Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Christian Colleges/Universities in U.S. with Peace Studies Programs

As a service, I thought I would list all the U.S.  colleges and universities that have programs with names like “peace studies,” “peace and global studies,” “peacebuilding and conflict resolution studies,” etc. I found there were enough that I decided just to  list the church-related ones and do the others in a separate post.   Typically, such programs are multi-disciplinary involving faculty from several departments including international studies, history, philosophy, religious studies, international law, economic development, and/or political science or sociology. The earliest such programs in the U.S. were in institutions related to the “historic peace churches” (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Friends/Quakers), but it has spread beyond them.  Almost all of them include considerable emphasis on language studies and on study-abroad, especially in conflict areas.

American University in Washington, D.C.  Private research university related to the United Methodist Church and not to be confused with “American Universities” around the world which are usually sponsored by the U.S. State Department.  4400 Massachussetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20016.  Highly selective and quite expensive.  Offers an M.A. in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution that is highly regarded.

Arcadia University was until 2001 known by the somewhat ridiculous name of Beaver College, which is even sillier when you understand that this co-ed institution began life in 1853 as Beaver Female Seminary. (You can’t make  stuff like that up.) 450 South Easton Road, Glenside, PA 19038.  Originally founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, Arcadia today is related to the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), but has an independent board and an ecumenical spirit.  Arcadia’s mission is to prepare students specifically for a shrinking, global society.  It has a College of Global Studies and students are encouraged to  do part of their studies abroad.  Offers an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. One can also earn a joint M.A./M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) or a Certificate in International Studies presented with another undergraduate or graduate degree.

Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, 3003 Bentham Avenue, Elkhart, IN 46517.  AMBS offers an M.A. in Peace Studies.  They also offer this M.A. as a joint degree with a Master of Social Work degree.  AMBS’ Master of Divinity degree has a peace and conflict studies concentration available.

Bethany Theological Seminary 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374.  This is the official seminary of the Church of the Brethren, one of the Historic Peace Churches.  Peace and Justice emphases are found throughout the curriculum, but one can also get a Peace and Justice concentration for either the Master of Divinity or Master of Theology degrees.

Bethel College in North Newton, KS is affiliated with the Mennonite Church, USA.  It is a private, 4-year co-ed liberal arts college of about 500 students.  Tuition is currently just under $16,000 per year which is below that of most private colleges and about 89% of students receive some form of financial aid.  Bethel houses the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution which both acts internally to administer the school’s Peace and Conflict Resolution program and externally sponsors projects in international peacebuilding.  Offers a minor in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies or a Certificate in Conflict Management to be added to any other degree program.

Bryn Mawr College101 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.  Founded by Quakers and originally a women’s college, Bryn Mawr is still informed by Quaker values. It offers a B.A. in Peace and Conflict studies in a joint curriculum  with Haverford College and Swarthmore College.  Bryn Mawr’s strong International Studies program is related to this.

Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866.  Founded (as Hesperian College) by and affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Chapman deliberately timed things to begin within one hour of Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in order  to honor his vision of equal education for all people.  It is today a large, comprehensive university with seven consituent colleges or schools.  Offers a B.A. in Peace Studies at Wilkerson College of Arts and Humanities that includes a Model United  Nations option.  Courses in Peace, Conflict and Human Rights are also integrated into the M.A. in International Studies.  Other features include the Albert Schweitzer Institute  and the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Studies.

College of St. Benedict-St. John’s University 37 S. College Avenue, St. Joseph, MN 56374 is, as its name suggests, affiliated with the Catholic Church. The College of St. Benedict (for women) and St. John’s University (for men) are partnered liberal arts colleges located respectively in St. Joseph and Collegeville, MN–about 3 miles apart. Students attend classes together at both institutions.  They jointly offer a B.A. in Peace Studies.

Creighton University  2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE.  It is a comprehensive Catholic university founded in 1878 by the Society of Jesus and still a Jesuit-run institution.  It’s College of Arts and Sciences has a multi-disciplinary program in Justice and Peace Studies (the order is very Jesuitical!) which offers a Justice and Society major  leading to a B.A. or a minor in Justice and Peace Studies.  There is also a $1,000 Justice and Peace Studies Scholarship  offered in honor of former Congressman Walter H. Capps. 

DePauw University 313 South Locust Street, Greencastle, IN 46135.  Despite its name, Depauw is primarily an undergraduate liberal  arts college,  but it has a School of Music that offers graduate degrees.  Founded in 1837 by the Methodist Church as Indiana Asbury College, DePauw remains affiliated with the United Methodist Church today.  Offers a B.A. in Conflict Studies. 

Earlham College 801 National Rd. West, Richmond, IN 47374, is a 4 year liberal arts college related closely to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).  It’s educational philosophy is shaped by both the liberal arts tradition (rather than a technical or research university) and by the perspectives of Friends’ beliefs–viz., that there is “that of God in everyone,” that all are equal and must be treated with equal  dignity, the commitment to search for Truth, to live simply, and to work for peace with all.  Earlham offers an interdisciplinary B.A. in Peace and Global Studies (PAGS), modified from its original Peace and Conflict Studies program.  All in the program must take courses in economics, history, philosophy, politics,  and sociology/anthropology.  Within the major, students choose one of the following focuses:  Conflict Transformation, Religion and Pacifism, Social Theory and Social Movements, International War and  Peace, African-American Civil Rights, Women and Social Change, Environmental Studies,  or a Student-Designed focus.  Earlham’s PAGS program is affiliated with both the Indianapolis Peace Institute and the Plowshares Project, which is a collaborative effort between the peace studies programs  of Indiana’s 3 Historic Peace Church-related colleges:  Earlham (Friends), Goshen (Mennonite), and Manchester (Church of the Brethren).

Earlham School of Religion 226 College Avenue, Richmond, IN 47374.  Since Unprogrammed Friends do not have pastors, this is one of the few Quaker seminaries and the oldest one.  It offers both an M.Div. and an M.Min. with a Peace and Justice concentration.

Eastern Mennonite University 1200 Park Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22602 is a Mennonite Church, USA related university containing an undergraduate liberal arts college and a theological seminary and graduate school.  The undergraduate program offers a B.A. in Peacebuilding and Development  and a minor concentration in Peacebuilding.  Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding runs a Graduate Program in Conflict Transformation leading either to a 15 hr. Certificate in Conflict Transformation or an M.A. in Conflict Transformation.

