—Botman to lecture April 18 on “Dread, Hope and the African Dream: An Ecumenical Collage”—

Princeton, NJ, April 10, 2013–Dr. H. Russel Botman, rector and vice chancellor of Stellenbosch University in South Africa, will receive Princeton Theological Seminary’s 2013 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, when he delivers the Seminary’s Kuyper Lecture on Thursday, April 18, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in Miller Chapel. His lecture is titled “Dread, Hope and the African Dream: An Ecumenical Collage.”

russel botmanBotman was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in 1953, and received his secondary education in Kliptown, Soweto. He honed his leadership skills at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town, where he served as a member of the Students’ Representatives Council in 1976. He became dean of the faculty of religion and theology at UWC in 1999, and was appointed professor in missiology, ecumenism and public theology at Stellenbosch University in 2000. He holds a Ph.D. in theology from UWC, and was installed as rector and vice chancellor of Stellenbosch University in 2007, and was reappointed for a second term in 2012.  

An ordained minister of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, he was president of the South African Council of Churches from 2003 to 2007. He served as research consultant to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches from 2001 to 2004, and participated in its Project on Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth. He is a former executive chairperson of the Ecumenical Foundation of Southern Africa, and was the founding director of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology.

As a theologian, Botman has published widely on topics addressing human rights, reconciliation, human dignity, the Belhar Confession and social justice. He serves on the editorial board of Theology Today, and was a research fellow with the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, and a Campbell Scholar at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.

He currently serves as a director of Higher Education South Africa, as a vice president of the Association for African Universities, and as a trustee of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. He believes that science should drive Africa’s development, and has been the prime mover behind the HOPE Project as a vehicle for Stellenbosch University’s transformation and positioning in the twenty-first century.

Botman’s many accolades include a special award for standing for justice and humanity from the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an honorary membership of Golden Key International, a global community of academic achievers, and the Turquoise Harmony Institute’s Award for Academic Leadership. He has received honorary membership of the United Nations Association of South Africa in recognition of contributions to South African society and the advancement of the Millennium Development Goals.     

Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), for whom the award is named, was probably the greatest and most controversial figure in the Calvinist renaissance that took place at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century in the Netherlands. Trained as a theologian at the modernist University of Leiden, Kuyper converted to orthodox Calvinism during his first pastorate. In 1872 he founded a Christian newspaper, De Standard, and was elected a member of parliament in 1874. He was instrumental in the organization of the Anti-Revolutionary Party, a Christian political party, and helped in 1880 to found the Vrije Universiteit (the Free University of Amsterdam), where he regularly served as a professor of theology. In 1901, Kuyper became minister-president of the Netherlands. His worldview, as presented in his hundreds of articles, pamphlets, and books, profoundly affected the development of Reformed theology in the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and Korea.

The Abraham Kuyper Prize is awarded each year through the generous gift of Dr. Rimmer and Mrs. Ruth de Vries to a scholar or community leader who has contributed to the further development of Reformed theology, particularly as it bears on matters of public life, historical or contemporary, in one or several of the spheres of society. The de Vries’s gift also established an endowed faculty chair and a grant fund for graduate students at Princeton Seminary.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Office of Communications/Publications at 609.497.7760.  

Princeton Theological Seminary was founded in 1812, the first seminary established by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. It is the largest Presbyterian Seminary in the country, with more than 500 students in six graduate degree programs.