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Staff Profile

Professor Esther McIntosh

Professor of Feminist Theology and Ethics, Associate Head of School: Religion, Politics and International Relations


After completing a BD(Hons) and a PhD in philosophy and theology at the University of Aberdeen (1999), I moved to Leeds and was employed by the Centre for Continuing Education, University of Leeds, where I taught a range of Philosophy modules to part-time, mature students. This was followed by teaching a range of philosophy modules to part-time students in the School of Philosophy and then by appointment to a Lectureship in Religion, Gender and Ethics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds (2002), where I taught feminist ethics and philosophy of religion.

I joined York St John University in 2006, I teach a range of modules on the Religion, Philosophy and Ethics Programme. My research spans philosophy of religion and public theology; I also supervise post-graduate students and for eight years I was Managing Editor of the International Journal of Public Theology and Chair of the Faculty Research Ethics Committee.




My primary teaching areas are feminist theology, ethics and philosophy of religion. I have taught Theoretical Philosophy, The Mind, Reason and Argument, Political and Social Philosophy, Christian Theology and Christian Doctrine and Practice and Systematic Theology. I have also delivered medical ethics teaching and supervised masters dissertations in healthcare. In addition, I have supervised a number of MRes and PhD students; acted as a referee for AHRC funding applications and examined masters and doctoral theses.

I am interested in supervising post-graduate theses in philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, ethics and feminist ethics. I have supervised theses on the following topics:

  • Homosexuality in the Church of England
  • Suffering in the Works of Kierkegaard
  • Feminist Theologies in Light of Spinoza’s Pantheism
  • Emotion in Tucker and Enlightenment Thought
  • Revelation in the Theology of T. F. Torrance
  • Christologies of Hick and Newbigin
  • The Emergence of a Black British Feminist Theology
  • A Feminist Examination of Evangelical Purity Culture
  • Locating the Place of Hospitality in the ‘Mission-Shaped’ Church of England. 



My primary research interests are public theology, John Macmurray scholarship, philosophy of religion, Christian ethics and feminist theology; hence, my research is interdisciplinary. In particular, I am concerned with definitions of personhood and community, the ethics of personal relations, gender justice and the use of social media by religious communities.  I have also worked with Professor Don MacDonald, Seattle Pacific University and Professor Chris Sink, Old Dominion University on links between Macmurray's thought, systems thinking and family therapy.

I am currently working on trauma theology, voluntary and involuntary childlessness, as well as an externally funded project on trans and non-binary support in higher education. I organise events for LGBT History Month and International Women's Week, and I am a co-convenor of the theological ethics seminar at the Society for the Study of Theology annual conference and European representative at the Global Network for Public Theology.




I Books

Supporting Trans and Non-Binary Staff and Students, co-authored with Sharon Jagger (York: York St John University, 2021)

Yours the Power: Faith-Based Organizing in the USA, edited by Katie Day, Esther McIntosh and William Storrar (Leiden: Brill, 2012), ISBN 9789004246003

John Macmurray’s Religious Philosophy: What it Means to be a Person (Farnham and Burlington,VT: Ashgate, 2011), ISBN 9780754651635

John Macmurray: Selected Philosophical Writings, edited and introduced, series editor Gordon Graham, The Library of Scottish Philosophy (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2004), ISBN 0907845738

II Parts of Books

Blurring the Borders: Christian Women Negotiating Off- and Online Spaces of Feminism and Misogyny’, in T. Wabel, ed.,
Space and Place: Theological Perspectives on Living in the World (Zürich: LIT, forthcoming) 

‘Gender in Religion, Religion in Society: The Agency and Identity of Christian Women’, in E. Tomalin and C. Starkey, eds,
Routledge Handbook of Gender and Religion (Abingdon: Routledge, forthcoming)

‘The Persistence of White Christian Patriarchy in a Time of Right-Wing Populism’, in J. Ralston and U. Schmiedel,
The Spirit of Populism (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming)

‘How are the Voluntarily Childless and the Involuntarily Infertile to Make Sense of Their Christian Faith?’, in D. Davis, ed.,
The Oxford Handbook of Religious Perspectives on Reproductive Ethics (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming) 

