Timothy Keller is an American author, speaker, and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, New York. Timothy is the author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.
He was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. However, he learned the most from his nine years as a pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in the small blue-collar town of Hopewell, Virginia. The congregation there loved him, suffered through his earliest days as a pastor, and taught an intellectual northerner to be clear. His second church was Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons.
Question: What inspired you to write “The Reason for God”?
Keller: The fundamental argument of “The Reason for God” is that it makes more sense of life to believe in God than not to believe in God. [There’s] a lot of things out there that we see, and if there is a God, I believe that makes more sense of the things we see than if you say there is no God. So, it’s actually an argument for what I believe. And it came out of the fact that I moved to New York City 20 years ago, I was surrounded by people who didn’t believe in God or Christianity and they said, “Why should I believe it?” and I just had a dialog with them and it’s really a book that simply summarizes all those conversations. The second book, “The Prodigal God” is the essence of the model of ministry we have at Redeemer which sees both moralism and you might say relativism as being antithetical to the gospel and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is “I’m saved by sheer grace and therefore I want to live in a way that pleases God, but I’m doing it out of a sense of gratitude for God’s grace, not as a way of putting God in a position where he has to bless me.” So, we put it like this in “The Prodigal God.” Religion is, I obey therefore God accepts me, and the gospel is I’m accepted through what Jesus Christ has done on the cross, therefore I obey. So, in religion, I’m obeying out of fear that God is going to reject me and in order to feel good about myself, whereas in the gospel, I’m obeying out of gratitude and joy, not to get things from God, but just to get God delight in him and nearness to him and it brings a humility because it’s all an act of grace, it’s all a function of grace. And so, in “The Prodigal God,” we’re bringing that fundamental model to people as to what it means to be a Christian and why it makes us different in the city.