Dr David Newheiser

Senior Research Fellow
Religion and Theology, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

David Newheiser

Areas of expertise: religious ethics; continental philosophy; philosophy of religion; political theology; gender and sexuality; history of Christian thought

Email: david.newheiser@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full, Provisional, Not accredited

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-8024-7964

My research explores the role of religious traditions in debates over ethics, politics, and culture. In my view, the study of religion & theology clarifies the context of contemporary debates, and it offers resources that anyone may draw on to address them.

I received a PhD in Religion from the University of Chicago and an MPhil in early Christian thought from Oxford. I joined the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry in 2015. I am available to supervise projects on religion + ethics / politics / culture, and I'm especially keen to work with students from underrepresented groups.

My interests are broad and interdisciplinary. My first book, Hope in a Secular Age, argues that hope is a discipline required to sustain commitment of any kind: personal, political, or religious. I am currently working on my second book, which considers the link between premodern miracle traditions and democratic imagination.

Alongside these larger projects I have written on secularism, sexuality, neoliberalism, marginalization, and the intersection of theory and art. I am the editor of several edited collections, including most recently The Varieties of Atheism (The University of Chicago Press, 2022) and I'm co-editor of the Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. Together with my ACU colleague Dr Lexi Eikelboom, I am co-director of a project funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, "Spiritual Understanding in a Secular Agel."

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Edited books

Edited journal issues

Selected articles & chapters



  • (2024) advisory board, "Awe-some spirituality: A theological and psychological cross-disciplinary exploration of awe as an approach to spiritual yearning of the nonreligious," funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
  • (2021-2022) co-director (with Lexi Eikelboom), "Spiritual Understanding in a Secular Age," funded by the Templeton Religion Trust with colleagues from Oxford, Coventry University, and elsewhere.
  • (2016-19) project leader, "Atheism and Christianity: Moving Past Polemic," Australian Catholic University Research Fellowship, with colleagues from ACU, Yale, and KU Leuven.
  • (2016-17) "Can hope combat marginalization?" Australian Catholic University Research Fellowship, with Vincent Lloyd (Villanova) and Linn Tonstad (Yale).

Accolades and Awards

  • (2022) Duncan Forrester Fellowship, University of Edinburgh: awarded to support a five-month research visit.
  • (2021) Winner of The ATF Literary Trust Book Prize for Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith (Cambridge, 2019)
  • (2020) Winner of The Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for theological promise for Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith

Appointments and Affiliations


  • (2021-) Australian Catholic University, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
  • (2015-2020) Australian Catholic University, Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
  • (2013-15) University of Texas at Austin, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Service Roles

  • Co-chair, Political Theology Program Unit, American Academy of Religion
  • Publications Chair & Executive Committee member of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion
  • Member of the Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion, one of the standing committees of the American Academy of Religion

International journal review panels

  • Peer reviewer for Bloomsbury; Fordham University Press; Oxford University Press; The Journal of the American Academy of Religion; Theory, Culture & Society; Modern Theology; The Journal of Religious Ethics; The Journal of Religious History; Political Theology; Cultural Critique; Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift; Colloquium; Religions; Sophia; Politics, Religion & Ideology; Jewish Studies Quarterly; Epoché; European Journal for Philosophy of Religion; Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

Grant agency review panels

  • Australian Research Council, Excellence in Research for Australia evaluation (in Philosophy and Religion & Religious Studies)
  • European Science Foundation, Junior and Senior Postdoctoral Fellowships (panel for Humanities: Philosophy and Ethics)

Public engagement activities

Public Writing


Coverage & Quotes

ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Mailing address

C/- 115 Victoria Pde
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065.