Pastor, Author, Culture and Thought Leader Tim Keller Dies at 72


Tim Keller’s ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York was a bridge to connect the vast void that existed towards the end of 20th century. Keller created a megachurch with a majority of single young adults who were employed in the heart of Sodom, the arts, the media and financial services industries. Keller showed young people how to live a relationship with Jesus Christ and how to bring light and love into their dark worlds.

After a long fight with pancreatic carcinoma, the influential pastor, teacher and author passed into his reward in heaven on Friday. Keller was 72.

The Christian Post

Timothy Keller, the renowned Evangelical author and theologian, as well as the pastor of New York City, died after a long battle with pancreatic stage 4 cancer. He was 72.

Keller’s congregation, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, in Manhattan (which Keller helped to found), sent out a message Friday morning informing its members of his death.

We will always be grateful for his dedication, love, and leadership in sharing Christ’s love with others. We will miss him here but we know that he is celebrating with his Savior in Heaven,” said Redeemer according to Church Leaders.

“Tim was passionate about what he did. He enjoyed interacting with Redeemer congregations and leaders of global ministries. He loved to communicate the wonder and power of the gospel. You would be quickly disarmed if you addressed him as Dr. Keller. ‘Just Tim, please. ‘”

Keller’s son Michael announced the death of his father on Timothy Keller’s twitter account. He included his last words, “There is absolutely no downside to me leaving.”

Keller, born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1950, earned a bachelor’s degree in arts from Bucknell University. He also holds a master’s in divinity and a doctorate in ministry from Westminster Theological Seminary.

He was the pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia. He also served as an associate professor at Westminster and director of Mercy Ministries in the Presbyterian Church in America.

Keller founded Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1989. The congregation would grow to average 5,000 worshippers per week.

Keller is also the co-founder and chair of Redeemer City to City. This organization helps to launch churches in New York City and other major cities and provides resources for how to minister to urban environments.

Keller was an prolific author. The Reason for God was Keller’s seminal book. The volume of apologetics focused on difficult questions regarding God and eternity, which did not have easy answers. Questions like, does God exist? and why Hell exists. Keller presented the gospel with an intellectual, reasoned and rational approach, along with a deep sense of compassion and service for those seeking truth. The hallmark of Keller’s ministry was consistent, and it was expressed in his sermons, as well as other written works, such The Prodigal God (2008, The Meaning of Marriage (2012), The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness (2013), The Songs of Jesus (2014), Walking With God through Pain and Suffering (2014), and The Prodigal Prophet (2017). Keller’s final published work is Forgive: Why and How Can I Do It? The 2022 edition of Forgiveness: Why Should I and How Can I? is a beautiful treatment on biblical forgiveness in comparison to therapeutic and social justice approaches.

Keller was theologically conservative and politically agnostic. Keller was often criticized by both the evangelical church and the culture for these things. He was due to receive the Kuyper Award for Excellence in Reformed Theology, Public Witness and Witness by Princeton University Theological Seminary, when he retired as a full-time pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian. Outside advocacy groups pushed the seminary to withdraw the award because of Keller’s views on women being ordained (he wasn’t on board). Keller chose to deliver the lecture as a demonstration of the grace he often spoke and taught about. The seminary was warmly welcomed by Collin Hansen of Christianity Today, who said: “Timothy Keller presented the gospel in the idioms and styles of his time, without demeaning the message or demanding anything other than faith and trust in Jesus, our faithful and trustworthy Savior.”

The Huffington Post wrote an article in 2013 about Evangelical views of homosexuality and Keller’s specifically. Keller’s words were misrepresented in the article, and this caused a lot of controversy. Keller stressed commitment to biblical orthodoxy but also love of outreach, regardless of the result of the battle.

Keller made headlines during the 2020 elections when he posted his views on Twitter about the Christian approach in politics.

The Bible tells me to care for the needy, but not how to do it. It is possible to have a good and wise strategy for either (high taxes with government services or low taxes with private charity).

“[It] can be inferred by other things that the Bible teaches but they aren’t directly commanded. Therefore, we cannot insist on all Christians following one or the other as a matter conscience.”

Keller was a living example of a Christian life. In his fight against Stage 4 pancreatic carcinoma, Keller showed how a Christian should embrace death. Keller was previously diagnosed with thyroid carcinoma in 2002 and had undergone surgery and radiation treatments. Keller wrote a book in 2015 called Walking With God through Pain and Suffering, based on his sermon from May 26, 2013, entitled “The Gospel and Courage”. He spoke of the experiences he had with Jesus and gained insights during this time. Keller said that facing fear does not mean that we should be deadened to love and to what we might lose. It is more about holding on to the hope that Christ has risen, which will give us the courage to face those fears.

“When Paul realized Jesus was resurrected, everything changed. The meaning of Jesus’ death and the hope for the future suddenly made sense. If Jesus Christ truly died on the Cross, taking our punishment and has now been raised from the Dead, then when we believe in Him, we not only have our sins forgiven but also incredible hope for the future. We are going to be raised and everything will be made right in this world. There will be no more suffering or death. “What an amazing hope.”

Keller was diagnosed with pancreatic carcinoma in May 2020. This was around the time the nation began to feel the effects of the COVID epidemic and George Floyd’s death. The stage 4 pancreatic carcinoma is usually a death sentence. It is only a few months between the diagnosis and the death. Keller received chemotherapy at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda in Maryland. He also participated in a clinical trial for immunotherapy. Keller was given an extra two years.

Keller tweeted on the anniversary of his two-year diagnosis that chemotherapy is reducing cancer and that “God saw it fit to grant me more time.”

Keller, however, wrote in March 2023 on his Facebook account that he was returning to Bethesda’s National Cancer Institute for additional immunotherapy treatments, as more cancerous tumours were found in his body.

Keller was treated in April, and released. However, his days were numbered on earth. Keller’s son Michael posted an update on his father’s Timothy Keller page to Facebook this Thursday. He informed his followers that Tim Keller would soon be in Jesus’ arms.

Health Update: Dad will be discharged today from the hospital and receive hospice care in his home. In the last few days, Dad has asked us to often pray with him. In prayer, he expressed his desire to return home and be with Jesus. We all wanted to give him more time but we also know that he is running out of it. He said in prayer two nights ago: “I am thankful for everyone who has prayed for my over the years. I am thankful for the love of my family. I am grateful for the time God gave me, but now I want to see Jesus. I’m eager to see Jesus. “Send me home.”

Luke Holmes shared a clip from a podcast in which Keller repeated the same sermon that he delivered about the Gospel and bravery back in 2013. He told the podcast host, “If Jesus Christ is really raised from the dead ,…, then everything will be fine.”

Tim Keller has found everything in his life. He is now able to enjoy the presence of Jesus Christ, whom he loves and serves faithfully.