DOCTORAL DISSERTATION | MITIGATING THE REFUGEE CRISIS : INNOVATIVE PRINCIPLES
Updated: May 23
DOCTORAL DISSERTATION | 2021
FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Title: Mitigating the Global Refugee Crisis: Innovative Principles for the Convergence of Political Theology and Multifaith Relationships Forging Ecumenical Engagement
Author(s): Titus, Christine Marie SequenziaGraduate SchoolFuller Theological Seminary, School of Theology
Advisor(s): McConnell, C. Douglas
Abstract: The goal of this study is to explore the convergence of reoriented political theology and multifaith relationships on ecumenical engagement in mitigation of the refugee crisis. The overwhelming message in Scripture urges the church to become intimately involved in the wellbeing of the refugee population at all stages. To that end, the project proposes the development of a global commission promulgating programs structured in-part to provide refocused political discourse, public square engagement as a means of cultural awareness and broad community involvement, as well as peacebuilding and global diplomatic efforts leading to prevention through justice systems transformation. The thesis was tested amongst a diverse group of stakeholders which included Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith leaders, a former White House official, an immigration attorney, notable non-profit executives, and fierce biblical justice advocates. The team analyzed research centered on current political trends implicating the church in the prolonged suffering of the refugee population. The project studied demographics of forcibly displaced persons alongside the current global immigration policy response and maladaptive behavior patterns of the American church in the public square. In an effort to pave a way forward, three areas of critical development (reoriented political theology, radical relationships, and ecumenical engagement) were identified which require the full attention of the church as it works toward holistic biblical alignment. The study culminates in a robust set of position papers meant to serve as a basis for the aforementioned commission. Innovative principles presented in the papers promote a streamlined response in the way the crisis is addressed holistically by an ecumenical expression of the American Christian enterprise on behalf of the seventy-nine and a half million refugees worldwide.
Degree: Doctor of Ministry (DMin) Genre: project
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Seventy-nine and a halfmillion people1worldwide wait in a literal purgatory while influential evangelically supportedpolitical and faithleaders actively work toward theirultimatedemise.2How has the church, saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and called to a life of service, self-denial, unity, and peacebuilding,effectively missed the mark on handling the global refugee crisis? This is a question pressing many on the front linesof the faith-based refugee response and urgently demands attention.3While slander and force grab headlines, the gospel awardsthose in Christ a guidebook for acting in the public square,although diplomatic and political activity of the church in recent times leaves much to be desired. By and large,the Christian right haveenabled a polarized political climateand lost the ability to meaningfully engage with each other andinmultifaith relationships, effectively alienatingentire people groups while shunning theirneighbor. N.T. Wright in Surprised by Scripturewrites, “the whole point of the four canonical Gospels is that the coming of God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven is not to impose an alienand dehumanizing tyranny but rather to confront alien and dehumanizing tyrannies with the news of a God—the God recognized in Jesus—who is radically different from them all, and whose justice aims to rescue and restore genuine humanness.”4The time has once again come for innovative,biblicallybased aid strategies to rise to the forefront in favor of refugees. John Newton, former slave ship captain and pastor to William Wilberforce, the member of parliament responsible for ending the British slave trade, in reflecting on his own lack of compassion and willingness to engage a suffering population,wrote “a confession (which) will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”5Throughout this project the church will be called to reflect on itsdepravity outside of God’s grace in an effort to purify a theology of compassion versus self-preservation while engaging meaningfully in cross-cultural relationships in the public square—amissionthat, itseems, has been lost amidst cultural concerns, knowledge disparities, divisions, and fears leading to a result opposite that forwhich the gospel wasintended. In addition, specific dynamics at play within stakeholder organizations will also be unpacked. Funding, alignment, political acuity, capacity,and program evaluation will be considered in concert to identify gaps leading to the lack of tangible results for forcibly displaced persons. God’s call to attend to the hungry, sick, stranger,and incarcerated providescause to consider the current state of those forcibly displaced,and an impetus to reevaluate the church’s response to afragile population is urgently at hand(Matt 25:31-40).Hence, the purpose of this doctoral project is to mitigate the global refugee crisis through the synthesis of innovativeprinciples initiating the convergence of repaired political theology and vivid multifaith engagementstrategiesaiming to yield ecumenical biblical justice projects, global justice systems transformation,and broad advancement of human dignity internationally.
1“Figures at a Glance,” UNHCR (United Nations: Genève, Switzerland: 2020) Accessed October 4, 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html.2Rachel Parker, “Dear Ivanka,” World Relief, September 29, 2020, https://worldrelief.org/blog-ivanka-trump. 3Gregory A. Smith, “Most White Evangelicals Approve of Trump Refugee Policy, Express Concerns about Extremism.” Washington, DC: PEW Research Center, February 27, 2017. 4N.T. Wright,Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues(New York, NY: HarperOne, 2014), 168-169.5Adam Hochschild,Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery(London: Pan, 2010).