Influential pastor Tim Keller dies after 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer

Originally published in CBN News

Christian author and pastor Dr Tim Keller has died last Friday 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. 

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“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.

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.”

Thousands have shared their condolences on social media.

“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 divine 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.

Keller is survived by his wife, three sons, Jonathan Keller, Michael Keller and David Keller; a sister; and seven grandchildren.

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