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 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.
We recognize that “man,” “men,” and “mankind” are unacceptable as generic terms. Such exclusive language, though once normative in our speaking and writing, alienates a substantial group of people and causes harm, even when harm is inflicted unconsciously and without intention. As Christians who support human equality, we seek to avoid exclusive language, which expresses or encourages discrimination within the church or society. We expect faculty, students, staff members, and administrators/managers to use language that 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 nondiscriminatory language in all of their work, both in oral presentations and written assignments.
As the faculty of an interdenominational institution, we recognize 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 (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and biblically faithful language for God (for example, as used in the Fuller Statement of Faith, revised May 2021). Nevertheless, we expect students to develop in their writing an appreciation of the full breadth of the Bible’s masculine and feminine imagery for God. It is imperative that faculty spell out these specific expectations with respect to language in the syllabus for each course.
Policies with respect to language, and especially language for God, should manifest pedagogical wisdom so that openness 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 Language In Worship
Worship leaders are urged to demonstrate sensitivity in the language of worship in the following areas: (a) using nondiscriminatory language (people versus men, humankind versus mankind), (b) using examples and references that encompass women as well as men, and (c) using a rich variety of both feminine and masculine biblical imagery for God. The selection and use of hymns, scripture readings, prayers, and liturgies in our public worship should reflect wherever possible this expectation of 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).
Inclusion and Empowerment of Women
Fuller Theological Seminary is committed to the inclusion and empowerment of women at every level of our institution. We delight in the ways women globally use their gifts to serve our church and world, and we want to create an environment in which women thrive, not only for the benefit of women but for the benefit of all. We acknowledge the ancient and pervasive systems of patriarchy, male normativity, and sexism within our society, in Christianity, and in evangelicalism, and we commit to addressing the inequity born of those systems. Patriarchal attitudes within religion and higher education have valued male-normed models of leadership, discouraging or excluding highly competent women from decision-making roles and from bringing their own innovative and effective approaches to enacting kingdom vocations. The relentless demand for women’s unpaid caregiving labor outside the workplace and the failure of many employers and institutions to accommodate for such demands create an additional barrier for women to pursue their vocation, often holding them back from rising to higher levels of leadership. Specifically, in higher education institutions, including seminaries, these factors have resulted in a dearth of women in the pipeline that leads to executive, administrative, and/or tenured positions, if not their explicit exclusion from these positions.
Further, the seminary recognizes the intersectional nature of such patriarchal, male normative, and sexist systems and the compounded effect of their oppression on women of color and women who identify with other marginalized groups around the world. For example, exclusion due to either gender or race should not be engaged in isolation, leaving women of color doubly marginalized. We are committed to addressing and honoring the intersectional experiences of women at Fuller and welcome their perspectives and gifts as vital contributions to the Fuller community.
Fuller has a long history of including women in education, welcoming women as students in 1948 for individual courses, one year after the seminary’s founding, and hiring the seminary’s first woman faculty member in 1952. After offering limited degrees to women students, in 1966 Fuller accepted women into all its degree programs. In 1976, the Office of Women’s Concerns was established. In 1983, Professor of New Testament David Scholer wrote “A Biblical Basis for Partnership: Women and Men in the Ministry of the Church,” which articulated Fuller’s stance and commitment on the issue. And in 1990, the “Policies Governing the Use of Nondiscriminatory Language,” with accompanying guidelines, were formally approved by Fuller’s faculty and board. While Fuller’s history reflects a progressive inclusion of women, we recognize how far we as an institution still have to go in creating a truly inclusive, equal, and empowering community for women at Fuller.
Biblical and Theological Support for Women’s Equality
Fuller’s commitment to the equal treatment and empowerment of women is rooted in Scripture, beginning with the Creation account, wherein man (’adam), a generic term meaning the “human person,” is created in God’s very own image (Gen 1:26–27; 5:1–2), which includes the identification of persons as male and female and suggests mutuality of women and men, rather than any notion of male headship or female submission. This mutuality is confirmed by the fact that both the man and the woman together, without distinction, are charged with responsibility for all of God’s creation (Gen 1:26, 28). Further, by his teaching and actions, Jesus affirmed the worth and value of women as persons to be included along with men within God’s love and service, while also rejecting cultural and social laws and attitudes that excluded or demeaned women. Read this article for a more robust argument articulating Fuller’s biblically supported position on the specific issue of women’s equal partnership in ministry.
