U.S. forces tenured Fuller theologian to leave country
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen is a tenured associate professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and one of the most prominent evangelical theologians in the world, having published important works on pneumatology (the work of the Holy Spirit), Christology, and other subjects.
And now he's back in his native Finland, having been forced out of the country by the Department of Homeland Security.
Howard Loewen, dean of Fuller's School of Theology, told Ecumenical News International and Religion News Service that the visa rules are to blame. The problem behind one new rule, governing visas for religious professionals, isn't described in detail. But another new rule is problematic for several schools: A seminary must now be directly tied to a single denominational body for the U.S. government to consider it legitimate. Since Fuller is interdenominational, it apparently no longer counts.
"I suspect that Fuller looks to [the government] more like a multidenominational university rather than a training ground for ministers," the dean told The Christian Century, which broke the story (but doesn't offer it online).
"If a theology professor from Finland can't stay here, there is something wrong with the administrative process," Kärkkäinen said. "A free and democratic society should be able to discern those who are a threat and those who can make a contribution."
There are many unanswered questions. Will the new rules affect other Fuller faculty members? Kärkkäinen is not the school's only non-American. And what about other seminaries? Many of the country's top evangelical seminaries, including Dallas, Gordon-Conwell, and Asbury, aren't directly ...1