Centre for Theology and Public Issues

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The Centre for Theology and Public Issues (CTPI) is a research centre based in New College, the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. Founded in 1984 by Duncan B. Forrester, CTPI promotes Christian theological reflection and research on important public issues.[1] CTPI research is global in orientation and rooted in the tradition of public theology. Issues are examined by bringing together theologians, social scientists, church leaders, policy makers and the public.[1] CTPI has particularly close relations with the Scottish Parliament and other institutions of Scottish public life.[1]


CTPI was created to carry on New College's long tradition of public engagement.[2] The founding director of CTPI, Duncan Forrester, reflected in the mid-1990s on the purpose of the Centre:

Theology and the problems of the world have tended to drift apart, as theology has sometimes seen the academic world as a refuge from relevance. Nor is it any longer possible to expect a magisterial theology which descends from above to interpret and resolve the world's problems, more or less on its own. We clearly need to develop a theology which is neither deductive nor inductive, but which grows out of a dialectic between the tradition and the praxis of those who are involved in endeavoring to transform the situation.[3]

CTPI was intended to foster such dialectical theological research. Forrester goes on to describe CPTI's working method as a three-step process:

  1. Engage the experience of those affected by a public issue. Here an emphasis is placed on hearing the testimonies of the most vulnerable.
  2. Gather the best available social scientific analysis of the issue.
  3. Reflect theologically on the experiential and social scientific findings. Produce a cogent theological response that empowers Christian advocates and policy makers.[4]

Forrester stepped down from the Centre in 2000, handing over his directorship to Will Storrar. Storrar is now the Director of the Centre of Theological Inquiry, in Princeton.[5] Whilst at Edinburgh, he founded the Global Network for Public Theology, which connects academic research centres in public theology from around the world.[6] Subsequent directors include Cecelia Clegg and Jolyon Mitchell.

Since its founding, CTPI research has resulted in a number of conferences and publications. Topics have included poverty and welfare, justice and the penal system, peace and international security, suicide and public health, finance and ethics, national identity, and devolution and citizenship.[1]

Recent Activities[edit]

Peacebuilding through Media Arts[edit]

CTPI is currently launching a three-year research project on Peacebuilding through Media Arts. In addition to producing scholarly research on the relationship between peace, violence and religion in media arts, the major aim of the project is to increase public awareness of peacebuilding through arts events, workshops, lectures and seminars.[7] The project is funded by the Binks Trust, and begins in 2011 with an art exhibition, Shadows of the Divine. The exhibition, which runs from 14 May-11 June, showcases select pieces from the Methodist Art Collection alongside works from Scottish and Scotland-based artists. These original artworks are displayed with one of Scotland's rare first editions of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, combining historic words and artistic images in the 400th anniversary year of its publication. According to the exhibition organizers, King James sought to bring together conflicting religious groups through a new translation of the Bible. The exhibition aims to explore how pictorial and literary creations can represent and contribute to the search for peace.[8]

Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace[edit]

The project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace (Relwar) studies the relationships between military, political and religious dimensions of the making of war and peace today and in the past. Under the direction of Dr George R Wilkes, the project brings together a network of partners from across the world, both within academia and from militaries and humanitarian and peacebuilding organisations. Relwar researchers are involved in academic research, dialogues, and consultations on a number of topics, including military ethics education; grassroots post-conflict reconciliation, with a special focus on the former Yugoslavia; public discussion of ethical debates over war and peace; cross-conflict interreligious dialogue; and the lessons of past wars for present conflicts.[9] In 2010 Dr Wilkes moved Relwar from the University of Cambridge to Edinburgh University, where it is housed in CTPI in association with the Just World Institute and other University research centres. CTPI leadership is closely involved in supporting the project.[10]

Theology in the Public Square[edit]

Theology in the Public Square was a two-year research project aimed at resourcing Scottish churches for public engagement.[11] It was led by Rev. Dr Graham K. Blount and funded by the Binks Trust. The project duration was from the autumn of 2008 until the summer of 2010. The project had two main goals:

  1. To review and reflect upon the perspectives and strategies of Christian engagement in Scottish public debate since devolution.
  2. To identify, in consultation with the churches, policy areas where there is need for theological resourcing and to develop—in partnership with churches and others—theological perspectives on these issues.

