Rev. Dr. James Lawrence
Dean of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies
Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies
510/849-8232 |

Rev. Dr. James Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies, began his journey training in economic strategies for the developing worlds due to an overwhelming concern for suffering in the world. It was also during these young adult years that he lost his faith and through theodical concerns concluded the universe was heartless and pointless. That changed before he finished college through a return to spirituality and new belief in meaning and purpose. This perspective led him to seminary and ministry, where he spent 17 years in parish ministry in rural, suburban and urban settings. He also worked simultaneously in publishing ministries, contributing along the way as publisher, editor and author to more than 30 works.

In 2001, Dr. Lawrence was inspired to return to academia to immerse again in what I regarded as the cutting edge of spirituality studies. Today, he help students understand and develop the resources for an engaged spirituality in the practice of ministry. Both vertical and horizontal extensions are required for spiritual leadership in tomorrow’s world, and these can be developed by engaging the stories of transformative faith: the communities that shape it, the theologies that nourish it, the practices that sustain it, and the moral life that embodies it. He has special interests today in inter-religious dialog and comparative spirituality.

Academic Credentials
Bachelor of Arts, University of Texas, 1978
Diploma (MDiv equiv.), Swedenborg School of Religion, 1984
Doctorate of Ministry, Graduate Theological Foundation, 1991
Doctorate of Philsophy, Graduate Theological Union, 2011


“An Extraordinary Season in Prayer: Warren Felt Evans’s Journey into ‘Scientific’ Swedenborgian Spiritual Practice,” in Studia Swedenborgiana (2002)

“All in the Family: Reading a Swedenborgian Pluralism in the High Christology of John 14:1-7,” in Studia Swedenborgiana, vol. 13, no. 1 (2003)

“Swedenborgian Spirituality,” in The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2005)

“Telling the Old, Old Story Anew: George Dole’s Developmentalist Reading of the Bible,” in Principles in Play: Essays in Honor of George Dole (2010)

Introduction to Revelation Unveiled by Emanuel Swedenborg (under contract, Swedenborg Foundation)

“Slavery in the American Context: Wadstrom, Swedenborgians, and an Abolitionist Myth” (forthcoming)