On September 6, 2011 the newly formed Claremont Lincoln University officially opened. “Claremont, a Methodist institution dating back to 1885 has partnered with the Islamic Center of Southern California, the Academy for Jewish Religion and the International School for Jain Studies” [Jain is an Indian religion] to create the world’s first interreligious university. This is the first multi-religious program of its kind offering a curriculum that allows religious leaders to cross-enroll in programs that train Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders. Other Christian institutions such as Hartford Seminary train imams, but this is the first to include Jewish and Jain studies. The university hopes to eventually add Hinduism and Buddhism studies to the project.
The university will train rabbis, imam and pastors from many denominations. According to one report, “the Claremont Lincoln University will be a space where future religious leaders and scholars can learn from each other and collaboratively seek solutions to major global issues that no one single religion can solve alone.” Claremont claims they are not watering down Christianity but are taking “Christ’s commands to be peacemakers and to love our neighbor as ourselves seriously.”
In order to understand the basis for this university, it is helpful to look at the founders. Rev. Jerry Campbell, Rabbi Mel Gottlieb and Imam Jihad Turk are the co-founders of this new model of education. These three men met regularly each month for a year picking a theme, preparing and then spending a couple of hours with each other discussing what their various texts said.
Perhaps most revealing about the future direction of the university is an account about one of these meetings from an article written by Rabbi Gottlieb:
For this session, Imam Turk chose a text from the Quran that is often interpreted as meaning that those who don’t believe in Islam cannot obtain salvation. He pointed out, however, that capitalizing the word Islam in this case is a fundamentalist translation. It implies that those who believe the religion of Islam are superior. Other texts in the Quran (such as 2:62) contradict that assumption.
In fact, said Imam Turk, the correct scholarly translation of this text is to spell islam with a lower case “i,” using the word’s literal meaning: submission/yielding (to God). Since Christians, Jews and other spiritual people, as well as Muslims, yield to the Divine, they are all included in the word islam.
So according to at least one of the founders he believes all spiritual people are included in Islam. In addition, Imam Turk left out the Qur’anic verses preceding sura 2:62 that basically says if Arab pagans, Jews and Christians are in doubt concerning the Qur’an they should fear the fire of hell which is prepared for disbelievers (sura 2:22-24).
There is One, Jesus Christ, who is Truth. The scriptures warn that we are not to compromise the truth. The Word of God in II Tim. 3:7 tells us there will be those who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
PRAYER FOR EDUCATION:
- Pray for a move of God’s Holy Spirit among the students at this and other universities around our nation. Pray that the God of Truth will reveal Himself to every student and professor who have ever confessed the name of Jesus Christ as Savior in such a way that there is no room or desire for compromise.
- Pray that Muslim, Jewish and Jain students at this historically Christian University will have an encounter with the God of John Wesley and the fire of His Spirit that will fundamentally change the atmosphere of the academic world.