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Psychological Science Cross-Training for Christian Theology

The John Templeton Foundation invites Online Funding Inquiry (OFI) submissions for proposals aimed at giving theologians, philosophers of religion, and scholars in religious studies who work in Christian theology (broadly construed) the opportunity to cross-train in psychological sciences (here and throughout this call broadly defined to include cognitive, social, personality, moral, developmental, evolutionary, and cultural psychology; cognitive anthropology; behavioral economics; cognitive science; and cognitive and social neuroscience). The Foundation’s objective is to help theologians, philosophers of religion, and scholars in religious studies better position themselves to conduct research in conversation and collaboration with scientists on topics at the intersection of Christian theology (broadly construed) and the psychological sciences.


The Foundation has invested significant resources in building capacity for and supporting research in science-engaged theology—a mode of theological inquiry that makes critical and substantive use of results, methods, models, ideas, and concepts from the sciences in constructive theology. The ultimate aim is to invigorate theological research by inviting theologians, philosophers of religion, and scholars in religious studies to consider how closer attention to the sciences might suggest new approaches to perennial theological questions, and perhaps even new theological questions themselves.

In the near term, the Foundation is keen to focus its support of science-engaged theological research on questions about human nature in relation to divine realities, how humans conceive of and think about divine realities, the cultivation of intellectual and moral character virtues, and the relationship between religion and human flourishing, with engagement of the psychological sciences being a key focus.

The Foundation believes that theologians, philosophers of religion, and scholars in religious studies would be greatly aided in conducting research on such questions by gaining fluency in the psychological sciences; however, such fluency is often difficult to achieve on one’s own without additional resources. While the Foundation has invested a small proportion of its funding to date in small-scale science cross-training grants to individual scholars, it wishes to expand the size and scope of its cross-training efforts to reach a wider pool. By “cross-training”, the Foundation refers to any activities that aim at helping theologians, philosophers of religion, and scholars in religious studies:

  • Increase their fluency in responsibly and critically engaging primary scientific literature
  • Foster a sense of scholarly identity that reflexively values and seeks out the potential relevance of science to theological inquiry
  • Equip them with accessible, theologically sensitive scholarly resources that allow them to learn about the latest research in psychological science
  • Build cross-disciplinary scholarly relationships with psychological scientists, in hopes of seeding future research collaborations.

Examples of such activities include (but are not limited to) supporting intensive scholarly mentoring; spending time in residence with an active psychological science research group; undertaking a formal course of study ending in a certificate or degree; producing or procuring scholarly resources that introduce scientific ideas, concepts, and results for an academic theological audience; and convening theologians with scientists for events specifically designed to help theologians better understand the contours and complexities of scientific research.

To achieve its aim, the Foundation is specifically soliciting submissions for its 2021 Online Funding Inquiry (OFI) cycle for projects to facilitate cross-training for theologians, philosophers of religion, and scholars in religious studies in psychological science.

The intake and review of project ideas will use the Foundation’s standard process for reviewing OFIs, which must be submitted by August 20, 2021. There is no cap on the amount of funding that may be requested, though proposals will be scrutinized closely for cost-effectiveness. Start dates may range as early as August 1, 2022, and as late as June 1, 2023. Project durations cannot exceed 5 years (or 57 months in the case of organizations that do not have US public charity status), though the Foundation strongly prefers projects that do not exceed 3 years (or 33 months in the case of organizations that do not have US public charity status) in length.

Please review our Funding Competition Details and Instructions page for additional information on the application and selection process.


OFI submissions invited to the full proposal stage will outline a plausible plan for a project to that does all of the following:

  1. Incentivize and facilitate intensive cross-training opportunities in psychological science for theologians
  2. Build a scholarly community of researchers self-consciously engaged in research in science-engaged theological anthropology and moral theology
  3. Create resources to facilitate continued cross-training and learning of psychological science by theologians
  4. Seed research programs in that community.

Informational Session

The Foundation held a virtual informational session on July 21, 2021, during which prospective applicants were able ask questions about how best to structure their OFIs. To view the presentation from the session, please click here.