Ted A. Smith

Professor of Preaching and Ethics
Ted A. Smith
Phone: 404.727.4231
    • PhD, Emory University, 2004
    • MDiv, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1995
    • MA, Oxford University, 1992
    • BA, Duke University, 1990

    The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith thinks theologically about the practices and institutions of American Protestantism in the season of their disestablishment. He develops thick descriptions of everyday church life that open into political theology, cultural criticism, and practical wisdom for ministry. In pursuing this project, Smith draws on theology, social theory, and the history of Christianity in the United States. Smith’s first book, The New Measures (Cambridge University Press, 2007), tells a history of preaching that gives rise to eschatological visions of modern democracy. His second book, Weird John Brown (Stanford University Press, 2014), works through memories of the raid on Harpers Ferry to show the limits of social ethics for thinking about violence. Smith has edited collections of essays on sexuality and ordination, contemporary issues in preaching, and economic inequality. He is currently coordinating a grant that gathers diverse groups of writers to think about the meanings and purposes of theological education in a time of great change.

    At Emory, Smith also teaches in the Graduate Division of Religion and is an affiliated faculty member with the Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Beyond Emory, Smith is a Senior Fellow with the University of Virginia’s project on Religion and Its Publics, a member of the Board of Directors of the Louisville Institute, and a member of the editorial boards for Political Theology and Practical Matters.

    Before coming to Emory, Smith taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he served as founding director of the Program in Theology and Practice. Ordained to ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Smith served two congregations in upstate New York before beginning doctoral work. When he is not on the road to preach, he teaches fourth- and fifth-grade Sunday School at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church.

    Selected publications

    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication


    Co-editor,Spirit and Capital in an Age of Inequality. Routledge, 2018

    Co-editor,Questions Preachers Ask: Essays in Honor of Thomas G. Long. Westminster John Knox Press, 2016

    Weird John Brown: Divine Violence and the Limits of Ethics. Stanford University Press, 2014

    The New Measures: A Theological History of Democratic Practice. Cambridge University Press, 2007

    Chapters and Articles

    View a collection of Smith's articles in Christian Century.

    "On the State of Political Theology Today." Political Theology Today, September 16, 2016

    "From Silkworms to Songbirds: Why We No Longer Preach Like Jonathan Edwards." Commonweal, September 28, 2015

    "Putting Flesh on Truthful Prayers of Confession." Marginalia Review of Books and Political Theology Today, March 02, 2015

    "Politics in the Wake of Divine Violence." Studies in Christian Ethics, vol. 25, no. 4, November 21, 2014

    "Reasoning about Exceptions." Political Theology, vol. 15, no. 5, September 01, 2014

    Selected awards

    Senior Fellow, Religion and Its Politics, University of Virginia

    Grant for "Theological Education between the Times," Lilly Endowment, Phase I: 2013, Phase II: 2016.

    Research Scholar Fellowship, Office of the Provost, Vanderbilt University

    Faculty Travel Grant, Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality, Vanderbilt University

    Post-doctoral fellowship, Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion (declined)

    Woodruff Fellowship, Emory University, 1999-2004.

    Bandy Fellowship in Preaching, Emory University, 1999-2002.

    Elias Boudinot Award for excellence in small church ministry

    Roberts Scholarship in Preaching, Princeton Theological Seminary

    Wailes Memorial Prize in New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

    Service of Word and Table, Cannon Chapel, February 21, 2017

    "Theological Education Between the Times" - Candler Practical Ministry Webinars, November 9, 2016

    "Weird John Brown Symposium" - Syndicate, August 1, 2016

    "Seven Questions for Ted Smith" - Sacred Matters, November 13, 2015

    "The Law Fulfilled - God's Yes, God's No, God's Invitation" - Reformation Day at Emory, October 22, 2015

    "America's Changing Religious Landscape" - "On Second Thought" radio show, Georgia Public Broadcasting, June 2, 2015

    "Great Birds of the Kingdom" - Prophetic Voices Centennial Academic Conference, Cannon Chapel, March 19, 2015

    "Later Days: Isaiah 2:1-5: 1st Sunday of Advent - Year A" - Day1, December 1, 2013

    "Preaching without Notes: Worship in an Age of Authenticity" - Candler Practical Ministry Webinars, September 20, 2013

    "Eschatological Memories of Everyday Life" - University of Virginia, June 4, 2013

    "The Body We Can See From Here" - Sermon at the Conference of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, 2009

    Selected courses

    Preaching in a Secular Age

    Preaching Politics

    Political Theologies

    Introduction to Preaching

    Introduction to the Study of Religious Practices