Eastern Mennonite Theological Seminary, 1200 Park Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22602. The seminary offers a Certificate in Theology for Peacebuilding which can be added to either the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Religion degrees.  One can also earn and dual M.Div./M.A. in Conflict Transformation.  (You have to wonder why more Christian seminaries, of whatever denomination, do not offer concentrations and degrees in peacebuilding and conflict transformation–for healthier congregations if nothing  else!)

Fresno Pacific University 1717 South Chestnut Avenue, Fresno, CA 93702.  Founded in 1944 by Mennonite Brethren (a Pietist offshoot of the Mennonite Church), Fresno Pacific is the only accredited church-related university in California’s Central Valley.  The undergraduate college offers a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.  The graduate school offers an M.A. in Peacebuilding and Conflict Studies as well as Certificates in Church Conflict and Peacemaking, Mediation, Restorative Justice, School Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking, Workplace Conflict Management and Peacemaking, and a Personalized Certificate in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies.

Goshen College  1700 S. Main Street, Goshen, IN 46526. Is a liberal arts college closely affiliated with the Mennonite Church, USA.  It offers a B.A. in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies and a minor in Peace and Justice studies.  International education and service learning is emphasized throughout the curriculum for both faculty and students. (Most faculty spend their sabbaticals in service rather than just in writing.) Goshen is a participating member of the Plowshares Collaborative.

Guilford College,5800 W. Friendly Avenue, Greensboro, NC. 27410.  Founded  and closely related to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) first as a boarding school, then, beginning in the 1880s, as a 4 year liberal arts college.  Quaker values still inform the school, including its  educational philosophy.  Offers both a B.A. and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.  Related programs include a B.A. in International Studies and one in Justice and Policy Studies.

Gustavus  Adolphus College  800 W. College Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082.  Founded in 1862 as a Lutheran boarding school, it is now a four year liberal arts college closely affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S.  Offers a Peace Studies minor.

Hamline University 1536 Hewittt Avenue,  St. Paul, MN.  Closely associated with the United Methodist Church.  The undergraduate college offers a B.A. in Social Justice.  The Law School has a Center for Dispure Resolution which offers several conflict resolution certificates.

Haverford College. 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041.  Founded in 1833 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Haverford is a most selective liberal arts college. Though not formally related to any Friends Meeting today, Haverford’s educational philosophy and atmosphere is still deeply shaped by Quaker values and numerous Friends are still found among its faculty and students.  Haverford hosts a Center for Peace and Global Citizenship whose programs include a B.A.  In the next year or so, Haverford will be reorienting to offer a B.A. in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights. It cooperates with the Peace and Conflict Studies programs at Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore, but the Haverford program concentrates more strongly on the human rights tradition. 

Juanita College 1700 Moore Street, Huntingdon, PA 16652.  Founded in 1872 by the Church of the Brethren on the Juanita River.  Instead of Majors and Minors, Juanita College emphasizes a core curriculum of  liberal arts with additional “programs of emphasis.”  It’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies offers 3 such “POEs”:  B.A. in Communication and Conflict Resolution, one in Peace and Conflict Studies and one in Peace and Conflict Studies with a secondary emphasis.

Manchester College 604 College Avenue, North Manchester, IN 46962.  Affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, Manchester is a small, selective, Christian liberal arts college.  Established in 1948, the Peace Studies Institute and Program in Conflict Resolution at Manchester actually began the field of peace studies which has now spread even beyond Christian circles.  Manchester offers a B.A. in Peace Studies with concentrations in either interpersonal/intergroup conflict studies, international and global  studies, or an individualized concentration.  There is also a Peace Studies minor. Manchester’s Peace Studies Institute and Program in Conflict Resolution is part of the Plowshares Collaborative that coordinates the peace studies programs of all three Historic Peace Church-related colleges in Indiana: Earlham, Goshen, and Manchester.  The Institute publishes Nonviolent Social Change  previously called the Bulletin of the Peace Studies Institute.

Manhattan College Manhattan College Pkwy., Bronx, NY 10471.  Manhattan College is a Roman Catholic liberal arts college in the Lasallian tradition founded in 1853 in Riverdale, the Bronx, New York (despite its name, the school is no longer on the island of Manhattan).  Offers a B.A. in Peace Studies that is multidisciplinary and deals with arms races and war, economic, political and social justice, conflict creation, management, and  resolution, nonviolent philosophies and strategies of resistance, and world community and world government.  The first course in peace studies was offered at Manhattan College in 1958 and it has had a complete B.A.  program since 1971. The program offers several prestigious fellowships, internships, and scholarships, semesters in Washington, D.C. or the New York legislature in Albany.  There is a Model United Nations option and plenty of placement counseling beyond graduation.

Messiah College One College Avenue, Grantham, PA. 17027.  This is a small liberal arts college founded by and closely related to the Brethren  in Christ Church, a Pietist offshoot of the Mennonites.  Through its Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Wesleyan, and Pietist Studies, Messiah offers a Minor in Peace Studies. (I would have guessed that Messiah offered more than a Peace Studies minor. Surely, they should be upgrading this program.)

Swarthmore College 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081. Swarthmore is a most selective, private, liberal arts college founded by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).  Today the school is non-sectarian, but Quaker values still inform its educational philosophy.  The Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Swarthmore offers a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies.  As well, students in any major can add a minor in Peace Studies.  The program at Swarthmore is multidisciplinary and participates jointly with the Peace and Conflict Studies programs at Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College, the Tri-College Consortium.  Swarthmore’s library boasts  one of the largest collections of primary documents related to peace and justice movements in the  world.  It is part of the Greater Philadelphia Higher Education Peace and Social Justice Consortium.  Swarthmore also  hosts the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

University of Notre Dame 54801 Juniper Road, Notre Dame, IN 46556.  The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or just Notre Dame) is a private, Roman Catholic national research university in Notre Dame, IN, near the town of South Bend and 90 mi. East of Chicago, IL.  Admission is highly competitive. Over 70% of incoming students graduated in the top 5% of their high school class.  Once an all male school, women, first admitted in 1972, now comprise 47% of the undergraduate student population. Once nearly all white, minority enrollment has more than tripled in the last 20 years.  Notre Dame houses the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.  Through the Kroc Institute, students may earned a B.A., M.A., or even Ph.D. in Peace Studies–in a multidisciplinary setting working with several departments in Notre Dame.  This is one of the very few places offering a Ph.D.  in Peace Studies.

University of San Diego  5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110.  The University of San Diego (USD) is a private, comprehensive Roman Catholic university in the City of San Diego.  It offers over 60 degrees (Baccalaureates, Masters’, and Doctorates) in six separate schools. One of those schools is the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.The Kroc School at USD contains an Institute for Peace and Justice, a Conference Venue, and a Trans-Border Institute.  The Kroc School offers a minor in Peace Studies for undergraduates and an M.A.  in Peace and Justice Studies for graduate students.  Each year one or two distinguished peace scholars (who  are usually also activists) are brought to USD as Joan B. Kroc Peace Scholars.

University of St. Louis, One Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO.  SLU is a medium sized Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition.  Now offers a Certificate in Peace  and Justice Studies.

University of St. Thomas 2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105.  The University of St. Thomas is a comprehensive university founded in 1885 by Archbishop  John Ireland. It’s an archdiocesan university.  They have a B.A. and a minor in Justice and Peace Studies.  One of my peacemaker heroes, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer teaches there.

Villanova University 800 E. Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085.  Villanova is a medium sized Catholic university in the Augustinian tradition.  Has a Center for Peace & Justice Education.  Offers either a minor or concentration in Peace and Justice Education. The Center publishes the Journal for Peace and Justice Education.

Walsh University 2020 E. Maple St., North Canton, OH 44720.  A Catholic university founded by the Brothers of Christian Instruction.  The Department of Social Sciences offers a Peace Studies minor.

That’s all the specifically Christian colleges or universities in the U.S.  with Peace Studies programs that I have found.  If I have missed some, please alert me and I’ll add to this list. 

Believe it or not these programs are quite controversial.  During the Bush years, many conservative magazines and websites ran articles and advertisements  against these programs, saying that they had declared war on America!  Let’s face it:  Peacemaking is subversive of the status quo–regardless of which party controls the government or  who lives in the White House (or any other nation’s seat of government). When peacemakers come on the scene: Jesus or Buddha or Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Aung San Suu Kyi or Thich Nhat Hanh or Badshah Khan or Dorothy Day–they are always seen as troublemakers and disturbers of the peace, rather than as peacemakers.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | education, peace, peacemaking | 30 Comments

Are Christian Colleges and Universities Failing the Church and Kingdom?

Years ago, I heard Tony Campolo, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Eastern University (St. Davids, PA), and gadfly evangelist who provokes his fellow evangelicals, ask whether Christian colleges and universities were failing both the American churches and the Kingdom of God.  Since he taught at a Christian college (now university–and now it has an entire program named after him), I didn’t take his question too seriously.  Or, I thought he was talking about those Christian colleges, usually very conservative, which were not very academically challenging (such as Palm Peace Atlantic, where I did part of my undergraduate work). Or maybe he meant those institutions which were once Christian, but now were purely secular institutions with little or no relation to the churches (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, University of Chicago, Brown, Southern Methodist, etc.).

But recently, I have begun to think that’s not what Campolo had in mind.  Or, if it was, it is not what I have in mind in asking this question.  I  have begun to wonder if even those Christian colleges with strong academics and also strong connections to the churches, with a pervading Christian atmosphere and a desire to unite faith and learning, are failing the churches and the kingdom–are failing God.  This is a question, not a conclusion, and there may be exceptions that still prove the general rule even if the question is answered “Yes, they are.”

Here’s why the question comes to mind: the behavior of most of the graduates of Christian colleges and universities is not noticeably different from the behavior of the rest of the (pagan, secular) culture.  Why aren’t the graduates of Christian colleges who go on to, say, Medical school, irritants to the system, questioning the practices of medicine in our society in light of the gospel? And after medical school, why aren’t Christian doctors uniting to build practices and institutions that offer free medical care to the poor–regardless of what our culture does? Do we find a higher than average number of the members of Doctors Without Borders (Medicins sans Frontieres) to be products of Christian colleges and universities? What about the members of Physicians for Social Responsibility?  Do we find doctors who come from Christian colleges treating nurses better than most doctors? Do we find them taking less money and living simpler so that they can provide more care to more people?  I don’t think so.

Because the healthcare debate is front-burner, I thought of Christian doctors first, but I don’t mean to single them out. What about graduates of Christian colleges and universities who go on to law school and become attorneys? Do we see them take the normal big money jobs, or do we see them living simpler than other lawyers so that they can use the law to bring justice to the poor and marginalized? All lawyers are expected by their profession to do a certain amount of pro bono (free) work, but do we see graduates of Christian colleges doing more of this?  Are they volunteering for the cases no one else wants, like death penalty appeals or defending accused terrorists?  Are they taking the lead in defending human rights and civil liberties?  Do other lawyers consider them a pain in the neck for the way they constantly work to make the system more just for everyone?  I have no doubt that some do, but is the percentage any greater from Christian colleges than from secular ones?

If our church-related  colleges and universities were truly, uniquely, Christian, we’d expect the education majors to teach in areas with less glamor and resources–or push for changes in curriculum that better educated the young. We’d expect the graduates that went into politics to put Kingdom goals (justice for the poor and marginalized, peacemaking, care for the earth, work  for the common good) at the top of their list–and we’d find few if any involved in scandals and corruption. We’d find them refuse to slander colleagues or opponents–not even to win elections–and to defend the character of those whose policies they opposed–to practice humility. If our  colleges and universities were truly producing “Christian” education, would not the business majors be in the forefront of efforts to reform banking practices or create opportunities for the poor. The founder of  no-interest “micro-lending” to the poor was no product of Christian college, but Muhammed Yunus, a Muslim in Bangladesh.  A recent survey of 3 prominent societies for Christian business leaders, many of whom were graduates of church-related colleges, found that less than 1% had even heard of micro-lending and most were skeptical  that it could “work” to alleviate poverty–though the success rate is phenomenal and widely praised by international development experts.

I could go on through field after field of inquiry asking similar questions.  And they all lead me to wonder WHY our Christian colleges and universities–no matter denomination or theological tradition–are making so little impact on our culture through their graduates?  If we find these educational efforts valuable, and I still do, what about them needs to change so that they do not continue to fail the churches and the Kingdom of God?

I do not have the answers to this–not even a few of them.  But I think I finally understand  why Campolo was asking the question–and I think the time is long overdue for more of us to ask the same question.

August 15, 2009 Posted by | education, Kingdom of God | 9 Comments

Parents of School Children Beware!

The Texas board that determines textbook content (always trying to remove any mention of evolution) is now deciding that children may not learn about Cesar Chavez (inappropriate role model) or Thurgood Marshall (inappropriate historical figure)!  If you live in the U.S. but outside  the Lone Star State, still be alarmed. Because, for reasons that escape me, public school textbook publishers often use the Texas market to determine content for what they publish for the REST of the nation, too! So, they could be dumbing down ALL our children.  Time to make a stink about this.  Our children would not learn about the first African-American on the Supreme Court (who also argued the winning case in the Brown v. Board of Education case that desegregated the schools)–somehow he’s “historically inappropriate.”  And they would be deprived of learning about Cesar Chavez, leader (along with the still struggling Dolores Huerta) of the United Farmworkers union and an apostle of nonviolent protest–an “inappropriate role model.” Do I detect a bias among Texans deciding on textbook context that favors oppressors–or are they just racist bigots?!

They are trying to disappear down the memory hole the heroes of the ’60s who changed this country for the better.  As George Orwell knew, he who controls the past, controls the future.  In an era of a rightwing court dominated by the semi-fascists Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts, remembering Thurgood Marshall is a dangerous, subversive memory. In an age of agribusiness and of workers deprived of ever more of their rights and  of increasing white fears of Mexican-Americans, remembering Cesar Chavez–who was a key figure in turning Bobby Kennedy from a Cold Warrior to a candidate for president who campaigned for the poor and for peace–is a dangerous, subversive act.  We don’t want to, I don’t know, INSPIRE new generations, now do we?

July 18, 2009 Posted by | education, heroes, human rights., race | 12 Comments

Law & Theology Degrees

In our complex world where religion, philosophy, law, and public policy all often overlap, there is a need for ministerss with legal training and lawyers with training in religious studies or theology.  For instance, my friend, J. Brent Walker, the Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, is both a lawyer and a minister. (I met Brent when we were both M.Div. students at the once great Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, pre-fundamentalist takeover.  Brent managed to earn both a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Florida (Gainesville) without having his brains turned to mush–something almost incomprehensible to a Florida State University (Tallahassee) alumnus like me. 🙂 Then he earned his law degree (J.D.) at Stetson University School of Law before earning his M.Div. at SBTS. )

So, at least here in the U.S., some institutions have begun to offer joint religion/law or theology/law degrees.  Here are a few of the better ones for those interested.  I have not ranked them in any particular order.

Wake Forest University has two programs involving joint degrees from the WFU Law School and WFU Divinity School.  One is a joint J.D./M.A. (Religious Studies) degree and the other is a joint J.D./M.Div. degree.

Emory University Law School has three joint degrees in its “Law and Religion” Program, all involving the juris doctor law degree.  Two of these joint degrees, the J.D./M.T.S. (Master of Theological Studies), and the J.D./M.Div. (Master of Divinity–the basic seminary degree for ordination in most denominations in the U.S., equivalent to the B.D. in Commonwealth nations), are run jointly with the Law School and Emory’s Candler School of Theology.  The third joint degree, the J.D./Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Religion) is conducted jointly with Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion in its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Duke University Law School offers a J.D./M.A. joint degree in numerous studies, including religion, through the Graduate School.  It also offers the J.D./Ph.D. in either philosophy or political science.

The University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law offers a joint J.D./Ph.D. program in Religion and Social Ethics that is VERY strong.

If anyone knows of other joint law and theology programs, please let me know.

Update:  From the comments:

Vanderbilt University Law School also offers both joint J.D/M.Div and J.D./M.T.S. degrees in conjunction with Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

A Master of Divinity and Law degree is jointly offered by Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law (named after the famed Supreme Court justice Louis B. Brandeis).

Baylor University offers a unique program through its J.M. Dawson Institute for Church-State Studies which I hesitated to include because they do not include a law degree, but the interdisciplinary degrees offered at both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels involve work with theologians, jurists and legal scholars, sociologists, historians, and political scientists.  It is truly unique.  (The Dawson Institute also  publishes the great Journal of Church and State which, long ago, published my first academic writing–an article on Bonhoeffer and Human Rights.  It has since published two  other of my articles and hasn’t seemed to suffer too much in circulation as a result. 🙂 ) Although named after the great Baptist J.M. Dawson, a very strict church-state separationist, the institute’s scholars include those of a more “accomadationist” outlook and publish and encourage debate between widely differing views of church-state relations (since it is an educational institution and not an advocacy group).  It includes the Center for Constitutional Studies and the Islam and Democracy Project and it works closely with Baylor’s Center for Jewish Studies (which used to be called the Center for Jewish and American  Studies).  (Yes, a Baptist university in deep Texas is the first explicitly Christian university in North America to have a Center for Jewish Studies–run by Jewish theologian Marc Ellis.  Ellis is not a Jewish Christian, but an orthodox Jew–but he is nevertheless controversial because in his strong push for Middle East peace he has been far more critical of the State of Israel than is common among Jewish theologians.  He has also said that some version of “Holocaust theology” have ended up justifying the occupation  and oppression of Jewish people.  Obviously, Baylor did not appoint Ellis in an attempt to stave off controversy!)

I have not listed them here, since I am mostly fascinated by the  intersection of religion/theology, law, and politics, but many law schools list other kinds of dual degrees, including dual degrees in law and business, law and social work, law and political science, law and public health, and law and medicine.  (The brains it would take to earn a joint J.D./M.D. degree floors me!)

May 28, 2009 Posted by | education, law, theological education, theology | 8 Comments

Action Suggestions for Local Churches and Local Peacemaker Groups

Longtime readers of this blog know that I used to be the Outreach Coordinator for Every Church a Peace Church.  ECAPC was and is dedicated to the simple, but radical, convictiont that the Church could turn the world toward peace if every church lived and taught as Jesus lived and taught.  Part of what I did for ECAPC was to help form local peacemaker groups in local churches.  If the church was a “just war tradition” church, the peacemaker group could be a seed of transformation.  If the church belonged to a peace church tradition, or was a self-declared peace church, the peacemaker group can keep it challenged to live up to its convictions.  It is also an outreach ministry, since many people who have been, for various reasons, skittish of attending traditional church services, will gladly come to peacemaker group meetings.

It is important that peacemaker groups always be studying something together and it is important that peacemaker groups always be doing something.  As an educator, I hold to an action/reflection model of learning and teaching. (Obviously,  this is easier in some fields of learning than in others. Topic for another time.) In 2005, I wrote a pamphlet for ECAPC giving suggested actions for local peacemaker groups and churches.  Below is an adaptation of that pamphlet, updated to fit the current context.  International readers will please excuse the U.S. perspective–I think most suggestions are adaptable.  Non-Christians may find many of the suggestions adaptable, too, though I speak out of my perspective as a Christian pacifist, one committed to gospel  nonviolence.

