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Soul-searching at Princeton Theological Seminary

The Rev. Tim Keller speaks at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., on April 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary

PRINCETON, N.J. (RNS) After news emerged that Princeton Theological Seminary intended to honor Tim Keller, pastor of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, people were outraged.

How could an institution committed to full inclusion of women and LGBT people in ministry give a prize — and $10,000 — to someone who very publicly wasn’t? Indeed, how could the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s flagship graduate school honor a minister of the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination founded partly in opposition to the PCUSA’s decision to ordain women?

Then we learned Keller wouldn’t get the prize. Again, people were outraged. How could an institution committed to academic freedom silence Keller? What kind of “Christians” were these, backtracking on honoring a true man of God?

Lost amid these social-media-fueled caricatures was the on-campus reality. Seminary president Craig Barnes constantly heard a refrain: “I wonder if I really belong here.” Initially, it came from women and LGBT students.

“They said that by making this award, we were affirming women and LGBTQ folks not being ordained,” Barnes says. “Then we started getting it from the other side. It was evangelical students saying, ‘I wonder if I really belong here.’”

A few points of clarification: Barnes didn’t pick Keller; a committee that includes no seminary representatives chose Keller as this year’s recipient of the annual Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life – named after a famous Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian. That selection process was the consequence of a large, unfortunate, poorly structured donation years ago.

Nor did the on-campus protesters ask that the prize be rescinded or Keller’s lecture be canceled; “we understood,” said second-year student Zac Calvo, who helped draft the main protest letter, “how stuck between a rock and a hard place Barnes was.” And according to Barnes, Keller himself suggested a course change: “We decided it was too much a distraction. He said, ‘Why don’t we set aside the prize?’

“I just wish this seminary had done a better job than we did,” Barnes says. “I thought there would be a good debate. But it hasn’t been a good debate. Everybody’s edgy. People are worried about inclusion — right and left. There’s been so much hurt, so much fear. I underestimated the emotional power of this.”

Diversity vexes PTS

Full disclosure: I’m no objective bystander. I’m gay. I’ve heard Tim Keller preach many times; I’ve liked and learned from it. I was once a conservative evangelical, but no longer. I’m a Princeton student (M.Div., first-year — and, no, I don’t know if I’m going to be a pastor).

In recent weeks, I’ve spoken with more than three dozen members of the seminary community — mostly students — about the Keller/Kuyper fiasco. The name “Tim Keller,” which many previously didn’t know at all or well, was rarely mentioned.

Indeed, this entire episode wasn’t really about Keller. It was about the challenge of being a diverse community and our desire for belonging. Is feeling unwelcome the same as not belonging? Does having your beliefs questioned threaten one’s sense of belonging as much as having your identity doubted or devalued?

People take advantage of nice weather and lounge in front of Miller Chapel, left, at Princeton Theological Seminary on April 11, 2017. A Preach-In was hosted at Miller Chapel before the Rev. Tim Keller spoke on campus in Princeton, N.J. RNS photo by Jeff Chu

“We all want our story to be important,” said Ashley Hamel, a first-year student from Texas. “We don’t necessarily know how to hold that in one hand and have an open hand for the story of another and have those woven into community.”

Diversity vexes PTS. It’s a 205-year-old symbol of white American mainline Protestantism where earlier, fierce battles over fundamentalism and scriptural interpretation were fought. That legacy no doubt contributed to blowing this campus-speaker controversy up.

Yet only 28 percent of its students now come from the PCUSA, evangelicals and Pentecostals are vocal and visible on campus, and at least a third of students are nonwhite.

“This enormous challenge of having students from diverse backgrounds has increased,” said associate professor of theology Nancy Duff. “It’s much easier to teach a group of students who come from the same denomination and all think the same way.”

To say that students are included doesn’t make it so. About a decade ago, LGBT students still didn’t feel safe coming out here; many of us remain flattened into our sexualities. While recruiting has boosted the numbers of nonwhite students, social life is often segregated, many of us don’t see our theologies represented amid the reams of texts by dead German men, and it sometimes feels as if we have to prove we belong. The unrepentant dominance of “theobrogians” in some of our classrooms reminds us that just because women can be ordained doesn’t mean they won’t get mansplained; sexism is a resilient beast.

