An introduction to Tim Keller

As a way to help me grieve the loss of a theological mentor in my life, I put together this brief guide to his writing and speaking. I’d love for you to benefit from some of these resources, as I have.

Sermons – – Keller preached often and broadly, so some of his sermons are elsewhere, but the best place to find them is at his long-time home church, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

For years, they were behind a paywall. I still remember the year that Becca gave me a year-long membership to them for my birthday. Thankfully, a few months ago, a donor enabled Redeemer to make them free.


Keller’s capacity to connect the gospel with all of life was remarkable. The result was a wide-ranging corpus, with helpful books on biblical studies (such as The Prodigal God and The Prodigal Prophet), ministry practice (Center Church, Preaching), Christian living (The Meaning of Marriage, Forgive, Prayer, and God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life).

If someone was going to read one Keller book, I’d encourage you to read The Prodigal God, and become as enamored by the gospel of Jesus as Keller was.

If you’re struggling with questions of whether you can believe Christianity, read The Reason for God.

If you want to have a distinctively Christian vision for your marriage, read The Meaning of Marriage.

If you want to understand why the cultural goals of money, sex, and power fail to satisfy, read Counterfeit Gods.

If you want to understand how the gospel shapes justice and generosity, read Ministries of Mercy or Generous Justice.

If you want to prepare well for the suffering of this life, read Walking with God in Pain and Suffering.

If you want help thinking through your career as a Christian, read Every Good Endeavor.

If you want to understand his ministry philosophy, read Preaching or Center Church (the longest of his books and probably the least helpful to laypeople).

If you would like a daily devotional, read God’s Wisdom for Live (on Proverbs) or The Songs of Jesus (on Psalms).

If you want help developing a biblical theology of a book, read The King’s Cross (on Mark) or The Prodigal Prophet (on Jonah).

Keller gave a series of interviews to Mark Dever almost a decade ago, which included a long-form discussion of his writing ministry (up to that point).

If you search Keller’s name on Amazon, you’ll also find a number of books that are published in his name based on messages he gave or curriculum he wrote when he was younger, such as Judges for You or The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. (Many churches retain the copyright of materials written by their staff people while on the job). These are “genuine Keller,” but they represent a less thorough standard of thought and writing than his long-form books.

Side note: Keller was a pastor for decades without doing much published writing. His D.Min. doctoral project was published into a book (Ministries of Mercy) in his late 30’s, but then he waited twenty years before publishing his next book (The Reason for God).

Articles, Organizations, and Podcasts

It’s impossible to divorce Keller from his adopted home in New York City. He talked about his ministry context often in his preaching, seeking to reach the secular people around him. This would sometimes result in his writing being highlighted in media sources that usually ignored evangelicals. Two years ago, already diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he wrote for The Atlantic about mortality.

This isn’t to say that Keller softened his message for secular audiences. He was a minister in the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and founded two significant parachurch organizations (Redeemer City to City and The Gospel Coalition) that have robust statements of faith and ambitious ministry goals.

In recent years, the trend to interview format podcasts have given us a chance to listen in on Keller’s conversations with his friends, such as talking about forgiveness with Russell Moore or the future of evangelicalism with the crew from Mere Fidelity.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s