  • Host a “Discipleship and Citizenship” Forum Open to the Public.  Announce the day, time, and topic in local media.  Make it a regular time each month to meet and discuss the intersection of discipleship and citizenship.  Make it a place of honest dialogue, attentive listening, and careful speaking.  Choose themes of deep spiritual and political concern for your local context (time and place) , e.g., “God and country,” “church and state,” “violence in schools,” etc.  An ecumenical or interfaith setting is helpful–and if you rotate locations, you can involve more local churches.
  • Engage in Counter-Recruitment Activities.  Local peace groups can act in their local churches and communities to provide youth support for their God-given conscience against homicide; that is, for conscientious objection to organized homicide in the military.  In the U.S. there is currently no “draft,” no forced induction into the military, but economic injustice often creates a “poverty draft,” an effect that is increased in recessions. Plus, some politician is always trying to revive the draft and, since we are fighting two wars (one in drawdown, but one with no end in sight), such bills could always gain traction. 1) Youth under 18 years of age who will be required to REGISTER for the military when turning 18 should be given an opportunity to register their conscientious objection convictions with the church.  A wide range of materials relating to conscientious objection is available at The Center on Conscience and War among other places. Many denominations have resources, too, as do denominational peace fellowships.  2) In the U.S., children in public schools are subject to intense military propaganda from Jr. Reserve Officer Training Groups, military recruiters, etc.  Countering that propaganda is both necessary and difficult.  Again, many groups have programs and resources, but I have found the best resources for countering the militarization of youth  in public schools to come from the Youth and Militarism project of the American Friends Service Committee.  3)Children and youth should be taught about gospel nonviolence.  It is amazing how many churches have Sunday School programs which never mention the peacemaking and nonviolence themes of Scripture!!  The best resources to counter this come from the “historic peace churches.”  See the resources at the Mennonite Central Committee, the peace education resources from On Earth Peace, a program of the Church of the Brethren, and resources recommended by denominational peace fellowships. (A good list of denominational peace fellowships can be found on the website of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.)
  • Sponsor Nonviolent Action Travel Opportunities.  Sure, recessions cut into the amount of travel that even middle class families do for vacation.  But we can still work to put moral purpose into travel.  The Travel and Encounter program of Holy Land Trust gives you an alternative to the normal tourist trap approaches to visiting Israel-Palestine.  Consider sponsoring a small delegation from your congregation (including someone with a camera to report back), and try to include at least one young person.  Raise the money for someone who could not afford to go on her or his own.  If your particular focus is not on the Middle East, but Central America, try Witness for PeaceChristian Peacemaker Teams focuses on peacemaking by “getting in the way” of conflict through 3rd party nonviolent direct action.  Similar opportunities can be found through the Fellowship of Reconciliation and/or denominational peace fellowships. (For instance, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America sponsors “Friendship Tours” to nations which are current or historic adversaries of the U.S. or are portrayed only negatively in our media.  This began during the Cold War with trips to the U.S.S.R.) 
  • Conduct a Peace Vigil at a War Site.  Contrary to popular myth, peace vigils did not begin with opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s.  The pioneers of nonviolent vigils and other public symbolic actions were the prophets of ancient Israel.  Peace vigils at war sites continue this prophetic tradition.  Every November, thousands gather outside Ft. Benning, GA to try to close the School of the Americas (renamed WHINSEC) which has trained many Latin American military officers in “counter-insurgency” techniques. These have been used by dictators to form state sponsored terrorism against civilian populations.  You can be part of SOA Watch, an interfaith peace effort started by Fr.  Roy Bourgeous, a courageous Catholic priest.  There is also a longstanding vigil outside the U.S. Army War College entrance in Carlisle, PA. One sign regularly held at this vigil is “We Need a Peace College.” Out of this effort has grown the internet based “Carlisle Peace College.”
  • Show a Film Series.  Numerous free or cheap films exist that can serve as basis for discussion.  Some may find Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 somewhat too inflammatory (know your audience).  But Arlington West is a 56 minute documentary about the crosses on the beach in CA planted by members of Veterans for Peace that includes interviews with members, families, and passersby.  Bringing Down a Dictator, narrated by Martin Sheen, is the documentary about how Slobadon Milosevic, the brutal dictator of Serbia, who survived both  civil war and the Nato operations of the ’90s, was overthrown by the nonviolent Otpor movement in October 2000.  The choices are too numerous to mention.
  • Hold a Peace-Focused Weekly Bible Study.  A good resource for getting started is Walter Wink’s brief, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way.  I suggest many other resources here.
  • Support Nonviolent Direct Action.
  • Plan a Sunday School lesson or preach a sermon (or series) on peace.  Chuck Fager has a Friends/Quaker approach to Bible  study here.  Ted Grimsrud gives an Anabaptist-Mennonite approach in a 9-part online Bible study of peace here. I give help for Revelation here and here.  See also my article on Jeremiah as War Resister.

These actions are not meant to be exhaustive.  I hope they spur your groups to creativity.  Feel free to share ideas in the comments.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | church, education, peacemaking | 8 Comments

Harvard and the Baptists

As a way of getting at the fascinating larger history of Christians and “higher education,” I have been thinking of writing some posts on “Baptists and Higher Education,” precisely because my dissenting tradition has had such a love/hate relationship with college or university education throughout our 400 year history.  On the one hand, many first generation, 17th C. Baptist leaders were highly educated: John Smyth (1570-1612) was a Fellow of Christ’s College, University of Cambridge.  Thomas Helwys (c. 1575-1616), a member of the minor gentry, had been a lawyer (barrister) trained at Gray’s Inn, one of the traditional 4 “Inns of Court” where London barristers lodged, trained, and practiced.  Roger Williams (1603-1683) graduated from Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.  Dr. John Clarke (1609-1676), who had studied theology, languages, and medicine before journeying to America (and who often earned a living as a medical doctor), may have studied at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

But as dissenters from church establishments in both England and Colonial America, Baptists found themselves barred from most colleges and universities which had religious tests for admission.  (It was not until the 20th C. that British Baptists could attend Oxford!)  Our emphasis on leadership by laity and our concern more for a converted and spiritually vibrant ministry than an educated and intellectual ministry made a virtue of a necessity.  Since so many university trained theologians ridiculed and persecuted Baptists, Baptists quickly developed (especially in America) a widespread suspicion of education.

