by Barbara A. Chaapel
James Edwin Loder, a professor of Christian education on the Princeton Seminary faculty for almost forty years and a world-renowned scholar in his field, died suddenly in Trenton, New Jersey, on November 9, 2001, at the age of 69.
Loder was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) whose scholarly career was committed to the transformation of the individual that is possible within the Christian faith and to the role of Christian education in the church’s ministry.
He joined the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary in 1962 as an instructor, was appointed assistant professor in 1965, associate professor in 1967, and professor in 1979. In 1982 he was named to the Mary D. Synnott Chair of the Philosophy of Christian Education. He was chair of the Department of Practical Theology at the Seminary in 1991–1992, and was a member of the International Academy of Practical Theology.
Prior to joining the Seminary faculty, Loder was minister of Hope Chapel in Lakewood, New Jersey, in 1957, and of North Christian Church in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1959. He also served guest professorships at Drew University Theological School, Harvard University Divinity School, and Fuller Theological Seminary.
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, Loder was educated at Carleton College, from which he received his B.A. in 1953. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Princeton Seminary in 1957 and a Master of Theology degree from Harvard University Divinity School in 1958. He earned his Ph.D. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1962.
His scholarship was interdisciplinary, focusing on studies combining theology and science, especially the human sciences and psychology. During the 1960s, he spent a year at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, where he was recipient of the Danforth Grant in Theology and Psychiatric Theory.
On March 18, 2002, Princeton Seminary and the John Templeton Foundation
cosponsored a workshop titled “Exploring Prayer and Spiritual Formation during Adolescence,” dedicated to and in honor of Dr. Loder. Before his death, Loder was engaged in conversations with Dr. Arthur J. Schwartz at the Templeton Foundation about this workshop, and it is fitting that the conversation continued in his honor. For more information, please contact Tina Floyd, Communications Department, The John Templeton Foundation, Suite 100, 100 Matsonford Road, Radnor, PA 19087 or email
Loder was a prolific author, having completed the volume
Educational Ministry in the Logic of the Spirit, to be published in 2002, just before his death. Other major books include
Religion in the Public Schools (1965), Religious Pathology and Christian Faith (1966),
The Transforming Moment: Understanding Convictional Experiences (1982),
The Knight’s Move: The Relational Logic of the Spirit in Theology and
Science, with W.J. Neidhardt (1992), The Holy Spirit and Human Transformation (published in Korean, 1993), and
The Logic of the Spirit: Human Development in Theological Perspective.
He also authored numerous articles, reviews, and chapters in Christian education texts, including the entry on “Creativity” in the
Dictionary of Religious Education.
Loder was beloved by generations of PTS students. He is remembered by his students and colleagues as a Christian scholar who wanted to bring the rich resources of the Christian faith, including Scripture and the sacraments, into a healing and transforming relationship with the brokenness of human lives, the increasing fragmentation of society, and the deepening depersonalization implicit in modern culture.
Loder is survived by his wife, Arlene; two daughters, Kim V. Engelmann of San Mateo, California, and Tamara J. Tiss of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and three grandchildren, Christopher C. Engelmann, Julie K. Engelmann, and Jonathan J. Engelmann.
A memorial service was held on Wednesday, November 14 in Miller Chapel, and burial was in Princeton Cemetery.
Contributions can be made to Princeton Theological Seminary for a memorial fund in Dr. Loder’s memory.