Peter Vardy (theologian)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Peter Vardy
BornJuly 1945
OccupationTheologian, author, conference organizer
  • Candle Conferences Ltd.
  • Candle Education Ltd.
  • Anne Vardy (m. 1974–2004)
  • Charlotte Vardy

Peter Christian Vardy (born July 1945)[1] is a British theologian. The author or co-author of 18 books about religion and ethics, Vardy was vice-principal of Heythrop College, a Jesuit college in London, from 1999 to 2011.[2] He is known for the religious-studies conferences he runs in the UK for schools.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Vardy was born to Mark Vardy[1] and Christa Lund Vardy; his mother was Danish.[5] He attended Charterhouse, an independent school in Godalming, Surrey.[1] In 1974 he married his first wife, Anne Vardy, née Moore; the couple had two sons and three daughters before divorcing in 2004.[1] Vardy remarried in 2009; he and his wife Charlotte, née Fowler, have one daughter.[6]

Vardy trained as a chartered accountant, becoming a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA) in 1967.[1] He ran management-training sessions for the National Westminster Bank and Swiss Bank Corporation,[6] and was the chairman of H. Young Holdings plc from 1979–1983. At the age of 30, Vardy began to study theology, receiving a BA from the University of Southampton in 1979 and a PGCE (a teaching qualification) from the West Sussex Institute of Higher Education in 1980. He was awarded a master's degree in theology from King's College London in 1982,[1] and a PhD in theology in 1984, also from King's, for a thesis entitled The concept of eternity.[7]

Academic career[edit]

Vardy taught philosophy of religion at King's College London and the Institute of Education.[8] He began lecturing at Heythrop College in 1986[5] and in 1999 became the vice-principal,[8] a position he held until his retirement in 2011.[9][10]

Whilst at Heythrop, he served on the University of London's Board of Theology (1990–1993).[6] Vardy served as President of the London Society for the Study of Religion from 1996 to 1998[6] and remained a member until at least 2007 when the Society celebrated its centenary.[11]

Vardy's primary academic interest is in the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard, whose work he taught at Heythrop for 25 years.[5] From 1987 he organized annual dinners in London on the anniversary of Kierkegaard's death,[12][13] and in 1996 his book Kierkegaard was published,[13] later published as The SPCK Introduction to Kierkegaard.

Work with schools[edit]


Vardy served as chair of the governors of Shebbear College, a Methodist school in Devon.[14] He has also worked as a member of the Methodist Schools Committee,[15] and has been a keynote speaker at conferences in the field of education, including for UNESCO and UNHRC.[16] While at Heythrop, Vardy served as an editorial adviser for Dialogue,[17] a journal of religion and philosophy aimed at sixth-form students, and made a series of teaching videos through Dialogue Education.[18] He began running day conferences for sixth-form students in the mid 1990s[citation needed] and set up Wombat Education Ltd in 1998.[19] In 2002 he and Julie Arliss of Richard Huish College, Taunton, organized a conference there and several others around the UK.[3] In 2009 Vardy and his second wife, Charlotte Vardy, set up Candle Conferences Ltd,[20][21] and in 2012 Candle Education Ltd,[22] through which they run day conferences for schools.[23]

Since 2010 Vardy has campaigned against the introduction of the English Baccalaureate, which he argues has led to a decline in numbers taking religion studies.[24] He views philosophy of religion as an exercise in exploring the terms left undefined by theology (such as "God" and "soul") and encouraging humility.[25] Education is a way to help young people become fully human, in his view, or good in the Aristotelian sense.[26] He described the approach in his books "What is Truth?" (2001) and "Being Human" (2003), and in a paper, "Becoming Fully Human", for Dialogue Australasia in 2007.[27]

Dialogue Australasia Network[edit]

In 1999 Vardy worked as a consultant for an Australian school, Geelong Grammar School, in Geelong, Victoria.[28] Later he helped to set up the Dialogue Australasia Network,[29] promoting the "five strands" approach to religious studies in schools that he proposed at the inaugural conference of Dialogue Australasia Network in 1997.[30][31] This was implemented in a number of Australasian Independent Schools.[32] He also served as an editor and occasional author for the journal Dialogue Australasia.[27]


Vardy has served as an editorial adviser for BBC and Channel 4 documentaries,[33][34] has been interviewed by ABC Radio in Australia,[35] and has written for several publications, including Times Higher Education,[36] Eureka Street,[37] and The Age.[28] Vardy's Introduction to Kierkegaard was recommended in 2003 by the BBC Radio 4 Open Book's Reading Clinic.[38]

Selected works[edit]


  • (1987). God of Our Fathers? Do We Know What We Believe? London: Darton, Longman and Todd.
  • (1988). And if it's True? London: Marshall Pickering.
  • (1989). Business Morality, People and Profit. London: Marshall Pickering.
  • (1990). The Puzzle of God. London: M. E. Sharpe.
  • (1992). The Puzzle of Evil. London: M. E. Sharpe.
  • (1994, with Paul Grosch). The Puzzle of Ethics. London: Fount Paperbacks.
  • (1995, with Mary Mills). The Puzzle of the Gospels. London: M. E. Sharpe.
  • (1996). Kierkegaard (later The SPCK Introduction to Kierkegaard). London: Fount Paperbacks.
  • (1997). The Puzzle of Sex. London: M. E. Sharpe.
  • (1999). What is Truth? Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
  • (2003, with Julie Arliss). The Thinker's Guide to God. Alresford: John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
  • (2003, with Julie Arliss). The Thinker's Guide to Evil. Alresford: John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
  • (2003). Being Human. London: Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd.
  • (2010). Good & Bad Religion. London: SCM Press.
  • (2012, with Charlotte Vardy). Ethics Matters. London: SCM Press.
  • (2013, with Charlotte Vardy). God Matters. London: SCM Press.
  • (2016, with Charlotte Vardy). Bible Matters. London: SCM Press.
  • (2016). The Puzzle of Christianity. London: William Collins.

