Seven Questions with Jonathan Keller – California Southern Baptist Convention
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7 Questions with Jonathan Keller

Jonathan Keller
President and CEO of California Family Council
If you’re an engaged CSBC-er who has even a slight interest in the religious-political discourse happening in the public square, then you already know Jonathan Keller. Jonathan is the President and CEO of California Family Council, an organization that touts the advancement of God’s Design for Life, Family, and Liberty. As he puts it, “Basically, I get to represent Christ and advocate for biblical values at the capital in DC, Sacramento, all across California, and everywhere in between.” This husband of Julie and father of two is a self-described “geek” (keep reading) who is in pursuit of smoking the perfect brisket and executing the perfect “sous vide” steak.

What book are you currently reading? And what podcasts do you listen to?

For the first time ever, at the age of 40, I just read the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy on audible. I just knew I needed to actually read it for myself. Did you know the new version on audible has just been updated with Andy Serkis reading the whole series? It was an accomplishment because the whole trilogy takes about 65 hours to finish at normal speed. As for podcasts, there are too many! But I’ll give you a few. Let’s see…Of course, I listen to The Briefing” with Al Mohler. “The Editors” by National Review, and their other show, “National Review's Radio Free California Podcast.” There’s another, “The Commentary Magazine Podcast.” They are Jewish and very conservative, and I listen to “Relatable with Allie Beth Stucky.” She just spoke at our gala. Oh! And because I’m kind of a nerd, I like listening to “The Accidental Tech Podcast.”

What biblical character (other than Jesus) would you want to meet, and why?

I would say, given my line of work and everything… Daniel. Not just because he was a cultural leader and counselor to the King, but I would want to talk to him as a parent of two boys… I want to know what his parent’s did to prepare him to be kidnapped at age 12, and make him stand firm in the absence of spiritual leaders, when the entire culture was trying to get him to go against God, you know, in a culture that looks very much like Babylon today. I’d ask him, “How do I parent my kids today like they did with you?”

Toilet paper, under or over?

Over because… Naturally, it’s what you’re supposed to do. However, no matter what way you put it, you have to remember to remove it from the roll before you put your toddler on the potty or else it will all be unrolled and on the floor.

Tell us something that nobody knows, a fun fact about you?

I’m definitely kind of a comic book/sci-fi nerd. With comic books, generally, I’m a marvel fan. I don’t know if this is bragging but, I have watched 500 different episodes of Star Trek at least once…

Tell us your best, ministry horror story?

My stories probably differ from your other interviews, but I remember this one time, earlier in my career, where I had to fire someone. It was one of the worst experiences of my life up to that point. I was stressed out, I couldn’t eat all day. It really affected me. I should also mention that it all went down on my 30th birthday. Nice, right? And because of the nature of the termination, I wasn’t allowed to talk about it with anyone. Even when my wife called to check on me during the day, I was upset but couldn’t talk about it. Luckily, we had not made any big plans for my birthday which was great because all I wanted to do was go home and have a nice dinner and process the whole thing alone…. and then … when I got home, I found out that my wife threw me a surprise 30th birthday party which was …memorable … I had to muster up a cheerful attitude because, you know, legally, I couldn’t talk about what had happened earlier that day.

If you could start over with a completely different job from the one you have right now, what would it be?

I’m kind of boring…. When I was in high school I thought about going to bible college and being a youth pastor But, if I could completely start over, I would love to be a traveling tech salesman traveling around the country to trade shows or who going around and helping people with their technology needs. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I had said ‘yes’ to an opportunity to work in Washington DC in my early twenties. I had just started dating my wife, so I passed on moving away.

When you think through all the names of Christ, what name resonates with you right now, and why?

Prince of Peace because in the middle of all the craziness that happens in our world and the demands that come from every direction, life is always moving. It’s something I struggle with the most -being pulled in a million different directions. Finding peace, especially because when you look at the end of that passage in Isaiah, he says “of the greatness of His government and peace, there will be no end…” keep going all the way to “from that time forward, even forever. Prince of Peace, and all that entails. He is going to set all things right. The messed-up horribleness of the world will be at peace.