I sought biblical wisdom from a biblical studies professor, knowing that you can always count on getting at least five relevant stories from Scripture when you ask for just one.

From the selection proffered by Old Testament associate professor Jacqueline Lapsley, the standout was the tale of the daughters of Zelophehad, from the the Book of Numbers. As the Israelites wandered the wilderness, Zelophehad, a father of five daughters and no sons, died. Those daughters pondered their promised life in the Promised Land; would they inherit their father’s share?

“You have the law, which says these women can’t inherit, and the women come and say, ‘Hey, that doesn’t seem right to us!’” Lapsley explained. “And Moses says, ‘Oh! OK. I need to take this to God.’ The story suggests we need to engage in discernment. And then the law is changed — the law, even within the Old Testament, is not static; it’s dynamic. And the women’s voices are heard. They were on the outside, they were vulnerable, but their voices were heard.”

There’s a postscript. “Some who write on this story don’t want to talk about what happens in Numbers 36, when the women being able to inherit gets mitigated somewhat,” Lapsley said. “There is a concern from other voices in the community — some men in the tribes — that if the women marry outside the tribe, the land also goes. So there’s a whole back-and-forth about those concerns and trying to adjudicate within the community. It’s rounds of listening and rounds of response — and that’s part of community life, too: compromise.”

Keller’s call to listen

On the night of the lecture, Keller showed up as the nice guy that nearly everyone expected him to be. His talk, less polished than his typical Sunday sermon, zipped serviceably through “seven ways to have missionary encounters in Western culture,” building on the work of 20th-century British missiologist Lesslie Newbigin.

READ: Princeton seminary reverses decision to honor Redeemer’s Tim Keller

A well-mannered guest, Keller criticized his own family more than his hosts, repeatedly citing evangelicals’ flaws. When he critiqued the mainline (for overemphasizing the gospel’s horizontal, social axis at the expense of the vertical and salvific), he did so winsomely, saying, “Let me just for a moment dump on the mainline — it won’t be long.”

Roughly 600 people attend a lecture by the Rev. Tim Keller at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., on April 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary

Keller discouraged his audience from hearing hidden messages, saying he’d written his talk well before controversy erupted. Still, one suggestion, about sharing a countercultural gospel, seemed relevant and resonant: “You can’t disagree with somebody by just beating them from the outside,” he said. “You have to come into their framework. You critique them from inside their own framework; you don’t critique them for not having your framework.”

He called us to empathy and listening, without which one can’t have the necessary data to critique a framework. And he urged deeper relationship and mutual respect, without which one can’t have the trust for difficult dialogue. (I reached out to Keller to see if he wanted to speak further but received no response.)

This is a point I want my community to hear. Perhaps it’s dangerous to anthropomorphize an institution, but PTS is more skilled at preaching than listening. (We study the former, not the latter.) It’s introverted and often unfriendly. (I, too, am introverted and often unfriendly, so I could be projecting, but I don’t think I’m far off.)

Even our architecture reflects awkwardness and inhospitality: The stairs in Stuart Hall, our main classroom building, feel too steep; the introvert-hating dining-hall layout steals your appetite; the paved paths crossing the quad are angled a few degrees off where most people need to go.

Barnes told me he wants to call a town hall meeting to discuss what the Keller kerfuffle has stirred. I’m not sure a town hall would do anything but reinforce existing power dynamics. Nor do we have adequate trust — the foundation on which a successful town hall must be constructed.

Instead, I wonder whether we might gather with others who think, worship or theologize differently. We need to eat together, to share stories, to pray together. Could we wrestle collectively with the tension between seeking justice and drawing blood? Or what grace could look like here? Don’t we tend to extend favor only to those we deem worthy? That’s not grace at all.

The hard work of relationship

We contain within each of us both sinner and saint. Trouble comes when we see only the sinners in our neighbors and only the saints in ourselves.

