Professor Brian Brock
School of Divinity, History, Philosophy, and Art History
King's College, University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen AB24 3UB
Brian Brock holds a personal Chair in Moral and Practical Theology. He joined the University of Aberdeen in 2004, following postdoctoral studies at the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nurnberg and a doctorate in Christian ethics at King’s College London. He is originally from Texas.
Brian is the author of Wondrously Wounded: Theology, Disability, and the Body of Christ; Christian Ethics in a Technological Age; and Singing the Ethos of God: On the Place of Christian Ethics in Scripture, along with many other books, edited volumes, and articles: please see the ‘Research’ tab for more details.
Brian spends much of his time teaching master’s and doctoral students. He has successfully supervised more than thirty PhD students to completion, and his many current students form a vibrant community of committed and collaborative international graduate students.
- Theology in the Raw: podcast with Preston Sprinkle
- “Disability, Diversity, and the Body of Christ”: Love Rinse Repeat podcast
- “Disability”: Gospel Beautiful podcast
- Brian Brock and Martin Wendte talk disability in Germany
- Technology, Theology and the Church: an interview by Jason Thacker
- Church, Society, and Disability: an interview with Brian Brock and Brian Sloan
- Syndicate symposium on Wondrously Wounded: Theology, Disability, and the Body of Christ
- "Who is My Neighbor: Considering Disability and Prenatal Screening," a lecture at Concordia University Irvine
- A summary of Wondrously Wounded, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, and the University of Manchester
- Brian&Paul Live, on disability
- "Sabbath and Ethics" T.B. Maston Lecture, Baylor University
- “Simplicity and Sustainability: The ethics of Waste,” Taylor University chapel address
- Webinar on theology and sport with Lincoln Harvey and Andrew Parker
- Christ and Creation
- UK Disability History Month Blogs 2013: The History of Disability in Christian Thought
- DPhil Christian Ethics2003 - King's College London
- MA Christian Ethics1999 - King's College London
- Diploma Theology1997 - University of Oxford
- MA Biomedical and Clinical Ethics1996 - Loma Linda University
- BA Biology1993 - Colorado Christian University
- Postdoctoral studies Theology2004 - Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nurnberg
Managing Editor, Journal of Disability and Religion (with John Swinton and Jana M. Bennett)
Series Co-editor, T&T Clark Enquiries in Theological Ethics (with Susan F. Parsons)
Theological Commission of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, Scottish Episcopal Church
Prizes and Awards
Alumnus of the Year Award, Loma Linda University, 2018
The Aberdeen Approach to Theological Ethics and Practical Theology
Theological Ethics and Practical Theology in Aberdeen have developed a unique perspective which brings together practical theology and combines it creatively with moral theology in a way that is academically rigorous and practically transformative. Our task is to think through faith not as “belief” but as lived. Thus the primary reference of our theologizing is the lived life in all its contemporary forms. We understand our discipline to begin and end with inquiries focused on practices.
My own central interests are in moral and practical theology, by which I mean that I find theology most interesting when it is done in relation to the concrete questions of daily life. Why moral and practical theology? Since these disciplines are rarely understood the same way by two practitioners, let me explain my approach. (Aberdeen is a rare exception to the problem of practitioners having incommensurate approaches!) The "and" is important as I understand the terms to modify and situate one another. In an English-speaking context, practical theology has acquired an orientation toward the hermeneutics of contemporary culture. This orientation rightly warns moral theology against drifting to a level of abstraction that makes it appear irrelevant for the moral decisions of daily life. At the same time, moral theology serves practical theology by insisting that interpretation is not endless, but is properly circumscribed by doctrinal and confessional frameworks. My engagements with Christian doctrine and cultural hermeneutics are tied together by a third interest in the role scripture plays in God's work of generating a people with a distinctive ethos. I am constantly asking how the reading of scripture is influenced by, and influences, our reading of culture.
In sum, I am engaged in clarifying how the tradition of Christian faith and moral thinking reshapes Christian understandings of practical and moral questions. I am asking questions that lie on roughly three levels.
1) Fundamental questions in moral and practical theology.
- the sources of the Christian ethos; how it is generated and develops
- the doctrinal location of practical theology and Christian ethics
- architectonic issues in the organization of the content of Christian ethics
I see such questions as aspects of the theological work of inquiry into how the work of the Holy Spirit renews human society and all of creation.
2) Questions about the relation of the Bible and Christian ethics.
- how the hermeneutics of the Bible, culture and the self are intertwined
- how the Bible might function as a context of discovering the self-in-Christ, creation, and in Christian community
- what resources are available in the exegetical tradition for meeting these sorts of inquiries
- how do theological exegesis and moral/practical theology interrelate
3) Concrete studies which seek to discover the meaning of faith in practical life.
- I am convinced that Christian ethics and practical theology too rarely venture beyond methodological considerations. If the meaning of the Christian confession is discovered in the course of trying to live it in practical contexts, then the study of practical questions is not an ancillary project of applying Christian knowledge, but the critical furnace in which it is continually reborn. Christians need to learn to theologically name cultural events we commonly think of in secular terms. For these reasons I am interested in further study on a wide range of issues, the following being a few examples. Students interested in other practical issues should not hesitate to contact me.
- interactions between cultures and traditions: emigration and population displacement, globalisation, outsourcing, imperialism/crusade
- environmental questions: energy policy, waste management policies and practices, agricultural practices
- violence at the margins: proliferation of weapons, terrorism, insurgency, prison policy, linguistic violence
- medicine, humanity and inhumanity: mental and physical disability, practices in which the "human" is established and denied, National Health policy
- mass communication: media, publicity, advertisement, propaganda, entertainment culture
Disability: Living into the Diversity of the Body of Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2021).
