Areas of Study and Research
PhD (Princeton Seminary)
Kevin Hector's teaching and research are devoted largely to interpretive questions, particularly (a) how best to understand faith commitments, and (b) how the outworking of such commitments can shed light on broader cultural issues.
Hector's first book, Theology without Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press, 2011), thus 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.
In his second book, The Theological Project of Modernism: Faith and the Conditions of Mineness (Oxford University Press, 2015), Hector explores the idea of 'mineness,' in the sense of being able to identify with one's life or experience it as self-expressive, by tracing the development of this idea in modern theology. He argues, accordingly, that theologians such as Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Ritschl, Troeltsch, and Tillich offer accounts of how one's life would have to hang together such that one could identify with it; of the oppositions (e.g., injustice, tragedy, luck) which stand in the way of such hanging-together; of God as the one by whom oppositions are overcome, so that one can have faith that one's life ultimately won't fall apart; and of what such faith would have to be like in order for one to identify with it.
In 2020 Prof. Hector was awarded a grant to study Memory and Personal Identity from the Templeton Foundation as part of a larger three-year collaborative project, titled 'Collaborative Inquiries in Christian Theological Anthropology.' This grant will bring together a dozen scholars of religion who are pursuing research that engages substantially with science. Hector's project is to investigate the role that memory plays in the construction of personal identity and, in connection with this, the light that this can shed on theological notions like confession, testimony, and ‘telling one’s story,’ as well as the light that the latter can shed on the former.”