As Director of Concordia University of Edmonton’s Institute for Christian Studies and Society, I want to extend a warm welcome.
In the Bible, Genesis 1:3 describes the first creative act of God as his statement, “Let there be light” – and that this light was deemed “good” by the Creator. There is also the saying of Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16, where he urges people to share their light with others. I find these to be helpful guides in setting out the mandate and ethos of our Institute.
Scholars and academics have a particular task to shed light on topics. They do this for the benefit of students, the public, and for themselves. In studies and research, we humbly imitate the creative act of God. Learning facilitated by open and respectful investigation and dialogue is indeed “good.” Knowledge is a dynamic process – as is life itself.
Concordia’s Institute for Christian Studies and Society exists to bring together those engaged in research of Christianity with the public, community members, other scholars and students. We recognize that although we may speak of “Christianity,” the Christian tradition has many branches, views, and practices. We recognize that Christianity is not the only ideology which can contribute to society, and that Christianity benefits both from sharing its views and learning about the views of others. We recognize that although Christian groups have taken a variety of stances towards larger society (affirmation, opposition, even renunciation), Christianity always exists within a social setting and has a relation to that larger context. This Institute will facilitate discussion of the types of Christianity, the stances Christians take on social issues, the roles Christians play in society, and the relationships between Christianity and other world-views.
The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber said that the “I – Thou” relationship is the highest and most authentic form of relationship. It is characterized by mutual respect between parties, humility and interest, and a willingness to give and receive, to share and to be influenced by the Other. That view is foundational to the Institute.
Dr. Steven Muir