Sought-after speaker, author, and pastor Tim Keller was to be awarded the Abraham Kuyper Prize from Princeton Seminary this year when it was instead recinded. Reasons? No, it was not a sex-scandal. No, Keller didn’t “fall from grace.” Rather, Keller doesn’t align with what they at Princeton Seminary believe; namely their stance on ordination for women as well as the ordination of LGBTQ+ individuals. Below is a quote from president of Princeton.
“…it is not my practice to censor the invitations to campus from any of our theological centers or student organizations. [Yet] In talking with those who are deeply concerned about Reverend Keller’s visit to campus… many regard awarding the Kuyper Prize as an affirmation of Reverend Keller’s belief that women and LGBTQ+ persons should not be ordained.” Craig Barnes (see here for full statement)
The reason I think this may be a mistake (though I recognize the behind-the-curtain politics clearly at play) is that Keller is a hero to many from both sides of the conservative/liberal dichotomy due to his commitment to civility and general thoughtfulness in regards to hot topics. Though Keller is Reformed, he does not at all resemble the likeness of fellow ‘big shots’ in the Reformed circle (I’m thinking of Driscoll , MacArthur and, of course, Piper). Keller is known more for his conciliatory voice and attitude than for being dogmatic, as he seems to be much about promoting healthy conversation.
Keller’s church in New York City resembles this tone, as its congregants strive to remain in discussion rather than remain at odds when they disagree. I applaud their effort to avoid homogeneity, which is something many churches and institutions desperately need to learn from.
Many conservatives find Keller too “liberal,” especially in light of a recent interview for New York Times (see here). Keller also rocked the worlds of many conservatives when he opened up about his stance on evolution. But all Princeton can see, it seems, is Keller’s personal stance on ordination.
I agree with one David Limbaugh when he writes “Neither in Keller’s writings nor his sermons have I detected the slightest inclination toward the political” (click here for article). If Keller is anything, he is a potential bridge in the ugly fight between conservative and liberal Christians. Princeton has just burned a bridge. As one Christian leader tweeted in response, “If you can’t give an Abraham Kuyper award to Tim Keller, who can you give it to?”
The Babylon Bee, as expected, poked fun at the situation, writing satirically about the PCUSA: “the denomination had agreed to posthumously denounce and honorarily excommunicate several “backwards-minded” Reformed and Presbyterian thinkers, beginning with Abraham Kuyper.”