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Winners of the 2020 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise

The Awards Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise:


Andrew Forsyth (Yale University)

ForsythfiitAward-Winning Work: Common Law and Natural Law in America: From the Puritans to the Legal Realists (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019).


Current Position: Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, and Strategic Advisor, Office of the Secretary and Vice President for University Life, Yale University.


Current Research Activities: Currently in preparation is a manuscript tentatively entitled Cake Bakers, County Clerks, and Craft Stores: Secular Laws, Conscience, and Religious Freedom in Contemporary America.  Its ostensible subject matter is the colorful legal cases of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop; Kim Davis, former clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky; and the Green Family, owners of the arts and crafts empire Hobby Lobby.  Beyond that, the book interrogates the nexus of legal and lobby organizations that are creating a distinctive twenty-first-century account of religious liberty, and shows how this account, while often treated as commonsensical, is new and quite distinctive from the well-worn casuistry (case-based reasoning) hitherto employed by Roman Catholic, protestant, and other religious traditions.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Speaking to today’s flourishing conversations on both law, morality, and religion, and the religious foundations of law, politics, and society, Common Law and Natural Law in America is a four-hundred-year narrative and reassessment of the varied American interactions of “common law”—the stuff of Anglophone courtrooms—and “natural law,” a law built on human reason, nature, or the mind or will of God.  The book offers a counter-narrative to the dominant story of common law and natural law—in which the two are separate—by drawing widely from theological and philosophical accounts of natural law, as well as primary and secondary work in legal and intellectual history.  With consequences for today’s natural-law proponents and critics alike—religious or otherwise—Common Law and Natural Law in America explores the theological, political, and legal thought of the Puritans, Revolutionary Americans, and seminal figures in American legal tradition, and illuminates the benefits, pitfalls, and tradeoffs of embracing a particular vision of natural law. 


Academic Address:

1 Prospect Street,
Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, Suite 102,
Yale University, 
New Haven, CT 06511
United States of America
E-Mail: andrew.forsyth@yale.edu


David Henreckson (Princeton University)Henrecksonfiit2

Award-Winning Work: The Immortal Commonwealth: Covenant, Community, and Political Resistance in Early Reformed Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).


Current Position: Raquet Endowed Director’s Chair, Institute for Leadership and Service, Valparaiso University

Current research activities:

Henreckson's next project attempts to revive a theological account of resistance to unjust power that has roots in both the premodern republican tradition and modern Protestant ethics. The project will address not only the conditions that may prompt acts of resistance, but also the legitimate means and ends of these acts. In other words: How might resistance be carried out rightly? By whom? And to what end?


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

The Immortal Commonwealth addresses the question: How would we understand the relationship between religion and politics differently if we accounted for the theological commitments of early modern resistance theorists? In the midst of intense religious conflict in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, theological and political concepts converged in remarkable ways. Incited by the slaughter of French Protestants in the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Reformed thinkers began to marshal arguments for political resistance. These theological arguments were grounded in uniquely religious conceptions of the covenant, community, and popular sovereignty. The Immortal Commonwealth argues that by taking these theological sources seriously, we have a richer, truer perspective on early modern radical political thought. In doing so, it connects the doctrines of God, salvation, and covenant with the emerging political theory of early modernity.


Academic Address:

Helge Center, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN
E-Mail: david.henreckson@valpo.edu



Jill Hicks-Keeton (Duke University)Hicks-keetonfiit

Award-Winning Publication: Arguing with Aseneth: Gentile Access to Israel's Living God in Jewish Antiquity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).


Current Position: Hicks-Keeton is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, where she teaches courses on biblical studies, early Christianity, and ancient Judaism.


Current research activities: Hicks-Keeton is currently working on a monograph analyzing the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., tentatively entitled Who Owns the Bible?


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Ancient Jewish and Christian thinkers were deeply concerned with defining who belonged to the community of people chosen by the God of Israel. Arguing with Aseneth (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a book about how such thinkers in antiquity articulated who they believed their God to be and how this God related to non-Jews. As I analyze this vibrant theological debate, I show how the ancient Jewish romance known as Joseph and Aseneth moves a minor character in Genesis from obscurity to renown, weaving a new story whose main purpose was to intervene in ancient Jewish contests over whether and how gentiles could have access to Israel’s God. Such a reading of this narrative shows us that we need to rethink our accounts of how ancient Jewish thinkers, including our earliest examples from the Jesus Movement, negotiated who belonged and who did not when it came to the people of Israel’s God.


Academic Address:

Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Oklahoma
731 Elm St. 
Robinson Hall Room 140
Norman, OK 73019

E-Mail: jhk@ou.edu



Ying Huang (University of Heidelberg)

HuangfiitAward-Winning Publication: Von der religiösen Gemeinschaft zum Reich Gottes. Das Verständnis von Religion in Bonhoeffers frühen Schriften (1924-1935) (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019).


Current Position: Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Zhejiang University, China.


