The Nagel Institute is making research, intellectual development and communications projects a major part of its ongoing work.
The main pattern of organization for such projects is collaboration and partnership. The Nagel Institute’s role varies from one project to the next, depending upon the needs of the initiative. We welcome conversations about additional projects.
- African Theological Advance 2017-2020
- Baylor University Press Series on World Christianity
- Christianity and Culture Study Centers Database
- Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa 2015-2017
- Evangelical Christianity and Social Change in Brazil (Gospel & Culture Seminars) 2013
- Matter & Spirit 2018
- The Prophet's Chamber
- R5: A Visual Arts Seminar and Studio in South Africa 2014-2018
- Social Change and Economic Development in India 2015
- Abraham's Children
Abraham's Children: Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Religious Conflict
"Abraham's Children: Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Religious Conflict" aims to generate a fresh conversation, based in religious sources, on religious toleration and freedom. It will enlist thought leaders with deep religious convictions to search their traditions, sharpen each others' thinking and expression, and go public with some powerful affirmations of religious tolerance. This is a planning and pilot initiative, consisting of four main parts:
A book of essays by some of the world's most eminent religious and public affairs leaders, summoning religious perspectives to argue for religious tolerance and freedom. Contributors include the former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter; and the former president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid. This book will be published by Yale University Press and available in English, Arabic, Turkish and Indonesian languages.
A conference in September, 2011, hosted in Washington, D.C., and featuring many of the book’s contributors and a variety of influential religious and political opinion shapers. This conference will help launch the book and set a public agenda for the ensuing project. Conference schedule.
Documentary film. Geert Heetebrij has been commissioned to direct and produce a documentary film on religious liberty. Heetebrig traveled with Project Director Kelly Clark to Turkey and Israel to scout sites and film interviews. He will film the 9/11 conference in DC.×
A planning effort to make initial preparations for public conventions in a variety of sites over the next few years: Nigeria (2012), Israel (2013), and Indonesia (2014). This effort will result in conference leadership and planning committees being formed in each site and developing the components of a detailed proposal for these multi-media events, which will be the focus of the planned second phase of this project.
- African Christianity (A video documentary series)
African Christianity Rising
Two-part documentary film series:
Stories from Ghana
Stories from Zimbabwe
Christianity’s explosive growth in Africa is part of a startling reversal in world history. Christianity is no longer the religion of the West. Over two-thirds of the world’s Christians now live in the global South—with Africa growing the fastest. We are turning a page in world history. What does it mean? What developments will it foster?
With guidance from leading scholars in the field we have been documenting the vitality and changing nature of Christianity in Africa. We have explored the ways in which it is has become increasingly popular by becoming increasingly African—that is, becoming rooted more authentically in local cultures, as Christianity has wherever it has effectively spread.
The stories we filmed bring viewers into these African worlds through the personal dramas of people wrestling with ordinary, yet gripping, human problems.×
- Charis Exhibit 2009
Welcome to Charis, An International Traveling Art Exhibition
Charis (from the Greek for gift or grace) is an international traveling exhibit of work by 7 Asian and 7 North American artists that explores the implications of Christian faith and effective artistic practice in an increasingly visually-oriented world where the convergence of cultures is the norm rather than the exception. As the outgrowth of the artists’ participation in a two-week immersive seminar in Indonesia during the summer of 2008 the exhibit represents the ongoing dialogue of these artists on the challenges of cross-cultural communication and understanding, and the need for people of faith to address real-world issues of social justice, peace and reconciliation, and the effects of globalization wherever one lives.
Reconsidering the importance of our shared humanity in relation to the realities of genuine difference as we seek to live together in a shrinking and increasingly interdependent world, the exhibition presents the essential challenge of living with a spirit of grace (and all that entails) toward ones’ neighbor, whether that neighbor is next door or on the other side of the globe.
