Call for Papers: Political Theology and Christian-Muslim Studies

New Trends in Political Theology: Religion & Secularity in Comparative Perspectives
Christian-Muslim Studies Network
8th – 11th September 2018 at the American University of Beirut

 

The highly successful inaugural conference of the Christian-Muslim Studies Network at the University of Edinburgh in September 2017, drew more than 60 academics and faith leaders from over 15 countries. The conference explored emerging trends and conversations in Christian-Muslim studies. The organisers now invite proposals for papers for our second conference on the theme of political theology. The conference is planned for 8-11 September, 2018 in Beirut, Lebanon.

  • The conference title is New Trends in Political Theology: Religion and Secularity. Notwithstanding the Western and Christian origins of the discipline of political theology, Islamic and secular perspectives have significantly shaped its trajectory. Christians, Muslims and secularists can now agree that there is no single history or unitary manifestation of the ways in which religious and theological thought engages with politics. Rather, religious and secular traditions deploy theological constructs in a variety of ways to inform accounts of their own identity and authority. Like all aspects of theology, political theology has shown itself capable of serving different—even contradictory—purposes. We invite papers that explore the ways in which theology constitutes a major source and an inescapable framework of systematic political thought, concepts and practices. We are particularly interested in papers that engage with one or more of the following themes:
  • Historical and contemporary perceptions of political theology within Christian and Muslim religious thought; attempts to accommodate political theology within the overall theological, jurisprudential and political frameworks of Christianity and Islam; comparative readings of Christian and Muslim political theology in their classical and contemporary forms; ongoing transformations in Christianity and Islam as a result of their engagement with contemporary politics with a specific focus on Muslim majority countries and societies.
  • The dialectical engagement between the religious and the secular in politics. This includes the religious and theological genealogies of secularity, the accommodation and regulation of political theology and religion in secular and liberal political space and of secularity in religious spaces.
  • The role of theology in contemporary political practice in local, regional or international contexts. Christian and Muslim challenges to dominant political, economic and social power structures which include global issues of poverty and conflict.  Finally, exploration of theological challenges to the notion of the secular nation state and secular conceptions of political legitimacy.

Abstracts (up to 500 words) should be submitted to ar.mustafa@ed.ac.uk by 19 February 2018. Notification for accepted papers will be circulated by 15th March 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact ar.mustafa@ed.ac.uk.

With support from the Henry Luce Foundation, a select number of grants will be available to some participants (with priority given to those without any institutional support).

The Christian-Muslim Studies Network hosts Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan

The Christian-Muslim Studies Network welcomed His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad of Jordan to New College at the University of Edinburgh May 22.

As a world leader in promoting interfaith harmony between Muslims and Christians, Prince Ghazi’s lecture discussed the need for civil dialogue that does not ignore differences. His framework rests on the shared commandment of Christianity and Islam to love God and neighbor.

‘Jesus gives you an anthropology of love in the two commandments [to love God and love neighbour]’, Prince Ghazi said, explaining that a believer must understand love in order to direct its power. ‘Love will see you through your pain and your death without pain.’

Prince Ghazi suggested that love can lead to successful interfaith dialogue that reaches mainstream believers, and not only their leaders. He defined such ‘successful’ dialogues as discussions ‘where people learn from each other,’ but said it must reach mainstream believers and not only their leaders.

Dr Joshua Ralston offered a response to Prince Ghazi’s lecture and argued all who want interreligious harmony must be willing to explore both their commonalities and their differences.

‘If we’re going to have a deeper understanding between Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, secularists, and atheists, it isn’t going to come from papering over our differences or pretending they don’t matter, but in finding ways to go deeper into our particularity, but also allowing that particularity to crack open to our neighbour and to others in acts of religious learning,’ Dr Ralston said.

Both discussed the ways in which love provides guidance on the journeys toward God and toward the neighbour.

‘When you are merciful to someone you give them something, but when you love someone you give them you’, Prince Ghazi said.

Dr Ralston added that Christians and Muslims share the need for both love and law, which are ‘mutually reinforcing tools on the journey towards God.’

In addition to his lecture, titled, ‘Between us and you: Reflections on love as the ‘common word’ in Christian-Muslim relations’, the Jordanian prince offered counsel to students of Christian-Muslim relations during a lunchtime discussion.

Prince Ghazi advised students who want to contribute to interfaith harmony to read widely so they are prepared to explore others’ differences with depth and clarity.

Muslim students should ‘know the Quran by heart,’ while Christian students should study the King James Bible, and all should read the collected works of Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare. These classics, the prince insisted, teach the art of language and communication, which is the essence of complex thinking and problem-solving.

‘I found it inspiring to listen to Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and observe his way of thinking and the way he responded to our questions,’ said Elizabeth Marteijn, a PhD student in World Christianity with an emphasis in Palestinian theology. ‘he is a leading voice in the field of Christian-Muslim dialogue, and it is a privilege to have met him in person.’

Students found the reading assignment intriguing.

‘He’s really inspired me to read more’, said Charlotte Madden, a fourth-year undergraduate in Religious Studies.

Others were intrigued by his model of scholarly engagement in political leadership.

‘He is the closest thing I know to Plato’s philosopher ruler’, said Nathan Hood, a masters student in Theology and History. ‘He is a very thoughtful man, and had a lot of dignity and respect in the way he spoke.’

Professor Paul Foster, Dean of the School of Divinity, who joined the Network in welcoming Prince Ghazi to New College, noted the growing interest in Christian-Muslim studies among both students and the School of Divinity as an institution.

The Inaugural Conference of the Christian-Muslim Studies Network

From the 4th through the 6th of September, 2017, scholars from five continents will gather together at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh for the inaugural international conference of the Christian-Muslim Studies Network. Reframing Christian-Muslim Encounters: Theological and Philosophical Perspectives will critically examine the existing field of Christian-Muslim Studies and constructively analyse historic and current paradigms for theological, scriptural, and philosophical debate

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