Al Baker's Research Background
Pastor - Troy Community Church
Independent Marketing Consultant
Ph.D. Ecclesiastical History
University of St Andrews
Bio page | Research | Statement of Faith
I have great passion for church history in general, and the first three centuries in particular. There is a real lack of knowledge and understanding of early church history, especially among Protestants. We should realize that the early church was not perfect, though they were closer to the apostolic age. To understand how the fathers faced the issues of their day should instruct us, at the very least to give us perspective, and help us know which issues are truly important.
My primary focus was on second century Egyptian Christianity as evidenced through the writings of Clement of Alexandria - specifically, the spirituality contained in his third major work, Stromateis (or Miscellanies). Clement led the famous philosophical/theological school in Alexandria, Egypt. He authored several works, all probably written between 190-202 AD.
I have been working on a distillation of my Ph.D. research to write an introduction to contemplative prayer using my personal experience coupled with a layman's presentation of how Clement of Alexandria introduced this genre of prayer into the Christian faith.
At my desk after a round of golf
Research on Constantine and his role in the development of the early church. Work on Constantine has also led me to more research on how the Early Church viewed military service. Many CH101 visitors come to site looking for good historical information on Constantine. Unfortunately, there are many non-historical and blatantly false things being written/said about Constantine.
20% of my research bibliography revolved around Gnosticism, gnostic writings, and Clement's interaction with these concepts.
20% revolved around philosophy [Plato and Philo of Alexandria] because philosophy was so important to Clement, especially these two writers...now referred to as Middle Platonism, and Clement's interaction with them.
10% was in New Testament studies: the Pauline letters and the Alexandrian letters To the Hebrews and The Epistle of Barnabas.
50% - focused specifically on Clement and his writings.
Published Work and Papers Presented at International Conferences
* Conference Paper + eBook or Publication
- "Prayer and Contemplation: The Hidden Teaching in Clement of Alexandria's Stromateis" (in progress...)
- "Pacifism, the Military and Christianity: From the New Testament to Emperor Constantine" (in progress...)
- Spiritual Contemplation in Clement of Alexandria's Stromateis: The Adaptation of the Philosophical Category Theoria, (Download as a PDF: Ph.D. Thesis, University of St Andrews - March 2001)+
- "St. Gregory of Nyssa: A Mystic?" (Scottish Universities Ecclesiastical Conference, 1998)*
- "The Secret Oral Tradition of Jesus Revealed in Clement of Alexandria's Stromateis," Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church, Vol. 2, edited by Pauline Allen, Wendy Mayer, Lawrence Cross (Brisbane 1999), p.229-243.+
- "The Clear Language of Prayer and Spirituality in Clement of Alexandria's Stromateis VII.7" (North American Patristics Society - Chicago, U.S.A. - May 2000).*
- A Concise History of the Christian Church: From the Apostles to the Council of Nicea 325 A.D. (ebook, 2005) +
- Christians, War and Military Service: From the New Testament to Emperor Constantine (ebook, 2015) +
- "The Development of Christian Spirituality," Spirituality in the Early Church Fathers (3-part presentation, 2005)*
Other Articles/Papers Include:
How the New Testament Canon was Formed
A Brief Introduction to Gnostic Texts
"Second Repentance" in the Early Church: The Influence of The Shepherd of Hermas
Wine in the Ancient World, Part I (Part II in progress)
The Da Vinci Code: Fact, Fiction, or Faith?
"A Brief Introduction to The Sayings of the Desert Fathers"
- "The Theology of a Martyr: The Letters of St. Ignatius"
- "Early Christian Worship Represented in the Didache"
- "Origins of Christian Monasticism: Evidence for the Greek Classical Tradition"
- "St. John of the Cross: The Positive Framework in his Darkness"
- "The Spirituality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Letters from Prison and Life Together"
- "The Biblical Ethos of The Rule of Benedict"
You can find lectures and readings of other papers on our Podcast page:
- Lecture on Epistemology
- Three Part Paper on The Development of Christian Spirituality
- Lectures on Church History
Personal Bio/Professional Experience
- Grew up in Huntsville, Alabama
- Attended Grissom High School
- Graduated from Dothan High School, Dothan, Alabama (1977)
- Discipleship Training School/School of Evangelism, Youth With A Mission, Argentina (1978)
- B.S. in Business Administration (Management/Marketing), Troy University, Troy, Alabama (1981)
- Founded and led (with two others) "The Brother's House," a discipleship center located in Troy, Alabama (1981-1983)
- Chi Alpha Campus Ministry (Assemblies of God University Ministry, 1983-96)
[Troy University (82-84), Western Washington University (85), and the University of Alabama (86-97)]
- Chi Alpha District Rep, Alabama Assemblies of God (1989-1996)
- Homeric and Classical Greek, University of Alabama (1989-1990)
- Ordained, Alabama Assemblies of God (1995)
- Lived, studied and worked in St Andrews, Scotland (1997-2001)
- Pastored Bethel Assembly of God Church, Dundee Scotland
- New Testament Greek, University of St Andrews (1997-1998)
- M.Litt., University of St Andrews, Scotland (1997) [declined the degree to use the research for Ph.D.]
- Ph.D. Ecclesiastical History, University of St Andrews, Scotland (2001)
- Assistant to Patrick Jones III, Attorney-at-Law, Dothan, Alabama (2001-2002)
- Marketing Manager with BluePhoenix Solutions, global software company (2002-2007)
- Assistant Professor, Saint Augustine's University, Raleigh, NC (2006-2011)
- Interim Dept Chair - Philosophy/Religion, Saint Augustine's Univ. (2010-2011)
- One week summer mission to Univ Guayaquil, Ecuador - Cary Church of God (2007-2013)
- Independent Marketing Consultant, ABConsulting, 2008-2010 and 2011-Present
- Pastor of Troy Community Church - Troy, AL - Feb 2016-Present