Faced with mounting criticism for its decision to give a major award to the Rev. Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and one of the country’s best known conservative Christian thinkers, Princeton Theological Seminary has reversed course and said Keller will not receive the honor.
In an email to faculty and students on Wednesday morning (March 22), the president of the venerable mainline Protestant seminary, the Rev. Craig Barnes, said that he remains committed to academic freedom and “the critical inquiry and theological diversity of our community.”
But he said that giving Keller the annual Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness – named after a famous Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian – might “imply an endorsement” of Keller’s views against the ordination of women and LGBTQ people.
Barnes said the seminary would not give award the Kuyper Prize to anyone this year.
Get a load of this:
But he said that after talks with Keller, the chair of the Kuyper Committee, and the chair of the Board of Trustees, Keller had agreed to deliver the annual Kuyper Lecture on April 6 as planned.
“We are a community that does not silence voices in the church,” Barnes wrote [Emphasis mine — RD]. “In this spirit we are a school that can welcome a church leader to address one of its centers about his subject, even if we strongly disagree with his theology on ordination to ministry. Reverend Keller will be lecturing on Lesslie Newbigin and the mission of the church – not on ordination.”
Tim Keller is a far wiser man than I will ever be, so I’m not going to second-guess his decision to give the lecture anyway, though I doubt very much that his Social Justice Warrior critics, having taken the Kuyper Prize from him and humiliated the seminary administration, will be satisfied to let him come speak. If I were Tim Keller, I would let the dying Mainline bury the dying Mainline, and not bother with them. Mainline Protestantism in most places has become a suicide cult. Keller is one of the most successful missionary pastors in the country, a man who has won the respect even of secular liberals like Nicholas Kristof, surely has something to teach other Christians, even those who disagree with his theology (as I do, to a certain extent).
But a man of his great public accomplishment and widely-acknowledged irenicism cannot be honored by Princeton Theological Seminary because he is an orthodox Presbyterian Christian, and progressive Presbyterians consider that sort of Christian to be wicked.
Mark this well. It’s Neuhaus’s Law in action: Wherever orthodoxy is optional, it will eventually be proscribed. Look, if I were running PTS, I would draw lines too around who would and would not receive awards, based on their theology. The point is that what was long considered to be Christian orthodoxy is now considered so offensive that a Mainline Protestant seminary cannot honor an accomplished pastor who professes these things.
This incident is also a sign that liberalism, in the broad sense, is dying. Commenter Raskolnik said in another thread on this blog this morning that the only viable alternatives are Revolution or Reaction. The more the Left pushes the Right — even mainstream figures like Tim Keller — out of their institutions and the public square, the more radical people on the Right will become. The center is not holding.
On the standard articulated by Princeton Theological Seminary, they could not give the award to ANY faithful Christian. https://t.co/jGcA3KLsCm
— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) March 22, 2017