The exhibition is composed of about 40 works that include paintings, sculptures, assemblage, fiber constructions, installations and video projections. This highly interactive, experiential presentation includes collaborative endeavors that embody the very issues and ideals that the exhibit presents.
The exhibit will travel to a minimum of 8-10 venues across North America thorugh 2012 before heading to Asia.
A substantial color catalogue has been published in conjunction with the exhibit. The catalogue can be purchased through the Calvin College Store. See here to order online. For wholesale orders, contact Rachel Smith at email@example.com.
Contact Rachel Smith, Charis Project Director and Curator for more information or a prospectus of the exhibit at firstname.lastname@example.org.×
- Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa 2015-2017
Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa, 2015-2017
Christian Theology: African Realities and African Hope
The Request for Proposals (RFP) in Theology supported work by African scholars in theology, in partnership with their peers in the human sciences, on the role of the spiritual in everyday African life and the importance of African virtues and values. Researchers were welcomed to request up to $20,000 for individual awards and to $40,000 for team projects not to exceed 16 months in duration.
Religious Innovation and Competition: Their Impact in Contemporary Africa
The Request for Proposals (RFP) in Social Science supported work in social science and humanities on religious innovation and competition in Africa. Researchers were welcomed to request up to $20,000 for individual awards and up to $40,000 for team projects not to exceed 16 months in duration.×
- Christianity and the Visual Arts in Indonesia 2008
Christianity and the Visual Arts in Indonesia 2008
The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), the Nagel Institute, and the Asian Christian Artists Association (ACAA) gathered innovative visual artists to go to Indonesia from June 8-23, 2008.
This seminar was an exciting, life-changing experience for the participants, especially the Americans, all of whom are professors of art in American Christian colleges and universities. Said one, "this program has challenged me to rethink everything I thought I knew about engaging the world of art as a Christian." Now the participants have created more than 40 works of art, the makings of a powerful and stunning exhibition.×
- Engaging Africa
Externally Funded Major Projects 2013-2014
One year research project funded by John Templeton Foundation (JTF)
•Began with an exploratory meeting held in Accra, Ghana, August 11-14, 2013, to help officers of the John Templeton Foundation assess the opportunities for funding projects and programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
•Convened a distinguished panel of 18 African church and intellectual leaders from a variety of fields--theology, natural and human sciences, church ministry, philosophy, and religious studies.
•Intellectual task was to understand the JTF mandates and grants profile, and engage JTF officers with African experts in their fields of interest.
The consultation produced nine areas of potential grant making:
•African values: tradition, modernity and the cultivation of virtue;
•African spirituality: traditional and contemporary;
•Forgiveness and reconciliation;
•Humanity, nature and agency;
•Religious Freedom and the Rule of Law;
•Character formation curricula and assessment;
•Science, health, technology and creation care; and
•Christian theology engaging African realities.
Engaging Africa Report, June 2014×
- Evangelical Christianity and Social Change in Brazil
Evangelical Christianity and Social Change in Brazil
Two weeks before “Evangelical Christianity and Social Change in Brazil” seminar began, massive demonstrations about a hike in public transit fares and frustration with the mass transit system rocked the metropolis of Rio De Janeiro. Eventually, over a million demonstrators came out to express a deeper frustration—with politics and public leaders more generally. The talented group of scholars from the USA and Brazil began their deliberations July 9 by discussing the protests. The Brazilian members had a spirited debate over the “secularity” of the protests. Did this mean that churches had succeeded in forming constructive citizens, or did it mean that the churches had been silent and passive? Why do evangelicals in particular have so little proactive engagement with politics? Was it because they have no tradition of Christian political thinking? Why did they tend, by default, to be supporters of the status quo? Testing these assumptions over against the people we met in active ministry became a central theme for the seminar.×
Half of the seminar’s time was spent in and near Rio de Janeiro, and focused on issues of violence and poverty. Participants met with remarkable ministry leaders in the urban favelas (slums) of Rio, and in an agricultural community. While in downtown Rio, a panel of four activists dealt with the topic of violence and racism in the city. Mobilizing churches and civic groups against violence had been effective initially, but violence was rising again. The activists expressed frustration with evangelicals, who wanted to pray and evangelize, but while praying, lives were being snuffed out. Police pacification units had moved into the favelas, but they addressed crime militarily, and many innocent people were caught in the crossfire and harmed by the curfews. Evangelicals needed a relevant theology to address racism, poverty and violence.
