BROWNWOOD – July 23, 2018 – Writings on theology by Howard Payne University’s Dr. Derek Hatch, associate professor of Christian studies, were recently released in two books. One book is a tribute to his mentor and prior professor that contains essays by Dr. Hatch and other scholars. The second book, written solely by Dr. Hatch, argues that Baptist theology should embrace the depth of the whole Christian tradition.
Dr. Hatch joined the HPU faculty in the fall of 2011 as part of the School of Christian Studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on subjects including the Bible, theology and Christian ethics. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Brownwood with their four young children and are members of First Baptist Church.
As a tribute, “Weaving the American Catholic Tapestry: Essays in Honor of William L. Portier,” was co-edited by Dr. Hatch and Timothy R. Gabrielli. It is a festschrift, which is an honorary book composed of a collection of essays to honor a particular scholar toward the end of his or her career. Dr. Portier, the man whom the book honors, served as Dr. Hatch’s Ph.D. dissertation supervisor. He is a scholar of American Catholicism at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, and serves there as professor and the Mary Ann Spearin chair of Catholic theology.
“The title of the book comes from the symbolism of different strands woven together to make a single tapestry just as Dr. Portier wove together his different interests and aspects of American Catholicism,” said Dr. Hatch.
The book, released in 2017, contains essays from 15 scholars who were colleagues, previous students and scholars who respected Dr. Portier’s work. It took four years to complete, from idea to print.
“It was definitely a labor of love and great way to show the love and deep respect that we all have for William Portier,” said Dr. Hatch.
Another book, “Thinking with the Church: Toward a Renewal of Baptist Theology,” was written exclusively by Dr. Hatch. It was released earlier this year through Cascade Books and is part of a series by the publisher called “Free Church, Catholic Tradition” written for Free Church Protestants, of which Baptists are a part. The book series is designed to help people engage the wider Christian tradition. Reflecting biblically, theologically and liturgically on Jesus, the book offers tradition and catholicity as major themes.
“To take Jesus seriously is to take the whole tradition seriously, including all Christian thinking from the apostles forward,” said Dr. Hatch. “Baptists are an important part of that, but they only came on the scene in 1609 – a mere 400 years ago.
Because of this, he went on to say, as Baptists see themselves participating in the whole church, they find new light for understanding the Bible, the life of the church and questions of religious freedom.
Although this book began as his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Hatch said it turned out to be a more heavily revised version of his actual dissertation.
“Your audience tends to change when writing for a dissertation or for a book,” he said. “Also, an author’s thinking evolves over time in that he or she thinks of better ways to say things and learns more as time goes on.”
Dr. Hatch uses his love and study of theology not only to research topics for scholarship but also in his teaching so that his students will be a benefit to the church as a whole. He aims to recognize theology in the many facets of his life including parenting, teaching, research and writing.
“A theologian at his or her best is a theologian for the church,” he said. “My love of theology is not limited to only one area of my life. I don’t think I would be a good teacher or person if I wasn’t always writing and pushing myself in scholarly endeavors and research in theology.”
Cutline: Scholarly works by Dr. Derek Hatch, associate professor of Christian studies at HPU, are featured in two recently published books.