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Tim Keller Goes to Meet God

It happened earlier today:

Timothy J. Keller, who was the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, co-founder of Redeemer City to City, and the author of several books, died at the age of 72 on May 19, trusting in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his three sons and their wives, a sister, and seven grandchildren. A livestream worship service will be held in the coming weeks. More details will be provided here as they become available.

In a similar way as I did with people who were very much different from Keller–Rachel Held Evans and Jack Spong–I will make comment with what I wrote while he was still living, namely from my post The Real Problem with @timkellernyc:

It’s fair to say that Keller, being the Reformed type that he is, had a “higher” demographic (at least in terms of AGI) than the Churches of God were reaching. The problem with this, however, is exactly the same as the Anglicans are struggling with: the higher you go in this society, the more your parishioners are expected to conform–and will if their careers depend upon it–to what the world’s idea happens to be. If you’re trying to be “winsome,” you will adapt, but sooner or later you’ll either realise that you’re in a no-win game or you’ll cross the line.

It’s a similar (but not identical problem) I discussed in my piece Squaring the Circle of Anglican/Episcopal Ministry. Ministering to an elevated demographic, Anglican/Episcopal churches have not, IMHO, figured out how to break the cycle of elevation/liberalisation/apostasy, and something tells me that Keller hasn’t either. The obvious solution is for us to focus our efforts on the “poor in spirit,” to use Our Lord’s expressive phrase, but a great deal of Evanglicalism isn’t prepared to do that. (One group that has done so successfully is the Assemblies of God, but the way they vote doesn’t appeal to our elite wannabees.)

It’s a hard pill to swallow, Tim (and James for that matter,) but the sooner we take the medicine, the better we will feel in the long run.

I grew up in a world where “meaningful and respectable Christianity” didn’t quite go together for many of the important people in my life. That has driven many of the choices I have made, including swimming the Tiber while at an Episcopal school. But those choices made me an unsuitable audience for people like Tim Keller. Let us therefore without rancor celebrate the ministry he was called to while recognising that there were others for whom God has a different plan.


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