PhD Student Profile: Susanna Adlem
September 10, 2021
Area of Study: History of Christianity and Historical Theology
Susanna has been known to refer to herself as an “accidental Wesleyan” and could perhaps add “unanticipated Church historian” to that description as well. In 2015, she stumbled across Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, as if by random chance, during a visit to Chicago from England. She felt a stirring in her spirit, and to cut a long story short, five years later Susanna graduated with a Master of Divinity degree and a 3.94 GPA. In a manner reminiscent of John Wesley’s own “reasonable enthusiasm,” and his theology on providence in particular, Susanna believes God has weaved the unexpected educational path that led her to the research areas of Wesleyan pneumatology and the 18th century Evangelical revivals. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Susanna’s undergraduate degree in political studies is from Cardiff University. If that were not already an unusual starting point for a Church historian, her educational background also detoured via a Post-graduate Certification in Education, qualifying her to teach Mathematics to 11-18 year-olds. Interspersed with various endeavors in Christian ministry – including work in evangelism through the arts and community theatre – Susanna’s unconventional journey to doctoral studies is a testament to her transferable skill set, diverse life experience, and adventurously expectant approach to discernment. Susanna hopes that her work will add to the academy by broadening the research into historical movements of the Holy Spirit. Even more so, however, she is passionate about serving the Church. If we are moving into – indeed, in the midst of – a new era of reformations, Christian theology is evolving. Perhaps, as Medieval mystic Joachim of Fiore predicted, we are leaving a bi-millennial emphasis on God the Son, and heading into a two-thousand-year period where primacy in worship is toward God the Spirit. In any case, greater understanding of the Holy Spirit can only help to strengthen and prepare the Church for all God has in store. Susanna is excited to be a part of that ministry.
Papers and Publications
Love the Sinner (2020)