Dr Robert W Heimburger

Dr Robert W Heimburger
Dr Robert W Heimburger
Dr Robert W Heimburger

Research Fellow


Office address: KCF23

Postal address:
School of Divinity, History, Philosophy, and Art History
King's College, University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen AB24 3UB
United Kingdom


Robert W. Heimburger is Research Fellow in Theological Ethics at the University of Aberdeen.

He is a theologian of ethics and politics. His book, God and the ‘Illegal Alien’: United States Immigration Law and a Theology of Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2018), questions the circumstances that led so many to be deemed ‘illegal aliens’. The book explores U.S. legal history and responds with biblical and theological reflections on what it is to be an alien church, a nation, a humble guard of territory, and a recipient of mercy from neighbours.

Rob’s research with Fe y Desplazamiento, the Faith and Displacement Project at the Seminario Bíblico de Colombia (FUSBC), includes, with Christopher M. Hays and Guillermo Mejía-Castillo, ‘Forgiveness and Politics: Reading Matthew 18:21-35 with Survivors of Armed Conflict in Colombia’ (HTS Theological Studies, 2019), as well as co-authored curricula used around Colombia to enable the wellbeing of those forced from home by conflict and other forces. In his current research, Rob is asking what the Book of Acts has to say about ethics and politics today.

Originally from Alabama, Rob studied philosophy at Davidson College before teaching with Teach for America in the Bronx, New York, and completing an MST in Education at Pace University. He went on to study theology, completing a Masters of Divinity at Regent College in Vancouver, an MPhil in Christian Ethics at the University of Oxford, and a DPhil in Theology and Religion, also at Oxford. Before moving to Aberdeen, he was Associate Researcher with the Seminario Bíblico de Colombia (FUSBC), Associate Chaplain with the Oxford Pastorate, and Editor of IFES Word & World.

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

I support Professors Brian Brock and John Swinton as they write and research, pursue grant funding, lead research seminars, and support doctoral students.

External Memberships

Society for the Study of Christian Ethics (SSCE): Committee Member, 2022–present; Conference Secretary, 2009–11, 2022–present

Society of Christian Ethics (SCE): Founding Member and Co-Convenor of the Migration Ethics Interest Group, 2020–present

British New Testament Society (BNTS)

American Academy of Religion (AAR)

Theological Advisory Group, IFES


Research Overview

I am intrigued by theology, Christian ethics, the theology of politics, and biblical ethics. Some of the topics that interest me include politics and the church; migration and theology; law and religion; undocumented migration, refugees, and asylum seekers, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom; nationhood and nationalism; theologies of justice, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and conflict, especially in Colombia; and Christian character and practices in the university. I am also interested in ethics and politics in biblical books like Genesis, Deuteronomy, the Psalms, Matthew, Luke, Acts, and 1 Corinthians.

I am grateful for responses, both appreciate and critical, from reviewers of my book God and the ‘Illegal Alien’: United States Immigration and a Theology of Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2018), 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, as well as from respondents at a symposium: 1, 2. I enjoyed talking about the book in this podcast and summarizing it in this article.

My current research asks what the Book of Acts has to say about ethics and politics today.

Research Specialisms

  • Theology
  • Politics
  • Ethics
  • Biblical Studies
  • Law

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.


I have supervised the following MTh dissertations to completion:

  • Hollie Brewster, ‘The Problem with Prisons: Theological and Non-Theological Critiques of the United States Prison System with Special Reference to Angela Davis, Joshua Dubler and Vincent Lloyd, and James Logan’
  • Cody Crawshaw, ‘Creation in Crisis: Single-Use Plastics as Reflective of the Complex Relationship Between Christianity and the Environment’
  • Paula Duncan, ‘Finding Femininity in God: The Personification of Wisdom as a Focal Point in Feminist Theology’
  • Iain Rice, ‘Examining the Impact of the Vatican Decree on Mixed Marriages, Ne Temere, and the McCann Case on Ulster Protestant Communities in the Early 20th Century’

I am available to co-supervise PhD candidates.

Funding and Grants

With the Oxford Character Project, I advised on successful grant writing for a second round of funding for 2017-20 from the Templeton World Charity Foundation at £330,000 after a 2014-17 grant of £740,000, and my work was partly funded by these grants.

For Fe y Desplazamiento, Faith and Displacement, a 2016-19 project of the Fundación Universitaria Seminario Bíblico de Colombia (FUSBC), I contributed to a team effort to write a grant funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation for $900,000, and I was partly funded by the grant.

I won the Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference Competition from the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) along with a fellow student, funding an international conference in partnership with the Las Casas Institute entitled Migration, Faith, and Action: Shifting the Discourse, 2014.


Teaching Responsibilities

I teach undergraduates and master's students, I supervise master's dissertations, and I am able to co-supervise doctoral theses.


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals