Dr David Newheiser

Research Fellow
Religion and Theology

Dr David Newheiser

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

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-8024-7964

Email: david.newheiser@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

My research addresses ethical and political questions in light of Christian thought and continental philosophy. I joined the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry in 2015. Before coming to ACU, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas, Austin; before that, I received a PhD in Religion from the University of Chicago and an MPhil in early Christian thought from Oxford.

I am particularly interested in the political significance of practices of self-critique such as deconstruction and negative theology. My work so far has focused on Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Dionysius the Areopagite, but my interests are broad and interdisciplinary. I am also pursuing ongoing research projects on the subjects of atheistic art, the role of passion in politics, and the history of sexuality.

My first book, Hope in a Secular Age, responds to contemporary critiques of religion by developing a constructive account of hope. Against dogmatic complacency and despairing resignation, I argue that hope sustains commitments that remain vulnerable to disappointment – whether those commitments are religious, political, or interpersonal. In my view, because the discipline of hope is shared by believers and unbelievers alike, its persistence indicates that faith has a future in a secular age.

From 2016-2019 I led the ACU-funded research project “Atheism and Christianity: Moving Past Polemic.” Through a series of successor projects, my work continues to explore possibilities for constructive engagement between atheism and religious thought. I have published articles on secularism, sexuality, neoliberalism, love, and the intersection of theory and art.

Curriculum Vitae

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Select publications

Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith, Cambridge University Press (2019).

“Desacralizing Political Theology: Dionysius the Areopagite and Giorgio Agamben,”Modern Theology (forthcoming). 

“Derrida and the Danger of Religion,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86 no. 1 (2018): 42-61.

“Foucault, Gary Becker and the Critique of Neoliberalism,” Theory, Culture & Society 33 no. 5 (2016): 3-21. 

“Sexuality and Christian Tradition: Innovation and Fidelity, Ancient and Modern,” Journal of Religious Ethics 43 no . 1 (2015): 122-145.


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 (AUD $50,000), with Vincent Lloyd (Villanova) and Linn Tonstad (Yale)

2013-15 University of Texas at Austin, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas 

Editorial roles

ed. Negative Political Theology, special issue of Modern Theology, forthcoming.

ed. Phenomenology and the Study of Religion, special issue of Louvain Studies 39 no. 4 (2016).

ed. The Secularization of Hope, Special issue of Political Theology 17 no. 2 (2016).

and Eric Bugyis, eds. Desire, Faith and the Darkness of God. Notre Dame: The University of Notre Dame Press, 2015.

Foucault and the Practice of Patristics, section of Studia Patristica LXII. Ed. Markus Vinzent. Leuven: Peeters, 2013.

International journal review panel

Reviewer for Journal of the American Academy of Religion; Journal of Religious Ethics; Theory, Culture & Society; Modern Theology; Journal of Religious History; Political Theology; Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift; Colloquium; Religions; Sophia; Politics, Religion & Ideology

Public engagement

“Politics and the Sacred,” interview broadcast on ABC Radio National (21 April 2019).

“Dealing with Religious Differences during Christmas Dinner,” interview broadcast on ABC Radio National (25 December 2018).

“Should Christians and Atheists Get Along?” interview broadcast on ABC Radio National (29 July 2018).

“Law, Order, and Idolatry,”ABC Religion & Ethics (26 July 2018).

“Tradition, Novelty, and the Need for Discernment,” The Living Church (29 Jan 2012), 19-22.

Mailing address

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