Article ‘Princeton Seminary Reforms Its Views on Honoring Tim Keller’

‘The most popular Reformed preacher and author in America today is not eligible to receive Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual award in Reformed theology and public witness.

The mainline seminary reversed its decision to honor Tim Keller with a prize named for neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper following outcry over the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) pastor’s conservative positions.

Princeton president Craig Barnes announced the news in a letter released Wednesday morning.’

Read the whole article in Christianity Today here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/march/princeton-rescinds-tim-keller-kuyper-prize-women-ordination.html.

In my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human, I write that there is an increasing academic fascination with cities, both in theology and law and political science, and rightly so. The reason for this lies without doubt in part in the prognosis that during the 21st century globally ever more people will be living in cities. As a result, the urge is felt to develop a theology for the city, with the help of which urban populations can be reached.

An example is provided by the ministry of Tim Keller in New York City. His Redeemer Presbyterian Church, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014 and can already in many ways be regarded as a success story, recently adopted an even more ambitious plan to reach a still larger part of the population of Manhattan. Also more in general, New York City can, contrary to what many people would expect, best be characterised as a religiously vibrant place.

This is the eleventh post in a new series introducing my new book.

For the first ten posts, please see:

Yale Law Professor: ‘American courts are tackling Islamophobia – why won’t Europeans?’

Waarom de PVV niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017)

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order.

Paper presentation during conference on ‘Christianity and the Future of our Societies’, 15-19 August 2016, Leuven, Belgium

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The conference was organized by the Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) in cooperation with the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit of Leuven (ETF): ‘ARP and ETF welcome contributions from philosophers and theologians as well as from scholars in other disciplines who are seriously engaged in dialogue between Christianity and key figures (or central insights or paradigms) within their own discipline and context, wherever in the world this may be.

The Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) has its roots in the 16th century Reformation and its direct origin in the 19th neo-Calvinist revival (in which Abraham Kuyper was a pivotal figure). One of the goals of the ARP is ‘to contribute to the deepening of philosophical insight in created reality, and to make these insights fruitful for academic studies and for society’. Key founding fathers of the movement were the Dutch philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Vollenhoven. The movement has grown, and is today globally engaged in academic dialogue between Christianity and the contemporary world, and its animating intellectual, political and economic ideas and leaders. It does so in the expectation that Christianity has important and timely insights to offer.

The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (ETF) in Leuven, Belgium, has developed into an important European education and research center for Christian theology that seeks relevance to the contemporary world and its concerns. In ETF’s international master’s and doctoral program, students and professors from a wide variety of cultural and denominational backgrounds come from all over the world to engage in stimulating dialogue.

This conference is co-organized with the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES); the political foundation and official think tank of the European People’s Party. And the Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE); the political foundation for the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).’

For information on the program, see: http://www.cfs2016.org/program/.

My own contribution was entitled: ‘Christianity and the Future of Religious Freedom’. The abstract reads as follows:

The central point a forthcoming dissertation on the legal conception of ‘religion’ aims to make, is that the concept of religion employed by courts in the West is not as ‘transhistorical and transcultural’ as is sometimes tacitly assumed but instead is heavily influenced by Christianity in general and Protestantism in particular. As a result, the protection the right to freedom of religion or belief currently provides to, for example, Islam and Judaism is too limited.

I do not consider the thesis that the right to freedom of religion or belief may have a strong relationship to in particular the Christian heritage in itself to be very surprising. It would, to the contrary, be quite a sensation to somehow discover that the legal conception of religion in the West had not been influenced by Christianity.Whether the arguably more particularly Protestant influence is as strong as the author assumes, is a different matter. It could well be argued that definitions employed in this manuscript and other recent literature on the topic, such as ‘the view that religion denotes a sphere of life separate and distinct from all others, and that this sphere is largely private and not public, voluntary and not compulsory’, represent the very opposite of what Protestantism has historically stood for.

