As we write this, countless beautiful stories and memories of Tim Keller are being shared in response to his passing into glory this week. Across many spectrums––right to left, progressive to conservative––and across generational and cultural lines, Tim’s humility, grace, encouragement, learnedness, and willingness to listen and receive from nearly anyone is resulting in meaningful reflection on his legacy.
For us (Justin & Abe), Tim’s impact on our lives, ministry, and thinking is incalculable. He was a mentor, pastor, and encourager whose investment in us was profound.
We feel compelled to tell our own stories, give our reflections, and share his impact on us. But, frankly, we are not ready to do so. It will take us time to fully articulate how his ministry, his investment and support, his mentorship and encouragement, and his love and care changed our lives.
Tim, we love you. We will miss you. And we are forever grateful that the Spirit of God used you in leading us to love Jesus and His Gospel more and more.
While this is not a tribute post about what he meant to us personally and ministerially, we want to acknowledge his role in our work and thinking here at Until Zion. In particular, we want to acknowledge how deeply he shaped our views of holistic Gospel ministry articulated in much of our writing and thinking.
He, of course, is one of many influences, as seen in our work. The notions of holistic Gospel ministry––a ministry that takes seriously both personal transformation through repentance and faith and cosmic restoration reflected in actions of mercy and justice––have been preached and lived by many, especially those ministering on the margins.
Yet, for many, our theological stream––particularly a more theologically “conservative” (we use that term loosely) Reformed and Presbyterian tradition––is viewed as lacking a robust theology of justice. Many fairly, and sometimes unfairly, assume that one who believes Reformed doctrines will likely not see works of mercy and pursuits of justice as vital to faithful Gospel ministry. Yet, such assumptions are not merited when considering Reformed convictions. This is what we at Until Zion are constantly trying to show. And Tim Keller played a significant role in showing the robustness of a Reformed theology of justice.
As a result, instead of trying to articulate his decades-long teaching on the topic, we decided to note several resources. If you have never read/listened to them, we recommend you do so. If you have already engaged them, do so again.
“Justice in the Bible”: This is his fourth and final article in the series on justice and race
“Economic Justice - A God Who Identifies with the Poor”: A talk given at Redeemer’s “Formed for Justice” conference in 2018
-Justin & Abe