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Calvin University to Award Op-Ed Columnist David Brooks with 2020 Kuyper Prize

Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary are awarding longtime New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks with the 2020 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life. 

Brooks will receive the award, along with a $10,000 prize, at the live-stream virtual event Monday, Nov. 16. This year’s ceremony, originally scheduled for April, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and commemorates the 100th anniversary of Kuyper’s death. 

“While Abraham Kuyper was well known as a scholar, politician, and religious leader, one of the other hats he wore was that of a journalist. And we see in David Brooks’ work as a journalist and a political commentator that he has worked tirelessly to promote civil discourse in polarizing political landscapes, something that characterized Kuyper’s public life as well,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin University.

The Kuyper Prize was established in 1996 in honor of Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper. The prize is awarded each year to a scholar or community leader whose contribution to their chosen sphere reflects the ideas and values characteristic of the Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political, and cultural significance in one or more of the ‘spheres’ of society.

Brooks writes about politics, culture, and the social sciences for the New York Times, and is also a commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” And he more recently published “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.”

“The Second Mountain provides valuable guidance in challenging the way we view ourselves as image bearers and the development of our character within society,” said Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary. “In this book and in his broader work Brooks models a very Kuyperian way of thinking about humanity, culture, and civil institutions.”

John M. Perkins, best-selling Christian author, minister, and civil rights activist who has served on the boards of World Vision and Prison Fellowship, won the prize in 2019. Other past winners of the Kuyper Prize include a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, a Templeton Prize-winning philosopher, a prime minister, and a pair of U.S. ambassadors. 

The Kuyper Prize is funded by a grant from the late Rimmer and Ruth de Bries, whose recent $11 million estate gift established The de Vries Institute for Global Faculty Development.

Brooks was originally slated to receive the 2020 Kuyper Prize at the Kuyper Centennial Congress in New York City in April, but the conference—with the theme “Secularism and Spirituality”—was cancelled in the height of pandemic-related lockdowns. 

Christina Darnell

Christina Darnell is a freelance writer who has contributed to WORLD, The Charlotte Observer, and other publications.