The proposed paper will argue that, to the contrary, Christianity in general, and Protestantism in particular, have eventually given rise to a generous interpretation of the right to freedom of religion or belief. Such a generous interpretation suggests first of all that, because spirituality is the keystone of human identity, this right occupies a special place in the universe of rights. Secondly, it implies that religious belief cannot be separated from religious practice. Thirdly, the right to freedom of religion or belief applies to all religions and also to people who do not adhere to a particular religion. Fourthly, the associational and institutional dimensions of the right are important, not just with respect to religious organizations, but also with respect to civil society organizations more generally. A fifth element of a generous religious freedom conception holds that, although not sacred or inviolable, the bar to interference regarding the family as the fundamental social unit is relatively high. The sixth element is that human dignity can well serve as the underlying foundation of the right, as it can be subscribed to by different religious and other traditions. A seventh and final element is that equality does not necessarily imply identical treatment.

A generous approach to the right to freedom of religion or belief does not so much imply maximal but rather optimal religious freedom. Although the limits to the right can to a certain extent differ from place to place, and from time to time, they have historically by and large been determined by the same universal, transcendent truths which also sustain constitutional democracy more generally. This can be regarded as a major – though not exclusive – potential contribution of Christianity also to the future of Western and indeed world civilization.

Key bibliographical sources:
Cohen, Jean L. & Cécile Laborde (eds.) (2015) Religion, Secularism, and Constitutional Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press).

DeGirolami, Marc O. (2013), The Tragedy of Religious Freedom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Petty, Aaron R. (forthcoming, 2016), The Legal Conception of ‘Religion’.

Spencer, Nick (2014), How to Think about Religious Freedom (London: Theos).

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, Peter G. Danchin (eds.) (2015), Politics of Religious Freedom (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).

Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Conference ‘Christianity and the Future of our Societies’, Leuven, Belgium, 15-19 August 2016

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‘The event is jointly organized by the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven and the Association for Reformational Philosophy and tackles issues facing the future of our societies. The focus of the conference is to analyze philosophically and theologically what Christianity can contribute to the well-being and flourishing of societies, and people within societies, in the 21st century, in very diverse contexts around the world. The aim of the conference is to discuss with scholars from all over the world not only the significance of religion and Christianity in general, but also the contribution of Christian theology and Christian philosophical thinking in particular for contemporary societies in very different contexts around the globe.’

The paper I will be presenting during the conference is provisionally entitled: ‘Christianity and the Future of Religious Freedom’.

On the Association of Reformational Philosophy:

‘The Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) has its roots in the 16th century Reformation and its direct origin in the 19th neo-Calvinist revival (in which Abraham Kuyper was a pivotal figure). One of the goals of the ARP is “to contribute to the deepening of philosophical insight in created reality, and to make these insights fruitful for academic studies and for society”. Key founding fathers of the movement were the Dutch philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Vollenhoven. The movement has grown, and is today globally engaged in academic dialogue between Christianity and the contemporary world, and its animating intellectual, political and economic ideas and leaders. It does so in the expectation that Christianity has important and timely insights to offer.’

On the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit:

‘The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (ETF) in Leuven, Belgium, has developed into an important European education and research center for Christian theology that seeks relevance to the contemporary world and its concerns. In ETF’s international master’s and doctoral program, students and professors from a wide variety of cultural and denominational backgrounds come from all over the world to engage in stimulating dialogue.’

For more information, and registration, see http://www.cfs2016.org/.

Participant, Kuyper Center Annual Conference 2015 Pre-conference symposium ‘Faith in the Work Place’

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‘Does Christian faith have any impact in the workplace? Does it show in the way that people do their jobs? Should it be given more emphasis, or less? These are some of the questions to be addressed in the third Abraham Kuyper pre-conference symposium on April 15th and 16th 2015. This year, the Abraham Kuyper Center for Theology and Public Life is collaborating with two other organizations whose expertise in this area brings theory and practice into fruitful conversation. The ‘Faith and Work Initiative’ at Princeton University, led by Princeton Seminary graduate David Miller, investigates the ways in which the resources of various religious traditions and spiritual identities shape and inform engagement with diverse workplace issues. The Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church New York, headed by David Kim (also a Princeton Seminary graduate, who worked on Abraham Kuyper) seeks to equip individuals of all backgrounds to develop and apply a worldview for work that better serves their profession and industry. Staff from both organizations will make presentations aimed at opening up a wide-ranging discussion of an increasingly important theme for both church and industry.
The ‘Faith in the Workplace’ symposium is open, free of charge, both to participants in the annual Kuyper Conference that follows, and to all interested clergy and laity in the wider Princeton area, as well as students and faculty at Princeton Seminary. (…)
Wednesday 15th April
2pm Welcome and introduction
Dr Gordon Graham, Kuyper Center, PTS

