Religious Studies Department

Dr. John Sanders

Professor of Religious Studies John Sanders.2009
(501) 450-3816

Th.D., University of South Africa, 1996
M.A., Wartburg Theological Seminary, 1987
B.A., Trinity College, 1979

Teaching and Research Interests:

  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • History of Christianity and Christian Thought
  • Conceptions of God and Divine Providence
  • Evangelical Understandings of Hell and the Unevangelized

Personal Statement:

I enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of religious studies and my teaching reflects this. My work draws upon the disciplines of history, philosophy, biblical studies, and linguistics. This is an unusual blend of expertise since experts in these disciplines seldom engage those outside their specialty. For me, this is a frui tful mix that helps me pursue various questions of interest. I do a great deal of speaking, so my background in these areas enables me to interact with a wide array of scholars from whom I am eager to learn. Though I have some firm beliefs, I consider myself a pilgrim on the way of truth, willing to learn from others. In the classroom I try to model this attitude as I pose questions which help my students think issues through and defend perspectives with which I disagree. In particular, I enjoy presenting unfamiliar ideas to my students and helping them understand how various beliefs made sense to people in other times and places.

Some of my recent publications address the debates about the nature of hell in North American evangelical Christianity as well as debates about the nature of divine providence. My current research applies the field of cognitive linguistics to biblical, theological, moral, and epistemic topics. Cognitive linguistics is about how humans think about or conceptualize experiences in life. I am deeply interested in the embodied nature of human reasoning and, in particular, conceptual metaphor theory. I have a book coming out on this topic in 2016.

Projects and Publications:

Books and Edited Collections:

  • Theology in the Flesh: How Embodiment and Culture Shape the Way We Think about Morality, Truth, and God (Fortress Press, forthcoming 2016).
  • The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence, revised edition (IVP, 2007).
  • Does God Have a Future? A Debate on Divine Providence, with Chris Hall (Baker Academic, 2003)
  • The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (IVP, 1994); Now in its twelfth printing.
  • No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized (Eerdmans, USA, SPCK in UK, 1992)

Articles and Dictionary Entries:

  • “Christian Approaches to the Salvation of Non-Christians” in Robert McKim ed., Religious Perspectives on Religious Diversity (Brill, forthcoming 2016).
  • “A Goldilocks God: Open Theism as a Feuerbachian Alternative?” Coauthored with J. Aaron Simmons. Element: The Journal for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (forthcoming October, 2015).“Open Theism.” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, April, 2015.
  • “Raising Hell About Razing Hell: Evangelical Debates on Universal Salvation” Perspectives in Religious Studies (40 no. 3, 2013): 267-281.
  • “Editorial Introduction to Special Issue on The Virtue of Justice” with J. Aaaron Simmons. Philosophia 41, Issue 2 (2013): 271-272. DOI 10.1007/s11406-013-9431-8
  • “Open Theistic Perspectives—The Freedom of Creation” in Ernst Conradie ed., Creation and Salvation Volume 2: A Companion on Recent Theological Movements  (LIT Verlag, Berlin, 2012).
  • “Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the Mormon Understanding of God” in Jacob T. Baker ed., Mormonism at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology: Essays in Honor of David. L. Paulsen (Greg Kofford Books, 2012).