Welcome to the academic home page of Daniel J. Handschy, BA, MDiv, PhD Historical Theology

Episcopal School for Ministry (Diocese of Missouri)

Adjunct Faculty
Webster Groves, Missouri

Crestwood, Missouri

I entered the PhD program in Historical Theology at Saint Louis University to pursue an understanding of the doctrines of the eucharist and priesthood in the Episcopal Church, particularly as affected by the liturgical renewal movement of the early and mid twentieth century.  In the course of my studies I discovered that the ecclesiology and sacramental theology of the liturgical renewal movement had been influence by the Oxford Movement, which in turn had been profoundly influenced by the ecclesiology of Samuel Seabury, the first bishop of the American Church.  Seabury had constructed an episcopal ecclesiology not grounded in state establishment, and when the Oxford Movement sought to respond to the constitutional crisis of the Church of England in the 1820s and 30s, it naturally turned to the American Church as an example of a Church constitution founded on eucharistic sacrifice and ministerial priesthood.  
My interest in this topic is driven by my experience in parish ministry.  I have been the rector of Church of the Advent since November of 1992. Through the guidance of the congregation, I came to understand my role as the moderator of relationships within the community, discerning the life of Christ within the life of the community.  In offering the eucharist, the community offers its common life to become the medium of divine revelation.  The priest stands at the focal point of the community in order to reflect back to the community the presence of the divine in its own life.  This was a far more mediatorial role in the community's sacrifice than seminary had trained me to expect.  This PhD has really been the out-working of an understanding of my role into which Advent invited me.  
My undergraduate degree is in physics, and has been a significant part of my training.  It has led me to prefer historical and social-scientific approaches to questions of Church teaching.  The kinds of answers we discover in our work are shaped by the kinds of questions we ask.  Physicists have long recognized the social nature of their endeavor.  In answer to the questions "What is physics?" physicists are likely to give the answer, "What physicists do."  They also recognize the limits to the kinds of questions physics can ask about reality.  The writings of Michael Polanyi and John Polkinghorne have influenced my understanding of the interface between science, knowledge and truth.