the desire to go to Heaven?

  • Kevin J

    David H,

    I don’t see that the desire to go to heaven would be the same as the desire for Jesus as the treasure of your life.

    Many people are dying every day who desire to go to heaven but have never desired Jesus as the treasure of their life. If a persons “belief” in Jesus is only a “fire insurance policy” then they will NOT go to heaven. Really now, how many people would tell you that they do not want to go to heaven?

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