From the Dean
Javier A. Viera brings experience in the church and in community outreach that will enrich the work of the Theological School and the university as a whole. Before beginning his appointment at Drew on July 1, he was executive minister of Christ Church in New York City. He previously served as senior minister at Mamaroneck (N.Y.) United Methodist Church. Viera holds advanced degrees from Duke, Yale and Columbia. He advises and co-directs doctoral student dissertations at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has delivered sermons at both Harvard and Yale and has served on the governing boards of the divinity schools at Yale and Duke. His scholarly work is in interreligious dialogue and relations and comparative religions Viera is also a Fellow of the Shalom-Hartman Institute/AJC Christian Leadership Initiative in Jerusalem. A native of Puerto Rico, Viera has two daughters and enjoys playing tennis and baseball.
The headlines often portray the religion versus science debate as acrimonious and irreconcilable, and the predominant story is that ours is a time of fierce contention between theologians and secularists and scientists. Yet this sensationalist narrative fails to see the larger story, the larger truth, of great cooperation, creativity and innovation between the scientific and theological disciplines. We live in an exciting age in which the boundaries of knowledge and exploration are regularly being expanded, and in which the old and tired narrative of division between realms of research and enquiry are giving way to a new age of multidisciplinary investigation and collaboration.
This has great promise and implications for the work of the church and its leaders. No longer can pastors and theologians engage in what Professor Sarah Coakley has described as “acceding to their own marginalization by remaining in their corner of the university talking to each other.” Her preference is rather to explore “how pastoral theology can come into creative interaction with secular thought, how it can make its case for itself, not in a bludgeoning but an engaging fashion.” This is what we hope will be evident in the 2014 Tipple-Vosburgh lectures. These will be a series of conversations exploring the exciting and growing arenas of engagement in the various fields of scientific and theological cooperation. More importantly, they will be opportunities to deepen your understanding of the generative work that is redefining what it means to be human, what it means to be a spiritual being and what it means to engage ethically and faithfully in the modern world.
I hope you’ll join me in these timely and thought-provoking conversations. They promise to contribute new insights and challenges for our leadership in the church and in the world. I look forward to welcoming you to campus and to beginning what I hope will be ongoing and fruitful conversations.
Dr. Javier A. Viera,
Dean, Drew Theological School
From the TAA President
In the course of a dozen years of pastoral ministry, I’ve learned that there are two main impediments to faith.
The first is one we theologians feel qualified to talk about: the problem of evil and suffering. We can’t solve it, but at least seminary teaches us how to discuss it in an intelligent way.
The same can’t be said of the second one: the “problem” of science. It’s not a new issue, of course. The church has wrestled with the relationship between faith and scientific exploration since at least 1633, when Galileo’s belief in heliocentrism was deemed heresy. Four hundred years later, here we are, still struggling with science as churches debate evolution and climate change.
In a world driven by wireless technology, where “the cloud” knows all, genetically modified organisms are everywhere and medicine will soon be personalized to our genome, the church can’t avoid the subject. If we fail to help our people create a coherent worldview at the intersection of faith, science, ethics and justice, we have failed to prepare them for discipleship in 2014.
It’s my hope that Tipple-Vosburgh 2014, “Faith, Science and the Church’s Voices,” will get us ready for that conversation. Come join us.
The Rev. Joseph P. Monahan T’03
President, Theological School Alumni Association