Professor Christopher Brittain

Professor Christopher Brittain
BA, University of New Brunswick, Canada
MDiv (honours), Trinity College, University of Toronto
PhD (Theology), St. Michael 's College, University of Toronto

Professor in Social & Political Theology

Professor Christopher Brittain
Professor Christopher Brittain

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272374
fax +44 (0) 1224 273 750
The University of Aberdeen Office: KCS 5, King's College Postal Address: Divinity - Kings College Quad, 50-52 College Bounds, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3DS United Kingdom
Web Links

Being and Lime

Critical Research on Religion

Habermas and Theology (You Tube)

On Marx, Marxism, and Theology  (YouTube)

Theology and Western Marxism (YouTube)

Plague on both their houses: The real story of growth and decline in liberal and conservative churches

The Primates's Dilemma: Game Theory and the Anglican Communion

Twitter: Chris@cc_brittain


Prior to joining the staff in Aberdeen in 2007, Prof. Brittain was Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Canada. He is an ordained minister in the Anglican tradition, and completed his PhD at the University of Toronto.

In 2016-17, Prof. Brittain is also a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies,
University of Vienna.


Current Research

In addition to continuing to work on articles analysing the writings of the early Frankfurt School on religion and theology, I am currently completing two research projects, while preparing to begin a third:

I. The Tensions in the Anglican Communion

This project analyses the nature of the ongoing conflict within the global Anglican Communion, a conflict that has played out both within and between the different Provinces of the Communion. Although the conflict has often been presented (particularly in the press) as a dispute over sexual norms, preliminary inverstigations suggest that, while homosexuality is a focus of the conflict, it is to a large degree a 'presenting symptom' for other issues and tensions.

  • I am presently writing a monograph based on this research with my colleague Andrew McKinnon, entitled, The End of the Anglican Communion? (forthcoming, Penn State University Press).
  • I have also recently published a book based on field-work in the United States: A Plague on Both Their Houses: Liberal V.S. Conservative Christians and the Divorce of the Episcopal Church USA (T&T Clark, 2015).

II. Interfaith Partnership

In February 2015, I began a new research project: 'Inter-Religious Partnership: A Case Study from Aberdeen'. This compromises a field-based study of a partnership between a Christian church and a Muslim mosque, which will follow the two communities through Lent and Ramadan.

III. Power and Powerlessness

The project ‘Power and Powerlessness’ (to begin in 2016) is a theological study of the concept of power.  Many scholars have observed that the concept of power remains contested and often neglected. The absence of a theoretical grasp of the concept is even more striking in Christian theology. Churches in the Global North evidence considerable discomfort over the idea of power: to avoid the charge of colonial imposition of their worldview; due to conflicts over authority within the churches; or to dissociate from the dominant political order. In the Global South, however, the vibrant Neo-Pentecostal and Charismatic movements celebrate the immediacy of the ‘power of the Spirit’. What needs to be better understood, therefore, are the resources contained within the Christian tradition to make sense of competing claims about the nature and significance of power, particularly given that existing literature does not often address these issues in a sustained manner.

In addition to these primary projects, I will participate in the following conferences in 2016:

  • 'The Global South and the Conflict over Homosexuality in the Anglican Communion: A Critical Sociology Perspective' (Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion, University of Toronto, 6 April)

  • 'Elucidating Evangelical Support for Donald Trump: Adorno on Religion and Sectarian Movements' (Left Forum: The Frankfurt School on Religion, CUNY, New York City, May 20-22)
  • Speaking of God in a Time of Crisis: Religion as Ground Zero (University of Vienna, 18 Oct)

  • 'Local Anxieties and the Global Dispute over Human Sexuality in the Anglican Communion', Ecclesiological Investigations Group, American Academy of Religion (November, San Antonio)
  • 'Kierkegaard and Adorno on the Revolutionary Power of Love',  Kierkegaard, Religion, and Culture Group, American Academy of Religion (November, San Antonio)

Research Grants

  • [* declined] Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (2016-18)

(2009-10) Fellowship - Engaged Scholars Studying Congregations

  • 'Congregational Identity in the Wake of Denominational Crisis: the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh'

(2008-09) College of Arts and Social Sciences Research Grant, University of Aberdeen

  • 'British Perspectives on the Crisis in the Anglican Communion'

(2006-07) Fellowship - Wabash Centre for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion

Further Info

External Responsibilities

I am a member of the editorial board of the book series: Studies in Critical Research on Religion (Brill) and of the journal Critical Research on Religion (Sage).

Former external examiner: King's College London (MA in Theology and Ministry); Christliche Theologie Lebensnah (CTL) in Germany & Switzerland (for Middlesex Univeristy).

Chair, Faith and Order Committee, Episcopal Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney

Admin Responsibilities

Core member, Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law (CISRUL)

Member of the University Senate, and Senate Assessor on the University Court (Board of Governors)

Undergraduate Programme Coordinator (Theology & Religious Studies)

Website Coordinator (Theology & Religious Studies)

Teaching Responsibilities

Religion at Ground Zero  (DR1540)

What Does it Mean to be Human? (DR1045)

Justice and Reconciliation (DR352K/452K)

Religion, Secularism, and Public Life (DR352L/452L)

Global Issues, Global Religions (SK1017)

Classic Texts in the Philosophy of Religion (PH305K/PH405K)

Christian Practices (DR553M)

Postgraduate Supervision

I am interested in supervising research projects on topics such as the following: Political Theology, Social Ethics, Church Conflict, Congregational Studies, Continental Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Disaster, Religion in Secular Societies, and Anglican Theology.

Some of my current PhD students include:

  • Eric Beresford, A Critical Evaluation of the Role of Ecclesiology in Rowan Williams' Understanding of the Public Role of Theology in a Secular Context
  • Conor Fegan, Sexuality in the Church: The lived experiences of LGBTQ Christians in Northern Ireland
  • Dong Geun Lee, Christian Cosmopolitanism in a Postsecular Age
  • Cory May, An Introduction to African-American Slave Theology
  • Nathan McConnell, Prisoners of Hope: Asylum Seeking and the Christian Mission in Malta
  • Yutaka Osakabe, An Analysis of the Restorative Justice Movement in a Christian Context (co-supervisor, Andrew McKinnon, Sociology)
  • Katie Scholarios, 'Belonging without Believing?’ Exploring secular theodicies amongst ‘godless’ congregations
  • Shelvis Smith-Mather, There is no Sorry: a Practical Theological Study of the Significance of Forgiveness, Mercy and Identity in the Process of Reconciliation with Reference to South Sudan
  • Chris Schutte, Episcopalian Evangelicals on women’s ordination and abortion in the 1970s
  • Jessinta Tan, Churches and National Development in Singapore
  • Wilson Tan, Who is Christ really for us today? The Christology of Bonhoeffer and Žižek in a World Come of Age (co-supervisor, Philip Ziegler)

Recently completed:

  • Daniel Guaneas, Prosperity and the Worship of Achievement: A theological analysis of cultural tensions within Brazilian Neopentecostalism
  • Emilio di Somma, Fides and Secularity—An Analysis of Charles Taylor and Beyond (co-supervisor, Philip Ziegler)
  • Marek SzilvasiRoma and the Contradictions of European Inclusion Policies (co-supervisor, Claire Wallace, Sociology)




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