Dr Richard Bourne

Dr Richard Bourne

I studied Theology at the University of Exeter, beginning with a BA (1997), carrying on to an MA (1999) and a PhD (2005) on the political theology of the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder. Since then I have taught at the Open Theological College (2005), Lancaster University (2006), Leeds Trinity University (2006-2007), and the University of Cumbria (2005-2015).

I have been fortunate enough to teach across a wide range of areas in theology, philosophy and ethics. My research is primarily in theological ethics and political theology, often in dialogue with contemporary political philosophy. I am also co-writing (with Dr Imogen Adkins) A New Introduction to Theology: Embodiment, Experience and Encounter - a book intended for readers encountering theology for the first time. It introduces them to Christian doctrine as it is embodied and encountered through the arts, culture and politics.


Further Information



I teach across a variety of areas including many modules in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Christian Doctrine (patristic, medieval and contemporary), Christian Ethics, Christian Political Theology, the Ethics of War and Peace, Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Contemporary Society, Religion and the Media, and Religious Ethics.  I have supervised numerous undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations in areas including:

  • The Theology of Nonviolence
  • Theology and Human Rights
  • The Ethics of War
  • Theological Bioethics
  • Ethics at the Beginning and End of Life
  • Theology, Sexuality and Gender
  • Christian Doctrine
  • Christian Political Thought

Postgraduate Supervision


I supervise across the range of Christian theology, ethics and political thought.  I currently specialise in supervising research in:

  • Political theology
  • Public theology
  • Theological and ethical accounts of criminal punishment
  • Theological and ethical accounts of war and nonviolence
  • Contemporary Christian thought
  • Religion and continental political thought
  • Theology, sexuality and gender
  • Theological bioethics



My current research includes two broad themes:

  • A Theology of Criminal Justice and Punishment - in critical engagement with both the well-established philosophical literature on the nature and justification of punishment; and with contemporary criminological accounts of the complex nature of desire and character in criminal offending. This theology draws in particular on Christian accounts of sanctification, penance, atonement, and the education of desire.
  • Consumerism, Biopolitics and Urban Discipleship - in critical dialogue with major continental thinkers deploying theological arguments in their analyses of consumerism, biopolitics and radical political action (Agamben, Esposito, Žižek and others).




(2018) with Imogen Adkins, A New Introduction to Theology: Embodiment, Experience and Encounter. London: Bloomsbury. Forthcoming.

(2009) Seek the Peace of the City: Christian Political Criticism as Public, Realist and Transformative Eugene, OR: Cascade.

Articles and Chapters

(2016) “Vertigo in the City: Urban Crime, Consumerism and the Theopolitical Act” International Journal of Public Theology Forthcoming.

(2014) “Communication, Punishment, and Virtue: The Theological Limitation of (Post)Secular Penance” Journal of Religious Ethics 42:1 March 2014 pp.78-107.

(2009) "Governmentality, Witness and the State: Christian Social Criticism with and beyond Yoder and Foucault" in Jeremy Bergen & Anthony Siegrist (eds) Power and Practices Scottdale: Herald Press.

(2007) “Witness, Democracy and Civil Society: Reflections on John Howard Yoder’s Exilic Ecclesiology” Ecclesiology 3.2 195–213.


J. Alexander Sider To See History Doxologically: History and Holiness in John Howard Yoder’s Ecclesiology (Eerdmans, 2011) in Ecclesiology 9:1 (2013) pp.148-150.

Margaret D. Kamitsuka (ed) The Embrace of Eros: Bodies, Desires, and Sexuality in Christianity (Fortress Press, 2010) in Theology and Sexuality 18:3 (2012) pp.273-275.

Stanley Hauerwas Learning to Speak Christian (SCM, 2011) in Modern Believing 53:4 (2012) pp.470-472.

Stephen R. L. Clark Understanding Faith: Religious Belief and Its Place in Society (Imprint Academic, 2009) in Theology 114:6 (2011) pp.455-6.

Malcolm Brown, Tensions in Christian Ethics: An Introduction (SPCK, 2010) in Theology 114:1 (2011) pp.72-3.

Oliver O’Donovan and Joan Lockwood O’Donovan, Bonds of Imperfection: Christian Politics, Past and Present (Eerdmans 2004) in Ecclesiology 1:2 (2005) pp.116-118.

Invited Papers

December 2012 – “Urban Crime, Penal Vindictiveness and the Fragile Possibility of Messianic Political Ascesis” – Invited paper, The Anabaptist Theology Forum, Offa House, Leamington Spa.

December 2012 – “Yoderian Themes After The Politics of Jesus” Invited workshop paper, The Anabaptist Theology Forum, Offa House, Leamington Spa.

October 2012 – Invited response to Nigel Biggar’s “‘Why the Establishment of the Church of England is Good for a Liberal Society’” British Early Career Association for Theologians, St George’s House, Windsor.

May 2012 - “Vertigo in the City: Theological Reflections on Desire, Fear and Punishment”– Theology, Faith and the City Research Network, University of Birmingham, 2nd May 2012.

September 2009 - "Public Theology and the Politics of Forgiveness" invited paper to seminar on Religion, Conflict and Reconciliation, Queens University Belfast, 4th September 2009. Part of the AHRC-ESRC seminar series on Religion, Justice and Wellbeing.

June 2009 - "Issues of Life and Death" Four invited workshops on the Just War Tradition and Christian Nonviolence. Lancashire and Cumbria Theological Partnership, 5th - 7th June 2009.


Professional Activities

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Society for the Study of Christian Ethics
  • Society for the Study of Theology
  • Peer Review for Journals and Publishers
  • External Examiner  - BEd Religious Studies - Stranmillis University College & Queen’s University Belfast - 2015-2018.
  • External Examiner – DMin – Spurgeon’s College, London & University of Chester – 2011-2014
  • External Examiner – MA in Theology – Kings Evangelical Divinity School & University of Chester – 2011-2014. External Examiner – BA in Theology – Kings Evangelical Divinity School & University of Chester – 2011-2014
  • External Examiner – Diploma in Theology for Ministry – Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church & York St John University – 2008-2012
  • External Adviser – Validation of Certificates in Christian Studies – York St John University – February 2009
  • External Adviser – Validation of Foundation Degree in Evangelism – York St John University – March 2009


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