The Fuller community is aware that the conviction regarding the role of women varies within denominations, churches, and parachurch movements and is committed to fostering an environment of ecumenism and respect.
Nevertheless, under no conditions may a member of the Fuller community challenge the calling of any person on the basis of gender. In fact, Fuller is committed to actively opposing patriarchy, male normativity, and sexism in whatever expression, both in and outside the classroom, and working for the flourishing of women in any vocation or leadership role.
Institutional Commitment and Policies
As the Fuller community, we must actively cultivate an institutional culture of belonging and empowerment of women where patriarchal attitudes, male normativity, sexism, and an imbalance of power between women and men is not acceptable. It is in that spirit that we commit ourselves to addressing instances of microaggressions, as well as internalized and institutional sexism at every level of our community.
In light of this, we have implemented a set of policies to name and respond to incidents of sexism and bias against women, as well as policies that will shape attitudes and behaviors that honor women at Fuller, uphold their belonging, and support their empowerment.
As a seminary community all of us will devote energy to:
- decentering patriarchy and male normativity from all structures, systems, policies, and settings, and cultivating mutuality, respect, and participation among all members of the community;
- identifying and reflecting on our own experience of gender, its history, its effects on others individually and systemically, and how it intersects with race, ethnicity, and other social/cultural identities;
- amplifying the voices and contributions of women in our community;
- recognizing and refusing to participate in the ideologies and behaviors of patriarchy, male normativity, and sexism;
- seeking and offering honest and kind feedback regarding experiences of patriarchal attitudes, male normativity, and sexism;
- working with the Board of Trustees to normalize the inclusion and empowerment of women in every structure and setting;
- embodying a commitment to uphold the worth, dignity, belovedness, and flourishing of women as essential to furthering the kingdom of God within and beyond the Fuller community.
As students we will devote energy to:
- studying and reflecting on our own experiences of gender;
- participating in courses, programs, and other activities that deepen our appreciation and respect for women;
- committing ourselves to greater sensitivity and mutuality in relationships between men and women;
- encouraging and respecting the voices, points of view, and backgrounds of women, both students and faculty, in learning environments.
As a faculty we will devote energy to:
- decentering patriarchy, male normativity, and sexism from curricula, identifying women as integral participants, contributors, and experts in their fields;
- searching for, helping to create, and incorporating resources authored by women;
- encouraging women’s voices, points of view, and backgrounds in every class discussion and in interactions and meetings with fellow faculty and staff;
- exposing the effects of patriarchy, male normativity, and sexism in our academic disciplines and guilds, and seeking ways to eradicate that influence;
- auditing schools, divisions, and departments concerning policies for the curricular inclusion and empowerment of women;
- developing and supporting appropriate academic courses, tracks, and programs committed to the inclusion and empowerment of women, and maintaining equitable staff, faculty, and scholarship opportunities for women;
- conducting all faculty searches in a manner that promotes the school’s commitment to the inclusion and empowerment of women;
- promoting and participating in seminars, workshops, and other resources for pursuing the inclusion and empowerment of women.
As administrators/managers and staff members we will devote energy to:
- providing equal treatment and access to information, resources, and services for both men and women;
- being intentionally inclusive and fair to women in our recruiting and hiring, and promoting practices;
- encouraging and supporting the Diversity Council, which monitors progress and provides educational opportunities and workshops for ongoing growth in the inclusion and empowerment of women;
- providing personnel policies and management sensitive to the inclusion and empowerment of women;
- with leadership from the Board of Trustees and the Development Office, seeking funding that supports training and awareness programs for overcoming patriarchy, male normativity, and sexism and improving our capacity to serve women who lead in diverse settings;
- paying close attention to the needs for programs, tracks, and courses tailored to the inclusion and empowerment of women;
- an annual assessment of an equitable staff compensation strategy for men and women;
- through annual performance evaluations, regular check-in meetings, and other structures, ensuring that women are experiencing a hostility-free and empowering work environment and have all the resources, tools, and information needed to thrive and advance in the institution.
This statement was approved by the Diversity Council in May 2022 and the Academic Council and Joint Faculty in June 2022.