Current research project: Huang's current research looks into the connection between classical German religious criticism and Bonhoeffer’s understanding of religion. More specifically, the project seeks to explore Bonhoeffer’s thinking in the context of Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. The project is funded by the Chinese National Social Science Fund (project timeline: 2019-2023). 


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Dr. Huang's thesis suggests approaching Bonhoeffer’s concept of non-religious Christianity from his earlier writings in which he affirms the spiritual connection between God and this world. The essential theological insight is that non-religious interpretations of Christianity can help us to enrich our understanding of human spirituality and to appreciate the diversity of life. This is because Bonhoeffer does not subscribe to an unconditional humanistic praise of the human spirit and the exile of God, but rather believes that the suffering God on the Cross always remains at the center of “the world come of age”. As a result, Christians should follow Christ in bearing political and ethical responsibility for others.


Academic Address:  

Dr. Huang Ying,
Department of Philosophy,
Xixi Campus,
Zhejiang University,
Hangzhou, Zhejiang Prov.,
P. R. China.
E-Mail: phileinsophous@gmail.com;



Han-luen Kantzer-Komline (University of Notre Dame)Kantzerkomlinefiit

Award-Winning Publication: Augustine on the Will: A Theological Account (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020)


Current Position: Assistant Professor of Church History and Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, USA.  In the spring semester of 2020, she will be in residence at Villanova University as the Patricia H. Imbesi Saint Augustine Fellow.   


Current Research Project: Her current book project is on attitudes toward novelty and antiquity in early Christian theology.  Christian theologians of the fourth and fifth centuries—while continuing the de facto tradition of creativity that had characterized Christian theology from the start—explicitly redefined, recontextualized, and rehabilitated the idea of the new, paving the way for their successors to pursue and construe innovation, and measure time itself, in a distinctively Christian mode.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Augustine on the Will analyzes the development of Augustine’s thinking about the human will across his career.  The distinctive features of Augustine’s thought come into relief only when it is considered in its native contexts—his direct dialogue in his writings on the will with Christian writers contemporary and prior, and, above all, with the biblical text from which the idea of the Augustinian will draws its inner logic.  The protagonist of Augustine’s story of the will is God, the tender gardener who plants and cultivates the seed of human freedom, responsibility, and genuine moral agency.  For Augustine, this means planting the will to love.  The plot of this tale is the struggle whereby the human will, remade by the grace of Christ, becomes conformed to the divine will, in and through the Holy Spirit, the will and love of God personified.  Augustine’s account of the will stems from a story of God and of Christian spirituality.  It is a theological account. 


Academic Address:

Han-luen Kantzer Komline
101 East 13th Street
Holland MI 49423-3622
E-Mail: han-luen@westernsem.edu



Matthew Larsen (Yale University)Larsenfiit

Award-Winning Publication: Gospels before the Book (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).


Current Position: Matthew Larsen is a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows and a Lecturer in the Department of Religion at Princeton University


Current Research Project: Dr. Larsen is currently working on book manuscript on early Christians and incarceration as well as a sourcebook on incarceration in Mediterranean antiquity.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Gospels before the Book reveals how the standard ways of teaching the gospels relies on modern bookish assumptions, more dependent on printing press technologies and modern ways of reading than on a robust understanding of ancient writing and reading practices. It then offers a view of gospel tradition as open and unfinished—a billowing constellation of notes rather than discrete and stable books published by authors. It shows how the earliest readers and users of the textual tradition we now call the Gospel according to Mark, for instance, approached it not so much as a book published by an author, but as a collection of unfinished notes, not meant to be read as a closed literary product but updated and improved by subsequent users. The “best” text is not necessarily the first, the original, or the “final” one, but, perhaps sometimes, the most recent, the most improved, the most useful. Gospel interpreters are not separate from the gospels they read but are an integral part of living gospel tradition. This idea has important ramifications how people use the gospels in an increasing globalized and pluralistic world.


Academic Address:

Society of Fellows
Princeton University
21B Joseph Henry House
Princeton, NJ 08540
E-Mail: matthew.larsen@princeton.edu 



David Newheiser (University of Chicago)Newheiserfiit

Award-Winning Publication: Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).


Current Position: Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University


Current Research Project: My second book places religious reflection on miracles into conversation with democratic political theory. Where early modern critics of religion exclude the miraculous by appealing to past experience, I argue that premodern engagement with miracles encourages openness to difference by attending to the possibility of radical surprise. By retrieving the link between miracle and amazement, I aim to clarify the irruptive character of political decisions and to defend a politics that is radically inclusive.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Hope in a Secular Age argues that hope is a spiritual discipline shared by atheists and Christians alike. In my reading, both Jacques Derrida (a postmodern philosopher) and Dionysius the Areopagite (a premodern theologian) rely upon a hope that persists in the face of uncertainty, sustaining affirmation while maintaining a disciplined self-critique. Derrida and Dionysius hold different hopes, but they both recognize that hope is directed toward an uncertain future, nourished by the past, and sustained in the present. Insofar as both authors share an ambivalent hope, this suggests that secular theory and Christian thought may draw upon each each other to illuminate questions of common concern.


