Jonathan Lee Walton

Dean of the School of Divinity, Presidential Chair of Religion and Society, Dean of Wait Chapel

Jonathan Lee Walton was named Dean of Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Presidential Chair in Religion and Society, and Dean of Wait Chapel in 2019.  Prior to joining Wake Forest University, he was the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University.

Dean Walton is a social ethicist whose scholarship focuses on evangelical Christianity and its relationship to mass media and political culture. His first book, Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism (NYU Press, 2009), examines the theological and political traditions of African American religious broadcasters.  

His latest book, A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World (Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), blends his work from the pulpit and classroom. A Lens of Love explores the Bible from the perspective of the most vulnerable and violated characters toward developing a Christian social ethic of radical inclusion and human affirmation.  The book argues that people of faith can engage the Bible faithfully, approach it responsibly, and thus reject it literally. 

Dean Walton is an outspoken advocate for social justice and civil rights. His work and insights have been featured in several national and international news outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, Time Magazine, and the BBC.


BA, Morehouse College; MDiv, PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary

Religious Affiliation



  • The Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World, Westminster John Knox Press, 2018.
  • Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism, New York University Press, 2009.

Select Journal Articles, Book Chapters, Book Reviews

  • “Have the Sons of Africa Have No Souls?: Manliness, Freedom, and Power in the Cultural Roots of Afro-Phallic Protestantism,” in The Sexual Politics of Black Churches, edited by Josef Sorett, Columbia University Press, 2020.
  • “Luminous Darkness: Africanist Presence and the American Soul,” in Goodness and the Literary Imagination: Harvard’s 95th Ingersoll Lecture with Essays on Morrison’s Moral and Religious Vision, by Toni Morrison, edited by David Carrasco, Stephanie Paulsell, and Mara Willard, University of Virginia Press, 2019. 
  • “Afterword: Dignity as a Weapon of Love,” in To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Tommie Shelby and Brandon M. Terry, Harvard University Press, 2018, pp. 339-350.
  • “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Consumerism, in The Protestant Reformation of the Church and the World, edited by John Witte Jr. and Amy Wheeler, Westminster John Knox Press, 2018, pp. 240-253.
  • “Stationed in the King’s Court: Evangelicals in the Age of Obama,” in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 16, numbers 1-2, 2014, pp. 79-98.
  • “Stop Worrying and Start Sowing! A Phenomenological Account of the Ethics of ‘Divine Investment’” in Pentecostalism and Prosperity: The Socio-Economics of Global Charismatic Movements, edited by Amos Yong and Katy Attanasi, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 107-129.
  • “The Greening of the Gospel (and Black Body): Rev. Ike’s Gospel of Wealth and Post- Blackness Theology,” in Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Vol. 33, number 2, 2011, pp. 181-199.
  • “For Where Two or Three (Thousand) Are Gathered in My Name! A Cultural History and Ethical Analysis of African-American Megachurches” in Journal of African American Studies, Vol. 15, number 2, 2011, pp. 133-154.
  • “Preachers’ Blues: Religious Race Records and the Reclamation of Authority on Wax” in Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, Vol. 20, number 2, 2010, pp. 205-232.

Select Academic Lectures

  • Keynote Address: 50 Years Since MLK, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 4/19/18
  • Midwinter Lectures, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX, 1/28-29/18
  • Alonzo McDonald Lecture in Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Reformation, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 4/3/17
  • Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities, The Center for Ideas and Society, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, 3/23/17
  • Baccalaureate Address, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA 5/14/16
  • The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture, Brown University, Providence, RI, 2/2/16
  • Daryl Schmidt Lecture on Religion and Public Life, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX, 9/29/15
  • The Boardman Lecture, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 3/20/2015
  • Keynote Address: Pentecostal and Prosperous: Empowering Marginalized Protestant Bodies,” International Society for Religion Media and Culture, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, 8/4/2014
  • Princeton Doll Family Lecture on Religion and Money, Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University, 4/24/2014
  • Kelly Miller Smith Institute Social Justice Forum, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, 4/12/14

Select Sermons, Educational Series, and Church Presentations

Professional Affiliations

  • Board of Trustees, Princeton Theological Seminary
  • National Advisory Board, John C. Danforth, Center on Religion & Politics, Washington University in St. Louis
  • The American Academy of Religion
    • AAR Nominations Committee Member (Chair 2011-2012) 
    • Religion, Media & Culture Group Steering Committee 
    • Afro-American Religious History Group Steering Committee



Phone: 336.758.3957

Office: Wingate 109

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