Leonard Scott Lipscomb

Doctoral Student

Education

  • Virginia Commonwealth University: B.A. in History, 2007
  • General Theological Seminary: M.A. in Theology, 2014

Research Interests

My interests can be divided into the more formal and philosophical and the more theological and applied—though in fact these two broad categories are intertwined.
 
I am deeply interested in recovering and re-emphasizing the claim that God is Infinite. This necessarily includes clarifying the philosophical discourse on infinitude, since this concept has been, and is, applied in wildly different ways. Ultimately, I hope to articulate a strong epistemic reading of the Infinite, rather than an ontological one: to talk of the Infinite must mean to talk of the absolute limits of thought itself. Here, the thought of Emmanuel Levinas is essential to my work.
 
This has important ramifications both for philosophical anthropology and theology. As for the former, beginning with the limitedness of human thought invites critical views of the tendencies of modern thought, structured as it is on a subject-object epistemology and reliant on binary propositional logic. Drawing on the advances of phenomenology, pragmaticist semiotics, and existentialism, I hope to contribute to the discourse on a relational conception of Being and especially of human beings, critiquing more common individual-substance approaches to this issue. Here the work of Martin Buber and that of John Zizioulas have already been invaluable resources.
 
Theologically, recognizing the limitedness of human thought should push theologians to continue the critique of so-called onto-theology. If God is Infinite, and stands as a term marking, simultaneously, both the limit to but also the condition-of-possibility for thought, then theology must always eschew objectifying the divine. Yet this only raises more barriers to theological speculation. Thus, I think these reflections should also push theologians to understand that ultimately our work must be as ethical as it is doctrinal: if the human vocation cannot be absolute knowledge, perhaps the pursuit of right action is still within our grasp. Here, feminist, liberation, ecological, and political theologians must take the lead.
 
This ethical stance, as well as a relational philosophical anthropology, is not without doctrinal implications, however. I believe that Atonement theory in particular needs to be reconsidered under the light of Patristic teachings (especially those of Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Cyril of Alexandria).  Sarah Coakley's work in applying such materials to contemporary theological questions has been hugely influential to me. Furthermore, liturgics and theologies of prayer can be greatly enriched by these same two insights explored above—God as Infinite and human persons as relational, rather than individual-substantial, entities. Catherine Lacugna's efforts to recover attention to the Trinity has been important to me in understanding how to cash these emphases out. Finally, I believe that Christian theology must recover its eschatological orientation. Here, Scriptural exegetes as well as the work of theologians like Jurgen Moltmann have been my guides.

Teaching

  • In the Spring of 2016, I served as TA for Salem Witch Trials (RELC 3150)
  • In the Fall of 2015, I served as TA for Elements of Christian thought (RELC 2360)
  • In the Spring of 2015, I served as a TA for New Testament and Early Christianity (RELC 1220)
  • In the Fall of 2014, I served as a TA for Introduction to the Western Religious Traditions (RELG 1010)
  • I have taught ESL both here in the US and in South Korea, to both adults and children.

Publications

“The Resurrection and Relationality,” The Anglican, vol. 41, no. 2 (2013): 20-27. Available online.

Awards

The J. Wilson Sutton Prize, General Theological Seminary, 2014.