The theme of religion and politics was taken up in the city of Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil. Through group meetings with various evangelical politicians and leaders who shared a fundamental regard for the poor and for combatting social injustice, the group heard very different views of how to do just that. According to Brazilian colleagues, their politics and parties run a very wide spectrum, from military fascism on the far right to communism on the far left. The tension between but also complementary nature of fighting for rights and for just policies at the macro level and ministering directly to those in need at the micro level continued and pushed the discussion.
The final days of the seminar were spent in the Amazonia region. A three-day, four-stop visit to riverbank villages began on a riverboat operated by World Vision. Environmental sustainability framed the conversations along the Rio Negro, and participants saw that the worldwide push to “save the rainforests prompted new conservation efforts that adversely affected the “little people” but did not seem to deter the larger businesses.
A book project with two editions, one in English and published in the United States and one in Portuguese and published in Brazil is underway. Participants Eric Miller and Gustavo Gilson de Oliveira will serve as co-editors.
- Global Christian Higher Education
Global Christian Higher Education
Perry L. Glanzer
Nicholas S. Lantinga
This book offers a fresh report and interpretation of what is happening at the intersection of two great contemporary movements: the rapid growth of higher education worldwide and the rise of world Christianity. It features on-site, evaluative studies by scholars from Africa, Asia, North America, and South America.
Christian Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance visits some of the hot spots of Christian university development, such as South Korea, Kenya, and Nigeria, and compares what is happening there to places in Canada, the United States, and Europe, where Christian higher education has a longer history. Very little research until now has examined the scope and direction of Christian higher education throughout the world, so this volume fills a real gap.
- Justice: Theory Meets Practice in Honduras
Justice: Theory Meets Practice in Honduras
Gospel and Culture Series
In the past 20 years the Central American nation of Honduras has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of Protestant Christians and a significant revival in the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, an unprecedented number of short term mission groups and foreign development agencies have come to help the country. Even with all of this religious and humanitarian effort, Hondurans experience discouraging patterns of violence, corruption and poverty. In 2010 Honduras had one of the highest murder rates in the world at 77.5 per 100,000 people. A leading international index on government corruption rated Honduras 134 out of 178 countries. And 65 percent of Hondurans live below the poverty line. Around the world we see a similar pattern: Christian dynamism existing alongside high levels of injustice.
Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that working for justice is a Christian responsibility because of "the solidarity of all humanity in the image of God." However, the reality we see in Honduras and many other nations is that Christians often do not "Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God" (Micah 6:8). Many Christians focus on relief and charity work which treat the symptoms of injustice, like hunger or lack of health care, but they do not address the causes of these problems.
What is a Biblical definition of justice? What are the root causes of injustice? What is the role of the church, government and the individual in doing justice? How can academics and practitioners share experiences and skills to work for justice? Where can we find Christians converting theory to practice by bravely working for justice? We invite you to Honduras, of all places, to wrestle with these questions.
Calvin College will offer a seminar in Tegucigalpa, the site of its Semester in Honduras, from June 18-29, 2012. This seminar will address these questions at both the theoretical and practical levels through a close-up encounter with the justice efforts of Honduran organizations. Our hosts are two Honduran agencies, the Association for a More Just Society and Transform Honduras. A select team of North American and Latin American academics, pastors and practitioners will explore these themes together.
