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Consider helping this ministry with a tax-deductible donation. Let us see today’s question. What should we learn from the life of Tim Keller?
Tim Keller’s Death: Good & Bad from his life
Excellent question. Pastor Tim Keller died at the age of 72 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. I convey my deep sympathy and condolences to his family. When I heard about his death, one of his statements came to my mind. He said, We should have a faith that satisfies us intellectually, rationally, experientially and existentially. Tim Keller lived his faith along those dimensions. He was a great thinker. He enjoyed God intellectually and experientially. After his cancer diagnosis, he said that the death and resurrection of Jesus became more meaningful to his life. When we realize our frailty and our mortality, the resurrection of Lord Jesus becomes more meaningful to our lives. Tim Keller died with the hope of resurrection. One of his last statements was, I am ready to see Jesus. That is the great hope God gave us in Christ. When the life’s battles are over, we are ready to meet Jesus, our blessed Savior and Lord.
First let me tell you what I liked most in Tim Keller.
Orthodoxy for modern age:
Tim Keller went to New York City to found a church based on biblical orthodoxy. We are living in the age of skepticism. Even rural churches have been giving up on the Word of God. But Tim Keller wanted to build a biblical church in the heart of Manhattan. He had great faith in God’s word. Many people said he was crazy. New York magazine wrote “close to a theological suicide mission — to create a strictly conservative Christian church in the heart of Sodom.” Tim Keller proved them wrong. He started with foundations of Christian faith – oneness of God, the infallibility of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the necessity of new birth etc. His choir sang traditional hymns. God blessed his work. His church grew from a handful of people to over five thousand members. Many of his students planted churches around the nation.
Don’t give up big cities:
We tend to give up on big cities. But Mr. Keller did not give up on big cities like New York. He believed that wherever there are souls, there is potential for a great harvest for God. He believed in mercy, justice and love of neighbors.
Sexual ethics: another area we should commend Tim Keller is his biblical sexual ethics. He considered homosexual to be inconsistent with scripture. He preached that premarital sex and abortion as sins. He told The New York Times in 1998, “I am not going to pressure you to stop having sex out of marriage. The logic of your relationship with Christ should move you to do it.”
So, he is more in line with the Bible than Andy Stanley and many other Christian leaders who either embrace these sins as normal human behavior or simply ignore them.
Reason for God: Tim Keller also used apologetics in his ministry. He wrote the best selling book Reason for God. He argued that reason is not against God but an instrument of investigation given to human minds.
Philosophy and the problem of evil:
Throughout his ministry, he focused on the problem of evil and suffering. When the September 11 attacks happened, there was no room even to stand in his church. He had to turn down thousands of people. He tried to answe the question- why would God allow something like this to happen. He said,
“The Bible indicates that the love and hope of God and the love and hope that comes from one another has to be rubbed into our grief. And that’s what we’re here to do.”
He wanted people to rely on the love and hope of God when they experience suffering. It was not just a sermon. When the tragedy hit his own life in the form of a pancreatic cancer, he followed his own preaching. He said he experienced the presence of Jesus more as he suffered. He understood the meaning of Easter more profoundly as he faced his own death.
So, those are the things I can think of, which I learnt from Tim Keller: Upholding the foundational doctrines of the gospel, reaching out to souls in the cities, practicing Biblical sexuality, using reason for God and discussing the problem of evil to offer hope in Christ. There are two negative things I found in his life.
Tim Keller rejected the creation account given in the Book of Genesis. He also refused to believe in the global Flood. He is not alone. Many Christian thinkers of our time like William Lane Craig, Sean McDowell, Andy Stanley also messed up on this issue.
There is scientific evidence for micro evolution. That is undeniable. You see species with widely varied physical characteristics. For example, birds with short beaks and long beaks. These micro changes happen in all kinds of species. They should not be extrapolated to argue for macro evolution, like dinosaurs becoming birds. No one ever witnsssed macroevolition. None ever witnessed the origin of life or origin of man. All scientific theories on these matters are just speculations at best. The only person who witnessed those events is God. And God recorded the history of those events in the Book of Genesis through special revelation to Moses. As Christians, we should be the first defenders of Genesis account of Creation. We should not be fooled when materialist philosophers like Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins pass on their speculations as solid science. Sadly, Time Keller fell for that. He embraced Darwinism as real science and rejected the Genesis account as fiction. He rejected the historicity of the Genesis global flood.
Embracing Social justice:
Another big mistake he did was to embrace social justice movements. Many prominent people attended Tim Kepler’s church: MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ Joe Scarborough, New York Times David Brooks, The Atlantic’s David Bradley, famous scientist Francis Collins, President Obama etc. There was a lot of cultural pressure on Tim Kelley’s thinking. And he succumbed to it.
Yes, racism is real. As Christians, our strategy is “World’s problems and God’s solutions”. Racial inequality is a world problem and God’s solution is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Non-Christians follow a different strategy, “World’s problems and World’s solutions”. They say, “We should deal with racism. So, let us redistribute wealth, teach critical race theory, enforce diversity etc”. There is no place for God and for Christian gospel in social justice movements. So, we should not promote them or support them from our pulpits. Tim Keller did that big mistake.
If you want to see our society transformed, preach the gospel of Christ.
So, those are my gross opinions on the life of Tim Keller. Weighing good and bad, overall, I have a positive view of Tim Keller. May God bless his family and comfort his loved ones. Thank you.