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Research Institute in Systematic Theology

Research Institute in Systematic Theology

RIST was established at King’s by Christoph Schwöbel (presently Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Tübingen) and Colin Gunton, former Professor of Christian Doctrine, in 1988. The reputation of RIST in theological circles was later augmented by its global exposure through Dan Brown’s (inaccurate) depiction of it in The Da Vinci Code. RIST remains today a thriving hub for understanding and exploring the ways in which Christian theology can transform society. Our specialization lies in engaged systematic and philosophical theology, supported by a hermeneutic of transformation. We focus on Christian doctrine, ethics and practice, Bible, hermeneutics and the arts, apophatic and philosophical theologies as well as emerging theologies in Abrahamic and Asian contexts, especially China. While the focus is contemporary, theological engagement also requires attention to traditions and the historical memory of theology.
Our principal areas of activity are:
Our principal partners are:
Current Staff-PGR Research Colloquia include:
  • RIST Staff-PGR Seminars
  • RIST PGR Summer Seminars
  • Interdisciplinary Staff-PGR Seminars: Anthropology and Theology: Epistemology of Wonder (collaboration with LSE)
  • Termly Staff-PGR Theology Study Days (link), including Practical Theology
  • Annual Colin Gunton Lecture
RIST also works together with the Centre for Social Transformation, KCL, in bringing a reflexive, internal Christian theological perspective into relation with Religious Studies, with Inter-Faith contacts, with contemporary science (especially neuroscience), with Ethics and Leadership, with China-West relations, and other non-religious, social and political fields of concern. 
A theological publisher, T & T Clark, is publishing as a series the edited papers from the Research Institute in Systematic Theology conferences. The following are titles of recent books:
  • Persons, Divine and Human
  • God and Freedom
  • Trinitarian Theology Today
  • The Doctrine of Creation
Past RIST conference titles have been:
  • 'The Doctrine of the Atonement',
  • 'The Doctrine of God and Theological Ethics'
  • 'Theology and Gender'
  • 'The Theology of Reconciliation'
The following academic staff are involved in RIST at King's (with links to their research profiles):
Professor Ben Quash
Dr Edward Epsen III
Revd. Canon Vernon White
Dr Susannah Ticciati
Rt Revd Peter Selby
RIST seminars
The Systematic Theology research seminars are held on Tuesday mornings at 11am in Room 3.01, Virginia Woolf Building, followed by lunch in Chapters. The themes explored range over the whole of Christian theology, as well its relations with other disciplines and other faiths.
Speakers are invited from universities and other institutions in the UK, and occasionally from abroad.
Academic staff and graduate students at King’s and other London-based colleges are invited to attend.
For details of all seminars in the current academic year, please visit the RIST seminar pageThe following lists serve for reference only, detailing the seminars held previously.


Summer term 2018-19

Wednesday 8 May

Gunton Day

RIST seminar at 11am:

The Revd Dr James Hawkey (Westminster Abbey)

"Mixing their Musick: worship, music and Christian communities"

VWB 7.01 (please note change of location)

Gunton Lecturer: Prof Karen Kilby

Lecture to be held at 6pm in K3.11

“The theological location of paradox: an ecumenical exploration of nature, grace and sin”

Student presentations from 2pm

Tuesday 21 May

Wai Luen Kwok

Associate Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University

"Theology of religions and intertextuality: A case study of Christian-Confucian and Islamic-Confucian dialogue in the early 20th century China"

Semester 2 2018-19

Tuesday 22 January

Dr Jason Fout

Associate Professor of Anglican Theology

Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation

"Through  the  Darkest  Valley:  Walking  with, eating  with – and  loving  enemies"

Tuesday 5 February

Dr Clare Carlisle

Reader in Philosophy and Theology, and AKC Programme Director,

King's College London

“The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard: Theology and Biography”

Tuesday 12 February

Professor George Pattison

1640 Chair of Divinity, University of Glasgow

“Being called: the rhetoric of vocation in an age of technology”

Note: This seminar will be held 2:30-4:00pm, WATERLOO JCMB G.14, and will be followed by a book launch seminar and drinks reception for 'The Mystical Sources of Existentialist Thought' by George Pattison and Kate Kirkpatrick, with responses from Clare Carlisle, Fiona Ellis, and Chris Hamilton, 4:30-6:30pm, STRAND, River Room.

