Future of Mainline Protestantism
Who Are the Samaritans Today?
As we begin this new approach, two collaborators -- the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and the Islamic Center of Southern California -- have joined Claremont in the venture, and cooperative efforts are already underway. In addition, we are actively seeking those from other traditions both within and beyond Christianity, to join in what promises to be a hopeful innovation in theological education.
As we work aggressively in this effort, the story of the Good Samaritan raises an important question: Who will be tomorrow's Samaritans? Who will be the healers of our war-torn, conflict-ridden world? As in Jesus' original telling of the story, will it be those who are different, foreign, and socially segregated from mainstream America? Will they be the only ones with the courage to reach across our boundaries with compassion and hope? Or can we Christians also be bridge-builders?
Though centuries of divisiveness have made it hard for Christians to be peacemakers, I personally hope that Christians will be first among those who dare to take the risk of being Samaritans to the world, stop taking pride in our distinctions, and simply wash one another's feet, bind wounds, extend compassion. It is within our Christian DNA to stop fracturing the human family and to begin to bring it together.
I pray this is what we will do. Indeed, this is the most hopeful future for Christianity.
Jerry D. Campbell, Ph.D., is President of Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology and an ordained Elder in The United Methodist Church. A long-time university administrator, he has held senior positions at University of Southern California and Duke University. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.