About Peculiar Faith


My name is Jay Johnson and I’m an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, a Christian theologian, a teacher, and writer. Call me a theological geek or maybe just peculiar, but I truly believe the Christian Gospel can transform individuals, communities, and the world.

The peculiar character of the Christian Gospel should seem at least a bit strange in the modern world, and shape unconventional communities of faith, hope, and transformative love.  Or as the King James version of the  Bible would have it in 1 Peter 2:9, Christians are a “peculiar” people.

Rowan Williams, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, once wrote that the whole story of Christian faith tell us one thing: God desires us. Williams went further and suggested that this good news ought to shape churches as places where people find themselves desired and occasions for joy. If we truly believed this, it would change us and the change the world. I have devoted my vocation (and this blog) to nurturing precisely that kind of transforming energy.

For a bit more on why Christian faith qualifies as “peculiar,” you can read about that here. For many Christians, the first question is really about the Bible, which I think (thankfully!) is a very strange book indeed. You can read a bit more about my take on the Bible here.

Overall, I’m committed to nurturing the peculiar potential of Christian faith to energize communities of transformative witness to the Gospel today. This blog is devoted to what that  might mean, and I hope, some sustained conversation about how we can manifest the divine promise of abundant life (John 10:10) economically, politically, socially, culturally, and religiously. To do all that with a good sense of humor is not only helpful but, in my view, necessary.

I’m so grateful for the years I spent as Professor of Theology and Culture at Pacific School of Religion, and as a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, California. Early in 2020, I accepted a call to serve as the rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Saugatuck, Michigan. Judah the Australian shepherd dog and I moved across country that summer and are delighted to be back where I was born and living along the shoreline of my beloved Lake Michigan.

I earned a B.A. degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Wheaton College (Illinois) in 1983, an M.Div. from Nashotah House Episcopal Seminary (with honors) in 1988, and the Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in 1998. My first book, Dancing with God: Anglican Christianity and the Practice of Hope, was published by Morehouse/Continuum in 2005.

Want to know more? Email me or go to Facebook.

10 thoughts on “About Peculiar Faith”

  1. Hello, Rev. Dr. Jay! You mentioned emailing you, but I couldn’t find your address, so hopefully this isn’t out of place. Mike Morrell and I really appreciate your blog, and think you’d be an excellent candidate for our Speakeasy Blogger Network. Do you like to review off-the-beaten path faith, spirituality, and culture books? Speakeasy puts interesting books in your hands at no charge to you. You only get books when you request them, and it’s free to join. Sign up here, if you’d like: http://thespeakeasy.info

    You’re not on any contact lists, I promise; if you don’t respond, that’s it, and the invitation is open as long as you’re actively blogging. Hope you join us!

  2. Hello Dr Jay. I came across your blog while looking for a picture that brought together pentecost and lgbt / rainbow (isn’t google wonderful!) I love that picture of the tongues of flame, which is in rainbow colours: may I have permission to use it on the bulletin for a special service I’m planning in Scotland, at The General Assembly of The Church of Scotland, when we will be praying for an inclusive church. See http://www.AffirmationScotland.org.uk Thanks! Blair Robertson

    1. Hello, Blair! Thanks for the note. Sorry for the delay in responding. You may certainly use that image. I myself found it through Google in the public domain… Blessings on your work in Scotland!

  3. Hi, Jay, I graduated from Nashotah in ’82 and I too was deeply impacted by Louis. My heartfelt thanks to you for honoring Louis as a gay.

    Nashotah was rumored to have had a “gay purge” just before I started, though I never learned what that meant, except knowing many Diocese were not accepting of gay candidates. There were a few openlyly gay members of my class, and women had just started there. Sexuality was a highly polarizing aspect of community life.

    Louis at that time was not openly out. I remember in our Sacramental Theology class discussing marriage.
    Louis was not big on it, to put It mildly. As I argued for its importance, I finally pushed the envelope and asked what he thought of gay marriage. The class was frozen in silence. It was like imagining the unimaginable. Louis waffled around with the issue and it’s timeliness.

    We would check in with Louis on occasion in the days before social media became a thing. Gradually learning that Louis had eventually come out while at CDSP. I was very happy to see that he could fully claim his whole authentic self. It felt like real justice.

    Thanks for proclaiming to this generation one of the important heroes of this struggle for inclusivity.

  4. I’m reading three theology textbooks. One’s written by Dr Kathryn Tanner. She’s Episcopalian and on staff at the University of Chicago. One’s written by The Rev Dr Fr John Behr who is Eastern Orthodox and on staff at the University of Aberdeen. Paul Wadell is at St Norbert College. I’m greatly enjoying his writing. Do you has some specific suggestions about lighter theological reading I might pursue? My rector suggested The Rule of St Benedict. It’s not quite what I’d hoped for.

  5. Previously I’d asked for a book suggestion. I found it! It’s called Peculiar Faith: Queer Theology for Christian Witness. Now all I have to do is order and read it.

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