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INSTITUTIONAL COMMITMENTS

Fuller Theological Seminary is committed to the following principles:

Academic Freedom

In the pursuit of truth before God, faculty members are free to express, in their writing, speaking, teaching, and activities, their individual positions. While free to develop, change, and accept any academic position, the unique task of the institution requires that the ultimate positions of faculty members not be at variance with the basic theological stance of the community as set forth in the Statement of Faith and other official statements derived from it and approved by vote of the faculty and board. Fuller recognizes that as its faculty members pursue their respective disciplines, scholarship will create a healthy and dynamic tension which Fuller must encourage.

Therefore:

Faculty members are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results within their fields of academic competence. Faculty members are entitled to freedom in their classrooms to address matters within the general subject area implied by the course title and description.

Faculty members are free as individuals and as citizens to speak and write about matters, whether or not the matters are directly related to theology. While Fuller will not limit individual expression in any respect, faculty members should avoid the impression that they are speaking for the seminary.

Faculty members have the freedom to entertain positions which stand in an uncertain relationship to our community's Statement of Faith, but each member must realize that the faculty as a whole, and not its individual faculty members, has the task of interpreting the Statement of Faith.

If the community finds that a given position is consonant with the Statement of Faith, the community has a responsibility to protect the academic freedom of the individuals involved against any attacks from the public or from some segment of the seminary constituency.

If a faculty member believes that a peer has separated from the theological community at Fuller by publicly advocating a position clearly at variance with the Statement of Faith and Fuller's unique academic task, the faculty member should first approach that colleague directly and privately for clarification. If this attempt is not successful, then the two faculty members should request the aid of their dean(s) within the community to attempt such clarification. If after faculty discussion a faculty member remains convinced that a position is correct, even though it is at variance with Fuller's theological stance, that member has the right to attempt to change the Statement of Faith. The process of change must follow the procedures established for that purpose in the seminary's Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

If attempts for such changes do not receive the community's support, however, Fuller expects that a faculty member will act with integrity and leave the community rather than act in opposition to the community's confessional stance. Any faculty colleague, however, does have the right to a full hearing and investigation by the Board of Trustees, according to the procedures stated in the seminary's Bylaws and Faculty Handbook, with the understanding that the outcome of such a process may still require a severance of the relationship for the sake and interests of both parties.

Students are not required to subscribe to the Statement of Faith and are free to learn and to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in the Fuller community. In their public expressions students and student organizations should make clear that they speak only for themselves.

Faculty members are responsible for safeguarding the academic freedom of their students to learn by encouraging free inquiry into controversial issues, presenting alternative viewpoints, refraining from undue influence of the process of learning, taking dissenting student opinion seriously, and offering a forum for discussion.

Inclusive Education

Fuller Theological Seminary is committed to the admission and education of students without discrimination on the basis of gender. In welcoming women into all of its programs, the seminary thereby incurs an obligation to make all of its resources available to them as they pursue the professions and ministries-ordained or nonordained-to which the Lord has called them. The Fuller community is aware of the fact that the role of women is a matter of controversy in many denominations, churches, and parachurch movements. The seminary seeks to nurture its ties with the whole Body of Christ, including those Christian individuals and groups who presently hold alternative views on the role and ministries of women. While the seminary encourages discussion and study of this issue, under no conditions may the authority of the classroom be used to challenge the calling of any student on the basis of gender. The seminary expects all who teach in its programs to honor its commitment to this point.

