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Practical theology

Our research in practical theology investigates the relation between Christian belief and practice, including ‘everyday’ religious practices. We also explore the

experience and growth of New Black Majority Churches as well as Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity and its intersection with politics and development. We have a particular interest in the use of ethnography in practical theology research.

How are black majority churches growing in the UK? A London Borough Case Study

Andrew Rogers 

Rogers’ Being Built Together project found 240 black majority churches in Southwark, south London, which is believed to be the greatest concentration of African Christianity in the world outside of AfricaThe work looks at how this relates to the broader picture of church growth and decline in the UK, finding how urban religious landscapes have changed dramatically over recent decades. The findings have important implications for public policy, including planning policy and practice. 

Disclosing Church. An ecclesiology learned through conversations in practice (Routledge, 2020)

Clare Watkins

Disclosing Church is a follow up to 2010’s landmark study on the praxis of Anglican and Catholic ecclesiology, Talking About God in Practice, and provides a systematic analysis of the impact of the "theological action research" methodology and its implications for a contemporary ecclesiology. Watkins teases out complex relationships between the theory and the reality of church by drawing on scholarship in the field as well as the results of the theological action research undertaken, and presents an ecclesiology generated from church practice.

Nigerian Pentecostalism and Development: Spirit, Power, and Transformation (Routledge, 2020)

Richard Burgess

In sub-Saharan Africa, Pentecostalism is fast becoming the dominant expression of Christianity and this book examines the contributions, both intentional and unintentional, of Nigerian Pentecostal churches and NGOs to development. This is undertaken by studying development practices in relation to the intersecting spheres of politics, economics, health, education, human rights, and peacebuilding.

Religious studies and faith & gender

Our research in these areas explores a variety of practically significant issues and involves an interreligious dimension. We focus upon the relationship between the Catholic tradition and contemporary culture in a variety of areas including gender, sexuality and reproductive ethics, Catholic social teaching and women's rights, and Catholic education.

Women as Imams: Classical Islamic Sources and Modern Debates on Leading Prayer (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Simonetta Calderini

Women as Imams discusses debates drawn from scholars of the formative period of Islam who engaged with the issue of female prayer leadership. Calderini critically analyses their arguments, puts them into their historical context, and, for the first time, tracks down how they have informed current views on female imams (prayer leadership). In presenting the variety of opinions discussed in the past by Sunni, Shi'i and Sufis scholars, this book uncovers how these sources are, at present, being used selectively, depending on modern agendas and biases. This ground-breaking book interrogates the cases of women who are reported to have led prayer in the past. It then analyses the voices of current women imams, many of whom engage with those women of the past to validate their own roles in the present and so pave the way for the future.

Philosophy of religion and systematic theology

Our researchers have played an important role in shaping contemporary philosophy of religion and theology. Their research covers a range of fascinating issues including the relation between philosophy and theology, the nature of naturalism, and the question of life’s meaning. Their work on meaning, desire, and religious understanding gives expression to a ‘humane’ approach to the philosophy of religion, and their latest research projects embody this vision.

God, Value, and Nature (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Fiona Ellis

Drawing on a wide range of thinkers from theology and philosophy and spanning the gulf between analytic and continental philosophy, Ellis tackles various philosophical problems including the limits of nature and the status of value; theological problems surrounding the natural/supernatural relation, the Incarnation, and the concept of myth. This book offers a model of how to comprehend the relation between philosophy and theology.


Philosophy of Religion: Towards a More Humane Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

John Cottingham

John Cottingham's work opens fresh perspectives on the philosophy of religion, arguing that the detached neutrality of much of contemporary philosophizing may be counterproductive - hardening us against the receptivity required for certain kinds of important evidence to become salient. Philosophy of Religion covers all the traditional areas of the subject, including the meaning of religious claims, the existence of God and the relation between religion and morality, as well as the role of spiritual praxis and how religious belief affects questions about the meaning of life, human suffering and mortality.

The Christian Idea of God: A philosophical foundation for faith (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Keith Ward

The Christian Idea of God takes a fresh look at the ancient philosophy of Idealism, connects it with findings in modern science, and shows that a combination of good science, good philosophy, and a passion for truth and goodness, can underpin religious faith. Ward critically examines the idealism of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, arguing the idealist view that all knowledge begins with experience and shows how this philosophy is strengthened by a knowledge of modern physics. This book challenges the easy assumptions of materialism and the relativity of truth that undermine both science and religion and leads to a new and vivid presentation of Christian faith.



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