Professor Amy Plantinga Pauw, the Henry P. Mobley Professor of Doctrinal Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has been recognized with a prestigious Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology
for 2012-2013. During her sabbatical year, which the grant will help to fund, Dr. Plantinga Pauw will be writing a new book on wisdom ecclesiology, which will draw on previous work she has done in the areas of ecclesiology, Christian practices, and wisdom literature. She anticipates that the project will open up new conversations about the relationship of ecclesiology to contemporary social concerns, including ecology and interfaith cooperation.
“Professor Plantinga Pauw is to be commended for her professional achievement. In her important research she will draw together, in meaningful conversation, myriad voices and perspectives on relevant theological and social issues—issues that strike at the core of our faith and our faithful relationships with the global community,” said Seminary President Michael Jinkins.
Pauw points to the canonical wisdom books—Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)—as under-utilized sources for understanding God’s creative relations to humanity and, therefore, for developing a richer theological understanding of ecclesial life. She believes that a wisdom ecclesiology can help to “close the gaps between the church’s life and its theological self-understanding by providing an account of the church’s God-given vocation to creaturely wisdom.”
In her own description of the project, Pauw says, “By putting ecclesiology in conversation with recent developments in social theory that question the nature/culture divide and with ecological and interfaith concerns, this project aims (1) to enrich communal Christian self-understanding regarding the church’s relation to God and God’s purposes, and (2) to provide a better theological base for the church’s collaboration with other faith communities and non-religious groups in addressing common problems too big for any single community to handle, such as violence, poverty, and ecological degradation.”
One of only six recipients of the grant in 2012-2013, Dr. Plantinga Pauw is also among a unique group of LPTS faculty who have received this particular award in the past: Susan R. Garrett, Professor of New Testament Studies, in 1998-1999, for her research and writing later published as No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus; and W. Eugene March, A.B. Rhodes Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, in 2002-2003, for his research and writing published as The Wide, Wide Circle of Divine Love: A Biblical Case for Religious Diversity.
Established in 1993, the program of the Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology seeks to foster excellence in theological scholarship and to strengthen the links among theological research, churches, and wider publics. It is administered by the Association of Theological Schools, the accrediting and program agency for graduate theological education in the United States and Canada, and over the past 19 years, just 130 faculty members in ATS schools have been named Luce Fellows.