Renewing British Political Theology


oliver o’donovan




Saturday, January 20, 2024


Oak Hill College

Chase Side, London N14 4PS, United Kingdom



Join us at Oak Hill College for the third UK Davenant Convivium Irenicum. Our keynote speaker will be Prof. Oliver O’Donovan, Professor Emeritus in Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh.

This will be followed by addresses from Dr. Graham Shearer, Daniel Caballero, and Imogen Sinclair.

The open call for papers has now closed.

Keynote Address

The Children of This Age and the Children of Light: A Biblical Apologia for Political Theology and a Critique of Its Traditional Defenders

Without doubt, the Western world is in a political crisis. Beyond the regular scandals and struggles which trouble governments in all ages, there is a sense that an established social and political order is under immense strain. After decades of political liberalism since WW2, leading thinkers are now discussing “postliberalism”. Many fear the rise of populism; others are sounding the alarm on a dangerous minority of progressive elites. Some cry “tyranny”, while others cry “anarchy”. There seems little agreement even on what our political problems are, let alone how we solve them.

For most British Christians, this is a purely political matter, not a theological one. British politicians “don’t do God”, and British Christians quite happily “don’t do politics.” Expending too much thought on politics does not seem worthwhile anyway, given the increasingly marginal status of Christians in British public life. Those few British Christians who are interested in politics (plenty of them clergy, and invaraibly of the progressive kind) have often simply ceased to be Christian.

Among some, however, there has been a renewed interest in political theology. As part of a wider movement of theological retrieval, some Christians (and Protestants in particular) are rediscovering how previous generations interpreted Scripture’s teachings and assumptions about government, society, and the nations. It is clear that many of our Christian forebears did not think about politics in the way that we do today.

Yet whilst debates about “Christian Nationalism” or “Catholic integralism” have drawn large audiences, they often generate more heat than light, and many do not know where to begin. What’s more, with political discourse constantly dominated by the USA, British Christians especially have yet to begin a serious consideration of what a renewed political theology might look like in the UK today.

We will be gathering at Oak Hill College to reflect on how British political theology might be renewed in a way that does justice to Scripture, the Christian tradition, and our current moment. Our keynote speaker will be Prof. Oliver O’Donovan, who will be drawing from Luke 16 and the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. There is currently an open “call for papers” for other addresses.

Interest in this topic is growing throughout the UK, and many are doubtless in search of other like-minded people. We hope also that the day will provide the opportunity for people to forge connections with others in the same pursuit.




9:40-11:10 AM:

Keynote Address: Oliver O’Donovan


Tea and Coffee


Address #2: Graham Shearer: “Contemporary Politics and the Crisis of the Spiritual Sense”

12:40-1:40 PM:

Lunch (not provided)


Address #3: Daniel Caballero: “The Political Theory of John Owen (1616-1683): Law, Government, and Liberty”


Tea and Coffee


Address #4: Imogen Sinclair: “The Anticulture and the Crisis of Metaphysics”


Q&A with all speakers


Wrap up

Our KEYNOTE Speaker

Prof. Oliver O’Donovan

Oliver O’Donovan is Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh. He held teaching posts at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Wycliffe College Toronto before becoming Regius Professor of Moral & Pastoral Theology and Canon of Christ Church at the University of Oxford in 1982. He was Professor of Christian Ethics & Practical Theology at Edinburgh from 2006 to 2012. Ordained as a priest of the Church of England, he was an active participant in ecumenical dialogue and a past President of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 2000.

He is the author of a number of well-received works on faith and ethics, including On the Thirty-Nine Articles (Paternoster, 1986), The Desire of the Nations (Cambridge University Press, 1996), The Ways of Judgment (2005) and Begotten or Made? (Oxford University Press, 1984)

He is married to Joan Lockwood O’Donovan, and have two sons and four grandchildren. Jointly he and his wife are the authors of a well-received collection of readings in the history of Christian political thought, From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought 100 – 1625 (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1999) and of a volume of essays, Bonds of Imperfection. Christian Politics Past and Present (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2004). 

additional speakers and addresses
“contemporary politics and the crisis of the spiritual sense”

Dr. Graham Shearer (Ph.D., Presbyterian Theological Faculty of Ireland) is a Lecturer in Thelogy at Union Theological College, Belfast. He previosuly served in student ministry with UCCF and in the pastorate. His work has been published in ThemeliosFirst Things, Mere Orthodoxy, and Ad Fontes. He lives with his wife and three children in Belfast.


Daniel Caballero (Ph.D candidate, Queen’s University Belfast) is currently undertaking doctoral reserach in early European history, natural law, and political theology, under the supervision of Dr. Crawford Gribben. He has previously studied at Westminster Theological Seminary, the University of London, and London Seminary.


Imogen Sinclair is Director of the New Conservatives and the New Social Covenant Unit. She has several years’ experience working in Parliament and is the author of “Community Capital” (2019) for the Centre for Social Justice. She holds a Masters with distinction in Philosophy and is a visiting fellow at St Mary’s University Institute of Theology and Liberal Arts.

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Register now for

the UK Convivium

For More details, contact RHYS LAVERTY
[email protected]
Third UK Convivium Irenicum

Why “Convivium Irenicum” and not “conference”?

We prefer “Convivium Irenicum” to “conference” as it stresses the two aspects of the day which we feel are most significant.

Firstly, we aim for the day to be convivial. Rather than arriving, receiving our download of information, and then
heading home, we aim to foster fellowship and forge connections between people in search of the riches of the historic church.

Secondly, we aim for the day to be irenic. Rather than pre-packaging easy contemporary answers in each address, we seek to
draw together many strands from church history in conversation with one another, working together to integrate ourselves
with the whole Christian tradition.