Religious tensions

December 31, 2009

Your article "Something rotten? Row over Wales' validation of 'fundamentalist' BAs" (10 December) raises some interesting questions about the Danish university system, theological training and not least the meaning of the term "fundamentalism".

As one of the external examiners at Copenhagen Lutheran School of Theology and from next year the Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus, I have yet to encounter an essay I would classify as "fundamentalist". These two colleges are evangelical institutions with a high theology of Scripture, a position that it is possible to adopt without necessarily subscribing to a literalist understanding of the Bible. Indeed, if we understand notions such as inerrancy and infallibility to denote the trustworthiness of God's saving plan for humankind, these are notions that would present few problems for most Christians, evangelical or otherwise. There ought to be a place within the university system for a variety of different theological positions, even those we may disagree with, as long as the criteria of intellectual rigour and openness to new ideas and dialogue are observed.

It is precisely such criteria that the University of Wales has fostered in the various theological colleges and seminaries where I have acted as external examiner. Indeed, it has made a valuable contribution by assisting such colleges to cultivate rigorous academic criteria, broaden their theological horizons and adopt a critical stance towards their own traditions. This dispute is not so much about Wales' alleged support for "fundamentalism" as it is about tensions within the Danish university system and the character of theological education.

David R. Law, Reader in Christian thought, School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester.

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