“When I look at somebody who I know doesn’t match up theologically, do I still see them as part of the body of Christ, or do I wish they were the estranged sibling who would just go away because they’re messing things up?” asked the Rev. Leanne Ketcham, an M.Div. senior and ordained Wesleyan minister. “We don’t know how to say hard things graciously. We don’t know how to receive hard things graciously. We don’t believe the best about each other.”

Especially when we gather in large groups, it feels damn near impossible to believe the best. The world — and Reinhold Niebuhr — tells us to expect and suspect the worst. Situations like these stir our skepticism and, often, the lingering pain of old — or not-so-old — wounds.

But in small groups, we’ve constructed beautiful conversations, rooted in the hard work of relationship. Two days before Keller’s lecture, I had coffee with Cameron Brooks, a first-year student who describes Keller as “really formative in my life of faith.”

The Princeton Theological Seminary Library contains the Kuyper Collection, the most complete collection of Kuyper-related materials in North America, on the campus in Princeton, N.J., on April 11, 2017. RNS photo by Jeff Chu

Brooks and I met during orientation, when we stood next to each other for the incoming class’s group photo. We’ve had several long conversations since, hopscotching through politics, church unity, writing, my husband, his wife, the things of life. A self-described conservative, he came to PTS from South Dakota; a child of the coasts, I hate the labels, but I’d admit to being on the conservative side of liberal.

Brooks expected hostility at PTS. Those first weeks, “I had my guard up at all times because I was on the lookout for heresy,” he said. As his guard came down, his sightlines opened up: “PTS helped me see that as a person of privilege, my duty as a follower of Jesus is to be humble. What that looks like for me is to read people I wouldn’t normally read, talk to people I haven’t talked to much in the past, and not just engage with but love people who are different than me. PTS has helped me realize that the gospel requires this. Even if humility is really, really uncomfortable, it’s the way of Jesus.”

We’ve never discussed gay marriage or ordination, though I could probably guess his positions. What I know for sure is that Brooks is slow to speak and quick to smile, kind and generous. I’m less sure why we decided to trust one another a bit, and then a bit more. But I remember talking, the first time we had coffee, about how difficult it is to make new friends, about the exhilaration of rising hopes and the lockstep fear of being hurt.

READ: Why Princeton’s snub of Tim Keller should outrage progressives

Maybe solidarity blossomed in shared vulnerability. Certainly there’s value in breaking bread together. Maybe in baking bread, too: When Brooks and his wife had me over for dinner last month, we talked some about this Keller controversy and agreed that we didn’t recognize PTS as described in the media. Then they sent me home with a loaf of homemade sourdough to share with my husband, who hadn’t been able to join us this time.

How humility might help

“The conversations that happen in the aftermath of this have to be rooted in the sure knowledge of God’s love for every single person,” Slats Toole told me. “That is something that is easy for both sides to lose sight of. We treat each other much better and give each other more grace when we keep that in the forefront.”

Toole, a 2016 PTS graduate who identifies as transgender and gender-nonbinary, participated in a Preach-In organized ahead of Keller’s lecture to amplify LGBT and female voices. Toole preached on the complexity of God’s vision for creation, including Isaiah 11’s “unnatural” images of the wolf and the lamb living together and the leopard lying down with the baby goat.

“We humans are so limited and God is so vast — how could any one of us even pretend to understand?” Toole preached. “God’s reality is broader than human imagination, let alone human definition.”

The outside world has already shifted to its next outrage. But PTS could choose to find in the pain of this episode the potential for deeper conversation. It won’t be easy. People may sometimes need to step away — to take deep breaths, rest, pray. (I’m surprised that this Christian community’s members haven’t more often called one another to prayer.) The capable will need to carry more weight, with patient love and rampant humility.

Humility might help us see how the attempt to honor Keller felt like dishonor to those long marginalized by the church. Humility might help us understand how we try to outshout or ignore voices who disagree with us theologically. Humility might help us resist the temptation to rank our suffering ahead of others’.

