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205 12 BETWEEN URGENCY AND UNDERSTANDING Practical Imperatives in Theological Education William Storrar In this chapter, I wish to consider the “practical imperatives in theological education . . . that stem from a commitment to using theology to combat religiously motivated violence.”1 I shall do so by drawing on the educational insights gained by the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) in Princeton, New Jersey, a research institute that is committed to theology as an interreligious and interdisciplinary field of inquiry on global concerns, including religious violence. While I shall quote extensively from scholars engaged in our program to illustrate these insights, let me begin with a personal story. When I accepted an invitation to become director of the CTI, I had to apply for a work visa as a UK citizen in the United States. I duly made an appointment with a visa lawyer and found myself sitting in the reception lobby of his law firm. When the time came for our meeting, the receptionist called through to the lawyer and announced, “Dr. Storrar from the Center for Theological Injury.” The receptionist spoke truer than she knew. We need centers of theological inquiry in the world because we live in a world of theological injury: injury done to God’s creation; injury done to humanity in God’s image; and above all, injuries perpetrated in God’s name. In this volume, we are considering one contemporary form of theological injury, “the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in God’s name.”2 What can institutions like CTI do to prevent this particular injury? 206 William Storrar 1. The Work of CTI As an independent research institute with no permanent faculty or specialization in any one field, CTI fosters wide-­ ranging work that is carried out and carried forward by visiting scholars from across disciplines , religions, and nations, whom we gather together in resident seminars at the Center in Princeton. As a result, our research conversation is continually being renewed and replicated by the higher education institutions around the world from which our seminar members come and to which they return. For this reason, our work may be of wider relevance in considering the fundamental question for theological education in this volume: how can our educational institutions help to create a counternarrative on religiously motivated violence in dialogue with the sciences and humanities? In our experience, we can best do so by creating a counterculture for interreligious scholarship. Five Practical Imperatives CTI has convened three recent theological research projects that have considered the problem of religion and violence from the different perspectives of scriptural interpretation in the Abrahamic traditions, Islamic law and international human rights law, and the scientific study of cooperation and prosociality in human nature and moral behavior.3 That research experience has led us to identify five practical imperatives in theological education to combat religiously motivated violence. We have seen the importance of hospitality, honesty, humility, and hope in theological inquiry across religious and disciplinary boundaries. Even more importantly, we have learned of the need to integrate these four practical imperatives in a dialogical approach to interreligious theological inquiry (which I will refer to, below, as “the dignity of dialogue,” the fifth practical imperative). It is an approach which we are seeking to put into practice in running a CTI project on religion and violence in 2018–­2019. Moral Urgency and Theological Understanding Before considering each of these five practical imperatives in theological education to combat religiously motivated violence, we should note that educational institutions face a distinctive dilemma in their work on such problems. The dilemma has been well named by CTI’s senior fellow in theology, Robin Lovin. It is the tension between a sense of moral urgency to resolve the questions we study and the need for slow, patient scholarly work to understand them. Having already co-­ led an BETWEEN URGENCY AND UNDERSTANDING 207 inquiry at the Center on Christian theology and international law with the philosopher Jeremy Waldron, Lovin was invited to serve as the rapporteur at a meeting of scholars in Islamic law and international human rights law which the Center convened in Princeton. We did so on behalf of an initiative of the International Bar Association and the Salzburg Global Seminar to find common ground between these two fields of law. Reflecting on that experience, Lovin wrote in the subsequent published volume, The search for common ground has an urgency in the law. Advocates for the oppressed and dispossessed know that until they...


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