2.15 – 4.45pm

Kuyper returns to NYC: Appropriating Kuyperian Theology to Empower the Scattered Church

Rev. David H. Kim and Bethany Jenkins
Center for Faith & Work
Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York

Thursday 16th April
9.30am – 12noon

Faith & Work: Augustine, Maslow, Nixon, King, and Beyond

Dr David Miller, with Michael Thate and Dennis LoRusso
Faith and Work Initiative,
Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University’

Source: http://www.ptsem.edu/library/kuyper/default.aspx?id=25769808845.

Lemma on the Kuyper cabinet (1901-1905)

Here you can read this lemma, which I wrote for the Canon of Dutch Christian Democracy (see previous blogpost):

‘The case is clear to us: shut out the Roman Catholics from present-day Christianity, then Protestant Christianity will be bound hand and foot, and forever at the mercy of the unbelieving majority, and all resistance to the revolutionary principle will be purposeless’, Kuyper said in his address to delegates on 17 April 1901.

After the fall of the Mackay cabinet in 1891, it would be another ten years before a new coalition cabinet, the Kuyper cabinet, was formed. The reason was partly the divisions in anti-revolutionary and Catholic circles. The cabinet was formed after the election in which the confessional parties (right wing) had won no less than 58 of the total of 100 seats. Kuyper, who had gradually cast aside his initial reservations with regard to working with the Catholics, defended the new coalition by referring to the notion ‘Antithesis’. He believed that when entering into a political union, the leading question ought to be whether a certain group wished to acknowledge the sovereignty of God as the leading principle in the constitution. Considered in this light, Protestants and Catholics, though acting as separate organisations, were politically more dependent on each other than one might initially expect on the grounds of their religious beliefs and history.

The Kuyper cabinet, that took office on 1 August 1901, developed important legislation in the field of education. Its Higher Education Act, giving graduates from the VU University Amsterdam, founded by Kuyper in 1880, the same rights as students who graduated from a state university, was initially rejected as a bill by the Upper House of the Dutch parliament. But when the Upper House was dissolved by Kuyper, the Liberals lost their majority. However when the cabinet submitted the rejected bill once more, it was adopted by both Houses.

In contrast, there was significantly less progress in the field of social legislation, possibly because during the cabinet formation the Department of Employment was placed under Kuyper`s Ministry of Home Affairs which also included Education. It is also likely that the tension between Kuyper`s vision of an organic society on the one hand, and the social reality on the other, was an aggravating factor. The vision of an organic society required a restrained approach by government. Civil society had also not fully matured and was to some extent even intractable.

The manner in which the cabinet reacted to the rail strikes in 1903 also did little to contribute to its social standing. The cabinet did not submit bills to the Lower House to forbid civil servants and rail workers from striking in writing, as was customary, but in person on behalf of the Queen. After a failed new rail strike these ‘coercive acts’ were adopted in quick succession.

As a result the disparity between the confessionals and the socialists grew. In more general terms too, the cabinet went on to become one of the most controversial cabinets in the political history of the Netherlands. The election contest in 1905 was completely dominated by support for Kuyper or not. When the left wing joined forces during the re-count, the right wing came no further than 48 seats. On 3 July 1905 the Kuyper cabinet handed in its resignation.

Following a short intermezzo, the Heemskerk cabinet (1908-1913) became the third and last coalition cabinet before World War One broke out. As with the previous Kuyper cabinet, in addition to support from the anti-revolutionaries and Catholics, this cabinet enjoyed the loyal support of the Christian Historical members of parliament.