I’ve blogged a couple of times about The King’s College (TKC), the conservative Christian school in Manhattan: in August 2011, contrasting the way that its then-president, Dinesh D’Souza, and long-time Bethel president Carl Lundquist talked about evangelical social and political engagement; and then in December 2012, asking if D’Souza’s resignation from TKC signaled evangelical depoliticization.
So I thought I’d pass along the news that TKC’s board announced this morning: the hiring of Gregory Alan Thornbury as the school’s new president. A philosophy professor, dean, and vice president at Union University in Jackson, TN, Thornbury is also the author of the recent Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry. Thornbury also directed the Carl F. H. Henry Center of Christian Leadership at Union. Earlier this year he talked about Henry and his legacy for evangelicalism in interviews with Ed Stetzer and John Wilson.
So it’s not surprising that he wasted no time establishing a link between TKC and Henry in a letter posted on the college’s website:
On January 22, 1913, further afield from our environs in the Financial District, a son was born to German immigrant parents at 92 East End Avenue. That boy, who attended P.S. 77, would grow up to be the greatest evangelical theologian of the twentieth century – Carl F. H. Henry. Although Henry, the founding editor of Christianity Today, would spend the majority of his career in the nation’s capital, throughout his life he was always in a New York state of mind. Along with Billy Graham, Henry dreamed of building an elite Christian college with the most brilliant faculty imaginable and the most prepared students in the classroom, ready to learn. The pair ultimately failed in their efforts, but their idea birthed a dream. Bill Bright and J. Stanley Oakes delivered on that promissory note when they brought the historic legacy of The King’s College into the heart of the city in the Empire State Building. The college was reborn.
I don’t know nearly enough about Thornbury to assess what his appointment means for the “depoliticization” thesis, past the paragraph in his introductory letter reiterating the goal that TKC students “sink their roots down deep into the texts and traditions that made the West great, lifted countless millions out of poverty through sound economic theory, and gave hope to the world through the witness of the great Christian Intellectual Tradition. We must get this right.”
One other trend worth noting. Just a couple years after sociologist D. Michael Lindsay was hired as president of Gordon College shy of his 40th birthday, Thornbury achieves the same position just twenty years after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Messiah College. (If I’m reading the bio correctly.) Is there a youth movement in Christian college presidential hiring? If so, interested boards of trustees are invited to contact my people (I’ll be 38 in the fall) to set up an interview.
Read Thornbury’s presidential bio here; there’s also an article about him and his wife (Union’s dean of students, who will serve as special assistant for strategic planning at King’s) in the Jackson Sun.