Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Historical Theology, Biblical Reception History, Diaspora Missiology, Christian Identity Formation, Prayer, Pentecostal studies

20162023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

The overarching question that I seek to address in my research is: How did we get to now? The diverse theologies of global Christianity have come to us through the historical interaction of Scripture, people, tradition, politics, sociological dynamics and culture. We may reject or accept the teachings that we have inherited.  We may uncover the richness of our tradition or expose its deficiencies. But in all cases we recognize that theology, at its core, requires a continual engagement with its past. Those who are indifferent to its history show contempt for the forces that have shaped, and will continue to shape, Christian identity.  

In its interaction with Scripture, historical theology considers both texts, and their reception over time. It is recognized that in order to fully understand the Bible, we must study the history of its understanding. Markus Bockmuehl has noted the place of a biblical text “clearly comprises not just an original setting but a history of lived responses to the historical and eternal realities to which it testifies. The meaning of a text is in practice deeply intertwined with its own tradition of hearing and heeding, interpretation and performance.” [1] Thus, the object of our enquiry must not be confined to an analysis of the ideas embodied in the words of a text. We must also endeavor to uncover the “history of lived responses” among the communities who have embraced its message.

A danger inherent to historical theology is that it risks becoming a glorification of the past. This is the path to irrelevance, as the Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel has noted:

It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion—its message becomes meaningless.[2] 

I believe that the purpose of theology is to address the most pressing questions of global communities today.  It is in this light that we must never allow our traditions to become relics: vestiges of the dead whose value is patent only to those who believe in their power. Rather we must view the traditions of the Christian faith as transformative ideas that still hold the power to shape human history.  Historical theology illuminates the factual record of Christianity’s influence. Some will view this narrative in an uncritically positive light. Others will see it as primarily negative.  And most will discern both aspects of this faith’s contribution to the human story over the past two thousand years. The historical theologian assists those who endeavor to know what has happened in history and why. Understanding how we got to now is requisite to answering the question Where do we go from here? And simply put, that is why historical theology matters.

[1] Markus Bockmuehl, Seeing the Word: Refocusing New Testament Study (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 65.

[2] Abraham Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 1955),3.

 

 

Education/Academic qualification

Historical Theology, PhD, The Lord's Prayer: Origins and Early Interpretations, University of Nottingham

Award Date: 10 Dec 2014

Master of Divinity, Bethel University, St Paul, MN

Award Date: 7 Jun 2006

External positions

PhD Supervisor, Seminario Sudamericano, Quito, Ecuador

Mar 2018 → …