February 12, 2014 | 3:26 p.m.
By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications
Two Bethel University professors were awarded a $196,409 grant from the John Templeton Foundation for an initiative on science and the church. Christian Collins Winn, professor and chair of biblical and theological studies in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Kyle Roberts, associate professor of theology and director of the Christian Thought program at Bethel Seminary, received a 24-month grant to engage and transform the evangelical church culture regarding the integration of science with the Christian faith. The program will be directed by Kenneth Reynhout, an alumnus of the college and seminary who specialized in theology and science while receiving his doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary.
“Research has shown that young people are leaving the church because science issues are not covered or addressed in churches,” explains Roberts. “Our goal is to bridge the gap between science and faith. We want Bethel to be a resource to local churches on this topic.” Winn adds, "The initiative will foster interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaboration between the College of Arts & Sciences and Bethel Seminary, enabling scholars to apply their intellectual labor in service to the churches.”
Three major activities are planned for this initiative. First, four roundtable workshops will be held at Bethel for local pastors to hear a lecture and engage in conversations with other pastors and Bethel faculty members about key issues in the faith-science dialogue. These workshops will also provide a way for the initiative to gather pastoral concerns about the challenge of relating science with faith in church contexts. That research will help them plan the second activity with this initiative: two large summit conferences held in fall 2014 and fall 2015. The conferences will be held at local churches and will provide resources for pastors and others in ministry on significant topics in theology and science. The two planned themes for the summits are origins and human nature. The third activity will be the development of a six-week adult education course that can be appropriated and taught in local churches with the help of Bethel professors. This course will be developed in the first year of the initiative and will become available to churches during the second year.
According to Reynhout, “Most everyone is familiar with the apparent conflicts between science and faith. This initiative is designed to give pastors opportunities to consider the possibility that conflict is not necessary, that there may be other options.”
If pastors or others in ministry are interested in getting involved with this initiative, please contact the program director to receive more information in the coming months.