St. Olaf College | News

Theology class inspires professor’s new book

WalterGreg250x350A question posed in a St. Olaf College classroom two decades ago served as the inspiration for a new book by Associate Professor of Religion Gregory Walter ‘96.

The monograph, Being Promised, was released this week. It offers analysis on the idea of promise, a prominent metaphor in Western Christian tradition.

Walter was inspired by the topic during a theology class he took as a sophomore at St. Olaf titled History of Christian Thought. The course, led by Professor Emeritus of Religion Robert Jenson, emphasized that theology is a rigorous discipline worthy of intellectual labor and demands an incredibly agile and creative mind.

BeingPromised125x188“He started the course with the question: ‘Why does Christian theology have a history and why does it matter theologically?’” Walter says. “He insisted that the history of theology mattered because the message borne by the church that is commonly called the gospel is a promise.”

In his new book, Walter defines “promise” as a type of double gift — one when the promise is given and the other when it is fulfilled. He illustrates the theological, hermeneutical, and ethical significance of the gift of promise as he analyzes the power, time, and place of God’s promise and provides a reflection on gift exchange.

Walter, who teaches theology courses at St. Olaf, also serves on the faculty of the Great Conversation program.