The Rev. Timothy Keller, Pioneering Manhattan Evangelist, Dies at 72
The Rev. Timothy J. Keller, a best-selling writer and theorist of Christianity who carried out a contemporary miracle of his personal — establishing a theologically orthodox church in Manhattan that attracted hundreds of younger skilled followers — died on Friday at his residence in Manhattan. He was 72.
His demise was introduced by Redeemer Metropolis to Metropolis, a company affiliated with Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Mr. Keller introduced on Twitter in December 2021 that he had Stage 4 pancreatic most cancers.
Mr. Keller, whose solely earlier expertise within the pulpit had been at a blue-collar congregation in a rural Virginia parish, moved along with his spouse and three sons to New York in 1987 and, with neither hearth nor brimstone, launched into what New York journal hyperbolized as “near a theological suicide mission — to create a strictly conservative Christian church within the coronary heart of Sodom.”
Colleagues, Mr. Keller recalled in his best-selling e book “The Purpose for God: Perception in an Age of Skepticism” (2008), “have been incredulous after I defined that the beliefs of the brand new church can be the orthodox, historic tenets of Christianity — the infallibility of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the need of non secular regeneration (the brand new start)— all doctrines thought-about hopelessly dated by nearly all of New Yorkers. No person ever stated ‘fuggedaboutit’ out loud, however it at all times hung within the air.
“However,” he continued, “we launched Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and by the top of 2007 it had grown to greater than 5,000 attendees and had spawned greater than a dozen daughter congregations within the quick metropolitan space.”
In the present day the church has a number of areas in Manhattan, although the principle one is on West 83rd Avenue close to Amsterdam Avenue; the others are on the Decrease West Facet, on the West Facet at Lincoln Sq., on the Higher East Facet and in East Harlem.
Along with those that heard him preach in individual at any a type of church buildings, hundreds downloaded Mr. Keller’s weekly sermons from the Redeemer web site. His dozens of books have been translated into 25 languages and offered an estimated 25 million copies.
“Fifty years from now,” the journal Christianity In the present day wrote in 2006, “if evangelical Christians are broadly recognized for his or her love of cities, their dedication to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller might be remembered as a pioneer of the brand new city Christians.”
Evangelicals belong to any variety of denominations however share a theology of salvation via religion in Christ alone. Mr. Keller’s ministry was not like that of many better-known figures in evangelicalism: He lacked a daily tv platform and prevented being recognized with a single political view.
As an alternative, he delivering pointed, professorial messages — in individual, on podcasts, on blogs and in print — in conversational tones that invoked C.S. Lewis, the philosophers Michael Foucault and Thomas Kuhn, the 18th-century Japanese poet Issa, and even Woody Allen.
He thought-about homosexuality to be inconsistent with scripture and premarital intercourse and abortion to be sins. “I’m not going to strain you to cease having intercourse out of marriage,” he advised The New York Instances in 1998. “The logic of your relationship with Christ ought to transfer you to do it.”
In an interview with The Atlantic in 2019, he stated: “What we want is a non-oppressive ethical absolute. We’d like ethical absolutes that don’t flip the bearers of these ethical absolutes into oppressors themselves.”
In 2017, Mr. Keller gave up his function as senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and shifted to mentoring pastors to preside in church buildings seeded all over the world by the offshoot group Redeemer Metropolis to Metropolis, which influences city ministries globally.
Redeemer Presbyterian Church additionally based Hope for New York, a company that deploys volunteers and distributes grants to ministries offering social companies, and the Heart for Religion and Work, which integrates Christian theology with skilled expertise.
Mr. Keller dissented from the widespread assist that largely white evangelical Individuals have proven for former President Donald J. Trump and his Republican allies. “For Christians simply to fully hook up with one occasion or one other is admittedly idolatry,” he advised The Atlantic.
And he often drew — and tried to bridge — a distinction between that politically conservative American evangelicanism and the evangelical motion worldwide.
“There exists a far bigger evangelicalism, each right here and all over the world, which isn’t politically aligned,” Mr. Keller wrote in The New Yorker in 2017, describing it as a rising multiethnic motion rooted in theological beliefs which can be conservative on points like intercourse outdoors marriage and liberal on points like racial justice and concern for the poor.
His demise elicited an announcement from former President George W. Bush, a fellow evangelical Christian, who stated: “I’m lucky to have gotten to know him. And I’m considered one of many who’s blessed to have discovered from Mr. Keller’s teachings and benefited from his compassion.”
Timothy James Keller was born on Sept. 23, 1950, in Allentown, Pa. His father, William was a tv promoting supervisor. His mom, Louise (Clemente) Keller, was a nurse. They met throughout World Conflict II, when William Keller was a conscientious objector assigned to look after sufferers in a psychological ward.
Tim was raised Lutheran and embraced the church via the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a ministry lively on faculty campuses, whereas he was attending Bucknell College in Pennsylvania, the place he majored in faith.
He outlined a absolutely shaped Christian as “any individual who finds Christianity each rationally and intellectually credible, but additionally emotionally and existentially true and satisfying.”
After he graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in 1972, he acquired a grasp’s of divinity in 1975 and a doctorate in 1981 from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. It was there that he met Kathy Louise Kristy, who determined in opposition to turning into a pastor as a result of feminine ministers weren’t biblical. They married in 1975.
She survives him, together with three sons, David, Michael and Jonathan; a sister, Sharon Johnson; and 7 grandchildren. Michael Keller is a pastor at Redeemer Lincoln Sq..
Mr. Keller served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Boston and was ordained there earlier than serving as pastor for 9 years in Hopewell, Va., whereas overseeing the event of latest congregations within the Mid-Atlantic area for the Presbyterian Church.
When New York appeared so daunting that Mr. Keller’s first two selections for pastor there turned him down, he felt compelled to just accept the problem himself.
“I simply felt it might be cowardly of me to not,” he advised New York journal. “However we had a sort of ‘sick within the pit of our abdomen’ feeling on daily basis.”
“Massive unhealthy Whore of Babylon is the place we have been going,” Mrs. Keller advised the journal.
The household moved to an residence on Roosevelt Island.
His success as founding pastor of Redeemer in 1989 and his expertise with a bout of thyroid most cancers in 2002 helped eradicate no matter doubts he had about God, he advised the web site First Issues in 2008.
He reaffirmed that religion in his 2021 Twitter publish asserting his most cancers analysis, writing: “It’s endlessly comforting to have a God who’s each infinitely extra sensible and extra loving than I’m. He has loads of good causes for every thing he does and permits that I can’t know, and therein is my hope and energy.”
Mr. Keller encapsulated Redeemer’s mission in a single biblical passage, Proverbs, Chapter II, Verse 10: “When the righteous prosper, the town rejoices.”
He advised The Instances, “I wished to show that the Gospel may change individuals even in New York.”
Shivani Gonzalez contributed reporting.