Rev. Lawrence B. Porter, Ph.D.
Professor of Systematic Theology, Director of the Seminary Library
School of Theology
Father Porter’s work is characterized by the dual emphasis in his education on history and theology.
As a member of the Department of Systematic Theology, Father Porter teaches courses that treat of such core dogmatic themes as Christology (the person and work of Jesus), Ecclesiology (the Church's origin and nature) and Christian Anthropology (the Christian perspective on human being, its origin, nature and destiny). He also offers from time to time elective courses in The History and Theology of the Reformation and The History and Theology of Priesthood. Father Porter's work is characterized by the dual emphasis in his education on history and theology. More precisely, he received his grounding in Thomistic theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, and a broader ecumenical sensitivity from his studies at the non-denominational Oberlin School of Divinity at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he majored in the History of Christian Thought. This broad theological background is one of the reasons he served for many years on the Archdiocese of Newark's Ecumenical Commission. His background in the arts (a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Comparative Literature and as a student of both the violin and voice) enables him to offer from time to time an elective called Christ and Culture: Christian Themes in Art, Music, Literature and Film. Father Porter has traveled extensively to visit historic sites of Judaism and Christianity. In addition to observing first-hand the religious heritage of Italy and the Vatican, he has traveled to Israel (Jerusalem, Galilee and Judea); in France, he has chanted with the monks of Solesmes, climbed Mont Saint-Michel, gazed at the windows of the cathedral at Chartres and enjoyed a dinner in Paris at Chef Alain Passard's L'Arpège (where the servings surely rivaled the faire Zacchaeus set forth when he hosted the famous Preacher from Nazareth); in England, he venerated Becket at Canterbury, traced the final steps of Thomas More and sat before the pulpit from which Newman preached at Oxford; at Dublin's Glasneven, he prayed at the graves of Irish patriots; in Zurich's Fraümunster, he witnessed the effects of the Reformation; in Turkey, he followed the footsteps of Saint Paul and stood before the pulpit from which Chrysostom preached in Sancta Sophia; in China, he traced the steps of the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci; in Mexico, he prayed at Guadalupe; and in Spain's Escorial, he sat in contemplative silence. At St. Petersburg, Russia, he prayed before the icon of the Virgin of Kazan. In Copenhagen, he walked the streets once trod by that other "melancholy Dane," Søren Kierkegaard. At this time, Father Porter serves as an assessor and examiner for the U.S. Bishops Conference's Pastoral Provision. He was appointed Director of the Seminary Library on July 1, 2004.
- Ph.D., M.A., Vanderbilt University
- S.T.L., S.T.B., Pontifical Faculty of the Dominican House of Studies
- M.A., Brown University
- B.A., Providence College
- Father Porter's essays have appeared in theological quarterlies such as Theological Studies, The Thomist, Gregorianum, Communio, The Jurist and American Benedictine Review and in the pastoral journals The Bible Today, The Saint Austin Review and Homiletic and Pastoral Review as well as in such magazines as Crisis, The Priest and New Oxford Review.
- Father Porter has been the recipient of several grants from the Seton Hall University Research Council and of the Provost's Award for Publication.