Christian author and pastor Dr. Tim Keller has died after a more than three year battle with pancreatic cancer.
His death was announced in an email by Redeemer Churches and Ministries–a network started by Keller.
“We are forever grateful for his leadership, heart, and dedication to sharing the love of Christ with others. While we will miss his presence here, we know he is rejoicing with his Savior in heaven,” wrote church leadership. “There will never be another Tim Keller and we will all miss him.”
Keller and his wife, Kathy, founded Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NY in 1989 and continued pastoring for nearly 30 years. Its membership grew to more than 5,000 weekly attendees.
The 72-year-old also cofounded The Gospel Coalition and wrote multiple best-selling books.
He is remembered for his pragmatic approach to scriptures which appealed to young skeptical professionals and was nicknamed the “C.S. Lewis” of this generation.
“Like Lewis, he had a gift for avoiding any whiff of pedantry or preachiness,” Molly Worthen, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told The Washington Post. “He had a gift, as Lewis did, for … homing in on the core ideas of the Gospel and understanding the perspective of a skeptical reader, an atheist or a person who has been bruised by Christianity.”
Keller brought the gospel to millions and influenced a generation for Christ.
“One way to put the Gospel in a nutshell is this: you are more wicked than you ever dared believe and yet, you are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than you ever dared hope,” he once shared.
“Tim Keller was a once-in-a-century sort of person. He will be remembered among this generation’s most effective Christian pastors, apologists, and evangelists,” shared The Gospel Coalition’s interim president, Sandy Willson.
“Tim Keller was a once-in-a-century sort of person. He will be remembered among this generation’s most effective Christian pastors, apologists, and evangelists.”
—TGC interim president Sandy Willsonhttps://t.co/N4vlkAGlQk
— The Gospel Coalition (@TGC) May 19, 2023
Ahead of his passing, his son, Micheal Keller, shared an update Thursday night on social media asking for prayer for his father.
“Over the past few days, he has asked us to pray with him often. He expressed many times through prayer his desire to go home to be with Jesus. His family is very sad because we all wanted more time, but we know he has very little at this point,” he wrote.
The post continues, “In prayer, he said two nights ago, ‘I’m thankful for all the people who’ve prayed for me over the years. I’m thankful for my family, that loves me. I’m thankful for the time God has given me, but I’m ready to see Jesus. I can’t wait to see Jesus. Send me home.'”
Keller’s last words to his son pointed to his hope in eternal glory: “There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.”
“There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.” See you soon Dad.
— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) May 19, 2023
Thousands have shared their condolences on social media.
Live in the light of the resurrection and renewal of this world, and of yourself, in a glorious, never-ending, joyful dance of grace.
Today, while so many grieve the loss of this incredibly brilliant teacher and faithful shepherd and pastor, please join me in praying… pic.twitter.com/S0N7eWx0n5
— Steven Curtis Chapman (@StevenCurtis) May 19, 2023
Brokenhearted at the home going of @timkellernyc. It would be impossible for me to overestimate the impact he had of my understanding of the gospel, life, and ministry. What a bitter loss. May his legacy live on within the generation of pastors who will continue his work pic.twitter.com/PjNO21724s
— J.D. Greear (@jdgreear) May 19, 2023
“Thank you Pastor Tim! Your race has helped us run our own,” wrote minister, author, and spoken word artist Jackie Hill Perry.
“You’ve given expression in our generation to loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength,” wrote pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof. “You’ve made contributions that will echo 100 years from now and beyond.”
Responding to the news of Keller’s passing, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner wrote, “From reading his words and meeting his followers I know his Christian impact. His life was a Devine Mission to help us all stay faithful to the Lord. A warrior dedicated to the impenetrable power of prayer.”
In a statement, Former President George W. Bush said, “Tim Keller was one of America’s foremost Christian thinkers and preachers. He was a great church builder, a prolific author, and a profound philosopher. I’m fortunate to have gotten to know him. And I’m one of many who is blessed to have learned from Dr. Keller’s teachings and benefitted from his compassion. Laura and I wish Kathy and their children peace.”
Sen. Tim Scott told CBN’s Faithwire he was heartbroken over the news of Keller’s death.
“I met Tim when I was first elected to Congress, and his thoughtful approach to teaching and sharing the gospel has shown the love of Christ to every corner of the world. His mentorship has guided my time in public service, and has helped me develop habits to fully live a faith-filled life. Ultimately, Tim’s life and faith reminds us to keep the main thing, the main thing as we pursue our purpose in life.”
Keller went back to the hospital after initially being released Saturday night.
“A brief health update on my Dad,” tweeted Michael, “After being released from the hospital on Saturday, he returned late Sunday night to receive additional care. Please continue to pray for his recovery.”
A brief health update on my Dad: After being released from the hospital on Saturday, he returned late Sunday night to receive additional care. Please continue to pray for his recovery.
— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) May 17, 2023
Kathy shared a health update on social media last Saturday requesting prayer for her husband after he suffered “complications” from his recent cancer treatment.
In March, the 72-year-old announced he would be undergoing immunotherapy after new tumors developed in his three-year battle against stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Keller was initially diagnosed in May 2020 and recently told his followers that prior treatment “was successful in eradicating 99% of the tumors”, but that new ones developed.
“They are unfortunately in some fairly inconvenient places, so the doctors encouraged us to go through the treatment again, this time targeting a different genetic marker of cancer,” he shared in March.
Kathy requested prayers after he finished his most recent treatment at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Tim is out of the hospital and recovering at home after complications from his treatment. Please continue to pray during this slow recovery,” she wrote.
Keller and his family approached each obstacle they’ve faced through the lens of prayer.
As CBN’s Faithwire has reported, Keller told his followers that his ongoing battle with cancer has driven him and Kathy “to seek God’s face as we never [have] before.”
“He is giving us more of his sensed presence, more freedom from our besetting sins, more dependence on his Word — things that we had sought for years, but only under these circumstances are we finding them.”
He concluded his message by asking for continued prayers for healing.
“We humbly beg that you all continue your prayers for the effectiveness of the treatment and minimal side effects to accompany it,” Keller wrote. “Your prayers and concern mean more than we can express. Thanks so much!”
Keller beat thyroid cancer in 2002.
He is survived by his wife, three sons, Jonathan Keller, Michael Keller and David Keller; a sister; and seven grandchildren.
Please continue to pray for the Keller family.
A worship service followed by a memorial will be held in New York City in the coming weeks.
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