Articles Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Paul Doerksen

PaulDoerksenOct2016Dr. Paul Doerksen, Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies, has taught at CMU since 2011. His new book is Take and Read: Reflecting Theologically on Books (Wipf and Stock, 2016).

What are you teaching right now that most excites you?

Theological Ethics. I’ve got just under a dozen students who are really bright, articulate, interesting, and willing to really go after questions that are raised by other students or by the readings that we pursue. Every class, it feels like there’s something at stake. That’s exciting.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I’m working on what I hope will be a book-length project on moral patience. The heart of the project is a line from Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics where he writes that God grants us the space and time to become who we were intended to be. That’s a wonderful way of thinking about God’s relationship to humanity, but then I wonder if there’s something in there for the way that humans can get along with other humans. My kids think it’s hilarious and ironic that I’m writing about patience.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

Some of the specific books include Silence by Shūsaku Endō. It’s about a Jesuit priest being persecuted in early modern Japan, and is a take on martyrdom that is absolutely fascinating. Martin Scorsese directed an adaptation that’s finally coming out within the next few months, which I’m looking forward to. I just started reading Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. It’s really good. And, I’m looking forward to David Bergen. He’s got a new one out that I don’t have my hands on yet.

What do you most long for in your work?

I hope that my work, and the work of CMU more broadly, can be part of encouraging the church and the academy to be faithful Christians. I hope that we appreciate each other’s contributions and understand that we’re involved, at very deep levels, in the same project – namely, trying to figure out what it means to be faithful to Christ.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

My Take and Read theology book discussion group continues to be a delight. Thirty people get together four times over the winter to discuss four different books over dessert. It keeps me reading and thinking in ways that are different from the classroom or formal research. My new book is a collection of reflections I’ve written on various books we have discussed at Take and Read over the years. I’m looking forward to being independently wealthy because of the royalties.

What saying or motto inspires you?

The Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins once said, “Theology is watching our language in the presence of God.” I think about this a lot. We believe that watching our language means not cursing, but there’s much more at stake here than impolite language. All of the Christian life is, in a sense, learning more and more how to talk about God and use that grammar of faith. It doesn’t come naturally, at least not to me. I need to be trained in it and I need to keep working at it.

Events General News News Releases

Event planned to celebrate books published by CMU faculty

‘The CMU faculty is doing very significant work,’ says vice president

CMU faculty who will be a part of the book celebration. From top-left; Froese; Doerksen; Gerbrandt; Sorenson
Among the published CMU faculty to be featured in the December 9 book celebration are (clockwise from top-left) Froese, Doerksen, Sorensen, and Gerbrandt.

Peacebuilding in Laos, the history of Mennonites in California, Deuteronomy, and the portrayal of clergy in pop culture—recent books by faculty from Canadian Mennonite University cover a wide range of topics.

The university will recognize faculty who have published work in the last year-and-a-half at a special celebration happening on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 3:00 PM.

The celebration will take place at folio café in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). Admission is free, and all are welcome to attend.

In addition to selling and signing their books, CMU faculty will give brief presentations about their work.

“The CMU faculty is doing very significant work,” says Dr. Dietrich Bartel, Interim Vice President Academic. “We want to highlight that.”

The event will celebrate the following books:

  • Deuteronomy (Herald Press, 2015) by Dr. Gerald E. Gerbrandt, President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Bible. The 29th volume in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series, Deuteronomy examines divine grace and the practices of justice and right living.
  • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding in Laos: Perspective for Today’s World (Routledge, 2015) by Dr. Stephanie Stobbe, Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution Studies. Using the case study of Laos, a small country that has seen brutal poverty and violence, this book examines the power of traditional and indigenous conflict resolution systems as a tool for social justice.
  • The Outsiders’ Gaze: Life and Labour on the Mennonite West Reserve 1874-1922 (Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, 2015), co-edited by Dr. Adolf Ens, Professor Emeritus of History and Theology. This book is a perspective of Mennonites through the eyes of outsiders from 1874-1922 when 7,000 Mennonites emigrated from southern Russia and settled in Manitoba.
  • Inner Peace Through Conflict Transformation (2015) by Dr. Paul Redekop, Professor Emeritus of Conflict Resolution Studies. This is a groundbreaking guide that aids readers in achieving a more peaceful relationship with themselves by applying basic strategies of conflict resolution to inner conflict.
  • James and Paul: The Politics of Identity at the Turn of the Ages (Fortress Press, 2015) by Dr. V. George Shillington, Professor Emeritus of Biblical and Theological Studies. This book seeks to understand the different but complementary missions of the apostle Paul and James of Jerusalem.
  • Voices of Harmony & Dissent: How Peacebuilders are Changing Their Worlds (CMU Press, 2015), co-edited by Dr. Jarem Sawatsky, Professor Emeritus of Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies and Valerie Smith, Co-Director of CMU’s Canadian School of Peacebuilding. This book explores the stories, theory, and tools of 16 peace leaders, trainers, and activists from around the world.
  • California Mennonites (John Hopkins University Press, 2015) by Dr. Brian Froese, Associate Professor of History. This book examines the Mennonite experience in the Golden State, from the 19th century migrants who came in search of sunshine and fertile soil to the evangelically oriented, partially assimilated Mennonites of today.
  • Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology: Law, Order, and Civil Society (Wipf and Stock, 2014), edited by Dr. Paul Doerksen, Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies. This collection of essays by the late theologian Dr. A. James Reimer pursues the investigation of theological realities that are to serve as the engine of a political theology that seeks to articulate both a critical and a positive-constructive approach to public/political life and institutions.
  • The Collar: Reading Christian Ministry in Fiction, Television, and Film (Cascade, 2014) by Dr. Sue Sorensen, Associate Professor of English. This is a wide-ranging study of the many ways Christian ministers have been represented on page and screen. Ranging across several nations, denominations, and eras, The Collar is an inquiry into pastoral passion, frustration, and fallibility. 

Because each author has a background in teaching and is also involved in a church community, their work will appeal to a variety of readers, including lay readers, pastors, teachers, and more.

 “These writers are not just speaking to other scholars,” says Dr. Vic Froese, Library Director at CMU, who is organizing the December 9 event. “They are aware that there is an audience that has a more practical interest in what they have written.”

Froese is looking forward to the celebration.

“I hope that people who attend learn more about the excellence we have here on our faculty,” he says, adding that the event is also meant to recognize the hard work of CMU’s professors. “We want to express our appreciation to them and congratulate them on a job well done.”

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program. 

For information about CMU visit

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2