Professor of Theology and Philosophy
Professor David Wilmington designed and teaches the 2-year “Faith & Life” curriculum—an wide-reaching yet in-depth, integrated course of study covering Church History, Introduction to Theology, Introduction to Ethics, Theology & Culture, and significant exposure to philosophy. This track draws consistently from (and assigns) music, movies, and other art as significant course texts that help us think, speak, and write more faithfully and beautifully about God.
Professor Wilmington studied music, literature, and Spanish at Washington and Lee University (with one year focusing solely on music in the Jazz Studies program at Virginia Commonwealth University) and graduated as a University Scholar with a B.A. in Music Performance (saxophone). He earned his Master of Theological Studies at Duke University Divinity School while working with Geoffrey Wainwright, and his Ph.D. in Religion, with a focus in Theology, from Baylor University, writing under the direction of Barry Harvey. Along the way, he had the privilege of working with mentors such as Albert Murray, Reinhard Hütter, Stanley Hauerwas, Thomas Hibbs, David Lyle Jeffrey, and Ralph Wood.
While on that long and winding road, Professor Wilmington worked as a Network Engineer, High School and Middle School language arts curriculum designer and teacher, saxophone teacher, soccer coach, jazz radio announcer, and independent film writer and producer.
Professor Wilmington taught undergraduate courses at Baylor University in the Great Texts Program of the Honors College and in the Religion Department, as well as Masters courses for Truett Theological Seminary and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, before joining the faculty of Yellowstone Theological Institute.
Professor Wilmington’s research and writing interests reflect his unique formative experiences. His forthcoming book, A Pregnant Silence: Negative Theology and Virtues Ethics, brings together critiques of postmodern negative theology, Christian apophatic and mystical traditions, contemporary virtues ethics, and St. Bonaventure. He also continues to draw from his musical identity by presenting and publishing on the harmony of Trinitarian Theology and what jazz improvisation (training and performance) can teach us about theological formation and ethics.
His next major research and writing project will further develop work on improvisation, music, and ethics in conjunction with Bonaventure and the social, political, and musical aesthetics of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray.
For non-academic literary enjoyment, Professor Wilmington is a devoted fan of Patrick O’Brian (especially the Aubrey-Maturin “Master and Commander” series), Milan Kundera, Shakespeare, early science fiction, Tolkien, Walker Percy, Douglas Adams, Kurosawa, Kieslowski, James Brown, all things jazz, and G.K. Chesterton.
Outside of—but not unrelated to—work at YTI, he enjoys playing, coaching, and watching soccer, mountain hiking and camping, playing saxophone, watching and talking about movies and music, and the frequent eating and occasional cooking of Mexican food. The best version of all of those activities always involves his wife, Molly, and children Luke and Anna Grace.
Ph.D., Religion, Baylor University
Major concentration: Theology
Minor concentration: Philosophy
M.T.S., Duke University Divinity School (magna cum laude)
Major concentration: Theology and Ethical Formation
B.A., Music Performance, Washington and Lee University, (cum laude, University Scholar)
Secondary concentration: English.
Areas of Research and Teaching
Theological and Philosophical Ethics, St. Bonaventure, Apophaticism, Virtues Formation and Education, Theology and Art (music, film, literature), Great Texts (philosophy, theology, and literature).
Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Yellowstone Theological Institute, 2017 – present
Part-time Lecturer, Honors College, Great Texts Program, Baylor University, 2016
Adjunct Instructor (online), Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, 2016
Temporary Full-time Lecturer, Baylor University, Honors College, Great Texts Program and George W. Truett Theological Seminary, 2015
Teaching Fellow/Part-time Faculty, Baylor University, Honors College, Great Texts Program, 2012 – 2014
Teaching Fellow/Part-time Faculty (Professor of Record), Baylor University, Department of Religion, 2010 – 2014
A Pregnant Silence: Contemporary Apophaticism and Virtues Ethics, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, forthcoming 2018). [Under Contract, 2016]
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
“Virtues as Apophatic Practice: Improvising Within Bonaventure’s Christocentric Harmony,” in Frater, Magister, Minister, Et Episcopus, Franciscan Institute Publications (forthcoming, 2019).
“Distinctly Harmonious: Creaturely Participation in the Trinity (in the Key of Fiddes),” Perspectives in Religious Studies. Vol. 44, Issue 1 (Spring, 2017).
“Adorno’s Culture Industry: An Anthropological Critique,” Radical Orthodoxy: Theology, Philosophy, Politics. Vol. 2, No. 1 (2014).
Chapters in Edited Volumes
“Weaponized Virtue,” in Ender’s Game and Philosophy, Chicago: Open Court. (September, 2013).
Articles/Entries in Reference Works
“Jazz” (Genre-level Article) in Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, eds. Allison, Jr., Dale C., Helmer, Christine, Seow, Choon-Leong, Spieckermann, et al. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, (Vol. 13, Aug. 2016).
“Duke Ellington” (Individual Entry), in Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, eds. Allison, Jr., Dale C., Helmer, Christine, Seow, Choon-Leong, Spieckermann, et al. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, (Vol. 7, Aug. 2013).
Review of M. Cooper Harriss, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Theology, in The Christian Century,(October, 2017).
Professional Positions, Honors, and Awards
Consultant: Jazz and Popular Music, Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, (De Gruyter).
Nominee for Outstanding Dissertation Award (Religion Dept.), Baylor University, 2015- 2016.
Invited Member, Dean’s Seminar: Interdisciplinary Scholarship in Religion and Culture (Baylor University Graduate School), 2010-2011.
Dean’s Scholarship, Baylor University, 2007-2010.
Graduate Student Assistantship, Baylor University Graduate School, 2007-2012.
Registrar’s Scholarship (Merit-based), Duke University Divinity School.
