Summer Seminars on Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology
Why Do We Need the Seminars?
The Theological Education Steering Committee (TESC) of the American Academy of Religion will hold Faculty Summer Seminars for Theological Educators on Theologies of Religious Pluralism (TRP) and Comparative Theology. These Summer Seminars aim to meet a critical need in the ongoing scholarly and curricular development of theological educators. While robust religious diversity has been a fact of life in America in the wake of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, more than four decades later, few scholars in theological education are trained in TRP and comparative theology. Although a steady trickle of scholars trained in these areas is now beginning to enter theological education, their numbers are small and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future when compared to the overall staffing needs of institutions in theological education. Moreover, few institutions can afford to reserve dedicated faculty lines for experts in TRP and comparative theology. It is also becoming apparent that the reality of religious diversity bears on every area of the theological curriculum including pastoral care and religious education, not just theology.
Those training to be future religious leaders from across denominations and traditions are acutely aware of their need for scholarly resources to meet the pressing needs of learned ministry in a pluralistic nation. These leaders and leaders-to-be have to deal routinely with a whole host of questions about whether and how to officiate at interreligious weddings, how to support the educational needs of children of religiously mixed households, or fulfill chaplaincy obligations that require engagement with and care for persons across traditions. Such concrete issues generate in turn theological questions of deep complexity: How are we to think about the nature and meaning of religious diversity? What is the significance of my neighbor’s faith for mine? What does a commitment to my home tradition mean for how my community should relate to other religious communities that are now part of the fabric of life in our cities and neighborhoods?
While some institutions of theological education, church bodies, and independent agencies have attempted to provide continuing education for religious leaders and future religious leaders, few initiatives have sought to address the scholarly and curricular needs of those entrusted with training future religious leaders, theological educators themselves. The overall goal of the Summer Seminars is to meet these needs.
The AAR’s Theological Education Steering Committee will address the scholarly and curricular needs of theological educators by bringing together leading scholars with expertise in TRP and comparative theology to offer Summer Seminars for theological educators.