Welcome to the academic homepage of

Kenneth L. Parker

Clarence Louis and Helen Irene Steber
Professor of Theological Studies

Saint Louis University


  • Post-doctoral studies in nineteenth-century Roman Catholic theology and church history, 1987 to 1990, Faculty of Theology (French and German sections), University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
    Mentor: Professor Guido Vergauwen, O.P.
  • Ph.D. in Divinity, 1984, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge.
    Mentor: Professor Eamon Duffy, Magdalene College, Cambridge
  • M.A. in Historical Theology, 1978, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.
    Mentor: Professor Geoffrey Bromiley
  • B.A. in History and Writing, 1976, Houghton College, Houghton, New York

Current Research Interests

  • Issues relating to ultramontanism and gallicanism in nineteenth-century Catholicism, and the papal infallibility debates of the 1860s and Vatican I.
  • John Henry Newman, Henry Manning, Francis Kenrick (Archbishop of Baltimore), Peter Kenrick (Archbishop of Saint Louis),  Ignaz von Döllinger, Lord John Acton
  • Christian Historiography

Academic Biography

Faith has nothing to fear from historical research. 
Pope John Paul II, 1999

I bring to my study of historical theology an unusual personal background. Born into the home of a Pilgrim Holiness pastor in the mountains of North Carolina, my interests in theology began in childhood as I tried to understand the doctrine of entire sanctification my father preached. As an undergraduate at Houghton College, my theological questions sent me on a quest to understand Christian history; and experiences in a rural Episcopal parish profoundly affected my understanding of sacraments. During studies at Fuller Seminary I came to know a monastery in the Mojave Desert, where I learned to cherish the ancient spiritual traditions of Christianity. While doing research on the English Reformation at the University of Cambridge, I became a Roman Catholic (October 1982). Three years later, after finishing my PhD and teaching at the University of Alabama, I returned to Saint Andrew’s Abbey in California to become a monk. Five years of monastic life deeply affected my development as a theologian. When I decided to return to academic life in 1990, Westmont College invited me to teach in their History Department.

I arrived at Saint Louis University in 1992 and have enjoyed being part of a dynamic and innovative period in the Department of Theological Studies. As Director of Undergraduate Studies (1994-1997), I participated in the growth of our program from a dozen students to over 130 majors and minors. Outcomes assessment based education became a keen interest of mine and was an integral part of the curriculum reform process that I led from 1993-1997.

My original area of scholarship focused on early modern English theology, and I have published on English sabbatarianism, Richard Greenham, and Elizabethan pastoral care. In the 1990s my research interests expanded to include John Henry Newman and Christian historiographical traditions. At the encouragement of colleagues in the early 2000s, I began exploring the papal infallibility debates of the 1860s and how history was employed by key theologians. This has been a fascinating area of research, which has led to fruitful projects.

I am passionate about learning and find no greater pleasure than observing that experience unfold in the lives of my students. Most recently, I have had the privilege of working on the development of a college-in-prison program at SLU. Working with this new population of students has heightened my appreciation for the privilege of learning—and the damage done when that opportunity is withheld.

Beyond the classroom and study, life is filled with the joy of my three sons: Geoffrey, Emanuel, and Luke. I am an avid swimmer, weight trainer, and feel blessed by friendships with dynamic colleagues in a theology department that has direction and purpose.