"The prospect of one’s imminent death, Samuel Johnson famously said, “wonderfully concentrates the mind.” The same might be said of observing major commemorative dates." Read more >>
Concerns about the rule of law, economics, and culture legitimately shape many people's views on immigration, but I think that part of the current struggle with immigration is related to the jobs immigrants often undertake. While not the only reason for such perspectives on immigration, a brief look at public opinion data and immigration policies lends credence to this assertion: Our view of immigrants is shaped by how we view the work of their hands. However, I would argue that Christians ought to see the new immigrants of today, not simply by the work of their hands, but first and foremost as God's created beings. Read more >>
In our continuing and in-depth analysis of public opinion data on religion and immigration attitudes we have found that white evangelicals have been, and continue to be, the most opposed to immigration reform among religious groups.This finding has been present consistently over the past twenty years in dozens of surveys from polling organizations including the Pew Research Center, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the General Social Surveys, and the American National Election Studies. Read more >>
Several years ago I was being interviewed by a journalist from Switzerland when the topic came to Islam in Europe. The interviewer identified herself as a fastidiously progressive and secular person, and insisted that she held nothing against Islam as a religion. Nonetheless, “when I see a mosque in Switzerland,” she confessed, “I have an overwhelming sense that something is not right about this." Read more >>
Professor Tal Howard delivered the paper "Ignaz von Döllinger Prior to the First Vatican Council" at the session "Catholicism, Knowledge, and Authority in Nineteenth-Century Germany" on Sunday, January 4, 2015 as part of the American Socity of Church History conference of the American Historical Association in New York City, January 2-5, 2015. Learn more...
"It might well be that Jesus is the only one who would place an order. American Evangelicalism has longed harbored a strain of teetotalism while the Qur’an strictly forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol. Jesus, of course, turned water into wine, according to the Gospel of John." Read more >>
"Pain is unavoidably part of the package of carbon-based life, explained Denis Alexander this week in his Herrmann Lectures at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. Alexander, biochemist and emeritus director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge, took on the rather large question, “Is Life Going Anywhere?” Continue reading >>
"On October 25, many churches will once again observe “Reformation Sunday,” commemorating the day in 1517 when Martin Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses concerning theological reform on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Saxony. This event continues to be regarded as the birth of Protestantism. We now stand just three years out from the five-hundredth anniversary, which will be marked worldwide in 2017. Churches, institutions, and individuals shaped by what began so many centuries ago face a daunting question: How in fact ought one to commemorate the Reformation five hundred years after the fact?" Continue reading >>
Recently I’ve had a chance to travel to Iceland for the first time. The small island republic in the middle of the Atlantic is best known for its beguiling landscape: a plethora of active volcanoes (one now erupting), glaciers, lava beds, waterfalls, thermal baths, geysers, fjords, and more. But the history of Christianity there equally fascinates—and disturbs. Read more >>
JAF Alumnus Trevor Hinshaw Receives Undergraduate Award at NEPA Conference
October 18, 2014
Trevor Hinshaw '13, Jerusalem and Athens Forum honors program alumnus (2011-12), received the Honorary Undergraduate Scholars Award from the New England Psychology Association (NEPA) at the associations 54th annual conference on October 18, 2014 at Bates College in Bridgeport, CT. The award recognizes academic excellence in psychology, and encourages recipients to pursue work within the discipline. More about NEPA >> | More about the award >>
"While the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council continues to be celebrated, 2014 also marks the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the Syllabus of Errors—the now notorious document, issued by the Holy See under Pius IX, which, in presenting a list of “condemned propositions” about liberalism, rationalism, papal powers, and civil society, marked a veritable collision of the Catholic Church with the “modern age” that had arisen after the American and French revolutions." Read more >> | View cover >>
This interdisciplinary conference on September 19, 2014 in Oxford marks the centenary of a Manifesto appealing to the ‘civilized world’ to recognize Germany’s war effort as a noble case of self-defence reluctantly undertaken in the service of cultural superiority. It will bring together British, German, and American historians, ethicists, and theologians to re-examine the signatories’ intentions in view of the document’s historical setting, the meaning of its appeal to ‘culture’, and the role played by theological motivations. Read more >> | Conference Schedule >>
Tal Howard on Patheos Blog: "Bonhoeffer's 'Who Am I?'"
