Tim Keller Biography- Head of Redeemer City to City

Tim Keller Biography- Head of Redeemer City to City

Timothy James Keller was an American pastor, preacher, philosopher, and Christian apologist. He was born on September 23, 1950, and died on May 19, 2023. He was the head of Redeemer City to City and one of the people who started it. Redeemer City to City trains pastors to work all over the world. He also started the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and wrote The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (2008), Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (2014), and The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Scepticism (2008), all of which were bestsellers on The New York Times. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Sceptical (2016) is the book that comes before the last one.

Early Life

Timothy James Keller was born in 1950 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to television advertising manager William B. Keller and Louise A. Keller (Clemente). Keller got his BA from Bucknell University in 1972, his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1975, and his D.Min. from Westminster Theological Seminary under the direction of Harvie M. Conn in 1981. Even though he grew up going to the Lutheran Church in America, he became a Christian at Bucknell University because of the work of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Keller later worked for InterVarsity as a staff member.

The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) appointed Keller. Keller was the pastor of the West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia, for nine years. He also worked for the PCA as the head of church planting. He also taught at Philadelphia’s Westminster Theological Seminary, where he and his wife Kathy Keller did urban preaching.


Keller was asked by his church to start Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan in 1989, even though he had never done it before. Two other people had turned down the job.

Keller’s first book since 1989, when he gave a report to his church on diaconal ministries, was called Ministries of Mercy. It came out in 2008. The book, The Reason for God, was based on common arguments to Christianity that the author heard in New York City, where he worked as a minister. The book got to number seven on the list of best-selling nonfiction books in the New York Times.

Church of the Redeemer Presbyterian

As of 2008, more than 5,000 people went to Redeemer Presbyterian Church every Sunday. This led some people to call Keller “the most successful Christian evangelist in the city.” In 2004, Redeemer was called “one of Manhattan’s most vital congregations” by the magazine Christianity Today.

Keller thought that young urban professionals had a lot of impact on culture and ideas, so the church focused on them. This gave the church an unusual make-up for a US megachurch. Most of the people in the group are single adults. More than 40% of them are Asian-American, and many of them work in the arts or in financial services. He doesn’t shy away from hard Christian truths when he preaches, but he doesn’t sound like many of the loud evangelical voices in the public space. Keller was critical of both political parties and didn’t take public stands on political topics, so his church is in the middle of the political spectrum.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church also started Hope for New York, a non-profit organisation that sends volunteers and grants to over 40 faith-based ministries in New York City that help people in need. It also started the Centre for Faith and Work to train professionals in Christian theology and Redeemer City to City to train and fund pastors in New York and other cities.

Keller helped start a group of Reformed leaders from all over the United States called The Gospel Coalition. His work as a guide for younger church leaders like Scott Sauls in Nashville and Steve Chong in Sydney grew his influence around the world.

Keller stopped being the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church on July 1, 2017. The move was part of a bigger plan to stop teaching and instead train the next generation of church leaders and start new churches in cities around the world through Redeemer City to City.

Theological View

Keller didn’t like the word “evangelical” because it sounds political and fundamentalist. Instead, he called himself “orthodox” because “he believes in the importance of personal conversion, or being “born again,” and the full authority of the Bible.” He believed in Calvinist theology, even though some people in that faith didn’t agree with how he interpreted its ideas. He was called a “emerging pastor” who was “doctrine-friendly.”

The Gospel vs. Religion

Keller’s preaching was based on what he taught about the doctrine of the gospel, with a focus on the doctrines of total depravity, unmerited grace, and substitutionary atonement. This is summed up in his often-used explanation: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, but we are also more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Keller contrasts this way of thinking about the gospel with what he calls “traditional religion,” which is a set of rules, rituals, or actions that a person can do to earn salvation or God’s favour, and with “irreligion,” which is the belief that there is no God or no need for his favour. Some people have called this a “gospel third way” or a “gospel-centered” way of doing things. His interpretation of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (see The Prodigal God), which is based on a teaching by Edmund Clowney, one of Keller’s teachers, is a good example of this kind of teaching.


Keller’s preaching and writing in his apologetics are respectful to an informed and sceptical audience outside of the faith. His most direct work on the subject was The Reason for God, which he based on the thousands of talks he had with sceptical New Yorkers during his ministry (Reason, p. xix).

Keller said that he doesn’t take creationism very literally and that evolution is “neither ruled in nor ruled out” at his church.[31] Keller wrote for the Biologos Foundation about the subject.

Keller was mostly influenced by C.S. Lewis, Cornelius Van Til, John Stott, Alvin Plantinga, N.T. Wright, and Miroslav Volf when it came to apologetics.

Idol worship

Keller also talked a lot about worship, which as based on what Martin Luther and John Calvin said, as well as the Ten Commandments and other parts of the Bible. Keller said in his book Counterfeit Gods that people still worship idols today in the form of an addiction to or devotion to money, job, sex, power, and anything else besides God that they look to for meaning and happiness in life.


Keller criticised the relationship between evangelicals and Republicans and said that Christianity is a much bigger, global movement that agrees with some liberal ideas and criticises some conservative ideas. Based on the Bible, like the Torah and the story of the Good Samaritan, he made the case for giving to good causes and helping the poor.

Participation in culture

Keller was a leader in applying Christian theory to non-religious jobs like business, art, and entrepreneurship. This was partly because his congregation was made up of people who were moving up in Manhattan. The Centre for Faith and Work at Redeemer has put on business competitions and given working people theological education. In his books Every Good Endeavour and Centre Church, he talks about his views on Christianity and society.

Keller was a big fan of the work of well-known Christian authors C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. He also liked the Harry Potter books, which some strict Christians have said are pagan.

Gender and sex

Keller had a view of gender called “complementarianism.” This view says that the Bible teaches that both men and women have clear roles, but that the duties that go with each part are not clear. He thought that “cross-gender relationships, like marriage, help people grow as people.” In his book The Meaning of Marriage, he wrote more about what the Bible says about sex and marriage. He thought that gay sexual behaviour was not in line with the Bible. Keller signed the Manhattan Declaration and did not agree with abortion, but she did not feel the same way about birth control.

Cities and church planting in cities

Harvie Conn was Keller’s teacher at Westminster Theological Seminary. Conn was an early supporter of preaching in cities. He was asked to start Redeemer Presbyterian Church because there were not enough Bible-based churches in the middle of Manhattan. At the Lausanne Conference in 2010, he talked about this in front of everyone.

Keller guided and led Redeemer City to City, a network of churches in the centre of cities that share similar ministry ideals around the world. He wrote a lot about how important cities are, and in his book about ministry, Centre Church, he gave a biblical and theological framework for mission in cities.

Life at home

Keller got married to Kathy Kristy in 1975, and the two of them had three kids. In 2002, Keller was sick with cancer of the thyroid.


Keller told people in June 2020 that he had been told he had pancreatic cancer. He died at home in Manhattan on May 19, 2023, with hospice care. He was 72 years old. In August 2023, a memorial service was held for Keller at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.  During the service, Keller’s wife, Kathy, said that Keller was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Queens, near LaGuardia Airport.

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