Faculty Stories

Dr. Brian Bantum Named Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Chair of Theology

Dr. Brian Bantum

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Brian Bantum as the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Chair of Theology, effective July 1, 2019. Bantum is an accomplished theologian who writes on the intersection of theology and identity, exploring how the claims of Christian identity are illumined and challenged by the realities of race, ethnicity, and gender.

“Dr. Bantum brings years of teaching experience, critical interdisciplinary research in the areas of theology and religious studies, critical race, and African American studies as well as his most current research in the arts, embodiment, race, and religion,” said Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh, who served as the chairperson of the search committee. “These areas will further expand and deepen conversations already taking place at Garrett-Evangelical. We are delighted Dr. Bantum will be our colleague.”

A faculty member at Seattle Pacific University for 10 years, Bantum currently serves as professor of theology and cultural studies. As a systematic and constructive theologian, his research covers Christology, theological anthropology, identity, race, mixed-race, art and theological method, and critical theory.

“I am ecstatic to be joining the Garrett-Evangelical community and its mission of theological reflection as prophetic witness,” said Bantum. “I have been a long-time admirer of Garrett-Evangelical’s faculty and students, and I am looking forward to our mutual work in preparing leaders for a world in desperate need of hope, courage, and theological imagination.”

When asked about Bantum, President Lallene J. Rector of Garrett-Evangelical said, “He is just the right kind of theologian for Garrett-Evangelical and for ‘such a time as this’ as we face so many social challenges. Dr. Bantum brings intellectual gifts and accomplishments, a commitment to teaching, deep Christian spirituality, and a passion for justice – perfect for the formation of bold spiritual leaders. There is much excitement among students and faculty as we anticipate his arrival.”

Bantum has published numerous articles and chapters in academic journals and popular magazines. His first book, Redeeming Mulatto: A Theology of Race and Christian Hybridity (Baylor University Press, 2010) explored how black, mixed-race identity illumines how race shapes us and re-imagines Christian discipleship through Christ’s body as both human and divine, a union of flesh and divinity that remakes the lives of disciples into a new people, a holy “mixture” of flesh and Spirit. Bantum’s second book, The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World (Fortress Press, 2016) offers the church ways of re-imagining Christian claims regarding humanity, human fallenness, and Christ’s work in light of modern race and racism

He holds a doctor of philosophy from Duke University, a master of theology studies from Duke Divinity School, and a bachelor of arts from Houghton College. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture, and the Workgroup on Constructive Theology. Bantum serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Theology and Literature and is a regular contributor to The Christian Century. He also serves on the Mentoring Consortium Team for The Forum for Theological Exploration.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.