Lutheran theologian to speak at 2003 Goshen College Commencement May 25

GOSHEN, Ind. — During this year’s commencement address, a leading science and religion theologian and writer will inspire and encourage Goshen College graduates for their post-college futures.

Philip J. Hefner, professor emeritus of systematic theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, will deliver the commencement address to Goshen College’s 2003 graduates at 3 p.m. May 25 in the Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center during the 105th commencement.

His presentation, titled “Freedom as Gift and Challenge,” will highlight commencement ceremonies in which more than 200 students will receive Goshen College diplomas.

Hefner said, “There has never been a greater need for men and women who will exercise their freedom to change the conditions of life that we now face. The gift of freedom is that we can make the decisions and carry out the actions that can bring change. The challenge of freedom is that we must not allow ourselves to feel helpless or to be caught up only in serving self.”

Professor of Physics Carl Helrich anticipates Hefner’s contribution to commencement weekend. “Phil is a highly respected scholar working on the boundary between religion and science,” he said. “He has proposed the concept that humans are God’s ‘created co-creators.’ That is, we are created by God, but we have creative powers as well, and that our hands can be used by God as those of co-creators.”

Hefner, editor-in-chief of “Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science,” is director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science until May 1. He is also an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Hefner studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Tübingen, Germany, in 1954, and received his doctorate from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1962. He has been awarded the Russell Fellow from the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences; the Academic Fellow from the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science; a Fellow for the Society for Values and Higher Education; Templeton Best Books in Religion-and-Science Award for “The Human Factor”; Honorary Vice-President for the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science; and Hefner is a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion.

Hefner has published seven books and more than 150 scholarly articles. His books include “Defining America: A Christian Critique of the American Dream” (Fortress Press, 1974) and “The Human Factor: Evolution, Culture, Religion” (Fortress Press, 1993). Fortress Press is publishing Hefner’s new book, “Technology and Human Becoming,” to be released in April 2003.

“I have attempted to balance a concern for the theology of the Christian tradition, and of Lutheranism, with attention to contemporary culture, particularly the arts and the natural sciences,” Hefner said.

Goshen College is a national liberal arts college known for leadership in international education, service-learning and peace and justice issues in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program and exceptional educational value, GC serves about 1,000 students in both traditional and nontraditional programs. The college earned citations of excellence among U.S.News & World Report and Barron’s Best Buys in Higher Education. For more information, visit

Editors: For information, contact Jodi Hochstedler at (574) 535-7572 or