Would You Go to Seminary with Muslims and Jews?

My friend, Philip Clayton, is part of a grand experiment in theological education, covered this week by Inside Higher Ed:

Two Schools, Three Religions (So Far)

Claremont Lincoln University is a collaboration between two established schools: the Claremont School of Theology and the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, which trains future rabbis, cantors and chaplains from all branches of Judaism, although Orthodox Jews do not accept the academy’s ordination. A Muslim institution, Bayan College, is in the works: it will be part of Claremont Lincoln, established through a partnership between the Islamic Center of Southern California. Administrators say it will be one of the first schools to train Sunni and Shiite imams entirely within the United States.

Claremont Lincoln also offers a master’s degree in religious leadership in Muslim contexts, a course of study for both men and women that it says is the first graduate program of its kind in the United States.

While many theological schools are adding programs to familiarize students with world religions — whether to increase interfaith understanding or make students more effective proselytizers — the students are usually of one faith. Bringing Christian, Muslim and Jewish students together creates a different, and richer, learning experience, says Najeeba Syeed-Miller, an assistant professor of interreligious education.

via Claremont Lincoln aims to train Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy | Inside Higher Ed.

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  • Burton Bagby-Grose

    Sounds great. United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches USA affiliated Andover Newton Theological School, America’s oldest graduate school of theology, has collaborated for several years with Hebrew College’s rabbinical school.
    Sitting in classes side by side with rabbinical students and taking a class on the Psalms from a rabbinic scholar made the seminary experience richer and more challenging.

  • I am completely intrigued by this development as I’m always telling my RELI101 students to listen and learn about the religious other from the religious other. It looks to be a great space to learn and think and test and wrestle through one’s own religion (post-conservative evangelical) and how your religion interacts with and plays next to other religions. In a very real way, I see the school as one of the only places to work out the sketch Grenz and Franke present in Beyond Foundationalism as well as put into practice the essence of Volf’s Allah and A Public Faith

    Or, as I told my wife two days ago, it’s a religious studies program that doesn’t pretend to be secular.

  • Greg Gorham

    I prefer going to seminary with people of other religious backgrounds – for a school not to have that diversity would be a major negative in my mind. Its one of the reasons I go to United Theological Seminary here in the Twin Cities – I want to study alongside Buddhists, agnostics, pagans, etc.

  • I would really have a hard time with this at the M.Div level. Less so at the Ph. D. level. It seems to me, in the bestand most sense of the word, the seminary experience is in part about indoctrination. Perhaps a few classes here and there would be enlightening, but all in all I think I would feel ill equipped for Christian ministry without some solid Bible-centered Christian teaching on Scripture and theology.

  • best and most literal sense of the word, is what that third sentence was supposed to say…sorry for any confusion

  • Jack Jenkins

    So…I go to Harvard Divinity School.

    We’ve been doing this for about a century.

  • Jack Jenkins

    (interfaith, that is)

  • Most PhD students don’t even have their own religion mastered. If the school censured negative positions against religions, and has this sort of kumbaya-inter-religion-theology, then I would find the learning misdirected.

  • Burton Bagby-Grose

    I agree that seminary curriculum should maintain a Christian focus (like Andover Newton’s does) while having a variety of faith traditions represented. My own initial thinking is that including the Abrahamic traditions would be beneficial. Including other faiths, while appropriately challenging, seems like an ultimate disservice to them. That’s because all master of divinity programs should have solid Bible-centered Christian teaching on Scripture and theology.

  • Charles

    The Abrahamic traditions all point to The Original Source of Life. I see no down side for co-study. I’m all for it. Great policy.

    IMHO the Christian faith needs to be (must be) challenged to defend it’s teaching of who Jesus was and his message to all people, mainly 1st century Jews. I am also convinced that what evangelical Christians teach/believe is so skewed as be heretical.

    • ben w.

      Charles, could you explain what you mean by evangelical theology being essentially heretical? Heresy as compared to whom? The early Church Councils? The Bible? Another constructed philosophy of religion?