Tuesday 26 February          

Rt Revd Peter Selby

Visiting Professor, King’s College London

Memento pati: theological implications of changed public approaches to mortality”

Tuesday 19 March

Dr Simon Podmore

Assocate Professor, Liverpool Hope University

"Dark Night of the Holy: Trauma and the Negative Numinous"

Semester 1 2018-19

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Dr Kate Kirkpatrick

"Sin Without God: Sartre’s Realized Eschatology of Damnation"

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Dr Darren Sarisky

"Religious Commitment in Scriptural Reasoning"

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Dr Robin Orton

"Gregory on the Creation: Religion and Science in In Haexemeron"

Tuesday 27 November

Professor Fiona Ellis

"Between Orthodox Theism and Materialist Atheism"

Summer term 2017-18

Wednesday 2 May 2018, 6pm-7.30pm

Colin Gunton Day (with student presentations from 2pm followed by Guest Lecture at 6pm)

Gunton Lecturer: Professor Mark D. Jordan, Mellon Professor of Christian Thought, Harvard Divinity School, and Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, Sexuality, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Harvard University

Title: Sexual Identities and Sexual Vocations

Tuesday 8 May 2018 11am, VWB 3.01.

Dr Janet Sidaway, Visiting Fellow, King's College London

Title: Exploring the link between Deification and Transfiguration in the work of Hilary of Poitiers (c.315-370), his immediate Western successors, and Danta.

Semester 2 2017-18

23 January 2018

Dr Vittorio Montemaggi

Lecturer in Religion and the Arts, King’s College London

“Darkness and Goodness: Reading Dante’s Inferno (as Theology)”

6 February 2018

The Revd Dr Malcolm Guite

Bye-Fellow and Chaplain, Girton College, Cambridge

“‘Tell it Slant’: some reflections on poetry and incarnation, drawing on Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and Seamus Heaney”

27 February 2018

Dr Judith Wolfe

Professor of Philosophical Theology and Associate Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, University of St Andrews

“Directions in 20th-Century Eschatology”

20 March 2018

Dr Sarah Apetrei

Fellow in Ecclesiastical History, Keble College, Oxford

"The Reformation of the Heart: mystical theology, enthusiasm and the seventeenth-century Church of England"

Semester 1 2017-18

3 October 2017

Professor Ben Quash

Professor of Christianity and the Arts, King’s College London

“The Imago Pietatis: Brought into the fold”

17 October 2017

Dr Lydia Schumacher

Senior Research Fellow in Medieval Theology and Philosophy

“The Early Franciscan Doctrine of Atonement: Redeeming Penal Substitution Theory”

7 November 2017

The Revd Dr James Walters

Chaplain to the London School of Economics and Political Science

 “Redeeming Money: The Quest for an Economy of Generosity”

28 November 2017

Dr Edward Epsen

Teaching Fellow in Systematic and Philosophical Theology, King’s College London

“Banners of the Double Kingdom: How to Identify the Product of Creation and Its Order”

Summer term 2016-17

2 May 2017

Dr Nicholas Sagovsky

Visiting Professor, King’s College London, and Whitelands Professorial Fellow, Roehampton University

“'What Makes a Saint? A Lincoln Case-Study”


9 May 2017

Professor Karen Kilby

Bede Professor of Catholic Theology, Durham University

“The darkness of suffering and the darkness of God”


16 May 2017

Lord Harries of Pentregarth
Honorary Professor of Theology, King’s College London, and former Bishop of Oxford

“The beauty and the horror: searching for God in a suffering world”


16 May 2017

Colin Gunton Lecture (6pm, K2.31)
Professor Oliver O’Donovan

Professor Emeritus, Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, University of Edinburgh

“Hugo Grotius, Theologian?”

To be held at 6pm in K2.31 (King’s Building, Strand Campus)

The Lecture will be preceded by student presentations from 2.30pm, and a wine reception at 5.15pm (all in K2.31).