Perhaps it will surprise both liberals and conservatives to hear that PTS’ liberals and conservatives end up sounding much the same.

“We are a flawed community trying to live this life faithfully for Jesus,” said first-year student Mariana Thomas. “Do we mess up? Absolutely. Is there grace in that and for that? Absolutely.”

Amen and amen.

(Jeff Chu is a journalist, seminarian and author of “Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America”)

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  • To the conservative students of PTS:
    2 Cor. 6:14 New American Standard Bible
    Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

    Princeton long ago drank the prog lib post mod kool-aid so I don’t wonder at their complete confusion. If they trusted and obeyed God’s inerrant and infallible word they wouldn’t be in this predicament. So leave PTS and go to a good bible teaching bible preaching seminary.

  • “The bottom line is this. Tim Keller believes what the vast majority of Christians have always believed about gender and sexuality. The Princeton Seminary community rejects what the vast majority of Christians have always believed about gender and sexuality. Because of that, the Seminary wants to clarify its rejection of what the vast majority of Christians have always believed about gender and sexuality.
    In short, the Seminary does not agree with Jesus and the apostles about sexual morality. Keller does.
    And therein is the conflict.” — theologian Denny Burk

  • “…women being able to inherit gets mitigated somewhat,” Lapsley said. ” See tweet @lcvalin reply
    “Concluding Numbers with daughters of Zelophehad unclear, may reflect Torah’s genealogical interest: 10 generations Adam-Noah,Noah-Terah,Abraham-daughters Zelophehad” Reformed Torah Commentary by Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut
    Naked Father(Noah) to Dying Father(Terah) to son less Father(Zelophehad)
    Is there no Balm in Gilead(Manasseh)?

  • These things still raise questions for me.

    1) Barnes offer the classic, “On our left, on our right, we hear complaints,” as if he occupies some purer, middle position. He is president of a seminary whose mandate (in its mission statement) is to prepare “women and men. . . for leadership.” I can understand why people who oppose that mandate might feel they “don’t belong,” — but the solution isn’t for the seminary to deny its purpose. So I would take issue with the language in the second paragraph. The seminary isn’t merely “committed to full inclusion,” Training women for leadership is its purpose.

    The matter of lgbt inclusion is perhaps at a different moment in time for the denomination in which the seminary belongs. Congregations and pastors hold varying positions and are allowed to ordain as they see fit. However, they must have women on their sessions. They must allow women to candidate for their pulpits. Their pastors cannot hold another opinion on the matter and refuse to ordain women to positions of leadership. Which is why Keller’s denomination, the PCA, left the (now) PCUSA.

    2) While the question seems impertinent (even to me) I can’t quite wrap my head around this, “Is there ever a time when dialogue and listening and humility — aren’t really the most important values?” 30 years ago it would have been unthinkable for the seminary (or a committee related to it in some way) to offer a theology award to a leader of the Dutch Reformed Church of S. Africa, which supported apartheid. Its theology was eventually condemned and it was forced out of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. It appears that “complementarianism” does not yet place one outside that circle. Will it ever? How do you know when something is merely a difference of opinion, and when it is, well, heresy? I don’t think the seminary then would consider an advocate of apartheid to be worthy an award or even a hearing (at least in a major, recognized address.) Would that have been wrong? How would that have been expressed?

  • I don’t believe these assertions are supported by any evidence. Concepts of gender and sexuality were never anything but fluid.

  • Re: complementarianism – the belief separate spheres for women and men are deity-ordained – should not be acceptable in a Mainline denomination or seminary and should have excluded Keller.

  • Despite DH1’s eagerness to steer any conversation into ridiculous Limbaughesque bloviations and name-callings, it is somewhat schizophrenic for a “conservative” student to seek to attend a liberal seminary just as it is for a liberal student to want to go to Fuller or Bob Jones.
    Interestingly, though, a significant number of both do just that. Perhaps they see it like Paul saw preaching in places with a sin-filled reputation like Corinth and Cyprus, but I suppose most eventually figure out people are just people wherever they go.
    Chu apparently has a more trusting heart than I would. I would not, however we had bonded, seek to visit the home of those hunting for heresy and holding to oppressive beliefs. I was curious when he first mentioned it whether he’d be allowed to bring the husband or not; the husband’s indisposition sort of leaves the dynamics in process. Now if Chu will write a follow up in a few months about how he turned a homophobic right-wing scamvangelist into a regular person, perhaps I will revise my views.