Nondiscriminatory Language

The Joint Faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary has adopted the following statement expecting the use of nondiscriminatory language by all members of the seminary community as a reflection of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Fuller has adopted the statement to be consistent with the seminary's clear commitment to the full equality of women and men and, to the training of women as equal partners with men for all areas of Christian ministry, and to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As members of the Joint Faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary, we are committed to the use of nondiscriminatory language in all areas of the community's life. We recognize that many women and men no longer find "man," "men," and "mankind" acceptable as generic terms. We understand that such exclusive language, though once normative in our speaking and writing, now tends increasingly to alienate a substantial group of people. We wish to challenge patterns of language that may be doing harm even when harm is inflicted unconsciously and without intention. As Christians desiring to support human equality, we intend to avoid exclusive language which might express or encourage discrimination within the Church or society. We pledge ourselves as faculty and expect students, staff members, and administrators/managers to use language which includes women and men of all races and ethnicities in all our teaching, writing, witness, and worship and the use of nondiscriminatory language, in general.

Policies Governing Classroom Procedures

We expect students to use horizontally nondiscriminatory language in all of their work, both in oral presentations and written assignments.

As the faculty of an interdenominational institution, we recognize the fact that various communities differ in their views on the matter of language used in reference to God. We affirm the use of the classical Trinitarian formula and biblically faithful language for God. We encourage students to reflect in their writing the full breadth of the Bible's masculine and feminine imagery for God. We also encourage students to demonstrate sensitivity concerning the constellation of issues related to gender-specific language for God.

We leave to the discretion of the individual faculty member the formulation and implementation of specific requirements governing the use of nondiscriminatory language in the classroom. It is imperative that these specific expectations with respect to language be spelled out in the syllabus for the course.

Policies with respect to language, and especially language for God, should manifest pedagogical sensitivity so that openness and not hostility is fostered in our students. Course requirements should prepare students to minister in a variety of cultural contexts and teach them to articulate and to deal pastorally and theologically with issues raised by questions of nondiscriminatory language.

Additional Policies Governing Theses, Dissertations, and DMin Projects

Students writing theses or dissertations need to take into consideration the guidelines on nondiscriminatory language as formulated by their appropriate professional societies (e.g. APA, AAR, etc.).

For reasons of audience and cultural context, a faculty person who is mentoring a doctoral student may request that a particular doctoral dissertation be exempted from some aspects of the above policy, with a disclaimer inserted at the beginning of the work.

However, the burden of proof for such an exemption rests on the student, subject to approval by the mentor and the appropriate committee of the appropriate school.

Policies Governing Faculty Speaking and Writing

We pledge ourselves to model our commitment to the partnership of women and men in the Church and society by the language we use in speaking of and to other human beings. We will endeavor to be consistent and creative in using nondiscriminatory language in all our writing, public speaking, preaching and teaching.

We will also strive to enrich our ways of thinking and speaking about God as we explore the variety and fullness of biblical imagery, including both masculine and feminine metaphors for God. In our affirmation of Trinitarian orthodoxy, we intend to challenge those assumptions which diminish God's authority and majesty, and to show how the Bible's use of masculine imagery for God is not meant to reinforce patterns of thought and practice which deny women their rightful place in the Body of Jesus Christ.

Policies Governing Language In Worship

Worship leaders are urged to demonstrate sensitivity in the language of worship in the following areas: (a) using nondiscriminatory language (people, humankind versus man, men, mankind), (b) using examples and references that encompass women as well as men, and (c) using a rich variety of biblical imagery for God in order to expand our concept of God beyond exclusive masculine terms. The selection and use of hymns, scripture readings, prayers and liturgies in our public worship should reflect wherever possible this basic concern for inclusivity.

RACE, ETHNICITY, AND JUSTICE STATEMENT

Fuller Theological Seminary is committed to racial and ethnic justice and creating an  environment that promotes inclusion at every level of our institution. This commitment flows  from our conviction in equality of all people as well as our belief in God’s particular concern  for the marginalized. It is expressed in our policies listed below and enacted in our strategic plans for greater inclusion

We believe it is part of our vocation to partner with the Holy Spirit in recognizing injustice and  pursuing the healing and flourishing of human communities. We seek to learn from the  diverse heritages, cultures, and histories of all who make up the community at Fuller as we  commit ourselves in classrooms and elsewhere to initiatives that address and root out visible  and invisible forms of racism in seminary, church, and society.  