September 1, 2014
Much attention has been directed to the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer lately due in part to the popular biography by Eric Metaxas (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy) and, more recently, the more scholarly approach of Charles Marsh (A Strange Glory: The Life Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer). Read more >>
Lilly Fellows Program announces the selection of Hilary Sherratt (’13) and John Mirisola (’11) as two of ten Lilly Graduate Fellows. Read more >>
Tal Howard, CFI Director, and other scholars supported by the Center will be featured at a faculty book signing. Howard will sign copies of his book God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide (Oxford, 2011) and his edited book Imago Dei: Human Dignity in Ecumenical Perspective (CUP, 2013) alongside Steve Hunt (CFI Fellow, 2014-15), Bruce Herman (CFI Faculty Steering Board), Pilar Pérez (CFI Fellow, 2014-15), and Dan Russ (Director, 2003-2011). Read more >>
"With exoplanets being discovered daily, Earth is still the only planet we know of that is home to creatures who seek a coherent explanation for the structure, origins, and fate of the universe, and of humanity’s place within it. Today, science and religion are the two major cultural entities on our planet that share this goal of coherent understanding, though their interpretation of evidence differs dramatically. Many scientists look at the known universe and conclude we are here by chance..." Read more >>
"History presents many ironies. One of them has to do with evangelicalism’s relationship to the task of Christian unity—or what theologians call ecumenism. The mandate is robustly set forth in John’s Gospel 17:21, where Christ prays for his disciples and their followers: “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (emphasis added). In short, sans Christian unity, the task of the Great Commission will always be compromised. (Who would want to embrace to a religion whose members are at one another’s throats or else not speaking to one another?)" Read more >>
Most of us have followed the troubling news coming from Venezuela: the first year of Maduro’s presidency is ending with student protests and violent government overreaction, resulting in over a dozen deaths and hundreds wounded. Sean Penn, an (in)famous celebrity ally of the socialist government, has said little about the recent turn of events; he was, however, asked by Maduro to use his keen diplomatic skills to serve as a spokesperson to the United States. Sean Penn’s ex-wife Madonna, though often politically in line with Penn, broke with Penn in a recent highly re-tweeted message, noting, “Apparently Maduro is not familiar with the phrase ‘Human Rights’! Fascism is alive and thriving in Venezuela and Russia. . . .” Read more >>
"September 12, 2013, the eminent Austrian-American sociologist Peter Berger visited The Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. The following is a partial transcript of an interview conducted by Gordon College’s Gregor Thuswaldner... Gregor Thuswaldner: When you started out as a sociologist of religion, you had a very different view of secularization than you do today. Can you tell us about the concept, the so-called secularization thesis, and what it’s about, and why you now think it’s wrong?" Read more >>
"No. In an ideal world, you should send him or her to Gordon College. Its robust blend of faith and intellect, its ideal location near Boston, and its commitment to the liberal arts ideal—all make it the only choice any right-minded Christian parent would opt for. (The fact that I teach at Gordon and my high opinion of it, I should note, are strictly matters of coincidence!)..." Read more >>
CFI Director Tal Howard collaborates on Oxford University Press book project on vocation
CFI Director Tal Howard recently participated in a three-day discussion in Phoenix, Arizona with fellow contributors to a book project, In this Time, In This Place: Vocation and Undergraduate Education in America (David Cunningham, editor; Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
Announcing the new book by Harold Heie, founding director and current senior fellow at the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College. With contributions from many others, including Paul Brink, Professor of Political Science, the book invites six politically diverse evangelical Christians to model a better way to do politics. They enter this "respectful conversation" about twelve public policy issues that uncover common ground and illuminate remaining disagreements. Learn more about the book >>
"He is one of the great sociologists and sociologists of religion: Peter L. Berger, who was born as a Jew in Vienna in 1929, immigrated to Palestine in 1938 and in 1946 he arrived as a Protestant in the USA where he is still teaching at Boston University. Gregor Thuswaldner, an Austrian who teaches at Gordon College in [Wenham, MA], led the conversation with Berger about global developments of Christianity. Read the full article in German >> | Watch the interview >>
I recently attended an outstanding conference at Gordon College on the upcoming celebration of the fifth centennial of the Reformation in 2017 – the half millennium. I’m not going to summarize the Gordon event here, but a project occurred to me, or rather a challenge. Suppose you had to describe an event like that, but more or less entirely in visual imagery, rather than text. And preferably, all contemporary images. Remember Francis of Assisi’s words: preach constantly, and if necessary, use words? See the full article >> | Learn about the conference >>
Herrmann Lectures Featured in John Templeton Foundation Newsletter
October 17, 2013
It is a common thought that the worldviews of science and religion are very different and are best not mixed. This is one way to summarize the “non-overlapping magisteria” view of the relationship between these two great quests for understanding, associated with the late American paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. But is this assessment accurate?