‘The Trauma of Mothers: Motherhood, Violent Crime and the Christian Motif of Forgiveness’, K. O’Donnell and K. Cross, eds, Feminist Trauma Theologies (London: SCM Press, 2020), pp. 266-290, ISBN 9780334058724 

‘Public Theology, Populism and Sexism: The Hidden Crisis in Public Theology’, in S. Sinn and E. Harasta, eds, Churches as Agents for Justice and Against Populism: Public Theology in Global Intercontextual Dialogue (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2019), pp. 215-228, ISBN 9783374061747 

‘Learning to Be Human in a Postliberal Era: Revisiting a Macmurrian Account of the Arts and Ethical Relationality’, in B. J. Wood, ed., Renewing the Self: Contemporary Religious Perspectives (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017), pp. 96-116, ISBN 9781443898850

‘I Met God, She’s Black’: Racial, Gender and Sexual Equalities in Public Theology’, in S. Kim and K. Day. eds, A Companion to Public Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp. 298-324, ISBN 9789004336056

‘John Macmurray as a Scottish Philosopher: The Role of the University and the Means to Live Well’, in The Oxford History of Scottish Philosophy, vol. 2, ed. G. Graham (Oxford: OUP, 2015), pp. 270-302, ISBN 9780199560684

‘Issues in Feminist Public Theology’, Public Theology and the Challenge of Feminism, eds, Anita Monro and Stephen Burns (Durham: Routledge, 2015), pp. 63-74, ISBN 9781844648008

‘Community and Society: Macmurray and New Labour’, in Community Identity: Dynamics of Religion in Context, eds. S. C. H. Kim and P. Kollontai (London: T&T Clark, 2007), pp. 69-88, ISBN 0567031578

‘Educating the Emotions’, in John Macmurray: Critical Perspectives, eds. D. A. S. Fergusson and N. Dower (New York: Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 133-140, ISBN 0820452645

‘Impartiality and Virtue versus Self-Emptying and Moral Guidance: A Systematic Theologian’s Response’, in Jack Mahoney: The Moral Context of Pastoral Care, ed. John Swinton, A Contact Pastoral Monograph, 10 (Edinburgh: Contact Pastoral Trust, 2000), pp. 31-34, ISBN 0952248573

III Refereed Contributions to Journals

‘Living Religion: The Fluidity of Practice’, International Journal of Philosophy and Theology, 79:4 (2018), 383-396

‘Macmurray on Relationality: A Tool for Systems Theory?’, co-authored with D. Macdonald and C. Sink, Philosophy and Theology, 28:1 (2016), 207-224, ISSN 0890-2661

'Belonging without Believing: Church as Community in an Age of Digital Media', International Journal of Public Theology, 9:2 (2015), 131-155, ISSN 1872-5171

'Why We Need the Arts: John Macmurray on Education and the Emotions', Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47:1 (2015), 47-60, ISSN 0013-1857

'Philosophers, Politicians and Archbishops’, International Journal of Public Theology, 2:4 (2008), 465-483, ISSN 1872-5171

‘Religious Voices in Public Places: John Macmurray on Church and State’, Journal of Scottish Thought, 1:1 (2007), 121-134, ISSN 1755-9928

‘The Concept of Sacrifice: A Reconsideration of the Feminist Critique’, International Journal of Public Theology, 1:2 (2007), 210-229, ISSN 1872-5171

‘The Possibility of a Gender-Transcendent God: Taking Macmurray Forward’, Feminist Theology, 15:2 (2007), 236-255, ISSN 0966-7350

‘Reason versus Emotion: Redressing the Balance’, Practical Philosophy, 4:2 (2001), 28-32, ISSN 1363-322802

‘Macmurray and the Significance of Friendship’, Theology in Scotland, 8:2 (2001), 5-21, ISSN 1465-2862

‘Persons in Relation: John Macmurray and the Care of Persons with Profound Learning Disability’, co-authored with J. Swinton, Theology Today, 57:2 (2000), 175-184, ISSN 0040-5736

Guest Editing

‘Editorial’ and guest editing of ‘Hearing the Other: Feminist Theology and Ethics’, International Journal of Public Theology, 4:1 (2010), ISSN 1872-5171

