Richard Beck // Biography and Books

Richard Beck (PhD) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian University.

During his teaching career Richard has been honored as ACU Teacher of the Year, Honors Teacher of the Year, and has won the College of Arts and Sciences Classroom Teaching and Faith Integration awards.

Outside of the classroom, Richard travels the world as a sought after speaker and an award-winning blogger and author. 

To explore speaking engagements for your church or organization email

Richard's most recent books are Trains, Jesus and Murder: The Gospel According to Johnny Cash (Fortress Press, 2019) and Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise (Fortress Press, 2017). 

Coming in March 2021 is Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age (Broadleaf Books, 2021).  

Richard's other books are Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality and Mortality (Cascade, 2011), The Slavery of Death (Cascade, 2013), The Authenticity of Faith: The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience (ACU Press, 2012), and Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted (Fortress Press, 2016).

Richard is married to Jana, who is a High School theater teacher, and they have two sons, Brenden and Aidan. The Becks attend the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, TX, where Richard serves as an elder and adult faith Bible class teacher. Richard also serves and leads at Freedom Fellowship, a mission church plant of Highland that reaches out to the poor and homeless of the city.

Lastly, every Monday evening Richard leads a Bible class for fifty inmates at the maximum security French Robertson unit, and has written and spoken extensively about his experiences working in a prison.

What others have said about Richard's books:
"This tour de force solidifies Richard Beck's reputation as one of America's finest, winsome, and most imaginative theologians. Every page of this deeply moving, theologically disciplined, and accessible work brims with practical and applicable wisdom....I can't commend this book highly enough. Let the kindness revolution begin!"
Ian Morgan Cron, author of Chasing Francis, Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, and The Road Back to You

"At a time when Christianity is in danger of being hijacked for the nefarious agendas of nationalism, racism, and xenophobia, Richard Beck calls us to welcome Jesus, who so often comes in the guise of the maligned or forgotten stranger. In Beck's brilliant Stranger God, we find a beautiful portrait of a Christianity that prioritizes care for the indigent, infirm, immigrant, and imprisoned. I cannot think of a more timely book!"
Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, and author of Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

"In his new book, Richard Beck shows how opening ourselves to strangers lets us see more of God. A deceptively simple and deeply loving examination of the Little Way practices that can make us whole."
Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and City of God

"Richard Beck is one of my favorite theologians precisely because of what he manages to do in Stranger God—he gathers the ideals and big hopes of Christianity in from our someday-in-the-sweet-bye-and-bye into our actual lives with grace and humor and practicality...Through this wise and warm exploration of the Little Way, you will be discipled into the sweet ways of Jesus, whose love transforms everything—even us."
Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

"Richard Beck is one of the most important and fascinating minds in contemporary Christianity, and this exploration on the devil and demons is his best work yet. Lively, engaging, and profoundly relevant, Reviving Old Scratch manages to both tickle and challenge, inform and delight...A must-read for skeptics and thinkers, Reviving Old Scratch surprises in all the right ways. I couldn't put it down!"
Rachel Held Evans, Author of Searching for Sunday and A Year of Biblical Womanhood

"I'm grateful to Richard Beck for helping us reclaim that which was clearly important to Jesus: casting out demons and contending with evil...Beck manages to take demons, the devil, and spiritual warfare and pull them into the reality we live in today, and for that I am grateful."
Nadia Bolz-Weber, Author of Pastrix and Accidental Saints and pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints

"In our secular age, most western Christians instinctively dismiss the devil and demons as antiquated mythical notions of our superstitious past. Yet, as Richard Beck argues, this dismissal adversely affects both the coherence and the vibrancy of the Christian faith. In this insightful and highly important masterpiece, Beck helps Christians understand that they need not suspend their doubts about "Old Scratch" to discern his reality in the dark dehumanizing forces that are all around us. Whether you're convinced or doubtful of Satan's existence, this book will inspire you to enter into the age-long spiritual battle that has always been at the center of the Christian faith."
Gregory A. Boyd, Author of God at War and Satan and the Problem of Evil

"Richard Beck's Reviving Old Scratch will first put your theory of Satan and demons and the powers to death, then it will make you wonder if there isn't more than social justice and activism and believing in real, personal demons and angels, and then it will put a real Old Scratch with a mask onto what you thought was dead, and then you will be armed for the deeper battles of life and justice and love. Beck's prison ministry with people who suffer at the hands of Old Scratch evokes authentic spirituality in a way no other book about the powers has done."
Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

Now Available!

Publishers Weekly "beautiful" 
Booklist "haunting...a must read" 

Coming March 2021!

Preorder Hunting Magic Eels at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.

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