Loyola Magazine

Q&A with author Frederick Bauerschmidt, Ph.D.

Author and professor of theology shares insight from his work and recent award

“My greatest enjoyment is addressing fundamental questions like ‘Who or what is God?’”

Author and professor Frederick “Fritz” Bauerschmidt, Ph.D., has taught theology at Loyola since 1994. A prolific writer and editor, he has written eight books, along with many academic articles, scholarly essays, book reviews, and translated works, on topics ranging from the Eucharist to the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic faith, and the relationship of theology, politics, and culture. He also serves as a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Frederick Bauerschmid receiving a medal from a priest
Photo courtesy of Frederick Bauerschmidt, Ph.D.

His 2020 book, The Love that is God, won the prestigious Michael Ramsey Prize (2023), an award celebrating the best contemporary theological writing; Bauerschmidt received a medal from the Archbishop of Canterbury during a December 2023 ceremony in London. Through readings, meditations, and an examination of love and its many forms, The Love that is God examines the essential elements of Christian faith.

What was it like winning the Ramsey Prize for The Love that is God?

With this book, I was aiming to make theology accessible to a broad public. I am gratified that something written by a Roman Catholic theologian would receive such ecumenical recognition. This book seems to have found an audience not only among Catholics, but also among mainline and evangelical Protestants, as well as among Charismatic Christians—which suggests that focusing on the basics of the Christian message can help unite Christians across our very real differences.

Which aspects of your scholarship interest you most?

I most enjoy writing things that take the theological tradition I have spent my life studying and communicate it to readers in a way they find useful, whether in negotiating a thorny moral question or deepening their relationship with God.

How does your role as a deacon in Baltimore City inform or inspire your scholarship and your teaching?

As a deacon, I preach on a regular basis, which presses me to always remember that theology must be relevant and accessible. I also get invited into the spiritual lives of people in a way that is both inspiring and humbling. Whether it is preparing adults for reception into the Church or baptizing babies or officiating at weddings, I get to witness God’s grace at work in the lives of people.

In your three decades as a professor at Loyola, what has been your favorite aspect of teaching?

I love teaching the introductory theology course, which I am constantly reinventing. That is in part because I change and grow in my understanding of God, but mainly because our students change. They are that future that keeps interrupting the present, asking questions that unsettle what we think is settled. They keep me thinking hard, and when I’m thinking hard, I feel the most alive.