CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu

Tim Keller: 1950-2023

James Mildred

Tim Keller

News that Tim Keller, author of The Reason for God and countless other books, has passed away feels like the ending of an era.

At CARE, we’ve especially appreciated Keller’s emphasis on truth and grace as a means and way to engage in the culture. His apologetics always combined the very best scholarship with a high regard for the Bible and the authority and inspiration of God’s word. He had an apologist's mind and a pastor's heart.

Keller was born on 23 September 1950 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He became a Christian while at Bucknell University. He was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and first served as pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell Virginia for nine years. During this time he also served on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary.

In 1989, the PCA asked Tim and Kathy t start Redeemer Presbyterian Church Manhattan. Their ministry thrived as God blessed the work of their hands. In 2008, The Reason for God was published, soon becoming a bestseller. It was based on objections to God Keller had heard over his years ministering in Manhattan.

By this time, more than 5,000 people were attending Redeemer each Sunday. Redeemer has founded Hope for New York, a non-profit organisation that sends volunteers to over 40 faith-based ministries serving social needs in New York.

In 2017, Keller stepped down as senior pastor of Redeemer to focus more time on training the next generation of church leaders. He is also the co-founder of the Gospel Coalition, a group of theologically conservative leaders from across the US.

In 2020, Keller was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That diagnosis and the Covid-19 pandemic meant the Keller’s spent large amounts of time at home

His book Generous Justice remains a must-read. Drawing on a biblical theology from Genesis to Revelation, he shows again and again God’s heart for the most vulnerable in our society.

In 2018, Tim Keller also gave a memorable address to the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, of which CARE is a sponsor. With then Prime Minister Theresa May in the audience, he urged British politicians to let Christians be Christians.

Some of the highlights from that address are listed below.

In the past, Christianity has been like salt bringing out the best in Western society, but, in the future, it might be more of a way of preventing decay, it might be more of a preservative.

Jesus’ metaphor is Christians can be ‘salt’ as long as they’re ‘salt’ – meaning, not the same as the meat; they’re different. And so, Christians will not, interestingly, benefit society if they’re just like everybody else in society. We’re not going to benefit a society filled with self-actualisers unless we really are different, unless we do believe Jesus died for us, unless we do believe that we live through the self sacrifice of the great Jesus Christ, and therefore we’re going to live by self-sacrifice. You see, unless we are shaped deeply by that, then we’re really not going to be of any kind of benefit.

And here’s what the British society can do to get the most out of Christians: not demand that they become like everybody else. Our modern society says: we believe in respect for difference. Ok, respect Christians’ difference. But here’s what you should do for them, oh British society, (I guess if there’s any place to talk to British society, I guess this is the place to do it). Oh British society, tell Christians: be true to your own ideals. And critique them on the basis of their ideals, don’t critique them on the basis of somebody else’s, critique them on the basis of their own ideals. How fair that is but how good that will be. We deserve the critique. How good that is and how fair that will be for British society, for Western society.

Read 20 of our favourite Tim Keller quotes.

Receive news from CARE each week

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.