By Robert A. J. Gagnon, First Things.
Fuller Seminary decided not to offer tenure to a New Testament professor, J. R. Daniel Kirk, whose view of marriage does not comport with Jesus’s view.
Although a decision such as this is never made happily or easily, I am grateful for the courage of senior faculty at Fuller Seminary in asserting the importance of a stance on sexual ethics that Jesus clearly regarded as foundational: a male-female requirement for sexual relations (Mark 10:2-12; Matt 19:3-9). Had Fuller set a precedent of embracing faculty whose position toward sexual ethics was so at odds with Jesus’s own, it would soon have ceased to be an evangelical institution.
For an account of what happened, we have to rely on Kirk’s June 29 blogpost, “Fuller and Me.” Fuller Seminary issued a statement saying, “Fuller is not legally permitted to participate in public conversation regarding any individual’s employment by the Seminary.” According to Kirk:
[For] a couple of my senior Bible colleagues . . . one had to like the idea that we define Christianity by what we believe. . . . So when I say, “The Synoptic Gospels show Jesus as an idealized human figure,” I have not said enough. If I cannot say, ‘And it also shows the divine Jesus, as we learn in the creeds,’ I have articulated a theology that ‘is on a trajectory’ away from our shared statement of faith. . . .
You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I left that panel on how to respond to SCOTUS and walked across campus to a meeting with a couple of senior colleagues who indicated that my writing on homosexuality was going to be a profound hindrance to their ability to support me should I apply for tenure. . . .
Fuller has this phrase, ‘Fuller fit,’ that we use to evaluate potential colleagues. It’s an amorphous way of saying that we know ‘us’ when we see it. My senior colleagues have decided that I do not qualify under this rubric. I will therefore be leaving at the end of the 2015-16 academic year.
Apparently, then, in a meeting with two senior faculty, Kirk was informed that they (and perhaps other senior colleagues) would not be able to support him for tenure should he so apply, given his stance on homosexual practice and, perhaps secondarily, on low Christology in the Synoptic Gospels.