Ralston Brings Breadth of Experience to Faculty

Joshua Ralston is the newest member of the Union Presbyterian Seminary faculty and joins the community as instructor of theology in January 2013. Trained as a systematic theologian, Ralston brings a deep expertise in interfaith issues, Muslim-Christian dialogue, and human migration as a matter for theological reflection. Much of his teaching and research, Ralston writes, concerns  “the challenge of faithfully articulating and creatively re-thinking Christian claims about God and the world in light of scripture, the history of Christian thought, other religious traditions (especially Islam), and the shifting socio-political landscape of the 21st century.” 

In his published work, Ralston has explored how ecclesiology can be a theological lens through which to examine both internal Christian debates about the nature of the church and external questions of the church’s relationship to the world. In an essay, “Preaching Makes the Church,” he appropriates Calvin’s theology of preaching to construct a Reformed homiletic-ecclesiology. In another journal essay, “Toward a Political Theology of Refugee Resettlement,” Ralston considers how the church might more justly and creatively engage with governmental institutions in welcoming refugees to the United States. 

 “In addition to Ralston’s academic expertise and experience, he has a reputation for creating an excellent rapport with students, always keeping an eye on how the theoretical becomes the practical in the field of ministry,” says President Brian K. Blount. “We welcome Joshua’s addition to our outstanding faculty.”

Ralston is now finishing his Ph.D. at Emory University in the graduate division of religion. He previously earned his M.Div. degree at the same institution. Ralston’s other academic credentials come from New College, University of Edinburgh (M.Th. in global Christianity) and Wake Forest University (B.A. in philosophy). In the midst of his training, he has also had opportunities to teach, most notably at the Candler School of Theology at Emory as a Bandy Fellow in homiletics and as a teaching associate in theology/ethics, at the ECWA Theological Seminary in Aba, Nigeria, and at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt. In addition, he has taught in the United Methodist course of study at the Candler School of Theology. Ralston, along with his wife and daughter, recently relocated to Richmond, VA, from Ramallah in the Palestinian Territories. Ralston’s wife, Sarah, will continue her work with CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, in the field of international development.

A candidate for ordination to become a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Ralston has also worked in churches located in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Atlanta. While at Emory, he co-founded a new church development for refugees and immigrants in Clarkston, GA.