New York journal as soon as described Tim Keller’s founding of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City as “close to a theological suicide mission” for having the audacity “to create a strictly conservative Christian church in the heart of Sodom.”
Only Tim Keller wasn’t longing for the task. In reality, he turned down the invitation and tried to recruit two different pastors for the church plant, which was born out of a wildly profitable dinner ministry hosted by Nancy DeMoss, widow of Art DeMoss, a mail-order insurance coverage mogul.
Keller beforehand had pastored a small congregation in Hopewell, Virginia. But he was no stranger to city ministry, having served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Boston and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, the place he obtained his doctorate in ministry in 1981.
Compelled by the Holy Spirit, Keller ultimately accepted the invitation, moved his spouse Kathy and three younger boys to New York City in 1989, and poured himself into the brand new ministry.
The typical knowledge held that conservative Christian theology and instructing wouldn’t discover any takers within the large and hostile metropolis. After all, that’s left for bellicose street-corner evangelists with bullhorns.
As usually is the case, the traditional knowledge was mistaken.
Pastor Timothy J. Keller, who died Friday of pancreatic most cancers at 72, was daring however not brash. He was brave however not caustic.
Balding and bespectacled, he discovered a technique to join along with his younger and rising viewers at Redeemer Presbyterian Church by talking their language and referencing all the pieces from The Village Voice, NPR, and The New York Times to C.S. Lewis, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and the traditional hymns of the religion.
The Pennsylvania native discovered there was a starvation for the sincere, clear, and countercultural instructing of the Bible. His congregation was filled with aspiring artists, actors, and enterprise professionals who had come to New York looking for fame and fortune. Keller’s preaching stuffed the empty void that he knew the brilliant lights and applause would by no means satiate, ultimately building a megachurch with a number of campuses and pastors.
Although I interviewed Tim Keller many instances for Focus on the Family’s radio program, I most enjoyed the visits when the microphones and cameras had been off.
I had the privilege of becoming a member of Tim and different ministry and cultural leaders on quite a few events for off-the-record, behind-the-scenes conversations. There’s the outdated saying that politics makes for unusual bedfellows, however the identical could be mentioned for interfaith, cross-cultural dialogue. In reality, these exchanges had been most likely much more insightful and intriguing than any Washington hoo-ha.
A bestselling writer who stepped down as Redeemer’s senior pastor in 2017, Tim at all times had one thing attention-grabbing, wry, witty, or sensible to say. He had an uncanny capability to disagree with out being unpleasant—an more and more misplaced artwork immediately.
Despite pressure from quite a few camps and causes, I additionally appreciated Tim’s unbending dedication to orthodox Christianity. Whether it was holding quick to a biblical understanding of human sexuality or his assist for the sanctity of life, he was unwavering and unapologetic.
This braveness and boldness ought to strengthen fellow Christians’ personal resolve as we wade into the tradition with our convictions and invite dialog and debate.
I may additionally add that I appreciated Tim’s pastoral coronary heart. From time to time, he would informally and casually counsel me on ministerial issues. I keep in mind as soon as sharing a specific burden with him. He listened patiently. He then smiled and jogged my memory that the passage of time would clear up the issue. He was proper.
Tim Keller’s voice and knowledge will likely be missed, however he leaves behind a legacy that may stay on like the numerous different giants of the religion on whose shoulders we now stand.
The psalmist wrote: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalms 116:15).
Our pal’s passing grieves these of us who knew, beloved, and benefited from his ministry—but it surely brings this beloved husband, father, scholar, and theologian nose to nose with the God he so loyally and successfully served and worshipped.
This piece was initially revealed by the Daily Signal.