I was reminded this morning in a review of the year of the death of Tim Keller. The news of Tim’s passing on May 19th this year left many in the Christian world feeling that a giant had left us. Keller, 72 at the time of his death, was one of the most influential Christian thinkers and church leaders of our time.
As the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Keller helped grow and shepherd a church that became a model for gospel-centred, culturally engaged urban ministry. Under his leadership for over 25 years, Redeemer grew from a small start-up to a thriving multi-site church with a membership in the thousands.
But Keller’s influence extended far beyond just his own church community. He was a bestselling author of over a dozen books, from apologetics to marriage to ministry. His thoughtful engagement with contemporary culture and clear communication of deep theological truths made him one of Christianity’s leading public intellectuals. Whether speaking on college campuses, writing for The New York Times, or posting podcast conversations, Keller was committed to bringing the gospel to bear on all aspects of life.
I had the privilege of hearing Keller preach in person on a few occasions. I was always struck by his humility, depth of insight, and ability to connect the Word of God to the real issues people face today. Even when dealing with weighty topics, Keller spoke with a gentle pastor’s heart that longed to see people transformed by the power of the gospel.
The death of giants like Tim Keller reminds us that we live in a world that is passing away. But it also reminds us of the hope we have in Christ and the eternal Kingdom that he promised. Keller fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7). Though he will be greatly missed, we rejoice knowing that he has heard the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Until that day when we are reunited with all the saints, we continue the work to which Keller faithfully dedicated his life – proclaiming and living out the good news of Jesus in a world that desperately needs to know Him. Tim Keller’s absence leaves a hole, but his legacy calls and compels us onward.