February, 6, 2018—The Louisville Institute has awarded Dr. Tim Hartman, Assistant Professor of Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary with a 2018-19 Sabbatical Grant for Researchers. Hartman’s project is titled “Apostle to the West: the Theology of Kwame Bediako.”
The Louisville Institute’s Sabbatical Grant for Researchers program (SGR) enables ecclesially-engaged academics and scholarly religious leaders to conduct a major study that can contribute to the vitality of Christianity in North America. Grants of up to $40,000 support year-long research projects that address Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, and/or adaptive challenges confronting religious institutions.
In his opening thesis statement, Hartman writes, “Christianity in America is at a crossroads. Mainline denominations are in steady decline; many people are walking away from the Christian traditions that raised them. Much of the prevailing theologies that informed the founding of the United States and the growth of churches has largely run its course, complete with at least two undesirable outcomes: rapid decline in adherence to the Christian faith (including church membership) and the inability of many churches (and their pastors) to effectively engage contemporary questions about race, church-state relations, and religious pluralism.”
Hartman’s project turns to a non-Western theologian, Kwame Bediako of Ghana, who offers a coherent theological framework that is not based on Western, Christendom-inspired assumptions. Bediako proposes “the remaking of Christian theology” by understanding Christianity as a “non-Western religion.” Hartman concludes, “In this way, North American Christians can have theological fellowship and learn from theology in the global South where the Christian faith is growing exponentially.”
“This grant is a significant recognition of Dr. Hartman’s scholarship and its implications for the academy, the church, and the world,” said Dr. Christine Roy Yoder, Interim Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Dr. Hartman’s project opens our eyes in fresh ways to Kwame Bediako’s life and work and, in doing so, invites vital and timely reconsideration of some of the most deeply held Western assumptions about Christian faith.”
“We are delighted that Dr. Hartman has received this grant,” said Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, President and Professor of Theology, “His work is creating new global theological conversations and this is important to our mission here at Columbia Seminary.”
As a center to support research and leadership education on American religion, the Louisville Institute seeks to nurture inquiry and conversation regarding the character, problems, contributions, and prospects of the historic institutions and commitments of American Christianity. In all of its work, the Louisville Institute is guided by its fundamental mission to enrich the religious life of American Christians and to encourage the revitalization of their institutions, by bringing together those who lead religious institutions with those who study them, so that the work of each might inform and strengthen the other.
Columbia Theological Seminary is “Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia Seminary offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit www.CTSnet.edu.
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