Center for Philosophy of Religion receives $1.3 million grant

by Kate Cohorst

Center for Philosophy of Religion

The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion (CPR) has received a $1.3 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to promote research at the intersection of philosophy and theology.

The award is part of a four-year, $5.7 million initiative called “Analytic Theology: The Convergence of Philosophy and Theology.” Researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria and the Shalem Center in Jerusalem also are involved in the research project.

“My goal is to help change how philosophy of religion and systematic theology are done—to help them become more interdisciplinary and to help theologians and analytic philosophers of religion find productive ways to engage and benefit from each other’s work,” says Michael Rea, a professor of philosophy and CPR director.

As part of the project, CPR will offer course development grants, residential research and dissertation fellowships, and summer research funding for faculty and graduate students. The center also is sponsoring an annual lecture series at the American Academy of Religion, organizing a series of workshops, and creating discussion groups that will bring philosophers and theologians together to hear speakers and converse about topics related to analytical theology.

The theme for the 2011 workshop is “Divine Revelation: Meaning, Authority, and Canon.” Topics will include canon formation and questions about the nature and mode of divine revelation, the nature of scriptural authority, textual meaning and biblical interpretation.

Rea says the time is ripe for greater constructive engagement between the disciplines of philosophy and theology.

“In the 19th and early 20th centuries, currents in both philosophy and theology made both disciplines inhospitable to robust theorizing about the nature and attributes of God, and about the details of core religious doctrines,” he says. “But the discipline of philosophy has changed substantially over the past 50 years, becoming now fertile ground for such theorizing.”

The Center for Philosophy of Religion in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters promotes work on topics in the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology, and encourages the development and exploration of specifically Christian and theistic philosophy.

The Templeton Foundation strives to be a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life’s biggest questions, ranging from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness and creativity.