Grawemeyer Award in Religion

April 9, 2024, 7:00 pm (ET)


A Human-Like God and the Future of Theology

The goal of most theological reflection has been an attempt to construct one, singular and consistent picture of who God is. But the image of God within the dominant stream of Western reflection does not fit the picture of a human-like God that is presented in much of the Bible. Instead of imagining God in only one way, the path forward for theology is to embrace different and sometimes conflicting understandings of God. God is both human-like and not.

Register to attend the lecture in-person or online, click here!

The Grawemeyer Award in Religion is made possible by the creative generosity of the late H. Charles Grawemeyer. Louisville Seminary, jointly with the University of Louisville, awards the $100,000 prize to honor and publicize creative and significant insights into the relationship between human beings and the divine. The award also recognizes ways in which this relationship may inspire or empower human beings to attain wholeness, integrity, or meaning, either individually or in community.

2024 Winner: Charles Halton

Scholar focusing on God’s human qualities wins Grawemeyer religion prize

Charles Halton

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — God gets angry. God gets jealous. God hates, regrets and learns.

Theologians often dismiss those depictions of God in the Bible because they seem to clash with God's image as an all-loving being, but an Episcopal priest with a different view has received the 2024 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for helping explain the paradox.

The Rev. Charles Halton, associate rector of Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Ky., won the prize for ideas set forth in his 2021 book "A Human-Shaped God: Theology of an Embodied God." He argues that embracing God as a deity with human qualities can bring us closer to God and inspire us to become better people.

"We are, like God, to move from a place of exclusion and anger-fueled violence to a life of inclusion, radical forgiveness and compassion," he said. "This is the path God is on. If we are not on it too, we are not imitating God."

As an example, Halton cites the Old Testament story of how God floods Earth, destroying everything except Noah's Ark. Later, God feels regret and creates a rainbow in the sky.

"Many Bible accounts are springboards for theological imagination that help us see God in constructive ways," he said. "As humans, we too lash out in anger, but we also learn to forgive."

Halton explores "an underappreciated view of God that exists in the Bible but is absent from most Eurocentric theology," said Tyler Mayfield, who directs the religion award. "His approach is original, thought-provoking and offers new opportunities for understanding the biblical God."

Halton taught Old Testament and Semitic languages at seminary and college levels for nearly a decade. He holds a doctorate from Cincinnati's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Bible and ancient Near East studies and is an external affiliate at the Centre for the Study of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London.

The University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary jointly give the religion prize.

Recipients of next years Grawemeyer Awards were named this week pending formal approval by trustees at both institutions. The $100,000 prizes also honor seminal ideas in music, world order, psychology and education. Halton will visit Louisville on the evening of April 9, 2024, to accept the award and give a free lecture on his winning book. More info coming soon!

(photo by Amy Campbell Photography)


Grawemeyer Religion Award Nominations are invited from religious organizations, appropriate academic associations, religious leaders and scholars, presidents of universities or schools of religion, publishers and editors of scholarly journals. Self-nominations will not be accepted or considered. There is no discrimination based on religious affiliation or belief or lack thereof. Previous winners are not eligible for subsequent awards.

For more information, contact Dr. Tyler Mayfield.
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
1044 Alta Vista Road
Louisville, Kentucky 40205-1798
Telephone: (502) 992-9375
Fax: (502) 894-2286

Or see for more information.

Past Grawemeyer Award in Religion Winners


E.P. Sanders
Jesus and Judaism


No Winner


Larry L. Rasmussen
Earth Community, Earth Ethics


No Competition


James L. Kugel
The Bible As It Was


George M. Marsden
Jonathan Edwards: A Life


Marilynne Robinson
Gilead: A Novel


Timothy B. Tyson
Blood Done Sign My Name


Willie James Jennings
The Christian Imagination


No Winner


Stephen J. Patterson
The Forgotten Creed