Fuller Theological Seminary is committed to the following principles:
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.
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.
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.
The Joint Faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary has adopted the following statement recommending the use of nondiscriminatory language by all members of the seminary community. 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.
"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 encourage students, staff members, and administrators/managers to use language which includes women and men in all our teaching, writing, witness, and worship."
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.
Racial Justice and Intercultural Life
Abolishing racism is the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, through the church, and in the world. Fuller is committed to the love that embraces cultural diversity and counters racial injustice. We recognize the equality of people of all races and nations, and we seek to learn from the diverse heritages, cultures, and histories of all who make up the community at Fuller. 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. Racism does great damage to the souls of both minorities and majorities, and to our faithfulness to Jesus Christ. It causes resentment and despair on the one hand, and arrogance and insensitivity on the other. It causes the breakdown of community; results in alienation, disunity and segregation; and undermines our witness to Jesus Christ.
Overcoming racism can be conceptualized as a four-stage process: commitment to overcoming racism, confession of sorrow for participation in individual and structural racism, concrete action initiatives, 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). Overcoming racism is an essential part of God's mission for individuals and for Christian congregations who follow Jesus Christ.
We all need a critical theology of racial justice. Many of us come from heritages formed in relatively homogeneous racial communities. Therefore we often interpret differences in terms of the narratives of our own experiences rather than the narratives of other communities with their own struggles, their own joys and ways of celebrating, their sources of defeat and despair, their experiences of oppression, their victories over obstacles, and their ways of forgiving.
The depth of racism in our societies and its insidious effects on all of us is not easy to understand: 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. This same heritage, however, gives us a powerful message of the gospel of forgiveness, confession, repentance, and new life in Christ.
Our Christian faith requires all of us to commit ourselves to respect the equal dignity of all human beings and to seek racial justice. Our belief in God's creation of humankind in God's own image (Gen 1:27) and our essential unity (Acts 17:24-26) does not allow any racial discrimination. The doctrine of general revelation and common grace should lead us to appreciate the elements of truth, goodness and beauty in other cultures as much as in our own, although they appear distorted through human sin. The great affirmation of salvation by God's grace alone and through faith alone negates any boasting or any sense of superiority of any racial group or any individual (Rom 3:21-30; 1 Cor 1:26-31; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11). The love command of the Lord Jesus (Mk 12:30-31) even for our enemies (Mt 5:44) or members of an enemy nation (Lk 10:25-37) and his emphasis on helping the weak and the oppressed must constantly remind us that a test of our discipleship lies in our conscious efforts to come to the aid of the victims of racial discrimination and confront those who discriminate.
Many exhortations in the New Testament epistles concerning forces that divide us (Gal 3:26-28, Eph 2:14) teach congregations and other Christian organizations to model the diversity and mutuality of the reign of God. We must uphold the eschatological vision of the church composed of the ransomed from "every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Rev 5:10) and celebrate its proleptic realization in our Fuller community today. We must "hunger and thirst for justice" (Mt 5:6), be willing to sacrifice our privileges for the racially disadvantaged, and work for reconciliation and peace. Thus our communal life of racial justice and harmony should be an authentication of the gospel that we preach to a world suffering from racial strife. The commitment of Christians and churches to avoid conformity with the world (Rom 12:1-2) and to admonish and encourage each other (Col 3:15-17) implies mutual correction of the sin of racism in our cultures, and gratitude for the gifts of the God the Father in each other's cultures.
Fuller's urban, multicultural settings, and our diverse student body, provide a unique opportunity to grow in our appreciation for and understanding of diversity. We are surrounded by churches of nearly every national and ethnic heritage. Together with these churches, students, and our own increasingly diverse faculty, we need to become a learning community, receptive to and embracing that diversity. We are called as an institution and as a faculty to provide academic and professional programs appropriate for the increasingly diverse world of the 21st Century where our future ministries will unfold.
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 we will not be found wanting.
Many who come to Fuller have diverse family narratives that include pride of overcoming and accomplishment, and that may include repressed guilt or shame. Our own diverse ethnic heritages can sensitize us, or blind us, to the systemic, debilitating destruction of the soul that is the heritage of segregation, of discrimination in jobs and pay, and of policies that have taught the victims of racism to abandon hope. We confess that we do not see how many persevere against odds, persist in struggle, drive for education, and sacrifice so others can experience something better. We give thanks that Christian commitment, warmth, friendliness, a sense of community, and a forgiving spirit have empowered many to survive spiritually and to support cross-cultural community in spite of discrimination.
The worldwide church is increasingly diverse. Fuller cherishes its intercultural life and its mission to the worldwide church. Let us commit ourselves to our mission to and with those around us. Let the gospel be unhindered by our theology, our ethics, and our practices. In light of our agreement with the above statements:
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 identities and how they affect others;
- 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;
- listen and speak in ways that promote learning from one another;
- seek and expect to learn from one another's varied experience;
- 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;
- provide sensitive personnel policies and management;
- work with the Trustees to promote a racially just, ethnically inclusive ministry, in order to prepare students for the manifold ministries of Christ and His church;
- 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;
- create ethnically diversified community in all areas of the seminary.
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 identities and the issues of race and ethnicity that students and instructors bring to our community;
- 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 relationships at Fuller and in our communities.
As a faculty we will endeavor to:
- search for, help to create, and use curricular resources from a variety of ethnic sources to help equip students to minister in diverse ethnic contexts;
- treat students of all ethnicities 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 minority 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 Committee that monitors progress and provides educational opportunities and workshops for on-growing growth in diversity;
- provide culturally-sensitive personnel policies and management;
- be attentive to the needs of ethnic 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.