Keith Ward

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Keith Ward

Born (1938-08-22) 22 August 1938 (age 85)
Hexham, England
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Anglican)
ChurchChurch of England
Ordained1972 (priest)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
School or tradition
Doctoral students
Main interestsRelationship between religion and science Edit this at Wikidata

Keith Ward FBA (born 1938) is an English philosopher and theologian. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a priest of the Church of England. He was a canon of Christ Church, Oxford, until 2003. Comparative theology and the relationship between science and religion are two of his main topics of interest.

Academic work[edit]

Ward was born on 22 August 1938 in Hexham. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wales and from 1964 to 1969 was a lecturer in logic at the University of Glasgow. He earned a Bachelor of Letters degree from Linacre College, Oxford, in 1968. From 1969 to 1971 he was lecturer in philosophy at the University of St Andrews.

In 1972, he was ordained as a priest in the Church of England. From 1971 to 1975 he was lecturer in philosophy of religion at the University of London. From 1975 to 1983, he was dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was appointed the F. D. Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology at the University of London in 1982, professor of history and philosophy of religion at King's College London in 1985 and Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford in 1991, a post from which he retired in 2004.[1]

In 1992, Ward was a visiting professor at the Claremont Graduate University in California. In 1993–94, he delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow. He was the Gresham Professor of Divinity between 2004 and 2008 at Gresham College, London.[2]

Ward is on the council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and is a member of the editorial boards of Religious Studies, the Journal of Contemporary Religion, Studies in Inter-Religious Dialogue and World Faiths Encounter. He is a member of the board of governors of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. He has also been a visiting professor at Drake University, Iowa, and at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.[3]

Ward has MA and DD degrees from both Cambridge and Oxford universities,[3] and an honorary DD from the University of Glasgow.

Focus and beliefs[edit]

One of Ward's main focuses is the dialogue between religious traditions, an interest which led him to be joint president of the World Congress of Faiths (WCF) from 1992 to 2001. His work also explores concepts of God and the idea of revelation. He has also written on his opinion of a relationship between science and religion.[4] As an advocate of theistic evolution, he regards evolution and Christianity as essentially compatible, a belief he has described in his book God, Chance and Necessity and which is in contrast to his Oxford colleague Richard Dawkins, a vocal and prominent atheist.

Ward has said that Dawkins' conclusion that there is no God or any purpose in the universe is "naive" and not based on science but on a hatred of religion. Dawkins' strong anti-religious views originate, according to Ward, from earlier encounters with "certain forms of religion which are anti-intellectual and anti-scientific ... and also emotionally pressuring."[5]

Ward has described his own Christian faith as follows:

I am a born-again Christian. I can give a precise day when Christ came to me and began to transform my life with his power and love. He did not make me a saint. But he did make me a forgiven sinner, liberated and renewed, touched by divine power and given the immense gift of an intimate sense of the personal presence of God. I have no difficulty in saying that I wholeheartedly accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour.[6]

Ward has criticised modern-day Christian fundamentalism, most notably in his 2004 book What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists. He believes that fundamentalists interpret the Bible in implausible ways and pick and choose which of its passages to emphasise to fit pre-existing beliefs. He argues that the Bible must be taken "seriously" but not always "literally" and does not agree with the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, saying that it is not found in the Bible, elaborating that

There may be discrepancies and errors in the sacred writings, but those truths that God wished to see included in the Scripture, and which are important to our salvation, are placed there without error ... the Bible is not inerrant in detail, but God has ensured that no substantial errors, which mislead us about the nature of salvation, are to be found in Scripture.[6]



Ward is the author of many books on the nature of religion, the philosophy of religion, the Christian faith, religion and science, the Bible and its interpretation, comparative and systematic theology, and ethics and religion.

Books on the nature of religion include:

  • The Case for Religion (2004). Oneworld.
  • Is Religion Dangerous? (2006) ISBN 978-0-7459-5262-8; rev. ed. with additional chapter on evolutionary psychology (2010)
  • Religion and Human Fulfilment (2008).
  • Is Religion Irrational? (2011)
  • Religion in the Modern World (2019). Cambridge University Press.

Books on the philosophy of religion include:

Books on the Christian faith include:

Books on religion and science include:

  • God, Chance and Necessity (1996) ISBN 978-1-85168-116-7
  • Pascal's Fire – Scientific Faith and Religious Understanding (2006) ISBN 978-1-85168-446-5
  • Divine Action: Examining God's Role in an Open and Emergent Universe (2008)
  • The Big Questions in Science and Religion (2008)

Books on the Bible and its interpretation include:

  • Is Christianity a Historical Religion? (1992) ISBN 978-0-85217-054-0
  • What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists. 2004. ISBN 978-0-281-05680-4.
  • The Word of God? The Bible After Modern Scholarship (2010)
  • The Philosopher and the Gospels (2011) ISBN 978-0-7459-5562-9
  • Love Is His Meaning: Understanding The Teaching Of Jesus (2017) ISBN 978-0281077632
  • Parables About Time and Eternity (2021)

Books on comparative and systematic theology include:

Books on ethics and religion include:

Other books include:

  • Fifty Key Words in Philosophy (1968). Lutterworth Press.
  • The Promise (1980; rev. ed. 2010). SPCK.
  • The Living God (1984) ISBN 978-0-281-04126-8
  • The Turn of the Tide (1986)
  • What Do We Mean By God?: A Little Book of Guidance (2015) ISBN 978-0281073283
  • The Mystery of Christ: Meditations and Prayers (2018) ISBN 978-0281079155
  • Confessions of a Recovering Fundamentalist (2020)


  • Keith Ward (13 March 2008). The Triumph of Idealism - Transcript and video. London: Gresham College. Other lectures with transcripts, recorded 2004–2015, are also available on the Gresham College Youtube channel.
  • Philosophy, Science and The God Debate, a two-DVD set of filmed interviews with Keith Ward, Alister McGrath and John Lennox, and produced by the Nationwide Christian Trust, OCLC 754656873 Product Code 5055307601776 (November 2011)[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ward, Keith". Who's Who. A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "Online lecture archive at Gresham College". Archived from the original on 26 December 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  3. ^ a b Professor Keith Ward Archived 11 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Gresham College profile, Accessed 26 January 2007
  4. ^ Keith Ward's Oxford University profile Archived 29 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Accessed, 7 November 2006
  5. ^ Video interview by Robert Wright for Archived 5 March 2002 at the Wayback Machine at 28:00 and following
  6. ^ a b Ward 2004.
  7. ^ "Keith Ward Audio / Video". Keith Ward. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Comparative Theology: Essays for Keith Ward ed T. W. Bartel (2003) ISBN 978-0-281-05474-9
  • By Faith and Reason: The Essential Keith Ward eds Wm. Curtis Holtzen and Roberto Sirvent (2012) ISBN 978-0-232-52898-5

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Gifford Lecturer at the
University of Glasgow

Succeeded by
Succeeded by
Preceded by Regius Professor of Divinity
at the University of Oxford

Succeeded by
Preceded by Gresham Professor of Divinity
Succeeded by
Other offices
Preceded by Boyle Lecturer
Succeeded by