Continuing a series of occasional posts calling attention to recent doctoral dissertations by Baptists and others in the broader free church tradition working at the intersection of ecclesiology and ecumenical theology:
Derek C. Hatch is an alumnus of East Texas Baptist University who earned the Master of Divinity degree from Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary and now the Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Dayton. His dissertation "E.Y. Mullins, George W. Truett, and a Baptist Theology of Nature and Grace" (University of Dayton, 2011) was supervised by William L. Portier.
This dissertation examines the prevalent ideas of Baptist theological discourse, finding that they have limited utility for offering a coherent account of particular Baptist practices. It argues that Baptists would greatly benefit from deeper engagement with Catholic thought, especially the theology of nature and grace as articulated by Henri de Lubac, S.J. After detailing the obstacles to and potential for such a theological endeavor, de Lubac’s work serves as a lens for viewing and evaluating particular moments in Baptist history. This project contends that the work of E.Y. Mullins and George W. Truett, Baptist luminaries who have exerted considerable influence on the ways that Baptists view the world around them, significantly contributes to the notable incoherence of Baptist discourse. Through de Lubac’s understanding of the relationship of nature and grace, though, Baptists can critically evaluate Mullins and Truett in order to locate and overcome specific problematic aspects of their thought (both in their own contexts and in the contemporary setting). Moreover, Baptists can also recover marginalized or forgotten voices within their tradition (e.g., certain seventeenth-century English Baptists and African-American Baptists) as invaluable resources for renewal of Baptist theological discourse. Finally, such work underscores the importance of situating Baptist life and thought within the conversations of the broader Christian tradition.
Posts in this series:
Jeffrey Cary on Jenson, Williams, McClendon, and free church ecclesiology
Aaron James on language, Eucharistic identity, and the Baptist vision
Scott Bullard on Eucharist, Unity, and Baptists
Derek Hatch on Mullins, Truett, and de Lubac
Jonathan Malone on Baptists, Ordination, and Catholic "Sacramental Consciousness"
Cameron Jorgenson on "Bapto-Catholicism"