Associate Professor of Christian Studies
Dr. Neal earned a BA in Political Science from Texas Tech University. He then pursued theological and ministerial training and is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDivBL), and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (MTh; PhD). He is married to Jennifer, and they have four children.
Dr. Neal’s teaching and research focuses on the relationship between biblical interpretation and theology. His Ph.D. research focused on systematic theology, specifically questions raised in contemporary German theology. He is the author of Theology As Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of Jurgen Moltmann’s Doctrine of Hope, and has published a variety of essays, articles, and chapters on theological topics. Dr. Neal has presented papers in several academic venues in England, Scotland, New Zealand, and the United States. Most recently he presented a paper on eschatology at the University of Notre Dame.
I love teaching college students because it is a rich, formative time. College students are highly inquisitive, curious, and most enjoy the questions set before them. Primarily, I teach courses that focus on life’s perennial questions, whether related to interpretation, theology, or ethics. I have the luxury and privilege of participating with students as they grapple with the questions, contemplate the potential answers, and help them wade through the implications.
For local congregations, I have led a variety of Bible Studies and I enjoy preaching. Dr. Neal and his family are members of Capstone Community Church.
In the Know:
1. What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?
I am guilty of indulgence at this point by selecting one book from each Testament. Job is my favorite Old Testament book since it takes up one of the perennial questions of human existence: human suffering.
A mixture of philosophy and theology, Job is marked by numerous pairs of nuanced opposites: pessimism and hope, indictment and innocence, despair and redemption, destruction and renewal.
And the concluding sequence is an amazing “scene” where God himself speaks directly to Job before restoring him.
Galatians is my favorite New Testament book since it captures the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while defending Christian freedom against those that propose legalism as the way to achieve spirituality and religiosity. Grace and freedom should mark the Christian life, according to Galatians. Also, since I believe brevity is a virtue, I am very impressed that Paul manages to accomplish so much in a mere 149 verses.
2. What’s a hobby you enjoy doing? (Or if no hobby, what do you like to do for fun?)
If cost were not a factor my hobby would be traveling. Visiting different countries and cultures provides glimpses into history, allows for personal growth, heightens my appreciation for differences of opinion, and continually puts my life in a wider context and reminds me that I am only one in 6 billion people on this planet. My “bucket list” is largely composed of places to visit.
3. Which will you prefer when you get to heaven: church potlucks, ice cream socials or spaghetti dinners?
Ice cream socials: frozen sugar milk is one of the finer creations in life, and as a dessert is a close second only to cheesecake.
4. Who has been a mentor to you and what has that person done to help you the most?
The most significant mentor/guide in my life has been my father. He has consistently modeled good judgment, patience, faithfulness, humility, and generosity to me and my family in countless ways, and in other areas of which I am probably still unaware.
5. Why are you glad to be teaching here in the College of Christian Studies at AU?
I view teaching at AU as a privilege and honor. While we are experiencing tremendous growth on campus, there still are many opportunities to form community and develop long-term relationships. AU provides is the ideal place for me to guide and challenge students to take ownership of their beliefs in the wider context of firm Christian principles and under the authority of the Bible.