Research Statement

Research plans for the near future involve modern Christian thought as well as interreligious topics. Regarding the former, Peterson has undertaken an English translation of Rahner’s “E latere Christi” (1936), is in the midst of developing an article on Rahner’s identity as a ressourcement theologian, co-authoring a book on Christian soteriologies, and is planning a monograph on contemporary retrievals of person-centered theories of atonement. Regarding the latter, he plans to continue researching Christian-Jewish dialogue and covenantal plurality as well as the viability of inclusivist paradigms for Christian theology of religions.

Research Keywords

  • World Religions
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Second Vatican Council
  • Religious Studies
  • Karl Rahner
  • Jewish-Christian Relations
  • Interreligious Dialogue
  • History of Christianity
  • Christology and Soteriology
  • Catholic Theology


  • “Grace in Our Place? Rahner’s Understanding of Christ as Representative.” Paper to be delivered at the “Karl Rahner Consultation” at the annual CTSA convention. Indianapolis, IN, June, 2018. Conference Paper, Refereed, Accepted, 09/13/2017.
  • "Broken For Us: The Hypostatic Union and Holy Saturday." Paper submitted to Dominican Colloquium in Berkeley, CA (June 2017). Conference Paper, Refereed, Submitted, 02/06/2017.
  • “Would a Forgiving God Need Placation? An Examination of Mercy and Atonement.” Paper delivered on “Special Topics: Revisiting Anselm” at the annual CTSA convention. San Juan, PR, June 2016. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 06/10/2016.
  • Religion as a Critical Measure: An Address to Graduating Seniors (Religious Studies Program) . Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/15/2015.
  • “Between Opinion and Dogma: Karl Rahner’s Take on the Nature and Authority of a Pastoral Constitution.” Submitted to conference "The Church in the Modern World: Teaching and Understanding Gaudium et Spes after 50 Years," University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN), March 12-14, 2015. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 03/12/2015.
  • “Religious Education in Confessional and Non-Confessional Settings.” Invited paper for Weber State University’s “Symposium on Ethics and Religious Education and its Benefits for Contemporary Society.” University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, August 2014. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 08/13/2014.
  • “Volume III of Karl Rahner’s Sämtliche Werke.” Invited paper for the Karl Rahner Society’s meeting at the annual Catholic Theological Society of America convention. San Diego, CA, June 2014. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 06/07/2014.
  • “Early Rahner: Reconsidering the Value of E latere Christi.” Paper delivered at the 2013 annual convention of the College Theology Society, Creighton University, May 31, 2013. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/31/2013.
  • “Critical Voices: The Reactions of Rahner and Ratzinger to ‘Schema XIII’ (Gaudium et Spes).” Paper delivered at University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN), “Vatican II: Teaching and Understanding the Council After 50 Years,” Sept. 21, 2012. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/21/2012.
  • Panelist, “The Reception of Vatican II: The Contribution of Richard P. McBrien.” University of Notre Dame, April 27, 2012. Other, Presented, 04/27/2012.
  • “Paving the Way? Penalty and Atonement in St. Thomas Aquinas’s Soteriology.” Paper delivered at AAR Midwest regional meeting, Augustana College, March 31, 2012. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 03/31/2012.


  • Being Salvation: Atonement and Soteriology in the Theology of Karl Rahner (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017). Published, 06/15/2017.
  • “Would a Forgiving God Demand Satisfaction? An Examination of Mercy and Atonement.” Angelicum 93.4 (December 2016), 875-894. Abstract: Anselm’s “satisfaction” theory of atonement posits that Christ’s death on the cross functioned as a gift to God on behalf of humanity to restore the order of justice which sin subverts. Especially in recent years, the theory has been criticized for obscuring God’s mercy. If God’s forgiveness is only available after such a sacrifice has been offered, Anselm’s critics argue, it is not forgiveness at all. While this criticism is a compelling objection, it does not seem to apply to Anselm’s own thought, as expressed in Cur Deus Homo. While many “Anselmian” theories posit Christ’s death as transforming God by way of propitiation, Anselm himself envisions satisfaction in the opposite way, as an act by which a changeless God mercifully transforms humanity to conform to creation’s proper order. But even if the criticisms of a merciless God are misplaced, the corresponding calls for considering alternative theories of atonement have warrant. Not only is “satisfaction” an ambiguous symbol, given such widespread (albeit unfair) associations, but Anselm himself seems to grant little soteriological value to Christ’s life, ministry, and resurrection. The most promising remedy is to situate satisfaction theory within a larger, “person-centered” framework for thinking about atonement, an underappreciated move made by Thomas Aquinas which is worthy of our attention today. Published, 12/01/2016.
  • Savior Jesus: A Typological Portrait. Forthcoming from Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN). Accepted, 10/12/2016.
  • Review of Simon Francis Gaine, Did the Savior See the Father? Christ, Salvation, and the Vision of God, in Horizons 43.2 (December 2016), 416-418. Published, 08/01/2016.
  • Review of David G. Schultenover (ed.) 50 Years On: Probing the Riches of Vatican II (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2015), in Worship 60 (July 2016), 376-377. Published, 07/01/2016.
  • “Who Is He to Judge? Magisterial Authority in the Modern Age.” America magazine vol. 231 no. 18 (7 December 2015). Published, 12/07/2015.
  • "Karl Rahner on Patristic Theology and Spirituality," Philosophy & Theology 27.2 (December 2015), pp. 519-532. Abstract A great amount of scholarly attention has been devoted to Karl Rahner’s early philosophical writings, but his theological work from the same time period remains only marginally known. While his dissertation in philosophy, Spirit in the World, has been published in multiple editions and in many languages, his dissertation in theology, E latere Christi, was only available in archives until it was published in the third volume (1999) of his collected works, Sämtliche Werke. Exploring the content of this third volume which contains Rahner’s early writing on the spirituality and theology of the Church Fathers, this article illuminates a neglected part of Rahner’s career: his fascination with patristic thought during his early, formative years. It also identifies themes in these early writings which reappear in his more well known mature writings on the theology of symbol, soteriology, mystery, and the importance of historical theology for the activity of today’s theologian. Published, 12/2015.
  • “Critical Voices: The Reactions of Rahner and Ratzinger to ‘Schema XIII’ (Gaudium et Spes).” Modern Theology 31.1, pp.1-26. Abstract Schema XIII (eventually Gaudium et Spes) occasioned somewhat of a split within the “progressive majority” at Vatican II. This article considers one side of this divide via the contributions and objections of Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger, two of the text's most salient critics. After reviewing the history of Schema XIII, I demonstrate that both theologians reacted to it with very similar concerns which centered upon the issue of nature and grace. However, their differing approaches to anthropology and Christology caused their proposed remedies for the schema's shortcomings to diverge significantly. Published, 01/2015.
  • “Paving the Way? Penalty and Atonement in Thomas Aquinas’s Soteriology.” International Journal of Systematic Theology 15.3 (July 2013), pp. 265-283. Abstract This article explores the soteriology of Thomas Aquinas. In particular, it considers recent debates over whether Thomas altered Anselm's satisfaction theory in a way which opened the door to the later theory of penal substitution. The article argues that Thomas did indeed alter Anselm's atonement theory in this way insofar as he incorporates punishment within his concept of satisfaction; however, it further contends that his use of ‘placation’ or ‘appeasement’ language does not contribute to such an alteration. Published, 07/2013.