The King's College surprised many higher education observers by choosing Dinesh D'Souza, widely identified as a Roman Catholic, as president of the New York City school. As a best-selling author and Christian apologist, D'Souza brings prominence and a network of influential leaders to the position. But King's decision to put a Catholic at the helm could create tension within a historically evangelical institution.
"I'm quite happy to acknowledge my Catholic background; at the same time, I'm very comfortable with Reformation theology," D'Souza told Christianity Today. "I'm comfortable with the evangelical world. In a sense, I'm part of it."
D'Souza's wife, Dixie, is an evangelical, and the family has attended Calvary Chapel, a nondenominational evangelical church in San Diego, for the past 10 years. He has been invited to speak in several churches and colleges, including Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.
"I do not describe myself as Catholic today. But I don't want to renounce it either because it's an important part of my background. I'm an American citizen, but I wouldn't reject the Indian label because it's part of my heritage," D'Souza said. "I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I'm a nondenominational Christian, and I'm comfortable with born-again."
He said that his views align with the Apostle's Creed and C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.
"A lot of times, Christians spend a lot of time in intramural type debates and squabbles: Are you a Catholic or Protestant; if you are Protestant, what type are you; are you pre-millennial or post-millennial; what position do you take on Genesis 1?" D'Souza said. "I would comfortably describe myself as a born-again Christian, but I don't feel it is necessary to renounce anything. I am not doing Catholic apologetics, that's for sure."
For some, the Catholic and evangelical distinctions are important to maintain in higher education leadership. Carl Trueman, a professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, called the D'Souza appointment "perplexing."
"[W]hen a college which plays on its Protestant, evangelical identity appoints a Roman Catholic as president, the theologically vague coalition that is evangelicalism is once again exposed in all of its basic theological incoherence and indifference," Trueman wrote in a post at Reformation21.org.
Read the entire article, "Dinesh D'Souza to Lead NYC's King's College". Personally, I'm open to the possibility of a Catholic being the president of a Reformed Protestant college, if only because it emits a certain sense of historical irony. But the statement, "I do not describe myself as Catholic today", is very troublesome considering D'Souza's reputation as a well-known Catholic author and thinker. More to come, I'm sure.
UPDATE: Dr. Francis Beckwith, who is quoted in the Christianity Today piece, has posted about the article and D'Souza's remarks:
I was interviewed for that story, and was quoted in it. I had not read the D'Souza quotes found in the article until the story was published online. Prior to the story's release, I was under the impression that D'Souza was a practicing Catholic who also attends church with his wife, Dixie, at Calvary Chapel. Apparently, I was mistaken. D'Souza, it seems, does not want to commit himself to any one Christian tradition.
There is a sense in which D'Souza is right. Yes, Christians from a variety of traditions can agree on much, and often work together in advancing the common good in a variety of causes both inside and outside their respective communities. And he is indeed correct that Christians, as well as other theists, should make a winsome and intelligent case against the philosophical materialism on which the most pernicious affects of secularism rely. D'Souza has made important contributions to advancing such a case, and even has been wisely circumspect in distancing himself, though respectfully, from those Christians who believe that intelligent design should play an integral role in the project of the Christian philosophy of nature. (My own pilgrimage on this matter may be found on the BioLogos website).
But there is a sense in which D'Souza is wrong. Although it is certainly true that the Apostle's Creed and Lewis' Mere Christianity reflect the barest one may believe in order to count as a "Christian," it does not follow that they are the basis by which one may define what counts as a "mere squabble." After all, if, let's say, a Unitarian were to tell D'Souza that he considers himself a Christian but cannot accept either the Creed or Lewis's "mere Christianity," D'Souza would say that the Unitarian is not a Christian based on the Creed/Lewis standard D'Souza embraces. But what if the Unitarian were to respond, "A lot of times, Christians spend a lot of time in intramural type debates and squabbles. Are you a Trinitarian or Unitarian; if you are a Unitarian, what type are: are you a humanist or theist; what position do you take on the resurrection of Christ?" Why is D'Souza's "mere Christianity" not just another position in a different squabble, at least according to the Unitarian?
Read the entire post at Beckwith's "Return to Rome" blog.