23 May 2017 

Professor Markus Mühling

Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

“On the Way to a Post-Systematic Theology: Considerations on a Narrative Ontological Approach”

Semester 2 2016-17

24 January 2017
Dr Elizabeth Powell
Teaching Associate, University of Cambridge
“‘A Living Lettering’: The Art of th Incarnate Word and David Jones’s Painted Inscriptions”
7 February 2017
Dr Ben Fulford
Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology, University of Chester
“Providence and Progressive Politics: Hans Frei and American Social Ethics”
28 February 2017
Dr Simone Kotva
Research Fellow, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
“Grace: A Stylistics”
14 March 2017
Dr Justin Stratis
Tutor in Christian Doctrine, Trinity College, Bristol
“Modern English Trinitarianism and the Turn to the Social: Exploring the Welch Thesis”
28 March 2017
Dr Brett Gray
Chaplain and Director of Studies, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge“Towards a Positively Skeptical Theology of Institution: Ecclesiology in a Post-Establishment Age”

Semester 1 2016-17

4 October 2016              
The Revd Professor Sam Wells
Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College London
 “A Peace the World Cannot Give: Christianity and Violence”
18 October 2016         
The Revd Canon Professor Vernon White
Canon Theologian, Westminster Abbey, and Visiting Professor of Theology at King’s College London
“An impossible but necessary doctrine: Providence revisited”
8 November 2016              
Dr Simeon Zahl
Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Nottingham
“What Does Salvation Feel Like? The Holy Spirit, Affectivity, and the Experience of Grace”
30 November 2016            
Dr Casey Strine (with response from Dr Susannah Ticciati)
Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Sheffield
“Migration, Image, and Exegetical Imagination: A Case Study from Gen 25-33”
[Joint seminar with Biblical Studies Research Seminar to be held at 5pm, room VWB 3.01]
6 December 2016              
Dr Ruth Jackson
Research Associate, CRASSH, University of Cambridge
“In Dialogue and Through Time: Friedrich Schleiermacher's Theology of Finitude”

Semester 2 2014-15

13 January 2015
Bishop Richard Cheetham
(Bishop of Kingston)
“Is there a place for faith in society today?”

27 January 2015
Dr Susannah Ticciati
(Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology, King's College London)
“Reconceiving apophatic theology today”

10 February 2015
Dr Maria Exall
(King's College London)
"Thomas Nagel's conception of the 'impersonal standpoint' and the ethics of loving humility in the apophatic tradition"

3 March 2015 - CANCELLED*
Professor John Milbank
(Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics, The University of Nottingham)
Oikonomia leaves home: theology, politics and governance in the history of the west
*this seminar has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances

17 March 2015
Professor Paul Nimmo
(Chair in Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen)
“Eucharist and Eschatology: Some Tentative Reformed Reflections”

7 May 2015
Professor Oliver Davies (KCL) and Professor Paul Fiddes (Oxford)
“Transformation and Theology”
Please note that this seminar takes place from 15:00-17:00 in Room 3.01, Virginia Woolf Building, and is immediately followed by:
The Colin Gunton Lecture
Professor Paul Fiddes (Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford)
"Observation and Participation: Wisdom, the World and the Triune God"
17:30-19:00, K0.20, Strand Campus
13 May 2015
In association with RIST, 
Seminar for the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Professor Ben Quash (KCL) and Guest Composer Francis Pott.
10:30-12:00, S0.11, Strand Building 
19 May 2015
Professor Walter Moberly
(University of Durham)
“Theological Thinking and the Reading of Scripture: An Auseinandersetzungwith Susannah Ticciati”

2 June 2015
Professor John Milbank
(University of Nottingham)
"Oikonomia leaves home: theology, politics & governance in the history of the west"

Semester 1 2014-15

30 September
Professor Johannes Zachhuber
(Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Fellow and Tutor in Theology, Trinity College, Oxford)
"Theology in the Nineteenth Century Research University: A rationalisation of religion?"

