Space Wanted Where Culture War and Theological Enemies Can Meet as Friends

Daniel Kirk Moves On From Fuller

I’ve never met Daniel personally but I’ve been reading his blogging for years. He’s been a full time associate tenure track Fuller prof in the SF Bay Area. He posted today why he’s leaving Fuller and it saddens me.

The True I Understand

  • Communities have the right and responsibility to develop, maintain and publish standards. Religious communities must do this with respect to their beliefs and behavioral expectations. Our pluralistic system of religious freedom demands that we give space for this. (There is now concern by many about the future of the government respecting this space but it remains for today on this subject.) Fuller Seminary has the right to select and de-select its staff on this and a range of other issues. Beliefs in this area are theological and Fuller is within its calling to make these decisions.
  • Religious communities have confessional and behavioral standards (as I just said) and if you don’t fit and you don’t want to stay to change them from within facing the possibility of being forced out, it is legitimate to leave. If you are asked to leave you obviously don’t have a choice.

We Need to Find Spaces to Have Good Conversations and to Process

Schools have traditionally been spaces where disputed issues can be processed for the benefit of their students and the broader community. That space is always held in tension with the confessional and behavioral standards of the institutions. Those standards themselves often give helpful context and structure to the debates. A conversation at Harvard or a conversation at Fuller or a conversation at Calvin Theological Seminary would all be different because of where these institutions lie on our communal landscape. On this subject I suspect the better conversations can be found in places where there are factions on both sides of the debates meaning the conversation at Fuller or Calvin might be more helpful than that at Harvard. Communities in conversation work this way.

I’m saddened because the Fuller conversation won’t have Daniel’s voice in the same way again. These exits define the institutions and the communities. While I might not agree with where Daniel is going with this I’ve appreciated his voice and felt that he was someone who was worth listening too.

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