University Scholar (funded Honors Program), Washington and Lee University.
Robert Stewart Award, Washington and Lee University Dept. of Music
Invited Lectures and Panels
“Discipleship as Counter-Cultural Adventure,” Address to the LOVE.INC Fall Ecumenical Meeting of Gallatin Valley Pastors, November 2017.
“Transcendence on the Cheap? Going ‘Beyond’ Enough in Bailey (2008),” Scholar/Filmmaker Panel, Concordia University Seminar Conversations at the Intersection of Faith and Film (Austin, TX), March 2016.
“How to Be Good: Jazz, Soccer, and Virtuous Improvisation,” The Wheatley Institution Forum, Brigham Young University, (Provo, UT), January, 2016. Video available here.
“Virtues as Apophatic Practice: Improvising Within Bonaventure’s Christocentric Harmony,” Franciscan Institute International Bonaventure Conference: Frater, Magister, Minister et Episcopus: The Works and Worlds of Saint Bonaventure, (St. Bonaventure University), 2017.
“Distinctly Harmonious: Creaturely Participation in the Trinity (in the Key of Fiddes),” Young Scholars in the Baptist Academy:Trinity and Participation – Engaging and Celebrating Paul Fiddes, (Regent’s Park College, Oxford University), 2016.
“Toward a Harmonious Silence: An Argument for Relational Apophaticism,” American Academy of Religion National Meeting (Christian Systematic Theology Section), (Atlanta, GA), 2015.
“Soccer, Improvisation, and Virtues Ethics Formation,” Institute for Faith and Learning, Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture: “The Spirit of Sports,” Baylor University, 2015.
“Christian Enough: For and Against ‘Christian Film,’” Institute for Faith and Learning, Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture: “Faith and Film,” Baylor University, 2014.
“The Improvising Soul: Bonaventure’s Hierarchization as a Jazz Dynamic,” Centre of Theology and Philosophy, “The Soul” Conference (St. Anne’s College, Oxford University), 2013.
“Why Silence Must Be Christian: The Ethical Implications of a ‘Secularized Apophaticism,’” Notre Dame Center For Ethics and Culture, 2011.
“Why Theodor Can’t Swing: A Jazz Critique of Adorno’s Culture Industry and Underlying Anthropology,” Centre of Theology and Philosophy, What Is Life? Conference (Krakow, Poland), 2011.
“Baptists, Metaphysics, and Virtue: Toward a Proper Baptist Confidence,” National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion (Boiling Springs, NC), 2011.
“Freedom in the Groove: Why Virtues Ethics Needs Jazz Improvisation,” American Academy of Religion National Meeting (Atlanta, GA), 2010.
“Metaphysics and the Baptist Academy: Baptist Resources for Contemporary Theology,” Young Scholars in the Baptist Academy (Honolulu, HI), 2010.
“Democracy as Improvisation: A Jazz Corrective to Jeffrey Stout on Tradition, Authority and ‘Common Morality’ in Religious and Political Discourse,” National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion (Atlanta, GA), 2010.
“The Reduction of Ethics Into Exemplarism: Bonaventure in Dialogue With Contemporary Ethics,” Southwest Commission on Religious Studies (Ft. Worth, TX), 2010.
“From Slave Hound to Redeeming Martyr: Frederick Douglass’ Theopolitical Assessment of Lincoln,” American Academy of Religion National Meeting (Montreal, Quebec), 2009.
“Reclaiming Koinonia: Why the Church Must be Selfish about Community,” Institute for Faith and Learning: Secularization and Revival Conference (Waco, TX), 2009.
“The Devil’s Music Goes to Church: Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts as Inter-Community Theological Engagement,” American Academy of Religion National Meeting(Chicago, IL), 2008.
“Schleiermacher and Coleridge: Romanticism and Revelation,” Baylor University English Graduate Students’ Association Conference: “Revelations” (Waco, TX), 2008.
Professional Associations and Institutional Service
Society of Christian Ethics
American Academy of Religion
Southwest Commission on Religious Studies
National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion
Head Graduate Fellow, Baylor University Honors Residential College
Baylor Religion Department Graduate Program Student Advisory Committee
Baylor University Graduate Student Association, Representative (Religion Dept.)
University Teaching Experience
Baylor University, Honors College, Great Texts Program, 2012 – 2016
Medieval Intellectual Traditions (Honors and Standard sections)
Intellectual Traditions of the Ancient World (Honors and Standard sections)
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Theology and Ethics I
Theology and Ethics II
George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, 2015
Introduction to Christian Theology
Christian Texts and Traditions I
Baylor University, Department of Religion: 2010 – 2014
The Christian Scriptures
Baylor University, Honors College, Colloquia: 2009 – 2014
Graduate Fellows Colloquia Series Director (“Theological Anthropology Colloquium” and “Becoming a Christian Thinker: C.S. Lewis Colloquium”)
Honors Colloquium Instructor (Cry, the Beloved Country and Ender’s Game)
Baylor University, Department of Religion, 2007-2010
Teaching Assistant and Guest Lecturer (for Dr. Ralph Wood)
“Christian Spiritual Classics” (John of the Cross)
“Christian Literary Classics” (Pascal, Pensées)
“The Oxford Christians” (C.S. Lewis, Abolition of Man, Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers, The Nine Tailors)
Other Instructional Experience
Baylor University: Coach, Women’s Intercollegiate Club Soccer, 2010, 2011 seasons
Triangle Day School, Durham, NC, 2002-2007
Middle School Language Arts Curriculum Design/Teaching
Soccer Coach – Boys and Girls Programs
Riverside High School, Durham, NC, 2001-2002
English Literature I and III
Girls’ Soccer Coach
Theatre Advisor (Shakespearean dialogue coach)