Church leader Timothy Keller dies at 72 : NPR
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Influential religious leader Timothy Keller has died aged 72.
He was one of the founders of The Gospel Coalition – a group of evangelical congregations concerned with the direction of their religious tradition.
Keller was a Presbyterian pastor in New York who helped his congregation and the nation grieve in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks — a time when so many people wondered why God would allow this to happen.
“The Bible says,” he told his church in a sermon Sept. 16, 2001, “that the love and hope of God and the love and home that come from each other are to be rubbed into our sorrow. And that’s what we’re here to do.”
The problem of tragedy – and the human response to it – was one he returned to time and time again in his preaching.
In another of his sermons in 2006, he consoled his congregation by saying “Getting rid of your belief in God to deal with evil and suffering will not help.”
Keller was the founding pastor of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, which announced his death Friday morning. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020
Its Redeemer City to City program has helped evangelical leaders learn to work in urban settings, where such congregations were less common.
As co-founder of The Gospel Coalition, his concerns were twofold: first, that evangelical Christianity had become too politicized, and second, that moral relativism had gone unchallenged.
Collin Hansen, vice president of the organization, explains that Keller sought “to be relevant, but also to be timeless”.
Hansen was also a close friend and wrote the biography Timothy Keller: his spiritual and intellectual formation.
“Tim always believed that preaching the gospel and seeing it lived out in local churches,” he says, “was the best way to be obedient in our faith, to obey Jesus, and to love our neighbors, which includes paying attention to their social concerns.”
Keller was also known for working to make Christianity what he called “intellectually credible”. To this end, he wrote several books, including God’s reason: believing in an age of skepticism.
In it, Keller describes belief in a Christian God as sound and rational. Among the questions he tackled in the book was this: Is skepticism or faith on the rise today? His answer was “yes” – the world is becoming more and more religious at the same time.
The tension between these realities continues to shape American public life today.