  • “Gender and sexuality fluidity” Big deal. Nothing new here. Read the 10 commandments. They express God’s moral nature. Those commandments address the “fluid” nature of man. For example, one moment I may love someone and the next minute they may dump a plate of spaghetti with Prego spicy sausage meat sauce into my lap and my fluid nature then wants to choke the…. Well, bless their hearts. That desire comes from our fluid lower nature. But see, God tells us not to obey our lower nature; instead we are to obey Him.

    K52 dude: here’s your Bible study homework assignment for tonight:
    1. Read the following text:
    Colossians 3:1ff 3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
    5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry…

    2. Then look up the definition of the word mortify and determine how it is used in the above text. Next, use it in a meaningful sentence.
    3. Finally, decide how YOU can apply it to yourself – biblically.

    Use the following acronym SPECK to help you.
    1. Is there a sin to avoid
    2. Is there a promise to claim
    3. Is there an error to avoid
    4. Is there a command to obey
    5. Is there something new to know about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit

    Have a blessed bible study, and please feel free to “share” with us your insights.

  • It leaves Princeton Theological Seminary with its integrity intact, and Keller’s too … let’s face it, Keller would, in a heartbeat, undo Princeton and transform it into his version of evangelical narrowness. As for his “famous church,” well, Pilate returned to his famous palace and the Jerusalem religious leaders returned to their famous temple.

  • Well, I suppose we could add flat earth and an geocentric solar system … and let’s be clear, and let’s be honest, we don’t know precisely what the church has always believed, and if we’re at all true to the Protestant instinct, Luther was willing to take a thousand years of belief and give it a good thrashing. Keller believes in an evangelical narrow vision, and, like most evangelicals, dresses it all up in grand tradition, because evangelicals have to bolster their faith with all kinds of gimmicks, miracles and tradition. Well, if tradition carries such weight, shouldn’t Keller also believe in the Papacy?

  • Oh boy, what a world-view … sure, tell your conservative friends to leave PTS to insure their purity, to eliminate the possibility of getting soiled, and to be sure that they don’t hear anything that would upset their little settled world. You bet – because, in truth, evangelicalism can’t survive in the real world; but only in a hermetically sealed environment. On the other hand, I hope those students stay; they might just learn something, and more power to them if they do. And given your handle, you’ve made my day with your nonsense.

  • I’m 72 and have spent a good deal of ministry trying to have conversation with evangelicals, because there was a time when I respected their integrity and vision. But over the years, I found conversation to be impossible, because in the evangelical world, they see me as lost. Period! And not only lost, but a threat. So, some years ago, I decided: conversation is not possible, especially at this point in time. And that’s not surprising, given what we know of church history when folks like Luther and the Papacy were at loggerheads. So, let the whole thing cool down, and instead of evangelicals crying persecution, they need to grow up, do their thing, admit they have only a corner of the truth, and not all of it … and come to appreciate, yes, really appreciate those with whom they disagree. I’m done trying; let Keller and his gang give it a go, but Keller has a lot of growing up to do before he can speak thoughtfully in conversation with the broader Christian traditions and the still larger religious traditions of the world.

  • 1. I’m not an evangelical, and whether or not evangelicalism survives depends upon their fidelity to God’s word and God’s sovereignty. (But the PCUSA ain’t doing so great either.)
    2. No, they should leave to insure their education in God’s word. What they’re likely to learn at PTS is progressive liberal baloney – which they can learn on the internet.
    3. You have a problem with 2 Cor. 6:14 (which seems to be the case) talk to the Apostle Paul.
    4. Whether or not they stay is their business. They can do what they want, but I wouldn’t put one dime in an institution that has fixated on pan sexual tolerance, white privilege, etc etc.
    5. And given your name, Tom Eggebeen, you should really avoid handle shaming. It’s so immature, and a man of your age and position…well, it’s just undignified.
    And finally, Tom, learn what the original Dirty Harry meant when he said: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” – Dirty Harry

  • Let’s face it: the conversation is seriously over at PTS as well. Keller has gone home now, back to a church where they still believe the Bible, while it’s clear that Princeton Seminary does not and will not believe the Bible.