Academic Address:

David Newheiser
Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
Australian Catholic University
Locked Bag 4115
Fitzroy, Victoria 3065
E-Mail: david.newheiser@acu.edu.au

Travis Proctor (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)Proctorfiit

Award-Winning Work: Rulers of the Air: Demonic Bodies and the Making of the Ancient Christian Cosmos


Current Position: Proctor is currently an Assistant Professor of Religion at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. His current research explores early Christian theorizations of nonhuman bodies and environments, with a focus on how ancient conceptions of nonhuman space or embodiment impacted ancient Christian thought and practice. 


Current Research Activities: His next major research project will explore the importance of nonhuman entities (e.g., animals, angels, and demons) for early Christian constructions of the body of Jesus, with case studies on early Christian gospels, “proto-orthodox” writings, and Gnostic texts.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

My dissertation project addressed a significant yet under-explored aspect of Christian spirituality: the impact of nonhuman malevolent entities (i.e., demons, evil spirits) on the ritual performance and embodiment of Christian piety. First, I demonstrated how early Christian authors (ca. 50-300 CE) formulated their conceptions of the divine and humanity in tandem with their constructions of their malevolent adversaries. Second, I examined how these conceptions informed Christian ritual practice (e.g., exorcism, baptism, ritual contemplation). In this way, my project traced the ways in which early Christian theologies and demonologies materialized through specific ritual repertoires, and thus had a significant impact on Christian theology and spirituality. 


Academic Address:

Travis Proctor 
Department of Religion
Wittenberg University,
200 W. Ward St.,
Ohio, 45504. 
E-Mail: proctortravisw@gmail.com

Sarah Stewart-Kroeker (Princeton Theological Seminary)Stewart-kroekerfiit

Award-Winning Publication: Pilgrimage as moral and aesthetic formation in Augustine’s thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).


Current Position: Sarah Stewart-Kroeker is the Jacques de Senarclens Assistant Professor of Ethics in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Geneva. 


Current Research Project: Dr. Stewart-Kroeker is currently completing a book manuscript, “La terre martyre,” which deals with harms and injuries suffered due to environmental devastation and places them in the theological framework of the wounding of Christ and the martyrs. She is also working on a research project that examines how Augustine conceives of affective therapy in the context of his ethical and political thought and in conversation with feminist affect theory. In conjunction with these book projects, she is writing a series of essays on feminist ethics, art, and theological aesthetics.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Pilgrimage as Moral and Aesthetic Formation in Augustine’s Thought develops an account of the Christian believer’s morally and aesthetically formative relationship to God and neighbor. Augustine’s dominant image for this process of formation is that of a pilgrimage. The book elaborates the ways in which the human-divine relationship is initiated, established, and nurtured – as well as the ways in which it is threatened and susceptible to derailment. Given this focus on the formative process of nourishing the human relationship to God and neighbor, the book discusses the believer’s spiritual dispositions and practices throughout, which Augustine frames in terms of the ordering of loves. Thus, for Augustine, ordering one’s loves to the source of life, truth, beauty, goodness, and happiness – God – is the basis for right moral and aesthetic formation. Orienting oneself in this way involves a range of practices: contemplative and pedagogical, charitable and ecclesial, affective and relational. Believers perform these tasks together, offering mutual encouragement and support, as they pursue the path of spiritual pilgrimage.


Academic Address:

Sarah Stewart-Kroeker
Jacques de Senarclens Assistant Professor of Ethics
Faculty of Theology
University of Geneva
E-Mail: sarah.stewart-kroeker@unige.ch

Christopher M. Wojtulewicz (King's College London)Wojtulewiczfiit

Award-Winning Work: Meister Eckart on the Principle: An Analysis of the Principium in his Latin Works (Leuven: Peeters, 2017).


Current Position: Free Research Associate, KU Leuven and Associate Lecturer in Philosophy and Theology at the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, UK.


Current research activities: Dr. Wojulewicz is completing a book project on the problem of recognising Christ after the Resurrection. Making use of the analogical metaphysics of Erich Przywara and the psychoanalytic thought Jacques Lacan he explores ways to conceive of the subject-object relation when the disciples are presented with the risen body of Christ. He is also working on an English translation of all of Erich Przywara's works on John Henry Newman.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Meister Eckhart is best known for his vernacular works because of their daring means of expression and spiritual insight. Yet integrating this vision with the greater formality of his Latin works is a harder task. The book carefully unfolds the metaphysical 'mechanics' of Eckhart's conception of the relationship between God and creation, complementing study of the vernacular works by focusing on the concept of principium ('principle') in his thought. Often translated as 'beginning', this 'principle' functions instead as the condition for mutual compenetration between God and the creature in the simultaneity of an eternal moment which exceeds all categorical distinction. The principium​ thereby allows God to be analogically present to the creature in every dimension and stage of life.


Academic Address:

coming soon

E-Mail: christopher.wojtulewicz@kuleuven.be




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