Alumna Receives Lilly Research Grant to Study Interfaith Theology

March 30, 2011 - Kristin Johnston Largen (Ph.D. ’02), Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (PA), has received a prestigious 2011-2012 Lilly Theological Research Grant for Seeking God among our Neighbors: Toward an Interfaith Systematic Theology.

Largen's book, which she will research in fall 2011, falls under the general heading of Systematic Theology, but is developed more specifically from an interreligious perspective. It treats three core theological loci—God, creation, and humanity—explicating them from a Christian perspective, with one significant additional component: substantial and rich engagement with the four other world religions. 

An appendix, titled “Praying with My Neighbor,” will come directly out of field research, taking the shape of “lived” theological reflection on personal engagement with the neighbor in the context of shared worship experiences and conversation.

The key component of this project is travel. Largen has planned trips to four key cities around the world, each of which has a special place of honor in one of four world religious traditions: Varanasi, India; Kyoto, Japan; Istanbul, Turkey; and Jerusalem, Israel.  In each of these cities, she will engage in a wide variety of worship experiences and conversations with different religious leaders—both in the different faith communities and in different academic contexts.  

She hopes that some of the important, constructive reflection that occurs in the academy by comparative theologians might be brought into the churches—a tool for future public ministers to use in their ministries, to invite congregants into a new way of thinking about the positive role non-Christian religions might play in their own understanding of their faith.

Seeking God among our Neighbors provides a lens through which Christians might first, see God’s work and presence more broadly in the world, in surprising and unexpected places; second, see their own faith with new eyes, in new ways; and third, discover anew their own interconnectedness with the neighbor in particular, and the cosmos in general, inspiring Christians for a more constructive way of living in the world.

Among other things, Largen is the author of What Christians can learn from Buddhism: Rethinking Salvation and is the editor-in-chief of Dialog.