Controversy

United Methodists Start "Multi-Faith" Seminary

According to PewForum.org:  In a bow to the growing diversity of America’s religious landscape, the Claremont School of Theology, a Christian institution with long ties to the Methodist Church, will add clerical training for Muslims and Jews to its curriculum this fall, to become, in a sense, the first truly multi-faith American seminary. The transition upends centuries of tradition in which seminaries have hewn not just to single faiths but often to single denominations within those faiths. Eventually, Claremont hopes to add clerical programs for Buddhists and Hindus. Huh? Why? Is it a money thing to keep the ‘seminary’ alive? Is it a politically correct thing? Where is the United Methodist Church in all of this?  (According to Wikipedia, Claremont is one of 13 approved seminaries affiliated with the United Methodist Church… Claremont’s website seems to back that up). Here’s what the Claremont website says about the change:

Affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Claremont School of Theology has a long history of educating religious leaders. Founded in 1885, the School embraced an ecumenical vision upon its move to Claremont, California, in 1957. Today, it is making a similar adjustment of vision, to meet the cultural and religious demands of a world in transition.

While maintaining a strong School of Theology to prepare Christian ministers, Claremont is developing other schools to prepare teachers, counselors, scholars and community leaders for the interreligious realities of the 21st Century. We call this plan the University Project.

Also from the Claremont website:

We envision a model of theological education in which students are educated rigorously and intensively in their own religious traditions and in contact with the other religious traditions that are thriving throughout our society.  We aim to instill our students with a strong sense of their own religious identities and the integrity of the religious traditions that they represent, while simultaneously teaching them to recognize the legitimacy and integrity of the other religious traditions which they will encounter at Claremont and the world beyond.

According to Jerry Campbell, President of the school:

Some times, change seems glacial in its pace.  And at others, it hits like an avalanche.  Today, I am invigorated by the rush of change coming to Claremont, and we’re running as fast as we can to keep one step ahead of it all!

Your thoughts? Todd