But Baptist anti-intellectualism is only half the story. We also began building colleges, universities, and seminaries almost as soon as we legally and financially could do so–beginning with Bristol Baptist College in the U.K. in 1679!  I will explore the successes and failures of the schools Baptists have built in later posts. I want to start first with Baptist relations to prominent institutions of postsecondary education founded by others.

Nowhere is that relationship more complex and fascinating than with America’s oldest institution of higher learning, Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.  Harvard College (the undergraduate core of the university) was founded in 1636, established by the General Court of the Massachussetts Bay Colony.  It’s founding was intimately connected to the Puritan/Congregationalist established church of the Colony, although never formerly affiliated with any particular religious denomination. Yet there is no doubt that the Puritans had the education of ministers in mind as a major purpose in Harvard’s founding.  In the words of the General Court of Massachussetts Bay Colony:

After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.

In 1640, Harvard College hired its first president, Henry Dunster (1612-1659 ), a Puritan clergyman fresh off the boat from England. Dunster was another Cambridge alumnus and modeled Harvard on his Cambridge experience. He wrote the original rules for admission to Harvard, designed its philosophy of education (emphasizing the classics with ministerial students receiving extra education in biblical languages and Reformed theology), and hired its first faculty, with Dunster himself teaching the biblical languages.  But by 1651, Dunster had become convinced of Baptist principles, especially believers’ baptism.  After the Boston authorities jailed Dr. John Clarke of Rhode Island and whipped layman Obadiah Holmes (1744-1832) for “unlicensed open air preaching,” Dunster openly declared his principles and refused to have his infant son baptized.

Naturally, this led to his termination as President of Harvard and Dunster spent the rest of his life pastoring a small independent congregation of mixed Congregational Puritans and Baptists–though it is uncertain whether or not Dunster himself was ever baptized as an adult.  And, with his ouster, Baptists were kept out of Harvard for the near term.

But that was not the end of the story by any means. As other colonial colleges (all church-related) sprang up, Harvard established the Hollis Chair of Divinity in 1721/22, the oldest endowed divinity chair in the U.S.  It was named for Thomas Hollis, an English Separatist who had just come to Baptist views. In giving the initial funding for the professorship, Hollis only asked that “if a qualified Baptist apply, he be given due consideration.” The Harvard trustees must have thought that Baptists were unqualified for a very long time because the current occupant of the Hollis Chair, Harvey G. Cox, Jr. (1929- ), an ordained American Baptist minister, is the first Baptist to be Hollis Professor of Divinity. (At that, Cox who has taught at Harvard since 1965, only became Hollis Professor in 2001, although for a long time before that he held another endowed chair, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity!)

In the early 19th C., Congregationalists (the successors to American Puritans) divided with many of them becoming Unitarians. The appointment of a Unitarian to the Hollis Chair in 1805 set off a firestorm and led more orthodox Congregationalists to form America’s first freestanding theological seminary, Andover School of Theology. Harvard had “gone Unitarian” and the founding of Harvard Divinity School in 1816, although formaly proposed as a “non-sectarian” or ecumenical divinity school, was dominated by Unitarians for the next century.  Obviously, few Baptists would have found studying at Harvard attractive in those days–and by then we had been creating our own universities (beginning with the College of Rhode Island, later re-named Brown University, in 1764) and seminaries (beginning with Newton Theological Institution, now part of Andover-Newton Theological School, in 1825).

But there were exceptions. Rev. Jeremiah Condy and Rev.  Edward Upham, Baptist pastors in Colonial New England, managed to graduate from Harvard–probably by not going public with their religious convictions until after graduation. 

Richard Fuller (1804-1836), a major Baptist pastor and denominational leader in South Carolina (and, infamously, a major defender of slavery) earned a B.A. from Harvard College in 1824, graduating near the top of his class, despite having to leave for health reasons in his junior year. 

William Williams (1821-1877), a Southern Baptist who became one of the four founding professors of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1859, had originally thought to become a lawyer. After graduating from the University of Georgia (B.A., 1840), he earned his law degree at Harvard (LL.B., 1847).  He was later ordained and went into ministry and education without further formal education.

Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895), a Northern (American) Baptist pastor, editor, hymnwriter, missionary statesman, and educator, earned a B.A. at Harvard College, but, because of the Unitarian dominance of the time, went to Andover Theological Seminary for his B.D. 

Crawford Howell Toy(1836-1919) was the most brilliant scholar Baptists in the South produced in the 19th C.  Educated at the University of Virginia (A.B., 1856) (the first “secular” university in the United States, “Mr. Jefferson’s school” attracted many Baptists in the South because it neither had religious tests for admission, nor mandatory theology classes from non-Baptist scholars giving a party line) and the University of Berlin (1836-1838) Toy taught Hebrew and Old Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (first in Greenville, SC then moved to Louisville, KY) from 1869 to 1879. But Toy was forced to resign because he had introduced “higher criticism” from Germany into his classroom teaching. So, in 1880 Toy became Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Languages at Harvard, where he taught in the Divinity School and the College and virtually created the Graduate Department of Near Eastern Studies.  Toy tried to stay a Baptist while at Harvard, initially joining Old Cambridge Baptist Church, but his acceptance of Darwinian evolution and of German critical views of Scripture was too radical for even Northern Baptists of his day and so (much to the dismay of the Dean of Harvard Divinity School who was trying for an ecumenical faculty!), Toy eventually became a Unitarian–which Southern Baptist conservatives have used ever since to claim that they were right to fire him.  (The Unitarians, on the other hand, found him “conservative” and “overly evangelical!”) Toy was a brilliant scholar and at his death, his list of publications ran on for 20 pages!

It was not until the 20th C. that Harvard began having a more fruitful relationship with Baptists.  Many times during the long ministry of that icon of Baptist liberalism, Harry Emerson Fosdick(1878-1969), Harvard tried to lure him to their campus, either as Senior Minister of the Memorial Church on campus or as a professor in the Divinity School. Fosdick always declined, preferring to teach at his alma mater, Union Theological Seminary, and to remain with Riverside Church–but Fosdick did repeatedly give lecture series at Harvard and often preached in the Harvard chapel (which was mandatory until after WWII).

Some prominent African-American Baptists have graduated from Harvard over the years.  Mordecai Johnson (1890-1976) earned a B.A. at Atlanta Baptist College (now Morehouse College) in 1911 before joining its faculty. He commuted in the summers to the University of Chicago (then a Baptist-related school) to earn a second B.A. (Sociology, 1913). He attempted to attend seminary at the oldest Baptist seminary in the U.S., Newton Theological Institution (now part of Andover-Newton Theological School), but was denied because of his race. So, he enrolled in the home of the Social Gospel, Rochester Theological Seminary (now Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School) and earned a B.D. in 1916. He earned an M.A. in Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 1922 before becoming president of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Harvard awarded Johnson an honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1923. Others followed in Johnson’s footsteps.

