Overview of My Scholarly Work
I have focused my scholarly work in three basic categories: (1) Relational, Pentecostal-Charismatic, and Wesleyan Theologies, (2) Education, Religion, and School Choice, and (3) General Christian Interdisciplinary Studies (literature, humanities, etc.). My interests are broad and deep, and include intersections of public and private education issues, theology and science, religion and social science, religion and education, and the methodology and practice of interdisciplinary studies themselves.
I earned my Ph.D. at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, where Archbishop Desmond Tutu served as Chancellor. UWC was the first anti-apartheid university in South Africa and was known affectionately as the “intellectual home of the left” during that era. I studied in the Faculty of Arts, Department of Religion and Theology under eco-theologian Ernst M. Conradie. Thomas Jay Oord, an open and relational Nazarene theologian, served on my dissertation committee. My dissertation topic has become a major focus of my scholarly work: Pentecost, Process, and Power: A Critical Comparison of Concursus in Philosophical Process-Relational Theology and Operational Pentecostal-Charismatic Theology (or Click Here for an abstract from the Philosophy Documentation Center).
I also earned a master’s and doctoral degree (M.Litt. and D.Phil.) at the Oxford Graduate School, American Centre for Religion and Society Studies, in Dayton, TN. I studied organizational leadership and the sociology of religion. My dissertation topic was Clergy Attitudes Toward Deindustrialization in Youngstown, Ohio: Religion and the Tofflerian Socioeconomic Wave Model and was eventually published in the book Rust to Renewal: A Case Study of the Religious Response to Deindustrialization.
I earned my Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. I have done graduate work and continuing education at Cornell University (Certificate in Change Leadership), United Theological Seminary (Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning), Princeton Theological Seminary, the University of Oxford, the University of California, and others — each relating to my varied and diverse scholarly and practical interests.
Foci of My Scholarly Work
I am perhaps the only scholar specifically, intentionally, and consistently engaging a critical-analytical comparison and creative synthesis between two otherwise disparate traditions: Process-Relational and Pentecostal-Charismatic theologies. While both theological streams are, to some degree, contemporary heirs of the historical Arminian-Wesleyan tradition, they have been on opposite ends of the theological spectrum: liberal and conservative, rational and experiential, scientifically-sensitive and scientifically-resistant. My work has consisted of bringing these theologies together in creative ways, but especially with regards to the theological notion of concursus (or “concurrence”): simultaneous divine and human activity. This has implications in every aspect of Christian life and implications on how Christians interface with the world at large. My goal has been to utilize the best metaphysical constructs of relational theologies to inform the experiential claims of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements, but also to “redeem” and “transform” the “process” dimensions of relational theologies by infusing them with the experiential vibrancy of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements; thereby rescuing process theology from the “liberal specter” that clouds it. Evangelicals and conservatives have been afraid of “process theologies” because of liberal associations; in like manner, liberals have been afraid of the religious “enthusiasm” of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements. I believe that these fears are unfounded and can be reconciled in creative-constructive ways. My goal has been to affirm the best elements of relational categories while fully affirming the essentials of the historic Christian faith. The thrust of my work has been to bring these two theological streams closer to their Wesleyan center and transforming them each along the way — all while emphasizing biblical values such as loving relationality, mutuality, and self-giving (what Wesley called “holy love”). I see my work as moderating two theological extremes in this direction.
My interest in this area stems from my experience as the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Assistant Superintendent of Valley Christian Schools, a network of urban, multicultural, K-12 religious private schools located in one of the most challenging public school districts in the state of Ohio — and in a city with one of the highest concentrations of poverty per-capita in the country. The school is the largest nonparochial school participating in Ohio’s various school choice tuition voucher programs. My involvement has led to significant “creative transformation” (to borrow a term from process philosophy) in racial, socioeconomic, and ability-level diversity and integration. Much of my scholarly work has focused on empirical case study research in these areas — demonstrating that when mission-minded religious private schools participate in school choice programs, they can help solve large scale social problems such as racism, poverty, and disability discrimination. Under my leadership, Valley Christian Schools not only developed as one of the most diverse Christian school networks in the country, but as a result of a highly-qualified faculty and organizational change, students achieved record-high standardized test scores, college and career readiness, and spiritual formation. Schools like Valley Christian are brief glimpses of the Kingdom of God; my research and publications in this area have attempted to demonstrate this to the broader public.
Because I am an interdisciplinarian, I have an interest in a number of topics, disciplines, and issues aside from those listed above. These interests are broad, spanning the humanities, economics, and interdisciplinary studies themselves. My “miscellaneous” publications are organized under this heading.