It’s been called the Nobel Prize of religion, and this year’s winner of the 2024 Grawemeyer Award is The Rev. Dr. Charles Halton, Associate Rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Lexington, KY, and author of “A Human-Shaped God: Theology of an Embodied God.”
The $100,000 award, bestowed by the University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, is given to scholars and preachers who have presented ideas with the potential to change the world. Previous winnersinclude New Testament Scholar E. P. Sanders, Gilead author Marilynne Robinson, Chief Rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks, and theologian James Cone.
Christ Church Cathedral Dean, The Very Reverend Carol Wade, extends heartfelt congratulations to Charles, “Today, Charles Halton joins the esteemed community of Grawemeyer scholars whose influential ideas are positively shaping the landscape of religion. Charles’s inspiring teaching and compelling preaching consistently enrich our connection with God, deepen our faith, and strengthen our resolve to work for a better world. We wholeheartedly appreciate his presence among us at Christ Church Cathedral and celebrate this well-deserved honor alongside him today.”
In “A Human-Shaped God: Theology of an Embodied God.” Charles’s thought-provoking work reveals a God with human qualities who gets angry, jealous, regrets, and learns. “We are, like God, to move from a place of exclusion and anger-fueled violence to a life of inclusion, radical forgiveness, and compassion,” says Halton, “This is the path that God is on. If we are not on it too, we are not imitating God.” Charles persuasively asserts emulating a human-shaped God inspires us to be better people.
Halton explores “an underappreciated view of God that exists in the Bible but is absent from most Eurocentric theology,” said Tyler Mayfield, who directs the religion award. “His approach is original, thought-provoking and offers new opportunities for understanding the biblical God.”
“I am incredibly honored to receive the 2024 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. It is a particularly significant honor for me because the previous recipients of the Grawemeyer have inspired and shaped my theological life through their imaginative and boundary pushing work.
When I was a high school student growing up in Austin, Texas I dreamed of becoming a scholar of religion. At many points I doubted whether I had the ability to do it. I remember looking at the first winner of the Grawemeyer, E.P. Sanders—a fellow Texan—who shifted the study of the New Testament, and thinking that maybe I too could join The Great Conversation.
The Grawemeyer winners that came after him are scholars whose books have set the standard of writing I have aspired to. Their ideas have changed my religious imagination and formed the ways I move through the world. I never expected to win the Grawemeyer, but I am so appreciative of this recognition for “A Human-Shaped God”.
There are so many people I’d like to thank who made this work possible. In particular, my wife, Lori, who supported and encouraged me and this book in all ways. Daniel Braden, my editor at WJK (Westminster John Knox Press), who believed in this book from the beginning and helped bring it to the world. And, all the folks at Louisville Seminary, the University of Louisville, and the Grawemeyer Award who read this book as part of this process.”
Charles will visit Louisville in the spring to accept his award and offer a presentation of his award-winning ideas.
Charles taught Old Testament and Semitic languages at seminary and college levels for nearly a decade. He holds a doctorate from Cincinnati’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Bible and ancient Near East studies and is an external affiliate at the Centre for the Study of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London.