- Latin American Initiative
Daniel Miller (Calvin College History department), one of the principals in this effort, attended the "Conference on Mission and Power in North South Relations," in Costa Rica, June 22 to 26, 2009. The conference met at the Universidad Biblica Latino Americana. Ruth Padilla DeBorst, the director of the Instituto para la Promoción de la Educación Cristiana and General Secretary of the Fraternidad Teológica Latinoamericana, served as host, along with Daniel Salinas who works with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Paraguay.
The immediate goals coming out of the recent meeting in Costa Rica are:
- CFH and the Instituto para la Promoción de la Educación will develop on-going bureaucratic communication and mutual support for organizing and finding funding for conferences and publications.
- In Fall 2011, CFH and the Instituto para la Promoción de la Educación will begin working toward a conference on Latin American history in Mexico. Lead organizers for the conference are Dan Miller (Calvin College), Carlos Mondragon (Universidad Autonoma de Mexico), and Lourdes de Ita (Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo).
- CFH and the Instituto para la Promoción de la Educación will support a committee looking into the creation of a web-based Dictionary of Latin American Christian Biography modeled on the Dictionary of African Christian Biography. Ron Morgan (Abilene Christian University), along with Carlos and Dan, are the point-people for investigating this possibility.
- Sessions on Latin America or Latin American historiography will be encouraged at our CFH conferences at George Fox University in 2010 and Gordon College in 2012. Dan Miller will chair the session in 2010.
- Primal Religions as the Substructure of Christianity
During all periods of Christian history, argues Andrew Walls, the majority of those who have embraced the Christian faith were previously adherents of religious traditions that would be designated as ‘primal’ religions. Around the world in modern times as well, whether in the Philippines, Korea, Burma, India, the islands of the Pacific or across the Americas, the Christian message has made its way into similar societies and found a home by interacting with primal world-views.
Modern Christian theology, however, takes little account of primal world-views, and like more secular intellectuals, theologians have dismissed primal faiths as primitive or as mere superstition. Yet the primal world-view has deep affinity with the biblical world-view and this is probably a major reason for the massive accession to Christian faith among peoples of a primal world-view. Primal religions provide spiritual substructure for the beliefs and practices of the majority of the world’s Christians, and may well under gird Western Christianity in ways no longer understood. The issues arising from the relationship of Christianity and primal faiths are thus no longer local, or regional, or even continental, but are worldwide.
This project addresses the scholarly and practical neglect of these issues by convening interested scholars from different parts of the world who have been working —as theologians, historians of religion, or pastoral thinkers —with the issues that arise from the interaction of Christian faith with cultures shaped by primal religions. The Nagel Institute, in partnership with the Akrofi-Christaller Institute for Theology, Mission and Culture, in Akropong, Ghana, will host a seminar of 15 scholars from various study centers and programs worldwide in July of 2007 to address the issues that arise from the interaction of the Christian faith with cultures shaped by ‘primal,’ also commonly called ‘traditional,’ religions. This project would promote reflection on how primal worldviews interact with and even shape the Christian faith, and how such reflections help illuminate the theological, pastoral and broader culture-engaging thought and practice in today’s churches.
Project leaders include Andrew Walls of Edinburgh University, Gillian Bediako and Ben Quarshie of the Akrofi-Christaller Institute, and Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu of Trinity Theological Seminary in Ghana. Other participants will include scholars from South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Peru, South Korea, India, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Taiwan.
- Share ideas and perspectives in order to develop topical chapters for a book of essays;
- Assess the potential for launching a larger project on this topic; and if the outlook is favorable;
- Lay plans for the organization and funding of a larger project that would:
- Engage a number of institutes and study centers worldwide
- Advance theological reflection and pastoral wisdom in various settings regarding the interaction of the gospel and culture
- Publish and otherwise propagate the studies’ findings and reflections on several continents.
