I received a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in Psychology from Hardin-Simmons University in 1955. I completed as Master of Divinity cum laude at Union Theological Seminary of New York in 1959. I received a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion and Philosophy from Duke University in 1963.
I have previously held full-time faculty appointments in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso from 1962–65, rising to the rank of Associate Professor, in the Department of Religion at Trinity University of San Antonio from 1965–69, in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Windsor of Ontario, Canada, from 1969–75, rising to the rank of Full Professor. Since 1973, I have held an appointment of Full Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, serving as chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies from 1975–86 and from 1993 to the present.
I am a long-time member in good standing of the American Association of University Professors, American Academy of Religion, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, American Theological Society, Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, Canadian Theological Society, Council on the Study of Religion, and I have held national office, chaired professional committees or served on editorial boards in most of these professional societies.
I am a philosopher of religion and culture with special competence in the religions of the modern era. As such, I am primarily concerned with the changing forms of religious belief and practice in both mainline and newer religious movements as these older and newer religions respond to the challenges and changes of modern life. I regularly teach a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the comparative, philosophical and social scientific study of religion at Southern Methodist University. I also carry on a sustained program of scholarly research and publication in my area of specialization, having published five books dealing with modern religious thought entitled Radical Christianity (1968), H. Richard Niebuhr (1977), The Shattered Spectrum (1981), The Terrible Meek: Essays on Religion and Revolution (1987), and Dax’s Case: Essays in Medical Ethics and Human Meaning (1989) as well as numerous articles in such leading scholarly journals as Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Religion, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Studies in Religion, Religion in Life, Religious Studies Review, and Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
As a specialist in modern religions, I have conducted an extensive scholarly study of the Church of Scientology. I have read most of the major theoretical texts written and published by L. Ron Hubbard, reviewed many of the technical and administrative bulletins prepared by Mr. Hubbard and the administrative and ecclesiastical officers of the Church, and examined representative examples of the training manuals used by teachers and students in various courses offered by the Church. I have also read a number of journalistic and scholarly studies of the Church of Scientology. In addition, I have talked with practicing Scientologists, and visited their 46th Street Church and 82nd Street Celebrity Centre in New York City, their Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida, and their Celebrity Centre in Dallas.