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Tim Keller to Receive Princeton Seminary Award but Some Alumni Are Unhappy

Princeton

(By Leonard Blair, Christian Post). Tim Keller, founding pastor of the multi-campus Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York Cityis set to receive the 2017 Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness at Princeton Theological Seminary next month but some alumni are disgruntled because of his church’s position on women and LGBT individuals in ministry.

The Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life is awarded each year to a scholar or community leader whose outstanding contribution to their chosen sphere reflects the ideas and values characteristic of the Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political and cultural significance in one or more of the spheres of society. A condition of the prize is that the recipient deliver a lecture on a topic appropriate to the aims of the Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology.

On April 6 at the Princeton Seminary campus in Miller Chapel, Keller is expected to collect the  Abraham Kuyper Prize and deliver a lecture on church planting.

Despite expressing respect for Keller as a Christian leader and man of faith, Princeton Theological Seminary alumna Traci Smith argued in a blog post that she doesn’t believe Keller should be honored because of the Presbyterian Church in America’s position on the ordination of women and LGBT individuals.

“Rev. Keller is arguably the most influential pastor of a denomination that is very clear in its assertion that women should not be ordained to ministry. He (and the denomination he serves) is also very clear in its exclusion of LGBT people,” Smith argued.

“My personal soapbox … boils down to this: an institution designed to train men and women for ministry shouldn’t be awarding fancy prizes to someone who believes half the student body (or is it more than half?) has no business leading churches. It’s offensive and, as I have taught my four and five year olds to express, it hurts my feelings,” she said.

“… (the reason he shouldn’t have been invited to give this lecture and receive this prize) is that this isn’t some minor thing. This is a giant lecture with a giant whoop-de-doo factor,” she opined. “There’s a place for common ground, but unless Rev. Tim Keller is prepared to argue for the ordination of all the women students of Princeton Theological Seminary, the The Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life is not that place in my opinion.”

Princeton alumnus, W. Travis McMaken, associate professor of religion and chair of the interdisciplinary studies program in the School of Humanities at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, said he was disappointed in his alma mater as well.

“Very disappointed with my alma mater, @ptseminary, for awarding the Kuyper prize to Tim Keller who denies the full equality of women and men,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s hard to see this move by @ptseminary as anything other than pandering to conservatives in hope of generating enrollment. Disappointing. I hope that the @ptseminary faculty will not give Keller an easy time of it, at least, and thereby retain some dignity.”

Citing the concerns raised about Keller, Princeton Theological Seminary President, M. Craig Barnes explained the reasons for Keller’s selection in an email to the seminary community cited by Smith.

“While my office issues the official invitations to campus, I don’t practice censorship over the choices of these organizations, even when I or the seminary disagree with some of the convictions of these speakers,” he wrote.

“It is also a core conviction of our seminary to be a serious academic institution that will sometimes bring controversial speakers to campus because we refuse to exclude voices within the Church. Diversity of theological thought and practice has long been a hallmark of our school. And so we have had a wide variety of featured speakers on campus including others who come from traditions that do not ordain women or LGBTQ+ individuals, such as many wings of the Protestant Church, and bishops of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic communions,” he continued.

“My hope is that we will receive Rev. Keller in a spirit of grace and academic freedom, realizing we can listen to someone with whom many, including me, strongly disagree about this critical issue of justice,” he ended.

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Comments(9)

  1. REPLY
    Jim Caraher says

    I wholeheartedly support the full inclusion of women in ordained leadership in any church or denomination but the hypocrisy of PCUSA liberals never ceases to amaze. They crow incessantly about diversity and inclusion but their diversity and inclusion is never diverse and inclusive enough to include evangelicals who disagree with them on anything. How pathetic.

  2. REPLY
    Loren Golden says

    So it seems that Princeton Seminary has rescinded its extension of the Abraham Kuyper Prize to Tim Keller.
     
