The Faculty of Protestant Theology and Religious Studies is a modest institution, located in the heart of Brussels. However, we can boast of a long tradition. In the 16th century, Flanders was the setting for the earliest Reformation movements seeking to reform Christian culture in Europe. Ghent, Antwerp, the Westhoek and also Brussels, Kortrijk and the region around Oudenaarde experienced tumultuous times. Martin Luther's writings spread like wildfire and found a rich breeding ground in Flanders.
But times are changing. Modern culture and way of life succeeded in banishing religious strife from Europe once and for all. The Enlightenment and its ardent plea for the autonomy of the individual also changed the Christian view of man and the world. Science brought progress and continues to discover, also on a cultural-historical level, deeper roots and connections.
In this broad Enlightenment tradition, we teach and research the role and relevance of Christian culture at our faculty. In doing so, we focus on the social importance of religion. We see the pain points and frictions that distress people in a rapidly changing world. With our teaching and research, we consequently strive to deepen and resilience.
Before continuing the search for suitable education and information, I would like to draw your attention to some important emphases we cherish in Brussels. First, I would like to point out that we 'pray with our eyes open'. Our teaching and research is based on critical enquiry. The slogan of our faculty is therefore: Investigate all things and preserve the good. With this winged word, sometime in the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul encouraged the community of people formed around the testimony of Jesus of Nazareth to keep an open mind to the world. It is with this open and critical spirit that we in the faculty practice the academic disciplines related to theology and religious studies.
A second and immediately consequential accent that characterises the faculty in Brussels is its autonomy and independence. As mentioned above, it should be clear that in the Enlightenment tradition we hold human autonomy in high regard. In theological terms, this means that even human beings living 'in God's presence' (coram Deo) do not lose this autonomy, but are strengthened by it. The immediate consequence is that the academic research and teaching we accomplish at the faculty is in no way linked to any particular doctrine or interpretation. Our faculty in Brussels came into being thanks to the passionate commitment and involvement of the United Protestant Church in Belgium (VPKB), which represents a wide range of Protestant churches. Consequently, the faculty is fully pluralistic in a historical and theological sense. You may notice later in the study guide that in addition to traditional and classical views and Bible interpretations, we also pay ample attention to alternative movements, mysticism and world religions.
Finally, we are an institution of small size and we see that as an advantage. The study of theology and religion can be very confronting. The student or person of interest is confronted with himself or herself and invited to explore in depth. Because of our stature, we are able to provide personal guidance and involvement in the spiritual development that each individual goes through in search of roots and meaning. Besides plurality and depth, we also value flexibility and accessibility.
Be welcome for an introductory meeting or put your question to us via the contact form.
Prof. Johan Temmerman, Dean