Assistant Professor of Church History
Charles “Austin” Rivera is a historical theologian and Church historian. In his research and teaching Rivera tells a truly global story of the history of the Church, correcting the western-centric views which have traditionally shaped the teaching of Church history, especially in the ancient and medieval periods. In narrating the history of Christian doctrine Rivera brings to the fore texts and genres conventionally excluded from the realm of theology proper, especially poetry.
Rivera’s work is interdisciplinary, bringing together literary studies and philology, history, and constructive theology. His research and teaching center on Christian literature and theology from late antiquity and the early middle ages, with a special focus on Ephrem of Nisibis and Syriac traditions. His current project, “The Mirror of Merit: Divine Grace in Origen of Alexandria and Ephrem of Nisibis” offers a new account of grace in two influential writers of the early Church which challenges the universality of concepts central to western theology, such as the ‘unmeritedness’ of grace. Rivera also maintains an interest in theological poetry of all periods and in the history and theology of Methodist and Wesleyan traditions.
Rivera is an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church, with experience as the pastor of local congregations in Kansas and Nebraska.