- Ph.D. Church History, University of Aberdeen
- M.A. Classics, University of Cambridge
Areas of Research
- The rise and impact of modern notions of selfhood on contemporary culture
- The thoughts of Charles Taylor and Philip Rieff
- The nature of doctrinal development within the Christian church
I teach Civilization and the Biblical Revelation (HUMA 102) and Christianity and Civilization: Modern and Postmodern Challenges (HUMA 303). I particularly enjoy HUMA 303 because it allows me to encourage students to think historically about how many aspects of modern society – the sexual revolution, identity politics, consumerism etc. – are rooted in longstanding historical changes in the culture and thinking of the West.
I also teach The Rise of Ancient Christianity for the Department of History and electives on the doctrine of God, on 19th-century thought (particularly Marx, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Newman), the thoughts of Charles Taylor, and the history of creeds and confessions. I confess that these are a bit self-indulgent – they reflect interests I have had for a long time, connected to the big questions of ‘Why does today’s church think and speak as she does?’ and ‘Where does modernity come from?’
What is the most important piece of advice you give students to help them succeed?
When engaging any thinker or any person on any issue, the first important thing to do is to understand how and why they think the way they do. History helps develop this skill. I always ask the students to ask themselves ‘If this person we are studying – Aquinas, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Marx, or whoever – heard you describe their views, would they recognize themselves?’ I try to model this in the classroom in the way I read texts with students, always trying to expound them fairly and set them in historical context.
- Luther’s Legacy: Salvation and English Reformers, 1525-1556 (Oxford)
- John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man (Ashgate)
- The Creedal Imperative (Crossway)
- The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (Crossway, forthcoming)
I’ve always been rather undisciplined in my reading and studies – just read anything that interests me. And I don’t regret that at all – I think it is important for students to have a specific major but also to be well-informed on as wide a range of topics as possible. The world needs generalists.