New divinity institute founded by father and son academics

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Photo credit: University of St Andrews

A new institute to study global problems will be based in St Andrews, it has been announced.

The Logos Institute will specialise in the study of analytic and exegetical theology.

The range of questions it will consider concern the existence and nature of God, God’s relationship to time, the nature of the person and the conceptual and social challenges confronting religious belief.

The latter will include interdisciplinary analysis of the challenges of religious hostility, sectarianism and, indeed, terrorism.

The institute is being launched by a £1.6 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation which supports research relating to the major questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.

The work of the institute is founded in the collaboration of father and son academics Alan Torrance, professor of systematic theology at St Mary’s College of the University of St Andrews, and Dr Andrew Torrance of the University’s School of Divinity.

Alan Torrance applied to the Templeton Foundation for funding to launch an institute for analytic and exegetical theology to be based at St Andrews and, separately, Andrew Torrance applied for funding to expand his work on communication with schools and churches, for which he had previously received a grant of more than £500,000.

The Foundation decided to combine the two applications to create the Logos Institute.

The new institute, which will open in the summer of 2016, builds on existing resources at the University.

These resources will be accompanied by the appointment to part-time positions of four leading international thinkers and a further full-time, senior appointment.

In addition, there will be research fellowships, six PhD scholarships and a new Masters programme as well as a series of public lectures, a blog, a website and podcasts.

Professor Alan Torrance said: “The impetus for the new institute is the remarkable sea-change that has taken place in philosophy.

Over the last three decades, a sizeable proportion of academic research in philosophy has been directed toward questions bearing on the existence of God. This renewed interest has resulted in major advances in the field and a wealth of published research. It is in the light of these significant developments that ‘analytic theology’ has emerged.

The Institute will bring this new generation of theological research into conversation with the world-class expertise we have here in biblical studies, philosophy, psychology and international relations.

“Our primary concern will be to explore the immense explanatory power of Christian theism and its relevance for how we understand the ultimate significance of human life,” said Professor Torrance.

“We shall be doing this in dialogue with exciting new developments in contemporary Biblical scholarship.

“One of the key research topics will be the nature of forgiveness and what this central Christian notion might mean for how we approach religious enmity, sectarianism and, indeed, terrorism.”

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