Posts Tagged ‘Tim Keller’

Tim’s Positive, Lasting Impact

Rest in Peace Timothy Keller.

I first heard Tim Keller on a cassette tape in 2001 or so. He was part of a panel discussion on preaching at Westminster Seminary in California with Jay Adams. I’d never heard of the guy before this and his church that was in New York City of all places! Tim’s simple message has stuck with me ever since: Christ is the application of every sermon. It was profound and simple and biblical.

In 2003 I was engaged in a discussion on someone’s blog (blogs were a pretty new thing back then) about church planting. The blogger was critical of Keller’s church planting method and I was concerned. I don’t remember what I said, but Tim emailed me personally. He said, in part, “I noticed your objections seemed substantial and therefore merited some response. I hope this helps a bit. I may be wrong about some of all this but you may be too! That’s why I wrote.” His response to me was a serious, decently long email. He corrected me, a stranger from the internet, with gentleness, clarity, charity, and humility. Another important lesson learned from Tim’s example.

I was at the very first Gospel Coalition conference in 2007 at the Trinity International University chapel. Tim and D. A. Carson started TGC and then wisely turned it over to younger pastors, theologians, and seminary professors. I saw Tim at numerous Desiring God and TGC National Conferences. I’ve always benefited from his talks. I have and have read most of his books.

Somewhere around 2009 I got Tim’s notes from a D. Min. class on preaching that he and Ed Clowney taught at Reformed Theological Seminary. I found the audio in iTunes U and “attended” the class remotely, on my own time. What a blessing to hear Tim and his mentor wrestle though the question: How do you present Jesus from the text? I learned to avoid clumsy metaphors and over-wrought types and instead look for the trajectory of the text. What problem does this text present and how is Jesus the resolution? I remember him saying that that can be especially hard in the Gospels. I learned a lot.

Tim passed way today after a long battle with cancer. Though I’ve never met him personally, Tim Keller has been a huge influence in my life and my ministry and I will miss him dearly. I think the single most important lesson I learned from Dr. Keller was his singular focus on Jesus. I know today he was welcomed into Jesus’ arms, hearing “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter your master’s joy.”

A Borrowed Optimism

Offered as a follow on to my previous post.

None of these ideas–the goodness of the material [world], the progress of history, the dignity of individuals, the significance of choices, and the value of emotions–made any sense in an impersonal universe and therefore they had never arisen. Nietzsche’s great critique of modern secular humanism strikes at the irony of this point: Though none of these (basically Christian) moral ideas rationally follows from an impersonal universe, late modernity has inherited them, intensified and absolutized them, and cut them completely loose from any transcendent grounding fruit of Christian ideas and severed the root. Now all these ideas must be held in the face of what is thought to be a completely impersonal universe, even more impersonal than the ones believed in by ancient societies because it has no supernatural or spiritual aspect to it at all. – Tim Keller, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, 129.

Late modernism borrows heavily from Christianity and absolutely refuses to acknowledge it. If the universe is impersonal, as science claims it must be, and history is pointless, then why get up in the morning? There’s no benefit to dragging a comb across the crown of your head because in 10,000 year, a blink of an eye to the impersonal universe around you, you won’t exist nor be remembered. Your contributions and efforts will have affected nothing. Late modernism borrows Christianity’s optimism and then criticizes us for the reasons for our hope.