- Prophet's Chamber
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- Public Theology: The South African Experience
Public Theology: The South African Experience
In June 2009, nine North American and nine African scholars participated in a faculty development seminar on Christian political thought and held in South Africa. It was the second in the series cosponsored by the Nagel Institute and the CCCU. Participants stayed one week in the Gauteng area, visiting in Johannesburg, Soweto, Pretoria and surrounding areas, then one week in the Western Cape, ranging out from Cape Town. They focused on some of the most urgent issues facing South Africa, which also resonated deeply with concerns in North American and the rest of Africa: HIV/AIDS and the need for just public health policies; immigration, refugees and the crises in bordering states (Zimbabwe); democracy, political parties and governmental accountability; and constitution, the courts and executive power. Team members visited churches ministering to AIDS victims and their families and refugees, talked to public health sector agents (e.g. insurance companies), saw refugee shelters and heard of xenophobic violence, interviewed members of parliament and a presidential candidate, and conversed with the deputy chief justice of the Constitutional Court and saw him hand down a landmark decision.
Several members spoke of the life- and career-transforming power of these experiences and group reflection on them, and the group is likely to produce one or two very good books and a number of new courses at their home institutions.×
- Religion, Society, and the Rule of Law
Religion, Society, and the Rule of Law
In a mere thirty years, China has become a world economic power with the world's most dynamic economy, now second only to the United States in scale. At the same time, Chinese society has experienced fundamental changes, notably the rise of a well-educated and assertive urban middle class. The conventional wisdom is that the Chinese are very this-worldly and pragmatic people, and not generally interested in religion. But new social surveys in China show that more than 30 percent of Chinese people aged 16 and older have some religious convictions. Given the fairly recent political history of China, which saw the official promotion of atheism and the active suppression of religion, this is very surprising news. Even so, the Chinese government still attempts to manage the nation's religious affairs. In an interview last year in the China Daily, Prof. Liu Peng proposed legislation that would allow religious groups to register easily, be guaranteed freedom of belief, and be allowed to "compete freely—in a way similar to the market economy."
Can China achieve legal reform for the sake of religious freedom? As the Chinese government seems poised to consider reforming how it addresses religious belief and practice, how might Westerners understand this situation and play a more constructive role? And what might Chinese scholars of religion learn from an extended dialogue with their North American colleagues on religion and the rule of law?
This seminar on “Religion, Society and the Rule of Law” convened up-and-coming American and Chinese scholars with research interests in these issues to look at them with fresh eyes and to think together about how the Chinese government and people might address matters of religious belief and practice, and how Americans might play a constructive and supportive role. This seminar featured eight scholars from the United States and Canada and a dozen Chinese scholars with similar interests. These participants would be convened by a team of senior Chinese experts in this field, led by
- Prof. Liu Peng of CASS, and also including
- Prof Lu Yunfeng, a sociologist at Peking University and director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Religion and Society; and
- Prof. Yan Kejia, a senior researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
This seminar succeeded on several levels. It put an extraordinary opportunity before the Chinese scholars. They were able to network with the North Americans and learn more about how western Christian thinkers addressed issues of religion’s role in society and relation to the state. And not least, they were able to network with each other, across academic, regional and denominational lines. The seminar helped North American Christian scholars see the issues they study playing out in a very different cultural context, and it raised some compelling questions for them about what might be important to study in the near future. It introduced them to China, a vast and diverse nation that is both dynamic and fragile. And it put them in touch with Chinese colleagues and fellow believers, whose diligence, patience, persistence and hope are deeply inspiring. We look forward to the publication of reflective essays from team members.×
- Religious Faith and Citizenship in Africa
Religious Faith and Citizenship in Africa
In February of 2011, Lamin Sanneh and John Azumah convened African theologians and church leaders in Accra, Ghana, to consider the need for African Christians to offer public guidance on religion’s role in society and government. The Nagel Institute will provide partial support for a follow-on meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 2012, engaging Muslim leaders in dialogue with Christian leaders on these issues. Stay tuned.×
- Science, Philosophy and Belief
Science, Philosophy and Belief
Externally Funded Major Projects. Three years of funding for Chinese philosophers from John Templeton Foundation (JTF).