Gordon Blaine Hancock(1884-1970) was one of the most educated and influential African-American Baptists of his day. A.B., 1911, B.D., 1912, Benedict College; A.B., 1919, Colgate University; B.D., 1920, Colgate Theological Seminary (now part of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School); M.A., 1921, Harvard University.

Most famously, while Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968 )was pursuing his Ph.D. in philosophical theology at nearby Boston University, he took extra courses in contemporary philosophy at Harvard as a special student. 

Beginning in the 1930s and excelerating after World War II more Baptists began to earn theological degrees (or advanced degrees in related fields) at Harvard. Not all of these were from the more liberal end of the Baptist theological spectrum.  American conservative evangelicals, including conservative Baptists, began to hunger for the kind of academic credentialing that Harvard could give.  Among the conservative Baptist theological leaders who found their way to Harvard were the following influential figures:

  • Edward J. Carnell (1919-1967), B.A. (philosophy), Wheaton College; Th. B., Th.M., Westminster Theological Seminary; Ph.D., Boston University(Philosophy; dissertation on Søren Kierkegaard); Th.D., Harvard Divinity School (dissertation on the theology of Reinhold Niebuhr). During the ’50s and ’60s, Carnell was one of the most promising theologians and philosophical apologists for the post-war generation of evangelicals. He served for a time as the first residing president of Fuller Theological Seminary. His promise was cut short. Although colleagues didn’t know it, Carnell was suffering from depression and committed suicide.
  • George Eldon Ladd (1911-1982) was a Baptist pastor (Northern Baptist Convention, now called the American Baptist Churches, USA) and New Testament scholar. B.Th., Gordon College; B.D., Gordon Divinity School (now Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary); Ph.D., Harvard University Graduate School of Religion (Biblical and Patristic Greek). Ladd taught at Fuller and tried to bring evangelical biblical studies into conversation with mainstream scholarship, especially the post-war “Biblical Theology Movement.”
  • Paul King Jewett(d.1991), Ph.D., Harvard Divinity School, taught Systematic Theology at Fuller almost from its founding in 1947. Became a theological advocate for the ordination of women–a very controversial position for evangelicals in 1975.  Died before he could finish his multi-volume systematic theology.
  • David M. Scholer, a former colleague of mine, is Professor of New Testament and formerly Associate Dean at Fuller Theological Seminary.  An ordained American Baptist and self-confessedly recovering from a strict fundamentalist backgound, he is an expert on Gnosticism, the social aspects of early Christianity, and a strong advocate for women in ministry.  B.A., M.A., Wheaton College; B.D., Gordon Divinity School; Th.D., Harvard Divinity School.
  • Timothy George, church historian, conservative theologian, and founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, a conservative ecumenical seminary attached to the somewhat more centrist and definitely more Baptist, Samford University (Birmingham, AL) is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who pastored churches in his native Tennessee, in Massachussetts, and Alabama. He is a prolific author engaged in dialogue with Roman Catholics and is a leader of those Southern Baptists who want a more prominent place for historic Calvinism. (He also used to call himself a pacifist and co-edit The Baptist Peacemakerin the ’80s, but he has been silent about peace commitments since aligning himself with the “conservative resurgence” in the SBC. Since he was a former professor, this has been a sore point with me.) A.B., University of Tennessee at Chatanooga; M.Div., Th.D., Harvard Divinity School (Church history; dissertation on the Puritan leader John Robinson). 
  • James Leo Garrett, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Theology Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (who previously taught at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the mother-seminary of the SBC) was part of a generation of Baptist scholars that earned 2 research doctorates: 1 in a Baptist institution for credibility with the “folks back home,” and a second at a major non-Baptist institution for credibility with the wider realm of academic scholarship.  B.A., 1945, Baylor University; B.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1948; Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1949; Th.D., SWBTS, 1954; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1966.

But not all the Baptists that went to Harvard were conservative evangelicals. 

  • Charles W. Gilkey (1882-1968 ), Baptist pastor, advocate of the Social Gospel, and first Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago, earned 2 degrees at Harvard. A.B., 1903, M.A., 1904, Harvard University; B.D., 1908, Union Theological Seminary (NY).  Additional graduate study done at the Universities of Berlin and Marburg, 1908-1909; United Free College, Glasgow, 1909-1910; New College, Edinburgh and Oxford University, 1909-1910. Ordained in 1910 by Hyde Park Baptist Church, Chicago, which Gilkey served for several years before becoming Dean of the Rockefeller Chapel and Professor of Preaching at Chicago.
  • Walter M. Horton (1895-1966)was a major “Neo-orthodox” theologian who spent most of his career at Oberlin College Graduate School of Religion. A.B., Harvard College, 1917; Ordained Baptist minister, 1919; B.D., 1920, S.T.M., 1925, Union Theological Seminary (NY); M.A., 1920, Ph.D., 1926, Columbia University. Additional study at the University of Paris (the Sorbonne), the University of Strasbourg, and the University of Marburg.
  • Henlee H. Barnette(1911-2006 ), Christian ethicist and Social Gospel advocate, earned a 2nd doctorate (Th.D.) at Harvard under the Baptist-turned-Unitarian James Luther Adams(1901-1994). 
  • Langdon G. Gilkey (1919-2004), son of Charles Gilkey (above), also began at Harvard. He had lost his faith as a young man and only rediscovered it through hearing Reinhold Niebuhr guest preach in Harvard’s chapel. After university he went to China to teach and was imprisoned by the Japanese for the duration of WWII. After repatriation, he enrolled at Union Theological Seminary to study with Niebuhr and became a major theologian of culture for the 2nd half of the 20th C.  A.B. (philosophy, magna cum laude), Harvard, 1939; B.D., Union Theological Seminary (NY), 1951; Ph.D., Columbia University, 1954.
  •  My own mentor, Glen H. Stassen, now Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, was Visiting Scholar at Harvard University’s School of International Relations and Visiting Professor at Harvard Divinity School, 1969-1972.
  • Greg Moberly, Professor of Old Testament at Andover-Newton Theological School (Newton Centre, MA), was raised as a Southern Baptist, but is an ordained American Baptist minister.  A published author and a major participant  in Jewish-Christian dialogue.  B.A., Cambellsville College; M.Div., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Th.M., Harvard Divinity School; Ph.D., Harvard University.
  • Benjamin Valentin, Professor of Theology of Culture (and Director of the Orlando Costas Latino/a Studies Program) at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary (Newton Centre, MA) is a major contemporary voice in Latino/a liberation theology.  A lay member in the American Baptist Churches, USA, he is an active member of Leon de Juda/Lion of Judah, an American Baptist congregation.  B.A., College of Rochelle; M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School; Ph.D., Drew University.

