Student Stories

Stretching the Theological Spectrum

Meet Kwang-Jin Oh (G-ETS 2012 and 2022)


Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Ethics

What is your hometown and educational background?

I consider Chicago my home town, but as a PK (Pastor’s kid) I’ve had various home towns. I graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University for my undergraduate degree, majoring in Biology and in Religion. I went on to earn Master’s degrees in Biochemistry and Neuroscience.

How has your time at Garrett-Evangelical shaped your ministry and calling?

Coming into the PhD program, I thought I would eventually teach somewhere. While at Garret-Evangelical, I was able to learn more socially liberal concepts, which I was, admittedly, weaker in knowledge. Thus, Garrett-Evangelical stretched my theological spectrum, and as a result, offered a balancing viewpoint to more theologically traditional concepts. Given the current socio-political climate, it would seem that teaching has become more challenging in some respects, but in developing a “rubber band” approach to theology, Garrett-Evangelical has better prepared me to meet the diverse opinions that will undoubtedly exist in student populations where I will teach.

What is your most transformative experience at Garrett-Evangelical?

If there is a PhD way of answering this question, this might be it. Writing my dissertation was the most transformative experience. For me the dissertation was not simply a knowledge dump, but also something that I felt. It went to the core of my being, much like faith, in what I wanted to express. In this respect, my writing was a reflection of who I was from start to finish: in the research, to the writing, to the editing, and to the finished dissertation.

What’s next? What are your plans or your hopes for your future?

Honestly? I’m enjoying time off (on vacation as I’m writing this). Eventually though, I’d like to settle into some teaching or research position. I have a lot of scientific knowledge I’d like to put to use in some interdisciplinary form with theology in future publications. Theological Ethics? Well, with changing times and technology, there will always be something to talk about, and I hope that translates into fruitful conversations that steer people into doing good.