Wondrously Wounded: Theology, Disability, and the Body of Christ (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2019). (For a summary video see 1. For video responses, see 2. For Syndicate Symposium, see 3. For reviews, see 4, 5, 6, 7)
The Therapy of the Christian Body: A Theological Exposition of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Volume 2, with Bernd Wannenwetsch, forward by Douglas Campbell (Eugene: Cascade, 2018). (For a review, see 1.)
The Malady of the Christian Body: A Theological Exposition of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Volume 1, with Bernd Wannenwetsch, forward by Stanley Hauerwas. (Eugene: Cascade, 2016). (For reviews see 1, 2.)
Captive to Christ, Open to the World: On Doing Christian Ethics in Public, ed. Kenneth Oakes (Eugene: Cascade, 2014). (For reviews see 1, 2.)
Singing the Ethos of God: On the Place of Christian Ethics in Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) (For reviews click the following links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. See especially the special issue of the European Journal of Theology devoted to the book, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Ed. with J. Swinton, Theology, Disability and the New Genetics: Why Science Needs the Church (London: T&T Clark, 2007). (For a summary see 1. See especially the special issue of the Journal of Religion Disability and Health devoted to the book: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Theology, Disability and Sport: Social Justice Perspectives, with Nick J. Watson and Kevin Hargaden (London: Routledge, 2018).
A Graceful Embrace: Theological Reflections on Adopting Children, with John Swinton (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
The Freedom of a Christian Ethicist: The Future of a Reformation Legacy, with Michael Mawson (London: Continuum, 2015).
Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader, with John Swinton (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012).
Theology, Disability and the New Genetics: Why Science Needs the Church, with John Swinton (London: T&T Clark, 2007).
Ethical Thinking at the Crossroads of European Reasoning, with Parush R. Parushev and Ovidiu CreangÄƒ (Prague: International Baptist Theological Society, 2007).
Selected Essays and Articles
“Prayer and the Teaching of Christian Ethics: Socratic Dialogue with God?” Studies in Christian Ethics 33, no. 1 (2020), 40-54.
“Seeing through the Data Shadow: Living the Communion of the Saints in a Surveillance Society,” Surveillance and Society 16, no. 4 (2018), 533-45.
“On Becoming Creatures: Being Called to Presence in a Distracted World,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 18, no. 4 (2016), 432-52.
“Parenting as Political Resistance: Disability and 'Dealing With' Late-Modern Medicine,” Review and Expositor 112, no. 3 (2015), 432–48.
“Christianity, Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts: Reflections on Morality, Vocation, and Well-Being," with Nick Watson, Journal of Religion and Society 17 (2015), 1-22.
“Globalization, Eden and the Myth of Original Markets,” Studies in Christian Ethics 28 no. 4 (2015), 402-18.
“Bonhoeffer and the Bible in Christian Ethics: Psalm 119, the Mandates, and Ethics as a ‘Way’,” Studies in Christian Ethics 18, no. 3 (2005), 7-29.
Much of my time is spent teaching master's and doctoral students, and I welcome enquiries from students interested in studying Christian ethics in Aberdeen, and who are excited about being part of a vibrant community of committed and collaborative international graduate students.
What some of my recent doctoral students are up to: Andy Odle, Andy Draycott, Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Andrew Keuer, Benjamin Wall, Daniel Patterson, Andrew Draper, Scott Prather, Emily Hill, Andrew Errington, Godelieve Orye, Michael Laffin, Jacob Marques Rollison, Allen Calhoun, Michael Morelli, Ross Halbach, Kevin Hargaden, Amy J. Erickson
A number of my students have gone on to have their doctoral work published: Andrew Draper (see this review and interview), Scott Prather, Tyler Atkinson, Michael Laffin, Benjamin Wall, Amy J. Erickson (see this interview), Andrew Errington, Kevin Hargaden, Jacob Marques Rollison, Timothy Shaun Price, Daniel Patterson, Ross Halbach, Allen Calhoun, Michael Morelli, Emily Beth Hill
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Going further with autism: assessing therapies and the role of raceJournal of Disability & ReligionContributions to Journals: Articles
On the Limits of Justice as Eradicating “Isms”International Journal for the Study of the Christian ChurchContributions to Journals: Articles
Should we escape divine judgement?Journal of Disability & ReligionContributions to Journals: Articles
The Importance of Dialogue for Pastoral Theological Development: Some Reflections on van Holten and Walton’s Theological Method and its Problems with the ‘Timelessness of God’Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, vol. 10, no. 1Contributions to Journals: Articles
Neither the first, nor the Strangest: Negotiating Human Difference as Members of the Christian TraditionDisability Studies and Intercultural TheologyChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
On Waiting for One AnotherParenting for a Better World. Marshall, E. O., Snyder, S. (eds.). Chalice PressChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Swintonian Practical TheologyBaylor University PressBooks and Reports: Books
Transhumanism and Christian Metamorphosis: Embodying hope in a technological ageOxford Handbook of Hope. 2nd edition. Oxford HandbooksChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
Transfigured not Conformed: Christian Ethics in a Hermeneutic KeyBloomsbury T&T Clark. 320 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
What is Research on Disability? Looking Backward to See ForwardJournal of Disability & ReligionContributions to Journals: Articles