14 October
Professor Oliver Davies
(Professor of Christian Doctrine, King's College London)
"Globalisation, Tradition and Innovation: Towards a Future Theology"

4 November
Dr Daniel Weiss
(Polonsky-Coexist Lecturer in Jewish Studies and Fellow and Director of Studies in Theology and Religious Studies, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge)
"Biblical faith as atheism: Israel’s Holy One and the political rejection of all gods"

18 November
Mr Giles Waller
(Research Associate in the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge, and the Cambridge Interfaith Programme)
"Tragedy and Theological Security: Sophocles, Melanchthon and Luther"

2 December
Dr Chloë Reddaway
(Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Fellow and Curator in Art and Religion, the National Gallery)
"Re-Visiting Creation: Images of the Visitation and the New Creation in Christ"

Semester 2 2013-14

6 May
Dr Joel Rasmussen
(Associate Professor in Nineteenth-Century Christian Thought, Mansfield College, Oxford)
“Kant, The Conflict of the Faculties, & the ‘Contamination’ of Discourses”

13 May ***CANCELLED***
Michael Berkeley (Composer and Broadcaster) and Gareth Wilson (Lecturer and Tutor, Music Department, King’s College London)
 “Composing Contemporary Church Music: A Conversation”
as part of the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music

20 May
The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby
(Honorary Visiting Professor, King’s College London)
“Could ‘idol’ be an economic term?”

3 June
The Revd Dr Rob McDonald
 (Tutor in Christian Doctrine, Ridley Hall, Cambridge)
“Barth Backwards: reading the Church Dogmatics from the end”

10 June
Dr Dominic Erdozain
(Research Fellow at King’s College London and Visiting Scholar at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta)
“Does religion make you selfish? Feuerbach, Marx and the Lutheran origins of modern atheism”

Semester 1 2013-14

1 October
Dr Simon Podmore
(Lecturer in Systematic Theology, Liverpool Hope University)
“Struggling with God: Towards a Theology of Spiritual Trial”

15 October
Professor Denys Turner
(Professor of Historical Theology, King’s College London & Yale University)
“How to Fail, or ‘The Fine Delight that Fathers Thought’” (some thoughts on Gerard Manley Hopkins)

29 October
Dr Philip McKosker
(Research Associate to the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University)
“Christ the Paradox: Reconceiving Ressourcement Theology”

19 November
Dr Anna Rowlands
(Lecturer in Theology and Ministry, King’s College London)
“Fraternal Traditions: Anglican Social Thought and Catholic Social Teaching”

3 December
Revd Professor Mark Chapman
(Vice-Principal, Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford)
“Theology, sociology and society: Chicago in the 1890s”

Seminars 2011-2013

Tuesday 04 October 2011
Professor Oliver Davies (KCL)
'The Universal Christ: a Reorientation in Christology'
Tuesday 11 October 2011
Professor Markus Vinzent (KCL) 
Tuesday 18 October 2011
Dr Brian Horne (former KCL)
'On Tradition'

Tuesday 01 November 2011
Dr Louise Nelstrop (Oxford)
'Richard Rolle and the Apophasis of Touch'
Tuesday 15 November 2011

Revd Dr David Hilborn (St Mellitus College)
'How to do Things with Theology: The Contributions and Limitations of Speech Act Approaches to Christian Doctrine'
Tuesday 29 November 2011
Dr Frances Clemson (Cambridge)
'Judas as a Dramatic Character: Acting with Integrity' 
Tuesday 17 January
Professor Vernon White (Canon Theologican, Westminster Abbey; Visiting Professor King’s College London)
‘Narrative, Freedom and telos: reflections on where meaning and purpose can be found with some help from Hans Frei’
Tuesday 31 January 2012
  Professor Gavin d’Costa  (Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Bristol)
‘Does the Catholic Church teach mission to the Jews?’
Tuesday 14 February 2012
 Rt. Rev. Dr Richard Cheetham (Bishop of Kingston) 'Eckhart's re-writing of Trinitarian Theology'
‘Truth or Trivia: Attitudes to Religious Belief in Public Institutions in England’  
Tuesday 06 March 2012
Rev. Prof. Nicholas Sagovsky (Whitelands Professorial Fellow in Christian Tradition and Contemporary Society, Roehampton University)
‘Haerle’s Dogmatik in English: an Introduction to the Introduction?’
Tuesday 20 March 2012
Dr Daniel Castelo (Associate Professor of Theology, School of Theology, Seattle University; John Templeton Award for Theological Promise)
‘Pentecostalism as a Mystical Tradition’

