The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS)
and The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., have named W. Eugene March as one of seven Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology for 2002-2003 in the area of ‘Ministry and Practice of Communities of Faith’. Dr. March, the A.B. Rhodes Professor of Old Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, will write on The Widening Circle of Divine Love: God’s Gift of Religious Pluralism.
March has begun his work by noting that Christians in the 21st century face the realities of religious pluralism with great uncertainty and anxiety, according to Christopher Wilkins, coordinator of Faculty Grant Programs at ATS. Traditional claims that Jesus is the absolutely exclusive way to God are being challenged in the multicultural, “shrinking” world in which we live.
In The Widening Circle of Divine Love, March will address the issue of religious pluralism from the vantage point of contemporary biblical scholarship, seeking to clarify, illumine and redefine the issue. The need to develop a biblically and intellectually responsible rationale for people in the church is clear, he says, and the resources are available. The method of properly contextualizing the biblical text will be described and illustrated. This study intends to bring research and experience together to enable the understanding and practice of genuine tolerance founded upon a positive appreciation for God’s providential gift of religious pluralism.
March hopes that this book, aimed mainly at “people in the pew,” will be a thoughtful but non-technical presentation of the riches of current biblical and theological reflection that can inform and enhance contemporary practices of religious inclusivity. When Christians, Jews, Muslims and others interact as partners in a religiously plural setting, he has found, they will not only come to better understand one another, but themselves as well.
Selected on the basis of the strength of their proposals to conduct creative and innovative theological research, Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology conduct year-long sabbatical research projects in areas of theological inquiry ranging from ‘Bible in the Church’ to ‘Christianity and Contemporary Culture’ to ‘Ministry and Practice of Communities of Faith’. The 2002-2003 Fellows constitute the ninth class of scholars to be appointed since the inception of this prestigious program in 1993. This year’s seven fellowships were presented to faculty members at Duke Divinity School (2), Yale, Harvard, The Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Weston Jesuit School of Theology and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
This is the second Luce Fellowship awarded to a Louisville Seminary faculty member. The first was awarded to Susan R. Garrett for her work on angels.
To read more about each award-winning proposal and the other distinguished recipients, visit the ATS website at www.ats.edu