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OpEd: Tim Keller hired women in leadership

Katherine Leary Alsdorf responds to the Princeton Kuyper Prize controversy

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I am one of those women who have worked under Tim Keller’s leadership at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Thanks to Tim’s understanding of Kuyper’s “Every Square Inch,” he hired me to envision and develop an entire ministry to equip and mobilize men and women in Redeemer’s congregation to work with gospel-centered vision and integrity out in the world.

We partnered in the establishment of the Center for Faith & Work, which may have done as much as any church in decades to honor Abraham Kuyper’s vision of humble, respectful engagement in a world of many faith perspectives. His teaching combines a deep confidence that the gospel can change everything from our hearts, making us more humble and generous, to the institutions and society around us. While he would never have sought a “Kuyper award,” I can’t imagine anyone more worthy of it.

Like some of the women who have objected and instigated the withdrawal of this award by Princeton Theological Seminary, I do not share Tim’s complementarian views. However, I am deeply saddened by the tone of these objections, more so by the final effect.

Tim and many others have come to their position about the roles of women in the church (and marriage) based on Biblical study and deep reflection. I chose to submit to that view during my many years at Redeemer because of the way God was at work in the lives and work of the congregation. I use the term “submit” intentionally. There are many things I have and will “submit” to in order to live out the life to which God has called me.

I have worked at a PCUSA church in which women, even when ordained, were marginalized more than those at Redeemer. I have worked in aerospace and tech (notoriously challenging environments for women), because the work I was called to do was worth it. We ask our fellow Christ-followers to go out into every sphere of this world, regardless of how hard it might be, to do the work that Christ has equipped us to do so that He may be glorified. Tim has lived out for me, and many others, how to live with Biblical integrity, humility, and generosity, even on—especially on—issues where we disagree.

Oh, and that generosity should be one of the gifts that we, as Christ-followers, offer the world today.


Katherine Leary Alsdorf is founder and director emeritus, Redeemer's Center for Faith & Work.




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  • Here is an excerpt from a new post by one of the of the bloggers from the magazine Christian Century who is upset that Princeton Theological Seminary awarded the Kuyper Prize to Tim Keller:

    I feel like I’ve been talking about Tim Keller nonstop since I wrote my first post. Many people were angered by it, because Keller is, by all accounts, a really nice man. Some people were upset that I would compare male headship and abuse. ... In my own experience, the theology was used to perpetuate abuse.

  • What I love about this OpEd is the admission that even with sometimes differing views, we are still able to strive together towards the same goal -- the furtherance of God's Kingdom in the city (and world).

  • For those following the Tim Keller / Princeton Theological Seminary / Abraham Kuyper Award kerfuffle...this will be of interest. I applaud Katherine Leary Alsdorf (who is a dear, long-time friend) for being willing to speak out with such humility given her own views...

  • For the first time in Flushing’s history, there is an estimate of the value of the contributions by faith-based organizations to social welfare in Flushing.

  • Bill, thank-you for explaining the rationale behind your support of the decision to withdraw the Kuyper Prize from Tim Keller.

  • This piece is well-articulated and helpful in understanding a woman's very positive experience of Tim Keller and his ministry, as one serving on the inside. I happened to be on the inside of the Seminary situation when the decision was made to withdraw the award, a decision that I supported. Let me be quick to say that I find Tim Keller to be a warm, gracious and generous person whose ministry is one that I and many others have admired. Currently, he and the PTS president are in warm conversation about their desire to honor Christ and his Church when Tim speaks at Princeton next week.

    My principal reason for supporting the withdrawal of the award is because it is an award for excellence in theology. So, PTS through the Kuyper Center would be making an award for excellence in theology, when that theology denied the validity of God's call on the lives many PTS students, faculty and alumni - our own daughter being one of them. For these folks, the ordination issue is not simply an exegetical point (although it is the product of their exegesis); it is existential to the core of their identity. So, in my thinking, a significant part of the decision got down to the lesser of two hurts - hurting our reputation (particularly in the evangelical world where I have spent most of my life) or hurting members of our Seminary community that were expressing a deep sense of abandonment. I know it isn't that simple, but I'm simply saying how the whole deal struck me. I support fully President Barnes, and I admire him for saying we were wrong in approving the Kuyper Center's choice. Ironically, he approved this award initially to affirm the importance of academic freedom and gracious civility among Christians who differ. Hopefully, Rev. Keller's time on campus will still achieve those initial intentions.

  • ditto

  • I like this OpEd!

  • Thank you Katherine Leary Alsdorf for lending your perspective to this matter PUBLICLY. You've certainly earned a platform from which to speak - in fact, you are probably the most qualified woman to speak to this issue because of your tenor in working with Timothy Keller, and as an Executive Team member at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, through which you brought Center for Faith & Work into being! I am heartened by your graciousness - yet again you give me more to strive towards in your willingness to exercise both wisdom and humility in this broken and many times unfair world. Well said, and well done. P.S. FABULOUS picture of you!

  • Tim even let women teach Sunday school to adults!

  • Great, appreciate it!

  • Helpful

  • I guess you mean that he put women in leadership positions, but he follows his denomination's rules. Leary's OpEd says that.

  • Yeah, so for those of you who worry about Tim Keller belonging to a church with rules that you oppose, don't worry! According to all publicly available indication, he doesn't actually keep them!

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