Tuesday 01 May 2012
Dr Clare Carlisle (Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion & AKC Director, King’s College London) 
'Repetition, Receptivity, Resistance: Habit and the Religious Life'
Tuesday 15 May 2012
Professor Ben Quash (Professor of Christianity and the Arts, King’s College London) and Dr Edward Wickham (Director of Music, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge) 
Contemporary church music - a conversation between Professor Ben Quash and Dr Edward Wickham
(Part of the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music)
Tuesday 22 May 2012
Hendrik Klinge (PhD Student, University of Göttingen)
‘Deformitas Christi. Aesthetical Implications of Luther's Theology of the Cross’
Tuesday 12th June 2012
Stephen Srikantha (MA candidate in Systematic Theology, King’s College London)
'Recovering the symbolic: Alexander Schmemann and the place of reason in Systematic Theology in today's context'
Tuesday 19th June 2012
George Medley  (PhD candidate in Theology & Religious Studies, King’s College London)
Tuesday 03 July 2012
Elizabeth Joy (MPhil/PhD candidate in Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London)
‘The divisive and the uniting forces of the ‘body’ of Brahma and Christ’: Towards constructing a ‘Transforming Theology’ focussing on the dynamic and positive meaning of ‘Dalit’
Tuesday 17 July 2012
Corinne Williamson (PhD candidate in Systematic Theology, King’s College London) 
Tuesday 07 August 2012
Janet Sidaway (PhD in Systematic Theology, King’s College London 2009) 
“Deification” in the Western tradition.
Tuesday 21 August 2012
Jacob Philips (PhD candidate in Systematic Theology, King’s College London)
The “Disciplina Arcani”: Preserving the Secret Mysteries of Christian Faith in John Henry Newman and Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Tuesday 04 September 2012
Julian Templeton (MPhil, King’s College London, 2005)  
'I in you and you in me: the Johannine theology of indwelling'.
Tuesday 11 September 2012
Nicholas Roberts (PhD candidate in Psychology & Theology, King’s College London) 
"A friendly admonition to the drinkers of gin, brandy, and other distilled spirituous liquors" - the life and ministry of the Reverend Stephen Hales, DD, FRS.
Tuesday 02 October 2012
Professor Ben Quash (KCL)
“Found Theology”

Tuesday 23 October 2012
Dr Darren Sarisky (Cambridge)
“The metaphysics and ethics of interpretation in Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana”

Tuesday 13 November 2012
Professor Samuel Wells (St Martin in the Fields) “God Being with God”

Tuesday 27 November 2012
Dr Susannah Cornwall (Manchester)
“Intersex and Christology: How and Why Might it Matter Theologically that Jesus was Male?”

Tuesday 11 December 2012
Dr Patrice Haynes (Liverpool Hope)
'Does Love Matter? A Theological Approach to Materiality'
Tuesday 15 January 2013
Dr Beth Dodd
(Academic Tutor and BA Programme Leader, The Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme)
“The Theological Implications of Innocence: Retrieving an Idea through the Writings of Thomas Traherne”
Tuesday 29 January 2013
Professor Clemens Sedmak
(FD Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology, King’s College London)
“Transfiguration: Epistemological observations”
Tuesday 12 February 2013
Professor Paul Joyce
(Samuel Davidson Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, King’s College London)
“Meaning and Interpretation, with Particular Reference to the Biblical Book of Lamentations”
Tuesday 05 March 2013
Professor Werner Jeanrond
(Master of St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford)
“Subjectivity and Objectivity in Theological Hermeneutics”
Tuesday 19 March 2013
Dr Rachel Muers
(Senior Lecturer in Christian Studies, University of Leeds)
“Denying Lies: Truth and Theological Ethics
Tuesday 30 April 2013 
Dr Imogen Adkins (University of Cambridge)
“Sarah Coakley and Christological Self-Limitation (musically speaking)”
Tuesday 14 May 2013
Dr James Hawkey (Minor Canon at Westminster Abbey)
"Towards a non-adversarial, authoritative ecclesial theology"
Tuesday 28 May 2013
Dr Stephen Plant (Dean and Chaplain of Trinity Hall, Cambridge)
"Letters from Prison: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Helmuth James von Moltke on Christian faith and political reconstruction"
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