A multi-faceted faculty exchange program in philosophy between the Society of Christian Philosophers and several Chinese university philosophy departments:
- hosted 30 Chinese graduate students and 9 post-doctoral scholars at Calvin, Hope, Baylor and Notre Dame
- produced over 10 articles and 10 books by participants
- placed 9,395 books with Chinese scholars and philosophy department libraries
- sponsored 17 professors (several repeated) visiting lectureships in China
- conducted one major public conference in China and one intensive topical seminar in USA
- The Gospel in Culture: Contextualization Issues in an Asian Context
The Gospel in Culture: Contextualization Issues in an Asian Context
Edited by Melba Padilla Maggay
Much of the thinking and writing on contextualization of the Gospel reflects ‘western’ viewpoints. Dr Melba Maggay and twelve other contributors think through the concept of “Gospel in Culture” from various Asian perspectives. Skim the contents page on the reverse
of this sheet to see the range of topics considered.
From Back Cover Blurb:
“This book ventures to clarify from a nonwestern perspective,
issues in reading, appropriating, and transmitting the faith.” (Melba Maggay)
Dr. Maggay has assembled a fine multi-disciplinary roster of ‘insiders’ to present an Asian commentary on aspects of contextualization of the Gospel. In doing so, these writers surface some conceptual tools useful to further develop
In the Bible God respects and uses local cultures. We need to do the same if we want to see countries/cultures deeply engaged by the Gospel, in matters of consciousness, worldview, and values. It isn’t sufficient to translate ‘western’ notions of what is the essential Gospel core.
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- The Next Generation: Immigration and the Future of the Church in the City
- Turning South Series
From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian's Discovery of the Global Christian Story by Mark A. Noll
Christianity's demographics, vitality, and influence have tipped markedly toward the global South and East. Addressing this seismic shift, one of America's leading church historians shows how studying world Christianity changed and enriched his understanding of the nature of the faith as well as of its history.
Drawing on personal experience, Mark Noll illustrates the riches awaiting anyone who gains even a preliminary understanding of the diverse histories that make up the Christian story. He shows how coming to view human culture as created by God was an important gift he received from the historical study of world Christian diversity, which then led him to a deeper theological understanding of Christianity itself. Along the way, Noll shows how he came to enjoy greater respect for the particulars of the Christian tradition in which he was nurtured as he began studying Christian traditions that differed greatly from what he had known. He also offers advice to students who sense a call to a learned vocation. From Every Tribe and Nation will appeal to professors and students in history of Christianity courses as well as discipleship-of-the-mind campus ministry groups.
This book is the third in the Turning South series, which offers reflections by eminent Christian scholars who have turned their attention and commitments toward the global South and East. Please read further for information on the first two books of the series, Journey Toward Justice, and Reading a Different Story.
In order to inspire and move the rising generation of Christian scholars in the Northern Hemisphere to engage the thought world and issues of the global South more vigorously, the series books highlight such reorientations and ask what the implications of "turning South" are for Christian thought and creativity in a variety of cultural fields.
- Values and Virtues
Values and Virtues
Externally Funded Major Projects
Three years of funding for Chinese philosophers from John Templeton Foundation (JTF)
A multi-faceted faculty exchange program in philosophy between the Society of Christian Philosophers and several Chinese university philosophy departments.×
•hosted 27 Chinese graduate students and 12 post-doctoral scholars at Calvin, Hope, Baylor, Cornell, St. Louis, Yale and Notre Dame
•produced over 40 articles and 20 books by participants
•placed 13,268 books with Chinese scholars and philosophy department libraries
•sponsored 18 visiting lectureships in China
•conducted three major public conferences in China, three intensive topical seminars in Europe, and two curricular design seminars in USA.