Articles and chapters

  • (1987). "Review of Kierkegaard's Dialect of Inwardness by Stephen N. Dunning", in Religious Studies. 23 (3):427–428.
  • (1993). "Technology in the Age of Automata", in Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. 16(1): 209–226.
  • (1995). "A Christian Approach to Eternal Life", in D. Cohn-Sherbok and C. Lewis (eds.). Beyond Death. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • (1997). "Theology and Sharing the Economic Cake", in P. Askonas and S. F. Frowen (eds.). Welfare and Values. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • (2002). "Is Religious Education and ethical and moral debate a contradiction?", in Lynne Broadbent and Alan Brown (eds.). Issues in Religious Education. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • (2005). "The Philosophy of Religion", in John R. Hinnells (ed). The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. London: Routledge.
  • (2014). "Theologians should face Peter Singer's challenge". Eureka Street. 24(14), July 2014.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Vardy, Peter". Who's Who 2018. 1 December 2008. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U4000666. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Peter Vardy". HarperCollins. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b Day, Malcolm (10 December 2002). "Divine inspiration fills sixth-form pews". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Evans, Jules and Vardy, Peter (28 November 2014). ‘Take ethics out of the classroom and you just make robots for the production line', Philosophy for Life, 28 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Vardy, Peter (1996). The SPCK Introduction to Kierkegaard. London: Fount Paperbacks, p. ix.
  6. ^ a b c d Who's Who 2011. London: A & C Black Publishers Ltd. 2011. p. 2357. ISBN 978-1408128565.
  7. ^ "The concept of eternity / Peter Vardy", University of London.
  8. ^ a b "Dr. Peter Vardy". Heythrop College. Archived from the original on 9 February 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^, The Tablet - w. "Alumni say 'farewell' as Heythrop prepares to close". The Tablet. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  10. ^ News, Independent Catholic. "New vice principal for Heythrop College | ICN". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  11. ^ de Waal, Victor (July 2007). "The Centenary of the London Society for the Study of Religion: Friedrich von Hügel, Claude Montefiore and Their Friends". Theology. 110 (856, 2007): 251–259. doi:10.1177/0040571X0711000403. S2CID 221072658.
  12. ^ Ward, Rodney A. (1995). "The Reception of Søren Kierkegaard into English". The Expository Times. 107/2 (2): 43–47. doi:10.1177/001452469510700204. S2CID 169161771.
  13. ^ a b Pattison, George (2009). "Great Britain: From 'Prophet of the Now' to Postmodern Ironist (and after)". In Stewart, Jon (ed.). Kierkegaard's International Reception, Volume 1. Farnham: Ashgate. p. 263.
  14. ^ "Newsletter" (PDF). Shebbear College. 23 September 2016.
  15. ^ Wilson, Zack (3 August 2011). "A biography of Peter Vardy (Philosophy Lecturer, Author)". Overblog.
  16. ^ "Is God? Who God? The Existence and Nature of God". Diocese of Westminster. Autumn 2012.
  17. ^ "". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  18. ^ "'Arguments for the existence of God' by Peter Vardy". National Library of Australia. 2001.
  19. ^ "Wombat Education Limited". London: Companies House.
  20. ^ "CANDLE CONFERENCES LIMITED - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Candle Conferences Limited". London: Companies House.
  22. ^ "Candle Education Limited". London: Companies House.
  23. ^ "Leading philosopher leads regional religious conference". The Northern Echo. 28 January 2013.
  24. ^ "English Baccalaureate". Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  25. ^ Baggini, Julian; Stangroom, Jeremy (2003). What Philosophers Think. London: Continuum. pp. (114–122), 121.
  26. ^ "Dr Peter Vardy on religion and values in education". Radio National. 8 August 2004.
  27. ^ a b Vardy, Peter (2007). "Becoming Fully Human" (PDF). Dialogue Australasia.
  28. ^ a b Vardy, Peter (28 May 1999). "Denying Catholic minds the quest for truth". The Age. p. 15.
  29. ^ Rutledge, David (2 May 2002). "RAVE: about religious and values education". ABC Radio National.
  30. ^ "Five Strands". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  31. ^ "Five Strands". Dialogue Australasia Network. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  32. ^ Hunt, Alison (2004). "Values: Taught or Caught? Experiences of Year 3 Students in a Uniting Church School" (PDF). International Education Journal. 4 (4): 129 – via
  33. ^ "Experts help North Tyneside add spirit to learning". North Tyneside Council. 24 May 2007.
  34. ^ alphafoxtrotalpha1 (24 August 2010), Ian Rankine's Evil Thoughts: 1/7, retrieved 2 December 2018
  35. ^ "Feature Interview: Dr Peter Vardy". ABC Radio. 21 August 2015.
  36. ^ Vardy, Peter (18 August 2011). "Dead reckoning". Times Higher Education.
  37. ^ Vardy, Peter (31 July 2014). "Theologians should face Peter Singer's challenge". Eureka Street.
  38. ^ "The Reading Clinic". BBC Radio 4. 20 July 2003.

External links[edit]