Published : Thursday, January 11, 2018 | 7:11 PM
Pasadena’s Fuller Theological Seminary has received a $250,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for a three-year research-to-resources project that aims to shape public discourse about people of other faiths and witness, “so that such discourse is characterized by convicted civility, not fear and rancor.”
With special focus on Islamophobia and migration in a global society, this will be joint project between Fuller’s Schools of Theology and Intercultural Studies, according to a Fuller Seminary news release. The project will explore how the relationship between American evangelicals and those of other faiths has long been a tenuous and delicate one.
“We live in a divisive era, increasingly so since last year’s presidential election, with heightened displays of xenophobia, especially among evangelical Christians,” says Dr. Yong, director of the Center for Missiological Research and professor of theology and mission at Fuller. “In the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century, evangelical churches across North America remain in need of developing theologies of other faiths and cultures, and practices for relating to and interacting with members of such groups, that are more welcoming than alienating.”
Principal investigators in the project include President Emeritus Richard Mouw, professors Amos Yong, William Dyrness, Roberta King, Ryan Bolger, and Kirsteen Kim, and PhD candidate Matthew Krabill.
Fuller Seminary said evangelicals have been frequently marked by a polemic and defensive posture, and have in numerous instances alienated communities of other faiths, often unintentionally.
“Following 9/11, many evangelicals have responded through expressions of fear and condemnation, even demonizing Islam as a religion and Muslims as people,” the news release said. “Since 2001, several polling projects identify American evangelicals—more than any other religious group—as holding the most negative views and attitudes toward adherents of other religions.”
The project also seeks to build relationships with Muslim and Buddhist scholars and clergy as well as adherents of other faiths. Through various symposia and lectures open to the public, Fuller hopes that sincere, honest, and civil dialogues can take place.
The research sponsored by the grant will be translated into print and digital materials and broadly shared through Fuller studio and various academic publications.
Fuller President Emeritus Mouw said the seminary is grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for enabling Fuller “to engage these pressing issues in a way that promotes human flourishing and therefore fulfills the good news of Jesus Christ.”