Invited Pamphlet

‘Value and Meaning - The Role of the Emotions’, Audenshaw Papers, 194 (Manchester: The Audenshaw Foundation, 2001), ISSN 0004-7481

Invited Dictionary Entries

‘E. S. Fiorenza’, New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, second edition, eds M. Davie, T. Grass, S. R. Holmes, J. McDowell and T. A. Noble (London: IVP, 2016), pp. 344-345, ISBN 9781783593965

‘Womanist Theology’, New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, second edition, eds M. Davie, T. Grass, S. R. Holmes, J. McDowell and T. A. Noble (London: IVP, 2016), pp. 968-969, ISBN 9781783593965

‘Personalism’, in Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, eds., D. A. S. Fergusson, K. Kilby, I. MacFarland and I. A. R. Torrance (Cambridge: CUP, 2011), ISBN 9780521880923 (hbk)

‘Macmurray, John (1891-1976)’, The Continuum Encyclopaedia of British Philosophy, vol.3, eds Anthony Grayling, Andrew Pyle and Naomi Goulder (London and New York: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006), pp. 2037-2041, ISBN 1843711419

‘Macmurray, John (1891-1976)’, in The Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers, vol. 2, ed. Stuart C. Brown (Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2005), pp. 636-641, ISBN 184371096  

Refereed Conference Presentations and Invited Papers


2021invited speaker at the Humanities English Semester, PUCPR, Brazil; invited interviewee LWF/BiPT/BNC global public theology series; invited speaker at the Department of Christian Studies, University of Madras, India and the Indian Women’s Christian Association; invited webinar panellist ‘Public Theology for a New Normal: Global Perspectives’, Cambridge; invited speaker at the Catherdrals Group Chaplains’ Conference, York, UK

2020: invited contributor at The Berlin Institute for Public Theology (BIPT), Germany and the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology (BNC), South Africa

2019: invited speaker at Hull and District Theological Society; invited speaker at National School Chaplaincy Conference, Liverpool; invited keynote speaker at Global Network for Public Theology conference, Bamberg, Germany.

2018: invited keynote speaker at ‘Churches as Agents for Justice and against Populism’ conference, Berlin; invited speaker at Theology and Religious Studies research seminar, University of Chester.

2017: invited speaker at Centre for Philosophy of Religion research seminar, University of Leeds; invited respondent at 'Christian Perspectives on Death and Dying', Universities of Cardiff and York.

2016: paper presenter at the Global Network for Public Theology conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

2015: paper presenter at the American Academy of Religion conference, Atlanta; invited panellist at 'Character, Culture and Values' conference, University of Glasgow; participant at 'Thinking Faith: Ethics, Public Theology and the Church of England' conference, London; paper presenter at 'Thinking the Church Today' at the Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of Nottingham and convenor and chair of 'Philosophy and Theology' seminar.

2014: invited speaker at the Research Institute for Systematic Theology seminar, King’s College London; convenor and chair of the ‘Philosophy and Theology’ seminar at the Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of Durham; participant at the Association for Research Ethics conference ‘Social Media and the Internet’, University of Sunderland; invited panellist at a round-table discussion on ‘Should Schools Teach Children to be Individuals’, at the LTI Conference on ‘Postliberalism, Individualism and Society’, University of Manchester.

2013: participant at the ‘Practical Theology and Public Life’ symposium, University of Birmingham; convenor and chair of the ‘Philosophy and Theology’ seminar at the Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of Nottingham; participant at the UK Council for Graduate Education ‘Research Ethics and Integrity’ conference, University of York; chaired sessions and presented a keynote paper at the Global Network for Public Theology conference at the University of Chester. I also featured in Aberdeen University’s Alumni publication.

2012: convened the ‘Philosophy and Theology’ seminar at the Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of York; delivered invited papers to the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, Dundee and the John Macmurray Fellowship annual conference, Oxford.

2011: chaired sessions at the Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of York; delivered an invited paper to the ‘Theology and Ethics’ research seminar at the University of Durham.

2010: presented a refereed paper at the Global Network for Public Theology conference at Charles Sturt University in Canberra and Sydney, Australia; chaired sessions and presented a refereed paper at the Society for the Study of Theology conference in the University of Manchester.

