A Seminary Snubs a Presbyterian Pastor (Wall Street Journal Editorial)

Princeton Theological Seminary announced earlier this month that it would award the Rev. Tim Keller its Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness. The seminary lauded Mr. Keller for his commitment to spreading Christianity in cities, his bestselling books on religion, and his work helping to launch hundreds of churches in dozens of cities. But thanks to some of his conservative views, Mr. Keller’s warm welcome didn’t last long.
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This editorial originally published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, March 24, 2017. Excerpt and link published with permission.
Dr. Case Thorp is the Senior Associate Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando and leader of The Collaborative for Cultural and Economic Renewal.

8 thoughts on “A Seminary Snubs a Presbyterian Pastor (Wall Street Journal Editorial)

  1. This morning, my husband and I read your op-ed piece in the WSJ. We are thanking God for you. You have given words to our thoughts much better than we could ever have spoken them ourselves, clarifying so many points including, identity theology. To say that it amounts to anthropology, not theology, is spot on. We have been so ministered to by the teaching of Tim Keller over the years and agree that he will demonstrate grace and magnanimity when he speaks at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a godly man who’s heart is for God and unity in Christ. You spoke this so well. Bless you, brother, Marcia Sillyman

  2. It is nonsense to claim that ordaining women and LGBT people is “identity theology”. Would you have said that about churches deciding to ordain black pastors and ministers? If your religion relies on the enforcement of long-outdated patriarchal concepts that once dominated the secular society, then it is no longer spiritual, but an agent for repression and a force dragging society backward.

    1. Heather,
      Thank you for the comment.

      I am not saying that ordaining women or LGBTQ+ is identity theology. It is those who cling so dearly to an identity theology, which is in fact Enlightenment entrapped anthropology, that are unable to appreciate Keller for his accomplishments in spite of doctrinal differences. I, in fact, whole heartedly support women’s ordination to all offices in the church. But I get there through Scriptural hermeneutical translation principles. I recognize Keller uses a different hermeneutic, and so I can understand why we differ.

      It is those who cling so dearly to identity theologies, which are liberation theologies run amuck, that fail to recognize Tim Keller as an outstanding leader who embodies the very essence of the Kuyper Prize. I disagree with the man’s ordination stance, but I’m not so beholden to an identity based liberation theology that I can’t recognize his accomplishments. And neither do I see him as an ‘agent of oppression dragging society backwards.’ If I were, then the same logic identity theologians use would keep me from appreciating the work of Pope Francis, my Antiochian Orthodox friend Father Hamatie, or even many former colleagues from my own Princeton days. In fact, 95% of global Christianity rejects women in leadership. 99.9% reject LGBTQ+ ordination. Are we to say Pope Francis and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks are agents of oppression? The myopia and unloving spirit of identity theologians breaks fellowship from most of the Church; I am sad for their lack of fellowship and harmony with the world.

      The truth is, if it weren’t for Keller, about 17 people would know of Kuyper. It is incredibly ironic that the very man who has popularized Kuyper’s writings isn’t eligible for such a prize. So sad.

      Thank you for commenting. I truly appreciate the dialogue.


  3. Case,

    I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and happened to come across your op-ed piece. I spend a lot of time with Tim Keller in the form of his books, podcasts, and video sermons. As it happens, my men’s group is currently watching Keller’s “Faith and Work” presentation at Beeson Divinity School, which deals with identity. I sent a digital copy of your article to two of my pastors at St Andrews Anglican Church in Mt Pleasant, SC (Greater Charleston), members of my men’s group, and an extended list of family members.

    For some reason, I didn’t even notice who had written this gem. Of course, I recognized you from North Georgia Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis in the early 90s. My wife Susan moved to the Charleston area almost 20 years ago; two of our children and their families eventually settled here, as well. You would remember Whitney (Brown) Bradburn, who is now a worship leader at St Andrews. Her husband, a drummer in the worship band, is a Beeson graduate. Daughter Katie was also a Chrysalis kid.

    I’m delighted to discover you are still making waves in the world. Keep it up. And call us when you come to Charleston.

    Jerry Brown

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