Jen Harvey

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean; Professor of Christian Ethics


  • BA, Westmont College
  • MDiv, Union Theological Seminary
  • PhD, Union Theological Seminary

Reality and Justice in a Single Vision

The ecclesial world I was raised in ensured from the time I was young that “God so loves the world” was not just a belief claim. It was the existential framework through which I understood myself, my community, and the world. God loving the world meant the whole world—as in all of us. Such knowledge has animated the core of my personal journey as a Christian, as well as my professional vocation. But as a young adult, when I encountered poverty and economic exploitation, and as my awareness of racism, white supremacy, and colonial-settler violence grew, my identity as a Christian was rattled. Eventually my unshakeable conviction about God’s love would find interpretation through, engagement with, and a home in liberationist approaches to Christianity. I became convicted that if God so loves the world, God must care about human suffering—including the human-caused suffering that manifests as oppression in its various forms. If God so loves the world, God, then, necessarily must be a God of justice.

What does it mean to live lives rooted in the conviction that the systems and structures (including, too often, the institution of the church) perpetuate the very conditions a God of love and justice necessarily condemns? How can we understand what “is” so well that we can discern the “ought” of our individual and collective lives, especially given the nature of the divine who claims us? And, perhaps harder: How do we—whose identities are embedded in systems that offer access and thriving to some, and deprivation and suffering to others—take responsibility for our location in those same structures? What conditions of heart, intellect, and individual and communal practice are necessary to be able to hear and respond to the call to do justice in ways that are particular, located, and specific? These are the questions I strive to walk with as a scholar of Christian ethics and as a teacher, writer, pastor and activist. These same questions animate the intellectual and theological community that is Garrett—as we together acknowledge, wrestle with, and understand such inquiry to be part of our discernment of call.