Jamie Pitts, PhD, seeks to join the Spirit’s work of bringing healing, justice, and joy in and through the church to all of creation. He does this in part through teaching and research on global Anabaptist-Mennonite theology and history, and participation in local congregational life and community organizing. His current research interests include theological method, pneumatology, baptism, gender and sexuality, and postcolonial mission. He is also the editor of Anabaptist Witness journal and the director of the Institute of Mennonite Studies at AMBS.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as a professor?
I hope to introduce students to the dynamic relationship between Scripture and Spirit in a variety of ways. First, I start most classes by reading from Scripture and praying. In doing this, I trust that the Spirit will speak through Scripture to form students to engage whatever we’re talking about in class.
Second, in some classes I have students break into small groups and discuss a passage of Scripture in light of the course readings. Here the idea is for students to see how different theological frameworks yield different interpretations of Scripture, and vice versa.
Third, in many of my classes we examine how Christians in diverse times and places have understood Scripture. The point of this exercise is to learn from the past some interpretive pitfalls to avoid as well as some generative possibilities we might not have thought of on our own.
What are some of the diverse voices you incorporate into your teaching?
I strive for about half of the readings in a given course to be written by women. Women usually make up more than half of any congregation, and are called by God to full leadership in the church. However, women have been systematically excluded from Christian leadership, including the leadership of theological and historical interpretation. For similar reasons, I include many readings by and about persons of color. Several of my courses include race as a key term of analysis.
Finally, in my classes on Anabaptist and Mennonite history and theology, I emphasize the global character of our traditions. This is necessary for the simple reasons that Christian faith is in fact a global reality and that we too easily equate our tradition with our local or national expressions of it. If we’re going to attain the unity that Christ prayed we would have, then we must listen and learn from one another around the world.
What are some of the pressing challenges facing current and future Christian leaders and scholars?
Christians in many parts of the world face a legitimacy crisis, so one of the most pressing challenges for church leaders today is simply to have integrity—to embody and display antiracism, to care for all of creation, to seek justice for those who have been sexually abused and otherwise traumatized, and to show that such embodiment has a deeply Christian rationale.
My goal for students
I want students to leave AMBS with the ability to draw from global Anabaptist-Mennonite and ecumenical theology and history as core resources for their lives and ministries.
“Baptism, Postliberal and Anabaptist Theologies, and the Ambiguity of Christian Practice,” Mennonite Quarterly Review 90, no. 3 (July 2016): 323–44.
“The Borders of the New Jerusalem and Ours,” The Mennonite (November 13, 2015).
“Anabaptist Re-Vision: On John Howard Yoder’s Misrecognized Sexual Politics,” Mennonite Quarterly Review 80, no. 1 (January 2015): 153–70.
“Doing Better: Toward a Post-Yoderian Theology,” Practicing Reconciliation Blog (January 21, 2014).
Principalities and Powers: Revising John Howard Yoder’s Sociological Theology (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013).
Memberships and Associations
Hively Avenue Mennonite Church
- Anabaptist History and Theology
- Anabaptism today
- The global church
- The Holy Spirit