Twenty-five church representatives gathered in April 2009 to discuss a starter paper on the project. In 2010 three conferences were held addressing different aspects of Scottish public life. The first, Building Home, Building Hope, addressed the theology of the home.[12] It was put on by CTPI in partnership with Scottish Churches Housing Action, the Salvation Army and Bethany Christian Trust. The proceedings from the conference are available on CTPI's blog (link). The second, Families Today: Where Are We Now?, gathered practitioners, policy makers and academics to discuss issues facing Scottish families in the twenty-first century.[13] The third event was the Henry Duncan Bicentenary Conference.[14] Duncan, a Scottish minister, was an early initiator of the savings bank movement in Britain. The bicentenary event celebrated his legacy in the context of contemporary efforts to extend banking to the poor. The proceedings from this conference are also on CTPI's blog (link).

Other Recent Events[edit]

CTPI regularly sponsors lecture series and colloquiums on topics of public concern. During the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, CTPI co-sponsored Murray Watts's one man play Mr. Darwin's Tree. In autumn 2010 and winter 2011, CTPI joined the University of Glasgow and Christian Aid in sponsoring a series of lectures on the Millennium Development Goals. From December 2009 to January 2010 CTPI co-sponsored a series of six lectures on the influence of John Calvin and the Reformation in Scotland.[15]


The current director of CTPI is Prof Jolyon Mitchell. Prof Mitchell's research is in the areas of communications, arts, ethics and religion, with a special interest in violence and peacebuilding. Associate directors include Drs Alison Elliot, Alison Jack and Geoffrey Stevenson, and Profs Oliver O'Donovan, David Fergusson and Michael Northcott.[16]



Public Concerns Series[edit]

In 2003 CTPI began a partnership with Saint Andrews Press to publish a new book series entitled Public Concerns.[17] Will Storrar and Alison Elliot are the series editors. The first book in the series was God in Society: Doing Social Theology in Scotland Today, edited by Will Storrar and Peter Donald (2003). God in Society features essays written by the members of the Centre's Theological Panel as the outcome of a CTPI research project on how different Scottish theological traditions and churches—Reformed, Catholic, Evangelical, Feminist and Ecumenical—relate the Gospel to public issues in Scotland, especially in the new political context of devolution.

In 2004 two books were published in the series. The first was Honouring Children: The Human Rights of the Child in Christian Perspective, by child lawyer Kathleen Marshall and New College theologian Paul Parvis.[18] That book was accompanied by a study guide for churches, subtitled Rights in Christian and Family Life.[19] The second Public Concerns book that year was Netting Citizens: Exploring Citizenship in the Internet Age, edited by Johnston R. McKay.[20] Netting Citizens brings together papers from a 2002 Edinburgh conference on the same theme.

Alison Elliot and Heidi Poon edited a diverse collection of essays for the 2009 publication Growing Citizens: An Interdisciplinary Reflection on Citizen Education.[21] In this book educationalists, philosophers, theologians, scientists, community leaders and political scientists explore various facets of contemporary citizenship.

Other Recent Books[edit]

In 2002 a colloquium on the future of public theology was held in Edinburgh.[17] Will Storrar and Andrew Morton edited together a number of the papers presented there into the volume Public Theology for the 21st Century (London: T&T Clark, 2004).[22] José Miguez-Bonino, John de Gruchy, Stanley Hauerwas, Ann Loades, Jürgen Moltmann, and Max Stackhouse are among the contributors.

