On Knowing Humanity Project Seeks Christian Perspective in Anthropology

     Anyone on campus who has studied human nature knows how difficult it is to examine without first adapting a secular mindset. In the modern era, studying the interactions between different people and cultures is often viewed in a light that keeps God out in the dark. Eastern’s On Knowing Humanity project seeks to put the spotlight of creation back on its creator.

     Eloise Meneses, David Bronkema, Lindy Backues, Eric Flett and Benjamin Hartley have been working on a research project they have entitled On Knowing Humanity (OKH). This project has been ongoing for the past five years. According to an article written by Dr. Meneses, “the purpose of the project is ‘to promote the development of a Christian faith-based approach to anthropology [the study of humankind].’”

     Anthropology is a discipline founded in secular ideals. To study cultures and people from a standpoint of naturalism (the belief that there is no divinity) is not a simple task for a group of Christian researchers. Because of this, the OKH has sponsored student research grants “in amounts ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.” These projects are being funded so students will be able “to address the question, ‘How might anthropology gain a deeper understanding of the human condition with insights from theology and faith-based ethnography [the scientific description of the customs of individual peoples and cultures]?’”

     Along with this question, the OKH seeks to answer three other main questions: “How does the human spirit interconnect with the human mind and body in the course of everyday life?”, “What difference does the existence of the divine make to human life and cultural process?” and, “How might the reintroduction of teleology, the study of meaning and purpose, enrich the conversation in anthropology on matters such as human origins, development, diversity, commonality and destiny?”

     Students who received the 2016 grants are currently researching the answers to these questions in various countries around the world. There are students researching “the good life and personhood in Uganda, the evangelical church in Palestine, hominid mortuary practices as they are related to the Imago Dei, Christians and traditional religious symbols in Ghana, identity formation among multicultural church youth, concepts of radical evil in Pentecostalism and the rehumanization of child survivors of trafficking in Nepal.”

     Along with their multiple projects around the globe, the OKH project will publish an online journal entitled On Knowing Humanity: Anthropological Theory and Ethnography Through the Eyes of Faith. The journal will be an open invitation to scholars across the USA to “join in the work of constructing a new approach to anthropology that is creatively engaged with Christian thought.”

     Source: Eastern Magazine

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