Church leader Timothy Keller dies at age 72 He was a co-founder of The Gospel Coalition, a group concerned that evangelical Christianity had become too politicized.

Influential church leader Timothy Keller has died at the age of 72

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Influential church leader Tim Keller has died at the age of 72. He was a founder of the Gospel Coalition, a group of congregations concerned with the direction of evangelical Christianity. NPR religion correspondent Jason DeRose reports.

JASON DEROSE, BYLINE: Tim Keller was a Presbyterian pastor in New York City who helped his congregation and the nation mourn in the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks, a time when so many were asking why God would allow this to happen.


TIM KELLER: 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.

DEROSE: The problem of tragedy and human response to it was one he returned to time and again in his preaching.


KELLER: Getting rid of your belief in God to handle evil and suffering will not help.

DEROSE: Keller was the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, which announced his death Friday morning. He'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020. His program, Redeemer City to City, helped evangelical leaders learn to work in urban settings where such congregations were less common. As co-founder of the Gospel Coalition, his concerns were twofold - first, that evangelical Christianity had become too politicized, and second, that moral relativism had gone unchallenged.

COLLIN HANSEN: To try to be relevant, but also to be timeless - that's what Tim Keller sought to do when co-founding the Gospel Coalition.

DEROSE: Collin Hansen is vice president of the group and author of the biography "Timothy Keller: His Spiritual And Intellectual Formation."

HANSEN: Tim always believed that preaching the gospel and seeing that lived out in local churches was the best way to be obedient in our faith, to obey Jesus and to love our neighbors, which includes paying attention to their social concerns.

DEROSE: Keller was also known for working to make Christianity what he called intellectually credible. To that end, he wrote a number of books, including "The Reason For God: Belief In An Age Of Skepticism." In it, Keller describes the belief in a Christian God as sound and rational. Among the questions he addressed was this - is skepticism or faith on the rise today? His answer was yes. The world is getting both more and less religious at the same time. The tension between those two realities continues to shape American public life today. Jason DeRose, NPR News.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.