Building Bridges Across Faith Lines: Responsible Christian Education in a Post-Christian Society

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Christian Higher Education


History, Philosophy and Political Science, English and Journalism


The demographic composition of students and employees at many Christian colleges and universities in the United States does not reflect the growing religious diversity of the twenty-first century. While Christian higher education provides a valuable space for students to grow in faith and prepare for lives of service to others, many students leave college with little exposure to, or knowledge of, religious differences. Of particular concern is the infrequency of students developing relationships with religious “others,” leaving them underprepared for constructively navigating a post-Christian society. This reality places a special responsibility on Christian educators to provide sound education and opportunities for healthy encounters with different religious voices, allowing persons from these traditions to speak in their own voices and be hospitably welcomed into Christian communities. Relying on research from the emerging field of Interfaith Studies and the co-authors’ experiences of implementing interfaith initiatives at Bethel University, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, this article presents a rationale for creating interfaith engagement opportunities at Christian institutions. Specific attention is given to identifying core virtues and competencies that educators should seek to cultivate in their students and providing pedagogical strategies for helping students develop interfaith competency. Given that campus-wide support is needed if interfaith work is to be successful, we also provide strategies for working with administration, faculty, and staff across the breadth of campus life.

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