    According to the Kuyper Prize webpage at the PTS website, “The Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life is awarded each year to a scholar or community leader whose outstanding contribution to their chosen sphere reflects the ideas and values characteristic of the Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political and cultural significance in one or more of the ‘spheres’ of society.”  Tim Keller exemplifies this, being a winsome expositor of Reformed theology not only in his calling as the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, but in the public sphere in books and as a commentator consulted on news talk shows.  If anyone deserves the Kuyper Prize, Tim Keller does.
     
    However, because of the vociferous yet insipid objections raised by PTS alumni, such as Ms. Smith and Prof. McMaken, quoted above, who object that because Rev. Keller is ordained in a Presbyterian denomination (PCA) that ordains neither women nor practicing homosexuals, bisexuals, or transsexuals—despite the fact that the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops whom PTS President Craig Barnes referenced in his March 10 letter to the PTS community belong to “communions” that do not ordain women, homosexuals, bisexuals, or transsexuals either—he should not be awarded the Kuyper Prize.  And so, Barnes has capitulated to these voices, choosing “not to award the Kuyper Prize this year.”
     
    Badly done, Dr. Barnes!  Badly done, indeed!

  3. REPLY
    MikeS says

    Oops, it looks like the Social Justice Warriors have shouted down the PTS administration, and he will not get the award after all. Actually why would a respectable, mainstream pastor like Rev Keller even want to speak at an institution of a declining fringe religious group anyway?

  4. REPLY
    Noel Anderson says

    No award–Princeton rescinded the offer. What a disgrace to the Body of Christ to refuse the acknowledgment of excellence in ministry because of a few minor variances of interpretive opinion. Princeton has clearly gone over to the darkside–more interested in secular street cred than the timeless calling to advance the Gospel. Keller would be a prince among princes to speak nonetheless, but the DeKuyper award certainly loses some of its gravitas for this petulant action..

  5. REPLY
    MikeS says

    In this age of intolerant left-liberalism, I share Mr Gregory’s wondering if there might be a “Murray Moment” at the speech. I hope someone will be videoing the proceedings. If these future PCUSA ministers break out into a riot, let the world see.

  6. REPLY
    James H says

    This responce to Keller should surprise no one, the remark , “It’s hard to see this move by @ptseminary as anything other than pandering to conservatives in hope of generating enrollment. Disappointing. I hope that the @ptseminary faculty will not give Keller an easy time of it, at least, and thereby retain some dignity.”
    Dignity, really, the PCA, EPC has more missionaries on accident than the PCUSA has on purpose, the success of ECO show’s no problem with women Pastors, this thing against Keller is nothing more than a buch of whining liberals who can’t fill a church, let alone a liberal seminary.

  7. REPLY
    Woody Johnson says

    It is amazing to watch. Tim Keller, a renowned expert on church planting, an emphasis in recent years by the PCUSA, is coming to help that effort in our major seminary, draws such contempt. Those like Ms. Smith and Mr. McMaken, members of the larger Presbyterian order, which emphasizes the “big-tent” point of view, actually live in pup-tents. The remark of one that he hopes the faculty will give this giant of the faith a hard time is a symptom of what ails the church of Jesus Christ today. Small wonder the world no longer listens when we e anotherlove the world and fight with each other. We are called to love one another. May God help us in our sin. ” . . whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.1 John 4:20″

  8. REPLY
    peter gregory says

    Having lived and worked in the general area around Prince-landia for a decade or so the responses do far does not surprise me. Traci represents to a a degree the current state of critical thinking and inquiry at most mainline liberal seminaries. It’s all about the objectification of grievance or perceived slight. One’s personal soap box should be everybody’s. Ones sense of hurt feelings should be everybody’s as well. And more than that the other side, other opinion simply does not exist. At PTS it seems freedom of speech, thought, assembly, general inquiry is limited only to those who hold certain values and ideas deemed correct by the new intolerance of the mob, or those self appointed to be the social gate keepers and keep the general riff-raff in place or at least off campus.

    I am just curious if we will witness a Charles Murry at Middleberry VT. type of moment. Shouts of the angry mob, crying, and general commotion in an effort to silence Rev. Keller? Or shame the administration for having the gall to award him something in the first place. I do wonder though if Rev. Keller will ever be able to have lunch in the city, let alone the cafeteria ever again?

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