News & Events

John Templeton Foundation Awards $3 Million to Biola University

December 21, 2011

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a $3.03 million research grant to the Biola University Center for Christian Thought, an ambitious new initiative that will bring world-renowned Christian scholars together to research, collaborate and write about important questions facing Christianity in the 21st Century.

Announced Dec. 21, this is the largest academic grant ever awarded to Biola University. It will fund the Center over the next three years, helping to produce research and resources that offer a Christian perspective on such topics as how neuroscience informs our understanding of the soul, how contemporary psychology relates to spiritual growth and how to foster intellectual virtue and civil discourse.

“In the years ahead, we envision the Biola University Center for Christian Thought will be a leading source of scholarship on some of the most important issues facing the Church, the academy and the broader culture,” said Biola president Barry H. Corey. “This will not be merely a cerebral think tank. Instead, I believe the rich conversations integrating the historic Christian truths with the big questions of our day will have currency around the family kitchen table, from the pulpit and in the media.

“Biola is tremendously grateful that The John Templeton Foundation has recognized the value of this Center and has committed to invest its generous financial support,” Corey said.

Set to launch in February 2012, the Biola University Center for Christian Thought seeks to serve as an innovative opportunity for scholars and an important resource for society. At the heart of the Center is a residential fellowship program that will bring together eight research fellows — four Biola faculty members and four external scholars — for a semester at a time to do work on a selected theme. The Center will also bring well-known “visiting scholars” to Biola’s campus for several days or weeks at a time to help facilitate the dialogue.

Over the course of each year, researchers will produce books, articles, blog posts, videos, lectures, podcasts and other resources to help address some of the questions that matter to the Church and the academy. Each year will conclude with a public conference where participants will present their research related to the year’s theme.

The Center will also include pastors’ roundtable discussions and a pastor-in-residence who will collaborate with the researchers each semester and produce a publicly available sermon series related to the research.

During its inaugural semester in the spring of 2012, influential philosophers Alvin Plantinga (Calvin College) and Nicholas Wolterstorff (Yale University) will come to the Center as visiting scholars, joining a team of eight research fellows who will focus on the theme of “Christian Scholarship in the 21st Century: Prospects and Perils.” Participants will examine the role of Christian scholarship in today’s world and seek to identify issues of particular importance for Christian scholars in years ahead.

"The goals of the Center, and the strong team of leaders that have been assembled to pursue these goals, make this a very exciting endeavor,” said John Churchill, director of philosophy and theology at the Templeton Foundation. “We're thrilled to be partnering with Biola on this undertaking, and we're confident that the Center will have a significant influence on the academy, the Church, and beyond."

The $3.03 million grant is part of the Templeton Foundation’s wider efforts to promote research and informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, theologians and the public on subjects it deems to be of public importance. The foundation describes itself as a “philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.”

“We are very grateful for this generous grant from the Templeton foundation,” said Biola professor Gregg Ten Elshof, who is serving as director of the Center, alongside professors Steve L. Porter and Thomas Crisp, who are serving as associate directors. “This grant makes it possible for us to facilitate cutting-edge Christian scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives on significant issues and questions facing our world today.”

For additional information about the Biola University Center for Christian Thought, visit the Center’s website at

Read coverage of the Templeton Foundation grant in the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Post.

Written by Jason Newell, Associate Director of Communications and Publications. For more information, please contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at or via phone at 562.777.4061.

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