Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church blends a good nature, a nimble mind, leadership in evangelical circles, and a pastoral heart toward fellow New Yorkers. A lengthy profile in the Wall Street Journal captures much of that, yet leaves much unsaid. And it says a couple of things that should have been left unsaid.
The 1,870-word profile has several strengths. It briskly marches out the basics: 5,500 attending Keller's services, 300 church plants around the world, regular members under 35 years old. It also clearly summarizes Keller's message:
“Everyone has a God, everyone has a way of salvation, we just don’t use the term,” he says. “St. Augustine would say: What makes you what you really are is what you love the most.” Mr. Keller adds that he likes “to show secular people that they’re not quite as unreligious as they think. They’re putting their hopes in something, and they’re living for it.” For ambitious, driven New Yorkers, it’s often a career, he says. “I try to tell people: The only reason you’re laying yourself out like this is because you’re not really just working. This is very much your religion.”
If there’s no God, he says in sermons, then everything you do at work will be forgotten, and nothing you can do in your career will earn lasting significance. But if Christianity is true, then “every good endeavor,” he likes to say, no matter how small, “can matter forever.” One tough part for people, he says, is coming under “God’s authority,” because “you have to find your identity in Christ, and not in just fulling yourself,” That “completely collides with what the culture is telling people.”
In classic profile fashion, the Journal fills in personal details: Keller's glasses, his 6-foot-plus height and the church’s offices in midtown Manhattan. He "looks less like a pastor than a professor," the writer says.