Racism is a complex phenomenon that is not accurately understood as only individual  prejudice; it involves interrelated factors that affect us all. We all participate in racism, even  against our own best intentions, because we are part of power structures, cultures, habitual  practices, insensitivities, and ignorance of others, that intentionally and unintentionally  perpetuate racist attitudes and behavior. It causes the breakdown of community; results in  alienation, disunity and segregation; and undermines our witness to Jesus Christ.  

Overcoming racism is a process that involves becoming aware of racist ideologies and their  effects, commitment to overcoming racism, confession of sorrow for participation in individual  and structural racism, concrete action aimed at racial inclusion and equity, and celebration of  new discipleship in Christ. It is not simply remorse; it is the joy of becoming participants in  Christ who overcomes divisions (Ephesians 2). It is not only individual action, but involves  examining the institutions and structures we belong to and working to change those structures  into conformity with God’s justice. Overcoming racism is an essential part of God's mission for  individuals and for Christian communities who follow Jesus Christ.  

We all need a critical theology of racial justice. Racialized and ethnic injustice is a global  phenomenon that affects the entirety of the Fuller community and the communities represented  here, even when our immediate contexts appear ethnically or racially homogenous.iIn order to  grow in love towards one another, we commit to learning the stories of the many communities  represented here, acknowledging their differences, their struggles against oppression, and  their joys in our classrooms, curriculum, and events.  

The depth of racism in our societies and its insidious effects on all of us is not easy to  understand. It includes global legacies of white supremacy and white normativity,  perspectives which have at times been so pervasive they can be hard to name and to notice:  all of us are sinners, and part of sin is hiding the truth even from ourselves. Our evangelical  heritage has often focused on individual sins and overlooked the powers and authorities, the  customs and ideologies that function in sinful, racist ways. We have often overlooked the  involvement of evangelical Christianity itself in racial and ethnic injustice and in perpetuating  whiteness as a vision of human maturity.ii We respond to our participation in injustice by  looking to the gospel we have received, a gospel of confession, repentance, grace, and new  life in Christ. 

The Fuller community has a seminary-wide commitment to the authority of the Bible for daily  living, for all of life. We have a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord over all the powers and authorities and over all our lives. We have the gift of gratitude for the presence of the Holy  Spirit, who calls all to repentance and overcomes the dividedness of humankind into many  languages by giving us the ability to engage in dialogue with one another (Acts 2). These are  precious gifts from God. We treasure them, and are committed to using them so that God's will  may be done here. We pray that these gifts will embolden and invigorate our commitment  towards racial justice.  

In light of our agreement with the above statements, we have implemented a set of policies to name and respond to incidents of racial bias and discrimination within our community. The Policy Against Discrimination Based on Race, Color, or National Origin and the Bias Incident  Response illustrate our policies governing incidents of racial discrimination, the procedure for  investigation, and potential institutional responses. The Policy Against Unlawful Discrimination,  the Policy Against All Forms of Unlawful or Prohibited Harassment in the Workplace, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statement further describe Fuller expectations and  operating procedures related to race and ethnicity.  

These policies are consistent with our commitment to racial justice. In addition to these policies,  we also commit ourselves to examining every part of our institutional life together—both our  operations and our theological, missiological, and psychological disciplines and pedagogies— so that Fuller and the education offered here become increasingly inclusive to racially and  ethnically marginalized peoples. We commit to attitudes and behaviors that honor the  communities represented here, uphold their belonging, and support their empowerment.  

