I have two particular areas of theological interest. One is ecclesiology, where I have been concerned with the question of how theologically to address the complex and often rather messy realities of the churches’ actual existence, and what difference the insights of ethnographic and sociological views of the church should make to ecclesiological method and substance. I made an initial attempt in my first book to bring these disciplines together in a discussion of the ‘concrete church’. In doing so, I became interested in a second area, the question of what it means to be a ‘good Christian’. I began to explore this initially in my second book, which examined the theology of Thomas Aquinas through the lens of his Dominican understanding of the Christian life.
More recently, I published a book-length critical analysis of the work of Stanley Hauerwas. Going carefully through Hauerwas’s work prompted me to consider working out my own rather different ideas as to what might constitute a good Christian life in relation to the life of the church. Accordingly, I am now working on a rather ambitious book that aims to challenge some traditional assumptions about the forms of the Christian life. The book works within various disciplines - biblical criticism, history, sociology and ethnography - in order to broaden and complexify standard treatment of the issues and develop a constructive theological proposal.
More generally, I find it always rewarding to re-read and write about the work of great theologians like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Karl Barth and Karl Rahner, and of course I continue to learn much from the ongoing work of contemporary theologians, especially David Kelsey, Kathryn Tanner and John Webster.
Hauerwas: A (Very) Critical Introduction.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.
Thomas Aquinas: Theologian of the Christian Life.
Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.
Church, World and the Christian Life: Practical-Prophetic Ecclesiology.
Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Articles and Book Chapters (A Selection):
‘Karl Barth and Thomas Aquinas in Dialogue: On the Christian Life’, in title unknown, ed. George Hunsinger, Eerdmans, forthcoming.
‘The Christian Life: In Addition to Augustine and Aquinas’, New Blackfriars, 2014.
‘Redemption in the Summa Theologiae’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Summa Theologiae, ed. Denys Turner and Philip McClosker, CUP, 2014.
‘Three Ways of Engaging Theologically with Modernity’, New Blackfriars, 2013.
'Ordinary theology, theological method and constructive ecclesiology', in Ordinary Theology, ed. Jeff Astley, Ashgate Press, 2012.
‘Ecclesiology, Ethnography and God: An Interplay of Reality Descriptions’, in Perspective on Ecclesiology and Ethnography, ed. Pete Ward, Eerdmans/SCM, 2011.
‘Paul and the Ecclesiological Tradition’, in The Blackwell Companion to St. Paul, ed. Steven Westerholm, Oxford: Blackwell, 2011.
‘Karl Barth, German-Language Theology, and the Catholic Tradition’, in The Trinity and Election in Contemporary Theology, ed. Michael Dempsey, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011.
‘Ecclesiology and Practical Theology’, Keeping Faith in Practice: Catholic Pastoral Theology, ed. David Lonsdale, Gemma Simmonds, James Sweeney, London: SCM Press, 2010.
‘What is Systematic Theology?’ International Journal of Systematic Theology 11:1 2009.
‘The Church in Modern Theology’, The Routledge Companion to the Christian Churcheds. G. Mannion and L. Mudge, New York: Routledge, 2008.
‘Analytic Thomism and Contemporary Constructive Theology’, in Analytical Thomism: Traditions in Dialogue, Matthew Pugh et al., eds. Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2006.
‘By the Working of the Holy Spirit: The Crisis of Authority in the Christian Churches’, Anglican Theological Review, 2006.
‘The Biblical Commentaries of Thomas Aquinas’, in Aquinas On Scripture: A Critical Introduction To His Commentaries, ed. Thomas Weinandy et al., T&T Clark, 2005.
‘Karl Barth’s Ecclesiology Reconsidered’, Scottish Journal of Theology 57:3 2004.
‘Ecclesiology and Communion’, Perspectives in Religious Studies, 31:3 2004.
‘Practices and the New Ecclesiology: Misplaced Concreteness?’ International Journal of Systematic Theology, November, 2003.
‘Hermeneutics and the Apostolic Form of the Church: David Demson’s Question’, Toronto Journal of Theology 17:1 2001.
‘A Different Kind of Church-talk: Ecclesiology for a Pilgrim Church’, Tro & Liv (Sweden) 2/1999.
‘Some Observations on Ecclesiological Method’, Toronto Journal of Theology 12:1 1996.
‘Communion Ecclesiology: A Cautionary Note’, Pro Ecclesia 4:4 1995.
‘The Logic of Karl Barth’s Ecclesiology’, Modern Theology 10:3 1994.
‘Indirect Methods in Theology: Karl Rahner as an Ad Hoc Apologist’, The Thomist 56:4 1992.