/ Guest Author

Tribute to Pastor Gordon Keddie

The following tribute was written as an RPCNA Synod Memorial by Dr. David G. Whitla, RPTS Professor of Church History, in remembrance of his mentor, co-pastor, and friend.

Gordon James Keddie was born on 29 December 1944 in Edinburgh, Scotland, to David and Norah Keddie, was baptized in Chalmers Church of Scotland (Edinburgh), and raised in Viewforth Church of Scotland, which he would later describe as “more or less a social club, with neither the word of God nor a gospel salvation in Christ.” He was converted on 20 May 1962 on a school Scripture Union day trip to Galashiels, where the guest preacher (a Mr. Gordon) opened Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” – and through it, the Lord opened Gordon’s heart.

While studying for his BSc in zoology at Aberdeen University he became a communicant member at Gilcomston South Church of Scotland (1963-66), where he grew as a Christian under the renowned expository preaching ministry of Rev. William Still, who would prove a major influence on his own later ministry.  Upon graduation with honours in 1966, he obtained a postgrad teaching certificate and taught high school biology in Edinburgh (1967-70), before traveling to America to attend Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia as a private student (1970-72), attracted by the work of Cornelius Van Til and John Murray, and weighing the call to pastoral ministry. Gordon came under care of the New York Presbytery of the RPCNA on 17 April 1971, and completed his MDiv studies at RPTS in Pittsburgh (1972-73).

In 1971, an invitation to preach for Rev. John McMillan at Coldenham (NY) RPC introduced Gordon to the pastor’s daughter, Jane McMillan, and the two were married in 1974. In the same year, Gordon was ordained by the Pittsburgh Presbytery (RPCNA) and installed as pastor of the North Hills (Pittsburgh) congregation, during which pastorate three sons, Donald, Iain and David were born.

In 1981, the family returned to Scotland, where Gordon served as resident supply pastor of Wishaw RP Church of Scotland (1982-85), and latterly, Glasgow RP Church, which merged with Wishaw in 1984. They returned to America and moved to State College PA in 1987, where Gordon served as pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (RPCNA) for 17 years.  In 2004, he accepted a call to serve as pastor of the Southside Indianapolis RP Church, where he labored exactly ten years (to the day!), retiring in 2014. He was called home on 19 May 2023, at the age of 78 after a long struggle with prostate cancer.

Gordon’s pastoral ministry will perhaps be most remembered for his energetic expository preaching, faithfully expounding God’s Word in 40 years of pulpit ministry in the local church and beyond.  But as he once said, it is the impact you make in individual lives, ministering to them and pointing them to Christ, that is of greatest value. So while Gordon was certainly a “valiant-for-truth” who stood forth (often quite firmly!) in the church courts on a range of issues confronting his generation, he will also be remembered as a tender pastor who invested much time and prayer binding up the wounded of his Master’s flock. His gravitas was well-balanced by a quick Scottish wit, and his expansive spiritual conversation was punctuated by as much hearty laughter as theological heft.

His influence extended well beyond the local congregations and courts of the denomination he served, to the broader Reformed world, where the name Gordon Keddie is well respected as an author and Biblical commentator. His knowledge of history, theology and the natural world was encyclopedic, and it is probably no exaggeration to say that (with the possible exception of J.G.Vos) he was the most prolific Reformed Presbyterian writer of his generation, publishing over fifty books, articles and edited volumes. He was a major contributor to the popular Welwyn Commentary series (Evangelical Press) – several of which have been translated into Korean, French, Polish, Spanish, and German – a compiler of anthologies by important but long-forgotten Presbyterian fathers like James Willson, Alexander McLeod and William McEwen, and author of countless popular-level articles for the people in the pew in a variety of publications in the US, UK, and Australia. His writing was marked by an outstanding fusion of faithful, Christ-centered exegesis, memorable illustrations, and probing application to the reader’s conscience.  Several posthumous titles are already slated for publication, and truly “he, though dead, still speaks” (Heb.11:4).

In the closing words of his commentary on Acts (You are my Witnesses, 1993), Gordon’s summary of the Apostle Paul’s life in ministry reflects well the central motivating conviction of his own: “He consistently ‘preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.’ The gospel of saving grace in Jesus Christ was his consuming passion.  Christ entirely dominated his horizon … Christ cannot be contained! The gospel cannot be silenced! The salvation of sinners cannot be stopped!”  Amen!