Christian author and evangelist Timothy Keller dead at 72 from pancreatic cancer

May 20, 2023
Ben Marquis

The Rev. Timothy Keller, a best-selling Christian apologist author and evangelical pastor, died on Friday at the age of 72 following a years-long battle with pancreatic cancer, The Washington Times reported.

Keller authored more than two dozen books, including "The Reason for God" in 2008, founded New York City's Redeemer Presbyterian Church in 1989, and helped co-found other organizations dedicated to spreading the gospel and establishing churches worldwide.

He is survived by his sister, Sharon Johnson, and his wife, Kathy, along with their three sons, David, Michael, and Jonathan, plus seven grandchildren.

Death announced by his son

In a post to Keller's Twitter account on Thursday evening, his son Michael provided an update on his father's health and wrote, "Today, Dad is being discharged from the hospital to receive hospice care at home. 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 added. "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.'"

Friday morning, the son returned to his father's account and posted, "Timothy J. Keller, husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend, pastor, and scholar died this morning at home. Dad waited until he was alone with Mom. She kissed him on the forehead and he breathed his last breath."

"We take comfort in some of his last words ... 'There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.' See you soon Dad," Michael added.

Livestream memorial service will soon be arranged

Cregan Cooke, the senior director of Gospel in Life, a resource site for all of Keller's work, announced, "It is with sadness that we share with you that our founder and friend, Timothy J. Keller passed away this morning, May 19, 2023, at the age of 72, trusting in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection."

"Please join us in prayer for his family as they go through the grieving process," he continued. "While our hearts are heavy with the news of Tim’s death, we know he is rejoicing with his Savior in heaven. Our spirits are also lifted because of the gospel that Tim so eloquently and regularly preached -- that in Christ we have life everlasting, that one day every wrong will be made right, every tear will be wiped away, and we will live with our savior in the new heavens and new earth."

Cooke added that a livestream memorial service would soon be held and that Keller had made arrangements prior to his death to ensure that the Gospel in Life site would be able to continue and expand on its mission of spreading his ministry on the gospel.

"A once-in-a-century sort of person"

The Gospel Coalition, an evangelical organization co-founded by Keller in 2005, also announced on Friday, "With great sadness we mourn the loss of Timothy Keller, 72, who died on May 19, more than three years after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."

"Today the Christian world is in mourning, for one of our great leaders has departed this life," Sandy Willson, the interim president of TGC, said in a statement. "Tim Keller was a once-in-a-century sort of person. There is no pastor I know, in the last 100 years, who did what Tim Keller did to take the Reformed faith to the street, to the church, and to the academy. He will be remembered among this generation’s most effective Christian pastors, apologists, and evangelists."

"Tim not only made the most articulate arguments for the Christian faith; he also demonstrated our faith with his humble and gracious spirit and his relentless passion to see the lost come to know the Lord he so loved," he continued. "He planted the most amazing church New York City may ever have seen, he planted thousands of other churches globally through Redeemer City to City, he co-founded The Gospel Coalition, and he inspired an entire generation to love and serve the Lord."

Willson added, "We all grieve for Kathy and the dear Keller family. And we all rejoice for the unmitigated delight that is now Tim’s, as he looks upon the beautiful face of his Savior, whom he has faithfully served."

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