Monday, May 12, 2008

The Templeton 2008 Science for Ministry Initiative

By John Jefferson Davis, PhD
Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics

David Horn and I recently returned from a conference in Philadelphia sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation in connection with the foundation’s new “Science for Ministry” initiative. The Templeton Foundation is sponsoring a series of grant funded initiatives that would encourage seminaries and other parachurch and educational organizations to think in more focused ways about how ministers could be more effectively trained and supported to minister in a culture so heavily influence by modern science and technology. During the next several months Dave and I will be revising an earlier proposal that would involve producing my course “Frontiers of Science and Faith” to be made available online, and developing focused seminars and pastor’s sabbaticals that would bring together pastors, working scientists, and seminary professors to engage with issues raised by modern science. Our hope is to leverage the existing infrastructure of the Ockenga Institute for continuing and distance education, and to be able to serve alumni like you in new ways.

The conference was attended by a broad spectrum of evangelical and mainline schools including Princeton, Pittsburgh, and Austin Theological seminaries, Asbury, Gordon-Conwell, Calvin, Moody, the Trinity Forum, Baylor, Regent College, the Alban Institute, and others. The speakers and workshops addressed a broad range of topics including creation and evolution, the preaching and teaching of biblical texts relating to modern astronomy and cosmology, the nature of scientific research, new discoveries in neuroscience, stem cell research, global warming and the environment, and much more.

I think it would be fair to say that we both came away from the conference with fresh energy that should stimulate my teaching in these areas and David’s planning for future continuing education events.

If you would like to know more about the work of the Templeton Foundation and this initiative, you can visit their website at Excellent resources in the area of modern science and the Christian faith can be found at the website of the American Scientific Affiliation, If you are interested in doing some reading this summer in the area of science and the Christian faith, I would mention my own book, Frontiers of Science and Faith: From the Big Bang to the End of the Universe (InterVarsity Press), and a new book by Keith Ward, The Big Questions in Science and Religion (Templeton Foundation Press).

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