In 1959, Samuel H. Miller (1900-1968 ) became the first Baptist to become the Dean of Harvard Divinity School (and the only one to date). Miller was an American Baptist who initially enrolled in the Massachussetts Institute of Technology as an engineering major (1917-1918). Perceiving a call to the ministry he transferred to Colgate University (then a Baptist school) to earn his B.Th. in 1923. After serving several pastorates, Miller earned an M.A. (philosophy) from Harvard University in 1950. He was Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Andover-Newton from 1951-1958 and a Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School from 1954-1958, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology from 1958-1959 and Dean of the Divinity School from 1959 to 1968. In 1961, he was awarded a Doctorate in Education from the University of Tennessee at Chatanooga and he was subsequently awarded many honorary doctorates. During his tenure as Dean, Miller successfully reconnected Harvard Divinity School to the lives of the mainline churches (a project undergoing renewal today).

Currently, Harvard Divinity School has 3 Baptists on the faculty. (By contrast, there is only one Unitarian at HDS–we’ve come a long way, baby. ) :

Charles G. Adams, B. A., University of Michigan, B.D., Harvard Divinity School), Senior Pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Detroit, 1969-2007 joined HDS in 2007 for a 5 year term as the first Nickerson Professor of the Practice of Ethics and Ministry.

Peter J. Gomes, Pusey Minister in the Harvard Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals for both the University and the Divinity School, is currently one of the most famous (and controversial) Baptist ministers in the country.  An African-American Baptist, after earning his A.B. at Bates College and his S.T.B. at Harvard Divinity School, served two pastorates before teaching and becoming campus chaplain at the famed Tuskeegee Institute (now Tuskeegee University) before coming to Harvard. At first Gomes was known as a conservative Black Baptist, an expert on the Puritans and classical music who, a registered Republican, officiated at the swearing in ceremony of President George H.W. Bush (1988). But when gay and lesbian students at HDS in the ’90s requested to use the Memorial Church for weddings, Gomes stunned the world by “coming out” as gay (though celibate) before championing the students’ request.  (He immediately became persona non grataamong high ranking Republicans!) Gomes, one of the nation’s outstanding preachers, has worked to help laity understand the Bible by “translating” the work of biblical scholarship to popular audiences. His works include The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (1999); The Good Life: Truths that Last in Time of Need (2001); Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living(2003); and The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What’s So Good About the Good News(2007).  An honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, where the Gomes Lectureship is established in his name, Gomes is the recipient of 23 honorary degrees and other awards. He has become outspoken against the Iraq war and occupation, American torture, and the intolerance of the Religious Right.

Harvey G. Cox, Jr. (1929-) is, as mentioned the current Hollis Professor of Divinity. A.B., University of Pennsylvania; B.D., Yale Divinity School; Ph.D., Harvard University.  Cox, an American Baptist minister who was reared in the evangelicalism of Pennsylvania Baptists, became mistakenly linked with the “death of God” theologians in the 1960s.  He was Protestant chaplain at Temple University; Director of Religious Activities at Oberlin College; fraternal ecumenical worker in post-war Berlin; Professor at Andover-Newton Theological School. (Cox was unable to be present for his own installation at Andover-Newton because he had been arrested for civil disobedience as a Freedom Rider in the Civil Rights movement!) He has been at Harvard since 1965, a theologian who has been most attentive to the intersection of theology and culture.  Influenced by Barth and Bonhoeffer (and, to a lesser degree, Tillich), Cox has been involved in the struggle for peace and human rights, liberation theology, interfaith dialogue (especially between Christians and Jews and Christians and Muslims) and has been one of the first “mainline liberal” Christians to take Pentecostalism seriously.  He has been a mentor to Baptist students and students from evangelical and Pentecostal backgrounds at HDS.

In 2001, Baylor University, the largest university started by Baptists which still retains significant Baptist connections, sent a delegation of faculty and students to Harvard Divinity School, beginning to forge relationships. Baylor, no longer connected to the now-fundamentalist-dominated Southern Baptist Convention, is still self-consciously Christian and Baptist, but has become the first Baptist university to have a chair of Jewish studies! Harvard Divinity School, for its part has now established the MacDonald Chair in Evangelical Theology, opening up new possibilities for evangelical Christians, including Baptists.

And so, the story continues.  America’s oldest university was founded by Puritans–and Puritans are one parent in the Baptist genealogy (the other parent is Dutch Mennonites). It’s first President became a Baptist and had to leave and when Harvard was dominated by Unitarians, it was not a friendly place for Baptists, including most liberal Baptists.  But, more than most non-Baptist universities in America, Harvard has held a strange attraction to Baptists across the theological spectrum–and now those connections are stronger than ever before.

August 10, 2008 Posted by | Baptists, church history, education | 4 Comments

Peace History Society

I’d like to introduce readers to the Peace History Society, founded in 1964 to encourage, and coordinate national and international scholarly work to explore and articulate the conditions and causes of peace and war, and to communicate the findings of scholarly work to the public. 

Members of PHS seek to broaden the understanding of and possibilities for world peace. The membership includes anthropologists, economists, historians, political scientists, sociologists, and other scholars and students of movements for peace and social justice, international and military affairs, transnational and cross-cultural analyses, and literary studies. Many members teach related course in colleges, universities, or secondary schools; others are students, peace activists, and the interested public. Drawn not only from North America but from around the world, members are concerned with making peace research relevant to the scholarly disciplines, policy makers, and to their own societies.

The 2007 Peace History Conference will be held 19-20 October at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ, USA.  The theme will be “Historical Perspectives on Engendering War, Peace, and Justice.”

A related conference (co-hosted by Historians Against the War) will be held 11-13 April 2008 in Atlanta, GA on “War and its Discontents:  Understanding Iraq and the U.S. Empire.” 

If you are a historian or part of a related field (church historians are welcome as are activist-scholars) or seek to use the tools of historical analysis in opposing war(s) and working for peace, check the PHS out.  Maybe it is for you.

September 25, 2007 Posted by | education, peace, professional societies | Comments Off on Peace History Society