Bethany Theological Seminary
Founded in 1905, Bethany is a charter member of the Association of Theological Schools.
Bethany is connected to a denomination, the Church of the Brethren, that the World Council of Churches classifies as one of three “historic peace churches” (along with Quakers and Mennonites). Though pacifist, Bethany is not detached. They were one of the first ATS seminaries to offer online education. This year, Bethany started a physical campus in Nigeria. The school’s mission calls them to prepare leaders who “are engaged locally and culturally at the intersections of the church and the world.”
Bethany is committed to improving the scientific literacy of future church leaders. Bethany recognize that science provides invaluable insights for their ministry; and students recognize that engagement with science is needed for the church to have a more credible witness. Among Americans, the “scientific community” inspires twice as much confidence as “organized religion.”
In a polarizing and polemical era, people are sometimes being told, by strong voices on both sides, that they must choose between a scientific worldview and a Christian worldview. But Bethany’s students want to be equipped for ministry with people who would choose both. The school in turn want to help them cultivate what John Polkinghorne has called “binocular vision”—the ability to see life through eyes of both faith and science.
- Two Courses, Fully Revised
- Ministry Across Generations is a required survey course that prepares church leaders to do ministry with people at various stages of life: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, and older years. Previously, the course has put theology into dialogue with psychology. In its new version, psychology will still have a role to play, but the main conversation partner for theology will be neuroscience.
- Introduction to Theological Reflection is a required survey course that introduces students to theological methods and content, which most
students take in their first year. Exposure to science early on should spark interest in science themed electives. One major goal of the course revisions is to help students relate, and sometimes correlate, traditional theological themes with contemporary contexts. The sciences are,
therefore, an ideal conversation partner for theology. They provide a clear instantiation of how western people today construct their everyday sense of reality.
- Two Campus-wide events
- Addiction: How science and faith can both help us treat it
- Evolution and Genesis: How to teach about both in your church
- Two Faculty Retreats — Engage faculty in a discussion around science and faith, including these questions: How do you see the relationship between science and
theology? What areas and issues of science are most pertinent to your field of teaching?
- Monthly Faith & Science Forum lunches
- Chapel series around faith and science, and to invite speakers with this topic in mind.