In 2008 CTPI published a collection of essays written in celebration of Alison Elliot's sixtieth birthday, Christian Faith and the Welfare of the City: Essays for Alison Elliot.[17] The wide range of subjects includes women in the church, contemporary ecumenism, the National Conversation on Scotland's future, the concept of human dignity, farming and sustainability, and prisons and prisoners.

Full Book List[edit]

The following is a complete list of books published by CTPI:[23]

Discussion Papers[edit]

CTPI has published a number of discussion papers by leading scholars. The papers were made available by CTPI at a small price, between £0.50 and £2.00.[24]

Occasional Papers[edit]

Between 1984 and 2003, CTPI published nearly fifty occasional papers.[25] These were substantive collections of scholarly essays on a variety of topics, many of which are available in their entirety online:

  1. 'Does he know how frightening he is in his strangeness?' A Study of Attitudes towards Dementing People, Hugh M. D. Petszch, 1984. (Google Books)
  2. Family, School and Church in Religious Education, Leslie J. Francis et al., 1984. (Google Books)
  3. Welfare State or Welfare Society?, Robin Downie et al., 1985. (Google Books)
  4. From Captivity to Liberation: Some Theological and Pastoral Perspectives on Chronic Renal Failure, Gillian M Morton, 1985. (Google Books)
  5. The New Right and Christian Values, Lord Harris et al., 1985. (Google Books)
  6. The End of Professionalism?, William F. May et al., 1985. (Google Books)
  7. Poverty Today, Peter Townsend et al., 1986. (Google Books)
  8. Faith in the Scottish City, Richard O'Brien et al., 1986. (Google Books)
  9. Education and Community, Ruth Jonathan et al., 1986. (Google Books)
  10. Law and Order: Prospects for the Future, Malcolm Rifkind et al., 1986. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-01-4
  11. Finance and Ethics, Ronald Preston et al., 1987. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-02-1
  12. The Scottish Churches and the Political Process Today, eds., Alison Elliot and Duncan B. Forrester, 1986. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-00-7
  13. Northern Ireland: A Challenge to Theology, Enda McDonagh et al., 1987. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-03-8
  14. Inequalities in Health in the 1980s, ed., Alison Elliot, 1988. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-04-5
  15. Distribution of Wealth and Income: Patterns and Trends, Fred Twine, 1988. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-05-2
  16. The Economics of the Distribution of Income and Wealth, John Sleeman, 1988. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-06-9
  17. Dependency: Dependence, Independence, Inter-dependence in Culture and Society, ed., Chris Clark, 1988. (Google Books)
  18. The Renewal of Social Vision, eds, Alison J. Elliot and Ian Swanson, 1989. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-07-6
  19. Justice, Guilt and Forgiveness in the Penal System, ed., David Garland, 1990. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-08-3
  20. The Market and Health Care, David Jenkins et al., 1990. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-09-0
  21. Christianity and Social Vision: Looking to the Future of Scotland, Duncan Forrester et al., 1990. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-10-6
  22. Justice and the Market, Gordon A. Hughes et al., 1990. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-11-3
  23. Third World Debt – First World Responsibility, David Knox et al., 1991. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-12-0
  24. Vision and Prophecy: The Tasks of Social Theology Today, ed., Michael S. Northcott, 1991. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-14-4
  25. The Future of Broadcasting in Britain, Brian Marjoribanks et al., 1991. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-13-7
  26. Peacemaking and Security in the 1990s, Hugh Beach et al., 1991. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-16-8
  27. The Animal Kingdom and the Kingdom of God, Ruth Page et al., 1991. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-17-5
  28. Penal Policy: The Way Forward, Rod Morgan et al., 1991. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-19-9
  29. Seeing Scotland, Seeing Christ, David McCrone et al., 1993. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-24-3
  30. AIDS, Sex and the Scottish Churches, ed., Michael S. Northcott, 1993. (Google Books)
  31. Care, Community and State, ed., Sandy Wynd, 1994. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-26-7
  32. God's Will in a Time of Crisis: A Colloquium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Baillie Commission, ed., Andrew R. Morton, 1994. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-27-4
  33. After Socialism? The Future of Radical Christianity, ed., Andrew R Morton, 1994. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-28-1
  34. Christian Responsibility and the New Europe, ed., Andrew R Morton, 1994. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-29-8
  35. Justice and Prosperity: A Realistic Vision? A Response to the Report of the Commission on Social Justice, ed., Andrew R Morton, 1995. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-30-4
  36. Domestic Debt: Disease of Consumer Society?, ed., Andrew R Morton, 1996. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-31-1
  37. Security, Solidarity and Peacemaking, ed., Andrew R. Morton, 1996. (Google Books ISBN 978-1-870126-32-8
  38. Work, Worth and Community: Responding to the Crisis of Work, eds, John Hughes and Andrew Morton, 1996. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-33-5
  39. The State of Imprisonment, ed., Andrew R Morton, 1997. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-34-2
  40. Catholicism and the Future of Scotland, eds, Gerard Hand and Andrew Morton, 1997. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-35-9
  41. When Maize and Tobacco Are Not Enough: A Church Study of Malawi's Agro-Economy, ed., Peggy Owens, 1997. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-36-6
  42. The Future of Welfare, ed., Andrew R. Morton, 1997. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-37-3
  43. What do children need from their fathers? , Cynthia Milligan and Alan Dowie, 1998. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-38-0
  44. A Turning Point in Ireland and Scotland? A Challenge to the Churches and Theology Today, ed., Andrew Morton, 1998. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-39-7
  45. A Europe of Neighbours? Religious Social Thought and the Reshaping of a Pluralist Europe, eds, Andrew Morton and Jim Francis, 1999. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-40-3
  46. The Sorrows of Young Men: Exploring their Increasing Risk of Suicide, eds, Andrew Morton and Jim Francis, 2000. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-43-4
  47. Couples in Transition: Integrity and Brokenness, ed., Andrew R. Morton, 2000. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-44-1
  48. High Ideals & Sobering Realities: Public Lectures on Public Issues, Jim Wallace et al., 2003. (Google Books) ISBN 978-1-870126-45-8


