Dr David Newheiser

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

Dr David Newheiser

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

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-8024-7964

Email: david.newheiser@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

My research explores the role of religious traditions in debates over ethics, politics, and culture. In my view, the study of religion and theology can clarify 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, love, and the intersection of theory and art. I have recently been reflecting on the inequalities exposed by the covid-19 pandemic – and the power of solidarity to address them.

I am the editor of several edited collections, including most recently The Varieties of Atheism (The University of Chicago Press, 2022). 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 Age: Engaging Art as Religious Ritual.”

Visit Website

Select publications


Edited books

Edited journal issues

Journal articles



  • 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


  • (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 panel

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; 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 panel

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

Public writing


Coverage & quotes

ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Mailing address

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