    Notice that gay writer Jeff Chu and his evangelical friend Cameron Brooks NEVER talk to each other about the specific issues of gay marriage and openly gay clergy, and of course they never talk about the Bible’s position on these two important topics.

    That’s the real and unspoken price tag of their sourdough-bread dinners.
    Radio silence.
    So it’s very safe to say that for PTS, the conversation is over.

  • And Luther, should he still be alive, would give your church a good thrashing too.
    And do I detect professional jealousy? Kind of sounds like it to me.

  • Eh, it’s not right to characterize another’s capacity to love as being of a “lower” nature. Prejudice and avarice, sure, but the right wing obsession with sexuality has me baffled. As Rev. William Barber II says, “Why do they care so much about what the Bible says so little, and so little about what the Bible says so much [poverty, justice, etc.]?”

  • Sure, one’s a semi-modernist California right-wing setup and the other’s a racist, stuck in the pre-Civil War era Southern getup. But both qualify as right-wing institutions.

  • While a thoughtful and well written piece, I have a couple of quibbles with it, which I will not detail here. As usual for me, one specific comment stands out. Mr. Chu declared that the gift establishing the Kuyper prize, “was the consequence of a large, unfortunate, poorly structured donation years ago.” I would have liked to have greater illumination on this point, and would have appreciated any suggestions from Mr. Chu as to how he would have structured the process, though I think I would not have found it any more efficacious than the present model.

  • I think your response is merely the reverse image of what you declare about evangelicals.

  • That same comment stood out for me, too, Edward. I’m not a fan of innuendo, so I wish Mr. Chu had explained what ended up looking to me like a juicy little tidbit of incidentally dropped gossip.

  • Perhaps inconsequential to your point, but most of what Luther deconstructed were theological and traditional constructs dating largely to the 9th-10th century forward.

  • Why would you worry about what God says about poverty and justice when you reject what He says about sexuality?

  • What would Jesus say about all this pseudo-academic-theological ultra-smart self-oriented elitist discourse? It’s not me or us, it’s what Jesus commands in his Word. Righteousness and not caving in to the world’s changing moral values seems to be forgotten. Willfully sinning and denying Christ’s rules for holy living is a dead end, literally. His commands and truth transcend our puny self-generated moral authority. His truth is not relative. He died for our sins. His precious blood cleanses us. That is real hope, love and good news. And His Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome. Please PTS students don’t trash his passion this week.

  • “This enormous challenge of having students from diverse backgrounds has increased,” said associate professor of theology Nancy Duff. “It’s much easier to teach a group of students who come from the same denomination and all think the same way.”

    It’s amazing to me that ANYONE teaching at a seminary, could expect anything other than students from diverse backgrounds coming to study there! In what universe would someone expect to find such “a group of students who come from the same denomination, (who) all think the same way!”? We assume seminary students from small and large, rural and urban churches in the same denomination, would apply their at-least average intelligence to processing the large volume of material presented to them by their professors, using very different lenses!

    Of course political correctness has made a big effort to play thought police everywhere in higher education! Institutions are staffed by PC apostles who condemn and chase away everyone with the audacity to deviate from the orthodoxy of the PC religion! Even the prevalence and power of this influence on most all campuses, haven’t been able to stamp out diversity of thought, even among seminary students from the same denomination!

