Faculty Profile

Jeff Keuss

Jeffrey Keuss

Professor of Christian Ministry, Theology, and Culture

Email: keussj@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2442
Office:  Alexander & Adelaide Hall 407

Education: BA, Seattle Pacific University, 1987; MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1995; PhD, University of Glasgow, 2000. At SPU since 2005.

Jeff Keuss, PhD brings over 30 years of leadership and managerial experience in higher education, health care and social services administration both in the US and UK.   In his various roles as a Professor, Director of the University Scholars Honors Program as well as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at Seattle Pacific University, Jeff continues to be actively engaged in research, fundraising, curriculum coordination, chairing faculty searches, working with external publics such as accreditation bodies, major donor acquisition and retention, administrative recruitment and annual fund development.  As seen in his recent $1.5 million grant acquisition from the Lilly Endowment for the development of Pivot NW, a non-profit research and support institute seeking to research innovation models for the sake of engaging millennials, he is motivated to find and manage new revenue streams to continue the work of higher education that is both legacy driven yet always future facing.

Prior to his positions at Seattle Pacific University, Jeff served as Senior Lecturer of Practical Theology and Director for the Centre of Literature, Theology and the Arts at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.  In his research and directorial oversight of the University of Glasgow interdisciplinary research center in the Arts, Jeff provided leadership in budget development; grant writing, and curriculum coordination with faculty across the UK.  In addition to his teaching in Practical Theology and Ethics Jeff also taught and researched as an affiliate member of the Postgraduate Medical Faculty of the School of Medicine in Social and Community Medicine leading such courses as Psychosocial and Spiritual Care, Spirituality and Palliative Care, and Life Death and Spirituality.  Prior to his work in higher education, Jeff served as Director of Guild Activities for the Providence Foundation focused on fund development and personnel management of mission-based volunteer and chaplaincy efforts for Providence/ Swedish Medical Center, a 409-bed multi-care health institution in the Central District of Seattle. Achievements during his tenure at Providence include cutting capital expenses, increased net revenue from the Medical Center’s primary major donor campaign, demonstrating a 30% increase in one fiscal year, and developing a successful staff restructuring to better streamline the institutional mission and budget priorities.

Dr. Keuss has published articles, chapters, and reviews on the interdisciplinary engagement of theology, ministry, and contemporary culture and is on the editorial board for the journal Literature and Theology (Oxford University Press). His books include Freedom of the Self: Kenosis, Cultural Identity  and Mission at the Crossroads; A Poetics of Jesus: The search for Christ through writing in the nineteenth century; and The Sacred and the Profane: Contemporary Issues in Hermeneutics. He also has two chapters in Cinema Divinite addressing the role of film studies in theological reflection and completed a book on theology and pop music titled Your Neighbor’s Hymnal: What Popular Music Teaches Us About Faith, Hope, and Love (Cascade Books, 2011).

Teaching areas: Youth culture and Christian faith, Christian theology, Christian formation, evangelism and mission, theology and practice of youth ministry, and human development and Christian faith.

Research interests: Theology and cultural hermeneutics; continental philosophy and theology (Paul Ricœur, Jean-Luc Marion, Slavoj Žižek); narrative identity formation in youth; Gospel of John; Kenosis; theology through contemporary literature, film, and music; Zechariah and prophetic literature of restoration.


Paul Ricoeur and the Hope of Higher Education

Lexington Books (division of Rowman & Littlefield), 2021

Live The Questions: How Searching Shapes Our Convictions and Commitments

InterVarsity, 2019

Life is full of questions: questions about our identity, our relationships, our faith. Sometimes it seems like there are no easy answers. But our questioning can lead us on a journey into greater understanding and purpose.

Blur: A New Paradigm For Understanding Youth Culture

Zondervan, 2014

Today’s blurred youth culture is mobile, connected, and wired in. This is a generation that skips over perceived cultural boundaries and resists definition. How does one reach a demographic that is so difficult to pin down? Dr. Jeff Keuss argues a qualitative approach to describing young people is needed, one that recognizes the “blurred” nature of today’s mobile youth culture. As we learn to see youth culture through this new lens, we will become better informed and better equipped to minister to the teens of today’s rapidly changing world.

Your Neighbor’s Hymnal: What Popular Music Teaches Us About Faith, Hope, and Love

Wipf and Stock, 2011

"Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman once sang, 'Why should the devil have all the good music?' In reality, most of the good music belongs not to the devil but to our neighbor — those that Jesus calls us to love as ourselves. 'Your Neighbor’s Hymnal' is an opportunity to spend some time reflecting on the wide bandwidth of popular music that our neighbor listens to across the many genres of the FM dial and iTunes catalog — jazz, folk, pop, rock, electronic, and others — and see that our neighbor is not only listening to the music that many Christians listen to but also listening for the very things that animate the hearts and minds of those sitting in the pews on a Sunday morning." (5–6)

Freedom of the Self: Kenosis, Cultural Identity, and Mission at the Crossroads

Pickwick, 2010

A Poetics of Jesus: The Search for Christ in Nineteenth-Century Writing

Ashgate Press, 2002

Selected Publications

  • Cinema Divinite: Religion, Theology, and the Bible in Film (SCM Press, 2005).
  • The Sacred and the Profane: Contemporary Issues in Hermeneutics (Ashgate Press, 2003).
Please view Dr. Keuss’ CV (PDF) for additional publications.

Jeff Keuss

Why I Teach at SPU

Jeff Keuss, Professor of Christian Ministry, Theology, and Culture

“I teach at SPU because I believe that education can be transformative. The moment a student encounters a new idea, text, way of reading Scripture, piece of art, new friendships, and the God who is behind all truth is a moment of grace. I believe that this happens at a place like SPU that transforms not only the student but also the community and world into which the student is called. To watch God work in such ways is an amazing gift, and I get a ringside seat to these moments as a professor at SPU.”