Seeking Unity Amid Division
On Thursday, January 21st, six students, two Campus Ministry leaders, and three members of the RS faculty gathered for "Seeking Unity Amid Division," a special Winter Quarter edition of Religious Studies Conversations for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Led by Profs. Karen Peterson-Iyer and Paul Schutz, the event explored several "hot topics" with significance for interdenominational relations and the Christian tradition in general. After a round of introductions, participants created a "crowdsourced" list of issues, which included gender and sexuality, religion and science, soteriology, God's mercy, and more.
Then, to open the conversation, Paul Schutz presented a "snapshot" view of the age-old debate around faith and works. His presentation concluded by noting that many contemporary biblical scholars find this tension rooted in a misunderstanding of the Epistle to the Galatians and the Epistle of James. The conversation then turned to a multifaceted discussion of the main topics raised by student participants: gender, sexuality, and marriage and soteriology and God's mercy. Participants discussed the status of LGBTQ+ persons and the possibility of gay marriage in various Christian denominations, the status of women and the question of women's ordination, and other related issues. Turning to soteriology, participants discussed the tension between divine justice and mercy, how God weighs sins, and how far the mercy of God extends in the midst of human sinfulness.
Students, faculty, and campus ministers found this event to be an enriching opportunity to take on tough topics in religion in a context of openness and mutual respect.