Featured author - Dr. Robert Lilleasen
Dr. Robert Lilleaasen, head of research and associate professor in Practical Theology at Fjellhaug International University College in Oslo, Norway, introduces himself.
In the current issue of EJT I have written an article on religious freedom in Norway. The material investigated was collected from Norwegian media and the public discourse on the role of evangelical Christians in society. What motivated me to investigate this topic was the tension observed in the Norwegian society between a national legislation that protects religious freedom and a public discourse that increasingly seem to challenge this human right.
The article is part of an institutional research project on religious freedom and religious persecution. At Fjellhaug International University College we have for the past couple of years focused our research on Freedom of Religion and Beliefs (FoRB). Involved in the research are members of the faculty from various theological disciplines from our three campuses. The project has also opened opportunities for cooperation with researchers from ETF Leuven and FTH Giessen, theological institutions similar to Fjellhaug.
At the 2018 FEET conference in Prague, I got to know researchers with the same interest in FoRB as a field of research. These contacts have been important to my research and the development of FoRB as a field of research at Fjellhaug. I hope that FEET and the FEET conferences can further strengthen their focus on research and cooperation between researchers and theological institutions. In my view high-quality research, in combination with the training of next generation leaders, is the best gift that we who are involved in theological education can give the church. Fjellhaug International University College is a private, Christian University College with public accreditation. Our history goes back to 1898, when the institution was established to train future missionaries. The institution was named Fjellhaug in 1914 when it moved to Fjellhaug in Oslo, Norway. In 2012 the institution expanded with a campus in Copenhagen and in 2019 with a campus in Aarhus (both Denmark). Today Fjellhaug has more than 400 students and approximately 40 researchers and teachers.
I was born in the south-eastern part of Norway, close to the Swedish border. Today I live in Oslo with my wife and our three children. I was raised in a Christian family and I have had an interest in theology for as long as I can remember. One early influential writer was the Swedish bishop, Bo Giertz. For me, the decision to study theology was in the end a decision to follow my interest in exploring what I experienced as the most important question in my own life. I never had a long-term plan to be a pastor or missionary, I only wanted to study theology. Maybe this is why I am still at the University College studying theology. I did my bachelor’s degree at Fjellhaug, and my master at the MF school of theology specialized in the New Testament.
My research interest is religious practice, church and the relationship between church and society. I did my PhD in 2016 (published at Peter Lang in 2018) at the Norwegian School of Theology, writing a thesis on worship and ecclesiology. Since then I have contributed to research on short term mission, Christian formation, and changes in society relevant to religion and church. I teach introductory courses on practical theology, and master’s courses in ecclesiology and sociology of religion. In addition, I have the privilege to supervise master’s and PhD projects.
List of peer reviewed publications Old Paths and New Ways. Negotiating Tradition and Relevance in Liturgy (New York: Peter Lang, 2018)
Articles: ‘Religion between National Legislation and Local Policies’, European Journal of Theology 31.1 (2022).
‘Short Term Mission and Formation – A Norwegian Perspective’, Mission Studies 37.2 (2020)
‘Gudstjenesten i et dannelsesperspektiv’, Dansk Tidsskrift for Teologi og Kirke 47.3 (2020).
With Ingebjørg Nandrup: ’Opplevelse, dannelse og misjonspraksis – korttidsmisjon fra Norge’, Norsk tidsskrift for misjonsvitenskap (2018). ‘Norwegian Religiosity and Ecclesial Ideals in a Late-modern Age’, European Journal of Theology (2018).
‘Likedanning i det norske kirkelandskapet’, Tidsskrift for praktisk teologi (2017).
‘Kritisk realisme og gudsmøte’, Teologisk tidsskrift (2017).
‘Gudsmøtet og det tredje ledd’ in Tom Erik Hamre, Erling Lundeby and Arne Redse, Barnetro og trosopplæring (Oslo: Fagbokforlaget, 2014) 263-277.