Timothy “Tim” Keller Death, Memorial Service – Tim Keller, a pastor in New York City who ministered to young urban professionals and in the process became a leading example for how a winsome Christian witness could win a hearing for the gospel even in unlikely places, passed away on Friday at the age of 72, three years after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Keller ministered to young urban professionals and in the process became a leading example for how a winsome Christian witness could win a hearing for the gospel even in unlikely places.
Keller established and built a Reformed evangelical congregation in Manhattan, launched a church planting network, cofounded The Gospel Coalition, and authored a number of books that became best sellers about God, the Christian life, and the gospel. He travelled from place to place preaching about grace and sin. Keller would often say that “the gospel is this,” which means that “we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, and yet at the very same time, we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Keller was accused of making cultural accommodations on a regular basis, particularly in his final years. People accused him of putting too much stress on relevance and watering down or even betraying the truth of Christianity out of a misguided desire for social acceptance. He rejected culture-war animosity and the “own the libs” method to evangelism. He also criticized the “own the libs” strategy to evangelism. He was accused of doing this.
The worship of false gods, on the other hand, came up quite frequently in his sermons and classes. Keller argued that individuals are broken and that they are aware of their own brokenness. However, they have not yet realized that Jesus is the only one who can truly mend them. The grace of God is the only thing that can truly satisfy their inmost desires. Keller went to the cultural elites of the country at his church in Manhattan and informed them that they were worshiping false gods.
We want to have that nice feeling. We yearn to know that we are cherished. As he preached back in 2009, “We want to feel significant,” and “that’s why we’re working so hard and that’s the source of the evil.” In an interview with New York magazine, Keller offered his explanation that this was, in a sense, an outdated teaching about sin. However, when most people hear the word “sin,” the only things that come to their minds are sexual misconduct, drug use, and sometimes even theft. However, the modern creative class that he was trying to reach was plagued by many more destructive sins that were vying to displace the love of God in their life.
The mission of “relevance” was to find the idols that were keeping people’s souls captive and destroy them. Then proceed to inform them that they have the potential to be set free. Keller remarked in 2021 that the people of Manhattan “had lived their whole lives with parents, music teachers, coaches, professors, and bosses telling them to do better, be better, and try harder,” and that this had been the case for their entire lives.
“To hear that He Himself had met those demands for righteousness through the life and death of Jesus, and that there was now no condemnation left for anyone who trusted in that righteousness—that was an amazing message of freedom,” says one person. “To hear that He Himself had met those demands for righteousness through the life and death of Jesus.”
When Keller was an undergraduate at Bucknell University, he was exposed to this particular message. He was the child of William Keller and Louise Clemente, who welcomed him into the world in September 1950 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The family was active in their local Lutheran congregation. Confirmation lessons were required for little Timothy for two years, but the most important thing he took away from them was that religion was all about being good.
In 1968, he enrolled in a university and soon became involved with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, in part due to the fact that the Christians at the university appeared to have an interest in the civil rights movement. Soon after, he came to the realization that Christianity was in fact the correct worldview and began devouring the writings of British evangelicals, particularly those of John Stott, F. F. Bruce, and C. S. Lewis. In his later years, he frequently referred to C. S. Lewis as his “patron saint” and cited Lewis as an authority on the need to believe in God.
After receiving his high school diploma in 1972, Keller continued his education at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. There, he became acquainted with a pupil by the name of Kathy Kristy, who had converted to Christianity as a result of reading the works of C. S. Lewis and actually maintained a correspondence with him up until the time of his passing, when she was 13 years old. Keller and Kristy met in college, fell in love, and got married in 1975, just before Keller graduated.
Keller was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a denomination that had been established in Birmingham, Alabama, two years before to Keller’s ordination. The PCA currently has approximately 300 churches. Hopewell, Virginia is a community located south of Richmond that is sandwiched between a federal prison and the James River. The James River was polluted by the Kepone insecticide that was made in Hopewell. He accepted a call to a church in Hopewell, and he moved there. Keller was barely 24 years old when he began his ministry, and he learned from his blunders as a novice pastor.
“Same as everyone else,” he said in an interview with World magazine. “My sermons were too long, and my pastoral approaches to some people were ineffective; at times, I was too direct, and at other times, I wasn’t direct enough.” I initiated new projects that nobody really desired at the time. I was able to make those mistakes without anyone blaming me for them because the church was so kind and supportive.