“The Will to Embrace: In Search of Christian Hospitality” – Dr. Richard Beck

Suter Science Seminar – Richard Beck, PhD

“Practice hospitality.” So commands Paul in Romans 12. And yet, a host of social and psychological dynamics often conspire to make faith communities insular, inward-looking and unwilling to engage with the “tax collectors and sinners” of our world. The presentation will focus on the features of purity psychology and how these undermine, at the psychological level, Jesus’s call for us to be a missional people characterized by welcome, mercy, and hospitality. How are faith communities to overcome these dynamics? The presentation will conclude with an analysis of Miroslav Volf’s “will to embrace,” arguing that the change we seek is largely affectional in nature, with the root of the problem being found in our emotional stance toward strangers and out-group members.

Dr. Richard Beck is Professor and Chair of Psychology at Abilene Christian University and is the author of Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality and The Authenticity of Faith: The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience. As an experimental psychologist Richard has also published extensively in the empirical literature examining the intersection of Christianity and psychology. Richard also writes regularly about the interface of theology and psychology at his popular and award-winning blog Experimental Theology. Richard is married to Jana, who is a high-school theater teacher; they have two sons—Brenden and Aidan.