Philip Hefner

Dr. Philip Hefner
AddressLutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street
Chicago, IL 60615

Professor of Systematic Theology, Senior Fellow, Zygon Center for Religion and Science, Emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Professor of Systematic Theology, Senior, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

B.A., Midland Lutheran College, 1954
B.Div., Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, 1959
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1962

Philip Hefner is a professor emeritus of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago[1]His research career has focused on the interaction of religion and science, for which he is most well known. Hefner has held several dozen visiting teaching and lecturing appointments at seminaries, colleges, and universities in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. He is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and has taught in numerous Lutheran seminaries in America.

In 1988, Hefner was instrumental in bringing to fruition the vision of Ralph Wendell Burhoe by helping to create the Chicago Center for Religion and Science, which later was renamed the Zygon Center for Religion and Science. He was the first director of the center and remained in that capacity from 1988 until 2003, at which point Antje Jackelén succeeded him.[2]

He is the former editor for Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science[3] the leading journal of religion and science in the world. He retired as editor at the end of 2008. Dutch scholar Willem B. Drees was named as his successor at the Journal. Hefner was four times co-chair of the annual conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS)[4]. In this activity he has been a leader in the discussions there on the evolving paradigm of Religious Naturalism[5]

Hefner writes – “A second alternative response, often identified as “religious naturalism,” is composed of a cross-section of people, many of whom are scientists, who are fashioning a religious worldview that is consistent with their personal outlook and/or free of those encumbrances of traditional religion which they consider conceptually anachronistic and morally dangerous. Religious naturalism is a variety of naturalism which involves a set of beliefs and attitudes that there are religious aspects of this world which can be appreciated within a naturalistic framework.” [6]

Audrey R. Chapman says of him – “Philip Hefner is perhaps the theologian who has grappled the most seriously and explicitly with the evolution of human nature. His approach to this topic, particularly in his work ‘The Human Factor’ is to sacralize the process of evolution….like several other thinkers, Hefner presents a bio-cultural evolutionary paradigm of Homo sapiens…For him, culture is a happening in nature”[7]

Areas of Interest

Professor of Systematic Theology

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