5 tributes to Tim Keller
21 May 2023
Reprinted from The Christian Post & Christian Today [in the U.K.]
(CP) Pastor and author Tim Keller died on Friday, after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer and shortly after it was announced that he was being put in hospice care.
“Timothy J. Keller, husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend, pastor, and scholar died this morning at home,” Keller’s son, Michael, shared in a public post on Facebook Friday.
“Dad waited until he was alone with Mom. She kissed him on the forehead, and he breathed his last breath. We take comfort in some of his last words, ‘There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.’ See you soon, Dad.”
Since the news broke, many pastors, writers, church groups and others have offered their condolences and shared how Keller’s influence impacted their lives and ministries.
Here are five tributes to Keller. They include comments from ministries that he was involved in, as well as remarks made Thursday evening when news first broke that he was leaving the hospital to return home under hospice.
The staff at the Gospel Coalition, a theology website that Keller helped to found in 2005 and served as a board member until his death, shared their condolences over the passing of the notable pastor and author.
“Tim Keller was a once-in-a-century sort of person. There is no pastor I know, in the last 100 years, who did what Tim Keller did to take the Reformed faith to the street, to the church, and to the academy,” said TGC Interim President Sandy Willson, as quoted in the condolences.
“He will be remembered among this generation’s most effective Christian pastors, apologists, and evangelists. Tim not only made the most articulate arguments for the Christian faith; he also demonstrated our faith with his humble and gracious spirit and his relentless passion to see the lost come to know the Lord he so loved.”
TGC Co-Founder Don Carson was also quoted in the statement, comparing Keller to an Old Testament prophet: “Tim didn’t hesitate to address the culture and the nation and to call for justice as well as for contrition.”
“He was jealous for the glory of God. He was quick to see how the trajectories of Scripture, the structure of biblical theology, drove thoughtful readers, again and again, back to the gospel,” Carson added.
Grammy award-winning artist Lecrae took to his Facebook page to give his condolences over the death of Keller, saying that the notable pastor was there in times of spiritual pain and “he changed my life.”
“His words have been a light in dark places for me. I’ve never expressed how he brought me thru the worst seasons of my life, how his refusal to be a part of the Evangelical Industrial Construct was empowering for my soul,” Lecrae said.
“When racism and cancel culture detoured me, Tim Keller was a consistent voice and for a season in 2017 he was the only non person of color I could listen to. He welcomed me to so much and brought me through so much.”
Lecrae also pointed to how he had been a contributing author to one of Keller’s books, and that he considered Keller to be a “modern day hero of the faith.”
“He pastored with no scandals and will be regarded as a scholar and leader for a generation. I’m honored to have known you sir. Rest in Jesus,” he added.
Tony Reinke, senior writer at the theology website Desiring God, uploaded an “Ask Pastor John” podcast episode in which he talked about Keller, who had been a guest on the podcast on nine separate occasions.
“I’m thankful for the time he invested with us,” said Reinke. “Cancer, for Dr. Keller, was an old nemesis. Back in 2002, he was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer, a battle he would fight between 2003 and 2004. God would heal and restore Keller, but not before thyroid surgery knocked him out of the pulpit for three months.”
Reinke recalled how years after his first battle with cancer, “Keller preached a sermon on boldness in the face of death and recounted what he learned during that first cancer battle, opening up about his fears as he was rolled into the operating room.”
“In that moment, he caught a glimpse of something otherworldly. He saw the sheer magnitude of God’s glory and God’s joy beyond this world of pain and suffering and cancer and death,” Reinke added.
Andrew T. Walker, a Christian ethics professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, expressed his gratitude for the life of the influential pastor in a post on social media.
“For me, he stands out as a Christian leader for whom ideas mattered,” tweeted Walker. “I can distinctly recall being in college and reading the Reason for God and being struck at the utter reasonableness of the case he made for Christianity. Rest in Christ.”
In another tweet, Walker added that he admired how Keller “made non-theatric preaching acceptable and even cool,” noting that this was another thing “I will miss about Tim Keller.”
“He was even a cerebral preacher and he did it unbelievably well. There was an authenticity to his preaching that made it more than just head knowledge, though,” Walker added.
Actress and filmmaker Bethany Joy Lenz took to Facebook when news first broke of Keller being moved to hospice care on Thursday, crediting Keller with having kept her from leaving Christianity.
“This man changed my life,” she stated. “The only reason I’m still a Christian today is because, after many years of faith being used against me as a tool of manipulation, Tim Keller taught me how to re-build my faith using reason and logic.”
“A belief system that fully engages my mind while still leaving room for wonder and mystery. I am so much more confident and secure in my faith now than I’ve ever been because of Tim Keller’s teachings.”
Lenz went on to describe Keller as “a trustworthy, humble, rational and compassionate voice that God once used to bring me out of a pit of despair, walk me through intense healing and into the glorious freedom of Christ.”
“I will forever be grateful for the day I walked into Redeemer Presbyterian church on the Upper East Side in 1999,” she added. “Thank you for everything, Tim.”
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