Malinda Elizabeth Berry, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics; History, Theology, and Ethics Department Chair
Why I am at AMBS
I am glad to make AMBS my professional home for many reasons. One that comes to mind quickly is this: because I am in an Anabaptist Mennonite setting, my person and scholarly commitment to peace theology is welcomed and celebrated. Developing this aspect of my work in a place that nurtured me animates my faith and life as a Christian.
Dr. Malinda Elizabeth Berry is both a theologian and a teacher: she’s passionate about the subject matter of her courses and believes that the content of a course should shape how it is taught. Her commitment to Anabaptism in the Mennonite tradition is evident in her approach to an array of topics, issues, and concerns of our day: Christian social responsibility, environmental stewardship—with an emphasis on human ecology, and renewing congregational life in its structural and spiritual dimensions. In addition to the research she does to support her teaching, Malinda continues to develop her contribution to peace theology: shalom political theology (SPT). She is currently working to outline a model for theological reflection based on SPT for application in congregational and organizational settings.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as a professor?
While I do my work as a theologian and ethicist, I incorporate a practice called confessional Bible study in many of my courses. Developed by my AMBS colleagues in the Bible and Church & Ministry departments, confessional Bible study grounds theological reflection in communal conversation about Christian Scripture, ensuring that Anabaptist spirituality and study shape our application of biblical values.
What should students expect in your classroom?
My teaching strategies vary from course to course, but the values that undergird all my teaching practices include an active back-and-forth between my students and me; assignments that call for the integration of knowing, being, and doing; and a Christian commitment to nonviolence.
I am also fond of asking students to write lengthy research papers, because the process of moving from an interest to a topic to an argument to a conversation that matters to a whole community of people is a rigorous and rewarding process. Holding together “academic excellence” and “spiritual formation” is one way we know we are living the call of the Shema: to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength.
What are some of the diverse voices you incorporate into your teaching?
Because Christianity is a racially, ethnically, and nationally diverse movement with adherents of all ages, genders, and economic classes, I believe the sources my students and I look to in our reading, research, writing, teaching, and learning are most faithful when they reflect this reality. As a woman of color in a predominantly white denomination and teaching context, I consider it one of my responsibilities and joys to help others forge intellectual and spiritual connections with theologians and ethicists of all colors.
My goal for students
My goal for students is to use the time and energy they are committing to theological education to grow in their knowledge and love of God through the integrated academic study we offer at this seminary.
I want them to develop the ability to assist people in their communities—from congregations to social groups—in reflecting theologically on the range of ethical issues they face.
I want students to be eager to develop theologically informed opinions by wrestling with Anabaptist peace theologies. I want to nurture their desire and ability to help others do the same.
Prophetic Evangelicals: Envisioning the Just and Peaceable Kingdom (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Col, 2012) editor with Bruce Ellis Benson and Peter Goodwin Heltzer
Wrestling with the Text: Young Adult Perspectives on Scripture (Cascadia, 2006) editor with Keith Graber Miller
“What about the sacrifice of animals in the Hebrew Scriptures?” in A Faith Embracing All Creatures: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Care for Animals (Cascade Books, 2012)
“Changing the bulb and turning on the light: The power of personal agency in feminist work” in Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
“Poised to embrace: The literary arts and Anabaptism” in Center for Mennonite Writing Journal (www.mennonitewriting.org/journal/3/3/poised-embrace/)
“The gifts of an extended theological table: MCC’s World Community Cookbooks as organic theology” in A Table of Sharing: Mennonite Central Committee and the Expanding Networks of Mennonite Identity (Cascadia, 2011)
Memberships and Associations
- Anabaptist-Mennonite Scholars Network
- Fellowship of Hope Mennonite Church
- Mennonite Historical Society
- Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies
- Participant in Nonviolent Communication community
Invite AMBSInvite AMBS is a unique opportunity to invite the faculty and staff of AMBS to come directly to you to address a certain topic. Learn more about Invite AMBS.
- Anabaptist/Mennonite Theology
- Confessional Bible Study
- Constructive Theology
- Environmental Concerns in Theological Perspective
- Feminist and Womanist Theologies
- Nonviolent Communication
- Peace Theology and Ethics
- Peace Theology and Group Process
- Theology and the Arts