I was raised a Baptist, learned to love the liturgy and the Lord's Supper among the Lutherans, and was taught to think theologically by American Evangelicals and Methodists. I became an “evangelical catholic” reading Braaten, Jenson, Pelikan and Neuhaus, and they in turn led me to the theologians whose works have decisively shaped my Christian and ecumenical vision: de Lubac and Congar, Lossky and Schmemann, Newman and Pannenberg.
For most of my adult life, historical theology and the praxis of Christian faith in the church have been vocation and avocation rolled into one. Martin Luther has been the steady conversation partner with whom I attempt to make sense of it. Teaching theology is for me simultaneously a professional expression of that continuing conversation, and a vocation of service to others. When teaching undergraduates, respect requires that I model the life of theological engagement in an open and inclusive way, aiming not at converting but at enabling my students to think better about the myriad theological questions they will face in their own life journeys.
Among graduate students, I try to show the same respect— cura personalis . But I also encourage them to engage theological questions armed with both intellectual tenacity and confident faith. My faith seeks understanding, and I expect theirs to do the same. I believe this is consistent with the mission and self-understanding of Marquette University as a Jesuit, Roman Catholic institution of higher learning, one that takes seriously its grounding in faith and tradition and seeks at the same time to expand the frontiers of human understanding.
My ongoing work at in Christian ecumenism also complements the ecumenical posture and membership of the Theology Department. Together, our “real but imperfect” communion embodies in a small way the worldwide dialogue that is global Christianity today.