Associate Professor of Theology and of the Philosophy of Religions
MA (Wheaton College)
PhD (Princeton Seminary)
Kevin Hector is a constructive Christian theologian whose work aims to carry on Chicago’s tradition of public theology by setting modern Protestant theology (particularly the trajectory that runs from Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher through Ritschl, Troeltsch, Barth, Tillich, Bultmann, Ebeling, Jüngel, etc.) in conversation with contemporary theology (especially contextual and liberation theologies), philosophy (including continental, analytic, as well as pragmatic philosophies), theory (especially critical social theories of various stripes), and science (especially neuroscience and evolutionary biology), and trying to do so with a maximum of clarity and rigor.
Hector’s first book, Theology without Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press, 2011), defends a novel approach to the problem of metaphysics by developing a philosophically-informed and critically-articulated theology of language. The argument, simply stated, is that one of the central premises of contemporary postmetaphysical theology—namely, that language is inherently ‘metaphysical,’ that it therefore shoehorns objects into predetermined categories, and that it must accordingly be kept at a distance from God—assumes metaphysics’ own understanding of language. Drawing on recent work in theology and philosophy of language, Hector renders this assumption optional by developing an alternative account of language and its relation to God, thereby demonstrating that one need not choose between fitting God into a metaphysical framework, on the one hand, and keeping God at a distance from language, on the other.
Hector is currently working on a second book, tentatively entitled “Modernism as a Theological Problem,” in which he traces the development of modern-theological accounts of freedom—accounts, specifically, of the conditions of one’s standing in a relationship of ‘mineness’ to one’s doxastic, practical, and emotional commitments—as these responded to the challenges of naturalism and historicism. The constructive upshot of these developments is then elaborated further by considering recent work in neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and the philosophy of free will.