  1. ^ a b c d "About CTPI | Centre for Theology and Public Issues | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  2. ^ Duncan Forrester, 'New Wine in Old Bottles', Disruption to Diversity: Edinburgh Divinity 1846-1996, eds., David F. Wright and Gary D. Badcock (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), 267.
  3. ^ Forrester, 'New Wine in Old Bottles', 267.
  4. ^ Forrester, 'New Wine in Old Bottles', 268-269
  5. ^ "Center of Theological Inquiry - William Storrar". Ctinquiry.org. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  6. ^ "Home - Global Network for Public Theology (GNPT) - Charles Sturt University". Csu.edu.au. 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  9. ^ "Just World Institute". Sps.ed.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  10. ^ http://relwar.wordpress.com/, http://relwar.wordpress.com/about/staff-and-associated-researchers/dr-jolyon-mitchell/, http://relwar.wordpress.com/about/advisory-board/
  11. ^ "Projects | Centre for Theology and Public Issues | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  12. ^ "Building Home, Building Hope | Divinity events | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2010-03-10. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  13. ^ "Families Today: Where are we now? | Divinity events | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  14. ^ "Henry Duncan Bicentenary Conference | Divinity events | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  15. ^ "Cunningham Lectures 2009/10 | Divinity events | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  16. ^ "Academic staff | Centre for Theology and Public Issues | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  17. ^ a b c "Books | Publications | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  18. ^ "Saint Andrew Press. Honouring Children". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  19. ^ [1] Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Assisting Churches in Scotland". The Baird Trust. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  21. ^ [2] Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Public Theology for the Twenty-first Century - Duncan B. Forrester, William Storrar, Andrew Morton - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  23. ^ CTPI is the publisher unless otherwise noted.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Discussion papers | Publications | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  25. ^ "Occasional papers | Publications | School of Divinity". Ed.ac.uk. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 

External links[edit]