    Princeton, along with most of the mainline Christian seminaries, have become more about politics than about knowing, experiencing, and preaching the transforming power of Jesus Christ! If they deployed some integrity and ethics in this matter, they would stop taking money from their denomination, buy the buildings and land, and change the name of their institution to something more in line with their true philosophy and the content of their academic offerings. Programs of study should offer courses that lead to a Masters or Ph.D degrees in Political Science, instead of the usual M.Div., MRE, Th.D. and DMin degrees they currently offer! Then sincere seekers after the spiritual transformation available through Jesus Christ, wouldn’t be fooled by new pastors, fresh out of seminary, who neither know–or care to know–about the power of Christ to change the world!

    The graduates from these new institutions would have lots of employment options: they could seek employment in government; they could teach in universities, or they could work in non-profit organizations with a mission and philophy that’s centered on government-sponsored social justice! They would be spared the cumbersome business of talking about “that sin thing,” to instead instead practice their religion of political correctness all week long and not just on Sunday!

  • Edward, we could argue that the conversation is over at any and every place where people have firm convictions. But it turns on what we mean by, “the conversation is over.” Modern conservatives and liberals, be they religious or not, have diametrically opposite worldviews. Thomas Sowell wrote a great book about it back in the 80s called, “A Conflict of Visions.” I went to Westminster Seminary a long time ago, the seminary that broke off from Princeton in 1929. Machen and the other founders of Westminster did everything they could to hang on at Princeton, but liberalism won the day. Liberalism and conservatism have nothing in common, as he argued in “Christianity and Liberalism.” So the conversation has been over a for a long time, which is fine. We live in a fallen world, which is and will be messy always. Just read the Bible. It’s all there. One day the conversation will most definitely be over, but until then all we can do is our best to obey the greatest commandments.

  • Never said the Bible was the fourth member of the trinity ; it is God’s word: And you are commanded to obey it.

    Here’s your Bible Study homework for tonight: Look up the following verses and write a paraphrase of each one (warning – better get hopping, Psalm 119 might take you a little time):
    Joshua 1:8; Psalm 19; Psalm 119; Jeremiah 23:29; II Tim. 3:16;
    II Pet. 1:16ff

  • I don’t quite understand why people attend schools for theological training who disagree with the theology of the school or denomination.
    Probably it would have been better if Keller had turned down the award as he re represents a different theological point of view than Princeton..

  • The questions I raised were definitely not my quibbles. My quibbles expressed would have been taken much more provocatively.

  • I don’t accept assignments like that. The Bible is valuable but not to be taken literally.

  • Having once had a preacher from there and lived in SoCal and there had close connections with Methodist and Episcopal clergy I will have to disagree. Of course you probably do not consider Sarer Paylin right wing either.

  • Have it your way – but just remember this: semester grades are coming due probably sooner than you know.

  • Fuller gave up their doctrinal commitment to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible back in the ’60’s and they did it very duplicitously. Once a seminary gives up their commitment to the authority of God’s word they slide right down the theological toilet into liberal heresy – Princeton for example. Maybe not right now or in 10 years or 20, but they eventually will. Already, they have a gay student group approved, so I understand, by the seminary’s administration. That would never fly at a seminary committed to the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s word. So probably in your world, k52, there is hope yet for Fuller.

  • Oh, certainly. But they still turn out fundie preachers, albeit of the type exposed to dissent, unlike the politically correct learning factories like the one where Al Moehler presides.

    “Heresy” has no meaningful definition other than “not politically correct” to the timorous.

  • Says the poster child for PC. Actually, entry into heaven is determined by your trust and obedience in Jesus Christ. For a summary of what that means see the Nicene Creed.

  • Then by your definition PTS is a conservative seminary – just because some conservative students go there and graduate from there. (And your hackneyed slogan dropped like a big turd an a flat rock. How original.)

  • Biologically based sexuality is not an ambiguous social construct, but rather a function biological science.

  • There are biological aspects of gender but the individual determines their own gender or manifestations of it. Sometimes they don’t match and corrective procedures occur. Gender itself however is entirely a social construct.

  • I am simply glad to hear the Rev Keller was allowed to deliver the entirety of his speech, and not (apparently) shouted down, as is increasingly the experience of conservative speakers at liberal universities these days.

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