Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

Thanks for visiting! My name is Matthew Frost, and I'm a graduate student in systematic theology and ethics, who also does a fair bit of New Testament work. The question of "what I do" depends greatly on what the situation is; given the current academic climate, I study in order to reliably be a scholar and teacher of Christianity at any arbitrarily high level.

At present, I concentrate on Barthian dogmatic ethics, because it seems to be very useful for beating the teachings of Christendom into plowshares. I have been a postliberal theologian, on my way left from the conservative edge of Liberal Protestantism. I do my best to listen to a wide range of people I cannot possibly be, and to correct the abuses and failures of the tradition by their criteria.

My constructive work is in ethics. As a theologian and student of moral theology, I use materials from a range of Christian, Judean, and Jewish traditions. I listen carefully to my Muslim brothers and sisters, and to those who have known them better than my own tradition has. As an ethicist, I rely as well on philosophical analytics and systems of thought. I am a confessing Lutheran theologian with strong interests in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. I have worked closely with participants in religion and science dialogues, and as a Barthian, I consider all of this to be work in the field of Christian theology as its own proper science. I try to keep up good relationships with those who work in other disciplines.

I am currently working toward a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, on the way to which I have also obtained the degrees of Master of Arts (2008) and Master of Theology (2011). My program of study has included coursework at both Chicago Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago. For the M.A. I developed a structural analysis of Mark 11-13 in terms of the Markan author's moral criteria for "church" as given in the Temple teaching. For the Th.M. I qualified in two areas: theological ethics (using Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics), and ecclesiology (using the missional ecclesiology of Faith and Order's process on the nature of the church). I also hold the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Music and Theology from Valparaiso University (2005). That degree came with a good deal of supplemental experience gained through Christ College, the University's honors humanities program.

My current thesis and examination preparation proceeds in the area of theological ethics. My dissertation proposal will be structured around the ethics demonstrated by the soteriology of Karl Barth's mature dogmatics. Using a reasonably novel approach to the structure of the Church Dogmatics, and building on current understandings of each of Barth's loci, I intend to show how the total scope of Barth's soteriology is directly connected with his presentation of a relevant and non-predetermined scope for responsible human moral action. If I succeed, this project will lead toward a suitably Barthian moral theology of redemption, focused on the work of the Spirit and the ethics of the community toward those outside.

In preparation for professional work, I have also acted as a lecturer and assisted both Bible and theology faculty with teaching and research. In my work with the Zygon Center for Religion and Science, I have also acted as liaison and coordinator for a wide range of guest lecturers, and assisted with the planning and execution of yearly conferences. While ZCRS is known for its work in the intersection of the sciences and religion, it offers excellent opportunities for students to deal with both philosophical foundations and moral questions. Outside of the institutional setting, I also teach Koine Greek, generally for Bible proficiency, and I continue to develop a curriculum for Greek acquisition along lines suggested by best practices in second language instruction and modern linguistics. In addition to teaching, I have been contracted as an editor and writing coach for various stages of the dissertation writing process, and have also worked as an editor for book projects.

Para-professionally, I worked for several years as the graduate archival fellow of the Joseph A. Sittler Archives at LSTC. The Sittler Archives Committee employed me to maintain, inventory, catalog, and digitize their collections, both paper and audio-visual. I performed both technical and reference services for archival patrons. As a para-professional archivist, and in conjunction with my Zygon Center responsibilities, I also served as a consultant for the IRAS/Ralph Wendell Burhoe Archive, housed (somewhat informally) at LSTC.

In my free time, I write. (This is, after all, a blog!) I am presently working on several side-projects in translation of the New Testament, including Romans and Hebrews, and developing a socio-rhetorical and performance-critical sense of narrative. This has already proven useful in the analysis of Platonic dialogues, which will not surprise any reader of Eric Havelock. It also serves as a profoundly useful functional approach to doctrine, both in terms of analysis and pedagogy. The questions are always, "what does the story do," "who is telling it," and "what context does it address?"

I am a(n occasionally lapsed) member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Karl Barth Society of North America. I have solid working knowledge in both Greek and Hebrew, functional French, growing German, and a somewhat impoverished grasp of Latin. (My preference for the Eastern Fathers does have its drawbacks.) Beyond all of that, I have an intense and variously-trained avocational interest in physics and computer science, a fairly green thumb in the garden, an abiding love of most genres of science fiction, and esoteric musical tastes.