As a seminary community all of us will endeavor to:  

  • promote mutual respect and interaction among all members of the community;  ● identify and reflect on our own ethnic and racial identities, their histories, and their  effects on others individually and systemically;  
  • recognize and value the various cultures, languages, and backgrounds in our  community;  
  • initiate conversations with those who are different from ourselves;  
  • listen patiently and courteously to those whose first language is not our own;  ● refuse to initiate or participate in demeaning ethnic humor or other conversations that  exhibit racism;  
  • offer honest and kind feedback to one another regarding racism whenever appropriate;  ● seek continuous feedback from communities that experience racism;  
  • work with the Trustees to promote a racially just, ethnically inclusive community, in order  to prepare students for the manifold ministries of Christ and His church;  
  • learn to recognize and resist the ideologies of white supremacy and white normativity  

As students, we applaud and uphold the commitment statements of the Seminary community  as written above. In addition, we as students will endeavor to:  

  • study and reflect on our own ethnic and racial identities and their relation to other 

identities embodied at Fuller;  

  • participate in courses, programs, and other activities that deepen our appreciation and respect for those from other ethnic communities; 
  • commit ourselves to greater sensitivity and mutuality in cross-cultural, racial, and ethnic relationships at Fuller and in our communities. 

As a faculty we will endeavor to:  

  • search for, help to create, and use curricular resources authored by people with a variety of racial and ethnic identities to help equip students to minister in diverse contexts;
  • treat students of all ethnicities and races with respect as participants, rather than only as recipients, in the educational process, offering mentoring and counseling when extra support is needed; 
  • encourage a variety of voices, points of view, and backgrounds in every classroom discussion; 
  • engage in scholarship and sabbaticals in diverse settings, to learn from other cultures and traditions; 
  • remain attentive to the effects of racism in our academic disciplines and guilds, and seek ways to mitigate that influence; 
  • audit schools, divisions, and departments concerning policies for curricular inclusiveness, as appropriate for varieties of subject matter; 
  • develop and support appropriate ethnic and intercultural academic courses, tracks, and programs, and give priority to increasing underrepresented staff, faculty, and scholarships; 
  • conduct all faculty searches in a manner that promotes the school's inclusiveness and effectiveness with the many cultures we serve; 
  • promote and participate in seminars and other resources for pursuing racial justice and nurturing intercultural life. 

As administrators/managers, and staff members we will endeavor to:  

  • provide equal treatment and access to information, resources, and services;
  • be intentionally inclusive and fair in our recruiting and hiring, and promoting practices; 
  • encourage and support the Diversity Council that monitors progress and provides educational opportunities and workshops for ongoing growth in diversity;
  • provide culturally-sensitive personnel policies and management; 
  • with leadership from the Trustees and the Development Office, seek funding that supports training and awareness programs for overcoming racism and improving our capacity to serve diverse churches; 
  • be attentive to the needs of ethnic and race specific programs, tracks, and courses. 

Initiated by CATS; rewritten by Joint Faculty Committee on Multiethnic Concerns; additions and revisions  by Student Multicultural Concerns Committee, Staff Committee, School of Intercultural Studies and  School of Psychology faculties, School of Theology Biblical Studies, Ministry Studies, and Theology  Divisions, Faculty Senate, Marianne Meye Thompson, Charles Scalise, Rich Erickson, and Barbara Bell. 

Revised May 28, 2002; JFCMC, Glen Stassen and Seyoon Kim. The statement was reviewed and edited  by JFCMC in 2008-2009. The edited version was approved by the JFCMC on June 1, 2009. The  statement was further revised by Aaron Dorsey, reviewed by members of the Diversity Council in 2020  and adopted by the Faculty Senate and Joint Faculty in May 2020. 

i Sechrest, Love L., Johnny Ramírez-Johnson, and Amos Yong. 2018. Can “White” People Be Saved?: Triangulating  Race, Theology, and Mission . Missiological Engagements Series. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.
ii Willie J. Jennings, “Can White People Be Saved?: Reflections on the Relationship of Missions and Whiteness,” in Can “White” People Be Saved? : Triangulating Race, Theology, and Mission, ed. Love L. Sechrest, Johnny Ramírez-Johnson, and Amos Yong (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018).