Theology Department Celebrates Faculty Milestones

The theology department at Trinity celebrated the accomplishments of two faculty members at a reception on Friday, November 11.

Dr. Aaron Kuecker, associate professor of theology, shared a synopsis of his newly released book The Spirit and the ‘Other’: Social Identity, Ethnicity and Intergroup Reconciliation in Luke-Acts (T & T Clark, 2011)

Also presenting at the reception was Dr. Keith Starkenburg, assistant professor of theology, who successfully defended his dissertation, “Glory and Ecclesial Growth in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics,” at the University of Virginia.

Following the presentations, faculty, students, and staff attending the event enjoyed refreshments and fellowship.


Synopsis of Dr. Aaron Kuecker’s book

Kuecker uses aspects of social identity theory to demonstrate that in Luke’s narrative the Spirit is the central figure in the formation of a new social identity. Kuecker provides extended exegetical treatments of Luke 1-4 and Acts 1-15. He shows that Luke 1-4 establishes a foundation for Luke’s understanding of the relationship between human identity, the Spirit, and the ‘other’ – especially as it relates to the distribution of in-group benefits beyond group boundaries. With regard to Acts 1-15, Kuecker shows that the Spirit acts whenever human identity is in question in order to transform communities and individuals via the formation of a new social identity.

Kuecker argues that Luke depicts this Spirit-formed social identity as a different way of being human in community, relative to the normative identity processes of other groups in his narrative. This transformed identity produces profound expressions of interethnic reconciliation in Luke-Acts expressed through reformed economic practice, impressive intergroup hospitality, and a reoriented use of ethnic language.


Synopsis of Dr. Keith Starkenburg’s dissertation

In his dissertation, Starkenburg identifies the doctrine of glory as a means by which Karl Barth accounts for the attractive power of divine activity, especially in relationship to the Christian community. For Barth, the Christian community is drawn into its own growth–defined as numerical increase and the expansion of the church’s worship–because God invests God’s triune glory in Jesus Christ, in the Christian community, and in the entirety of creation. Starkenburg argues that Barth’s doctrine of election utilizes the concepts of glory in order to make sense of how Jesus Christ initiates and participates in the divine decision to create, restore, and perfect the creation. Second, Starkenburg considers how the doctrine of glory establishes a substructure in Barth’s doctrine of reconciliation. He claims that the substructure of glory allows Barth to account for the attractive and enabling power of the resurrection in and through the Christian community’s activity, especially its growth. He concludes by arguing that this study warrants reconsiderations of Barth’s theology of the Holy Spirit and his status as a liturgical theologian.