Can a United Methodist Seminary be ‘Interfaith’

Can a United Methodist Seminary be ‘Interfaith’

“Will Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists want to study theology at a declining, liberal Mainline Protestant seminary?” — Mark Tooley, IRD President

WASHINGTON, May 14 /Christian Newswire/ — A California seminary affiliated with the United Methodist Church is planning to launch schools of ministry for non-Christians.

Claremont School of Theology is developing the “Claremont University Project” to “rethink classical models of theological education in an effort to promote interreligious cooperation and ethical integrity in the training of religious leaders for a variety of religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others.”

The school was sanctioned earlier this year by the University Senate, an elected United Methodist body in charge of determining which theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with the denomination. According to the San Bernardino Sun, the University Senate cited the school for not submitting its current audit and for “failing to consult fully with United Methodist authorities in a substantial reorientation of the institution’s mission and proposed transformation from a school of theology to a university with schools of ministry.”

Along with the warning came an embargo on $800,000 in allocations from the United Methodist Church’s Ministerial Education Fund, which supports scholarships and budgets at the 13 United Methodist seminaries. The money accounts for 8 percent of the school’s funding.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

“Will Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists want to study theology at a declining, liberal Mainline Protestant seminary?

“Claremont’s new interfaith approach seems to undermine the transcendent claims of all faiths, and treat religion as merely a prop for the secular culture’s enchantment with multiculturalism and diversity.

“Thanks to the liberalism of seminaries like Claremont, United Methodism has lost half its membership on the West Coast. Why would other religions want to follow that example?”

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches’ social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.


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