Paul Dafydd Jones

Patience: A Theological Exploration

Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University of Virginia, Department of Religious Studies
Charlottesville, Virginia; United States of America

Capstone Conference Talk

Saturday (8/5) 2:10-2:30PM

Patience: God, World, and Counter-Worlds

This presentation offers an overview of how the motif of patience supplies new ways to think about the enhancement of life in the present and future. The presentation focuses particularly on: divine patience as an act of “letting be” and “letting happen”; creaturely responses to God’s exercise of patience; the formation and realization of “counter-worlds” that reward God’s patience; and human patience as a dimension in communal and individual processes of transformation.


Capstone Conference Research Laboratory

SATURDAY (8/5) 4:00-5:10PM

Transcending Limits of Spaces and Times

The objective of this Research Laboratory is to explore the role of temporal and spatial boundaries for the enhancement of life. While refuge migration provides an example of how the crossing of spatial boundaries might save or enhance life, patience or enduring and embracing vulnerability of finite, temporal life point to the acceptance or cultivation of boundaries as modes of the enhancement of life. In addition to engaging the philosophical and sociological meanings of time and space for enhancing life, often in paradoxical ways, we also turn to the resources of the religions. In religious traditions, the ‚boundary management‘ between present and future and between (finite) time and eternity offer tools to discuss the topic of enhancing life in an differentiated way.

Research Laboratories allow audience members to interact with a panel of ELP Scholars and Interlocutors in addressing a problem of public relevance. We invite active participation from audience members in the creation of new knowledge.

Academic Biography

Paul Dafydd Jones was born and raised in the United Kingdom. He has an M.A. from the University of Oxford, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and an A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He also spent an academic year at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg as a DAAD Graduate Scholar. His first book, The Humanity of Christ: Christology in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics was honored with a Templeton Award for Theological Promise in 2010.

Jones’s principal area of research is modern Christian thought, with particular interests in Protestant theology, political and liberationist theology, critical theory, and constructive theology. He has published numerous essays, articles, and reviews, and is currently working on a constructive book entitled Patience: A Theological Exploration. Additional projects include co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Karl Barth (forthcoming in 2017) with Paul Nimmo (University of Aberdeen), and co-editing Liberation Theology (forthcoming in 2018), a volume in the Fortress Press Shapers of Modern Theology series, with Grace Kao (Claremont School of Theology).

Jones teaches at the University of Virginia, where he is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies. In addition to offering a wide array of courses for undergraduate and graduate students, he has served as co-director, with Professor Charles Mathewes, of the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion.

Project Executive Summary

Grounded in the fields of Christian theology and western philosophy of religion, while drawing also on critical and feminist theory, cultural studies, and social scientific analyses, this project identifies patience (and its antonym, impatience) as a suggestive point of departure for engaging the concerns of The Enhancing Life Project. It develops four broad claims. (1) The motif of divine patience can anchor a theological framework that clarifies the nature of the relationship between God and humankind in the past, present, and future. It provides new ways to think about human agency, an “opened” future, and the enhancement of life. (2) In contrast to restrictively essentialist accounts of human life – accounts that tend to assign social, cultural, political, and religious “roles” to individuals and communities in light of the ostensible markers of sex, gender, race, physical ability, age, etc. – the motif of human patience supports an expansive vision of human flourishing. Patience, on this reckoning, is a disposition conducive to “being in becoming” that enables purposeful movements into the future that God holds open. (3) The motif of divine impatience helps one to think about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. It names the manner in which God decisively judges, rejects, and overcomes the forces that degrade and distort creaturely life. (4) The motif of human impatience funds a striking vision of the Kingdom of God: a “counter-world” that drives human beings to participate in movements, both religious and nonreligious, that promote peace and social justice.