2009: chaired sessions and presented a paper at the Society for the Study of Theology conference in Kontakt der Kontinenten, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.

2008: presented an invited paper to the William Temple Association, York; presented a refereed paper at the European Society for Philosophy of Religion conference, University of Oslo, Norway; presented a refereed paper at the annual Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of Durham (and I was nominated for and elected to the committee).

2007: participated in the ‘Gender, Religion and Violence’ symposium, University of Bristol; presented a refereed paper at the Global Network for Public Theology conference, Centre for Theological Inquiry, Princeton, USA.

2006: gave an invited keynote address at the conference ‘Scottish and Irish Thought in the Era of John Macmurray’, hosted by the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen; participated in the second invitation only Institute for Religion Ethics and Public Life colloquium, University of Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

2004-5: I did not attend any conferences owing to pregnancy, maternity leave and research leave. I was invited to present a paper at the ‘Women and the Divine’ conference, hosted by the Institute for Feminist Theory and Research and the University of Liverpool.

2003: presented a refereed paper at the ‘Reimagining Feminist Theologies’ conference, University of Glasgow; responded to two papers and chaired a session at the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion and the Society of Christian Philosophers conference, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford; participated in the invitation only Institute for Religion, Ethics and Public Life colloquium, University of Leeds; presented an invited paper at the Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of Newcastle.

2002: presented a refereed paper at the Society for the Study of Theology conference, University of Lancaster; gave an invited keynote address at the John Macmurray Fellowship conference, Woodbrooke College, University of Birmingham; gave an invited address on Female Genital Mutilation as part of the Vagina Monologues performance at the University of Leeds; participated in Women’s Health Matters discussion group.

2001: presented a refereed paper at the Royal Institute of Philosophy conference, University of Manchester.

2000: presented a refereed paper at The Centre for the History of Ideas in Scotland symposium, University of Edinburgh.

1998: presented a paper and assisted in the organisation of a School of Divinity with Religious Studies and Department of Philosophy conference, University of Aberdeen. 

Professional Activity


Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Society for the Study of Theology, former 'Philosophy and Theology' seminar convenor; current 'Theological Ethics' seminar convenor
  • European Society of Women in Theological Research
  • Global Network for Public Theology and European representative and convenor of the Gender and Sexuality working group
  • Society for the Study of Christian Ethics
  • Society for the Study of Theology (elected committee member 2008-2011)
  • Society for Women in Philosophy
  • Religion and Society Network, Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture
  • Northumbrian Triangle for Philosophy of Religion
  • Cathedrals Group research network. 


I am on the editorial board of the International Journal of Public Theology and the Philosophy and Religion book series published with Rodopi. I am also on the editorial board for the Political and Public Theologies series published by Brill.

Peer Reviewing

Book endorsement Rudolf von Sinner, Public Theology in the Secular State A Perspective from the Global South (Zürich: LIT-Verlag); book proposal Rebecca Todd Peters and Grace Yia-Hei Kao, eds, Encountering the Sacred: Feminist Reflections on Women’s Lives (T&T Clark); MSS 'John Macmurray: In Quest of Reality’ by Nozomu Miyahira (to be published in Japanese); MSS 'The Mystery and Agency of God' by Frank Kirkpatrick (Fortress Press); articles for Toronto Journal of Theology, Ethics and Social Welfare, Studies in Religion; grant applications for the British Federation of Women Graduates. International Journal of Public TheologyReligion and EducationResearch in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, International Journal of Philosophy and Theology.

External Examining

I have acted as external examiner for the following theses:

  • The Role of the Imagination in Objective Moral Reasoning (University of Birmingham, 2008)
  • Intentional Friendship: A Philosophy of Pastoral Care (University of Western Sydney, 2007)
  • The Doctrine of the Trinity: Beyond Modernist Worldviews with Particular Reference to Christian Feminist Theology, Gregory of Nazianzu and the Anglo-American Postmodern Thought of Nancey Murphy (University of Aberdeen, 2003)
  • External examiner for taught MA programmes in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester, 2014-2019
  • Consultant on a revalidation committee for the Open University, February - May 2014 and June - September 2017
  • External panel member for periodic review and revalidation of Theology and Religious Studies programmes at the University of Roehampton, 2019-2020.
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