Owen Gingerich, a former colleague of Gould and Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University, discussed this model in his Herrmann Lectures on Faith and Science, delivered last week at Gordon College. The lectures were established in honor of Dr. Robert Herrmann, who often addressed the “Big Questions” and whose friendship and collaboration with Sir John Templeton opened the discussion on the relationship between the two fields. The lectures are supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Read the full article >>
"Howard posts at Inside Higher ED on "The Promise of Religious Colleges"
September 19, 2013
As a new academic year gets under way, the writing is on the wall: higher education might well be lurching toward a period of creative destruction of the sort that has affected many other sectors of the economy in recent decades. Mention of “the University of Phoenix” or “MOOCs” or “the Minerva Project” strikes fear in the hearts of the tweed-wearing set, just as hand-loom weavers once trembled at the sight of textile mills. But the present moment offers religious college and universities a propitious opportunity. In fact, many have been quietly keeping aloof from the very things that have soured so many on the state of higher education. Read the full article >>
In a post 9/11 world, engaging Islam in the college classroom is more important than ever. Unfortunately, too many evangelical schools are ill-equipped to meet the challenge. For that reason, I am working on a grant application presently titled “Islam in the Western Classroom: Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching about Islam in a post-9/11 World.” If successful, the grant would bring a conference to Gordon College, where I teach, at some point in the academic year 2014-15 or 2015-16. Below is the shape of my thinking so far. Read the full article >>
A former Methodist pastor, Allen joined the Roman Catholic church in 2005. He is Director of Family Life and Evangelism for the Diocese of Lexington, KY and his daily radio show "The Mike Allen Show" airs from 5-6 p.m. on the Catholic radio station Real Life, 1380 AM and 94.9 FM, Lexington, KY. Allen interviewed professor Howard on June 12, 2013 about his recent article "The Incombustible Martin Luther."
Click below for the interview, beginning minute 10:08 through 9:25 of segment 2.
With the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation approaching in 2017, the Center for Christian Studies (CCS) at Gordon College has been awarded a generous grant in preparation through the John Templeton Foundation’s Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs (RIHA) Program, administered by The Historical Society. Read story >>
A more accurate title for this blog would be “Watching the Papal Transition from Catholic Europe.” But I couldn’t resist, even though I don’t have a punch line–or even a joke for that matter.
But down to business. Read the full article >>
It’s an old story, the immigrant story. A biblical one, in fact. Consider Abraham, Moses, even Joseph and Mary, all of whom spent a good part of their lives displaced from their home countries, immigrants, if you will, in search of a promise fulfilled or a promised land. Read the full article >>
Evangelical leaders have been more supportive of immigration reform in recent years, but whether or not lay evangelicals will follow their leaders on this issue is still an open question, Dr. Ruth Melkonian-Hoover noted in a Wednesday presentation at the American Enterprise Institute. Read full story >>
A Simple Gesture: JAF Visits the Only Greek Orthodox College in America
February 16, 2013
Max Halik '14 and current participant in the Jerusalem and Athens Forum reflects on his time visiting Hellenic College with fellow JAF students. Read the article here >>
Drawing from his most recent book God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide (Oxford, 2011), Professor Howard will explore some of the long-standing differences between the United States and Western Europe with respect to religion. With an eye on the present but taking a historical approach, he will argue that some of these differences can be best illuminated and understood by analyzing discourse about America among European thinkers in the time of the American and French Revolutions and in the nineteenth century. Read the full event description >>
Two noteworthy anniversaries are marked this month: the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which occurred on October 11, 1962, and the 495th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, widely recognized on October 31, but transferred and celebrated by many churches as “Reformation Sunday.” (This year it occurs on the 27th). Admittedly, the latter anniversary perhaps only gains greater purchase on our imagination now as it betokens the epochal 500th anniversary, which will be marked worldwide in 2017. Read the full article here >>
With the ongoing mission of fostering top-level scholarship in a uniquely Christian context, Gordon College has launched a new Center for Faith and Inquiry. In an effort to better streamline three longstanding initiatives at the College, i.e., the Center for Christian Studies, the Faith Seeking Understanding (FSU) lecture series, and the Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF) honors program, the Center for Faith and Inquiry now builds on the strengths and mission of each. Read story >>
JAF Honors Program Begins 9th Year
August 30, 2012
WENHAM, MA—Since its inception in the fall of 2004, the Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF) has welcomed nearly 130 students into the interdisciplinary honors program. Through a great books course in the history of Christian thought and literature, the program strives to help students reflect on the relationship between faith and intellect, deepen their own sense of vocation, and awaken their capacities for intellectual and moral leadership. Read story >>