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Derek talks about asking questions with compassion, his sometimes controversial approach to theology and why he’s been “Disarming Scripture” for some time now.


Derek is an artist, writer, and thinker and try to let all of those mingle together. Sometimes you can’t really get theology until you encounter it in the drama of a story or sing it at the top of your lungs in a song or hymn. Art is by nature made for communicating meaning, for speaking to the depths of a person’s soul. So he uses background in story and filmmaking and applies that to how he does theology.

Doing “theology as art” allows him to go beyond the merely academic and speak to the heart, to move. Tony Campolo once said “Artists are the best theologians. They feel things that are true before theologians can jargonize them into obscurity”.

As far as his religious background goes, he’s a born again spirit filled Christian. Since he cares about the poor and marginalized and believes in grace over law, he doesn’t relate to the religious right.

He’s been a long-time voice in the post-conservative evangelical movement, focusing on wrestling with questions of faith and doubt, violence in the Bible, relational theology, and understanding the cross from the perspective of grace and restorative justice.

This is the focus of his book Healing the Gospel which offers a major critique of penal substitution, and the corresponding idea that the gospel is about satisfying an angry God’s demand for retribution and violence, instead proposing that the gospel is actually about God’s demonstration of grace and enemy love in Jesus.

His second book is in the works now, and will deal with violence in the Bible proposing that rather than trying to excuse or ignore it, we need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus and Paul did.

In addition he writes for the Huffington Post, Red Letter Christians, and Sojourners.

Check out his website here.