Samuel Shearn


Thesis title:

The early theological and political development of Paul Tillich before and during the First World War.


Professor Joel D. S. Rasmussen


I am writing about the theological and political development of Paul Tillich while he was a student and young pastor, and while an army chaplain in the First World War, with particular reference to his earliest sermons.

Research area:

Historical and Systematic Theology


Ertegun Graduate Scholarship in the Humanities (2012-2014)

AHRC Full Award (2014-2016)


2016: ‘Charles Taylor and Nietzsche in A Secular Age’ in: Florian Zemmin, Colin Jager, and Guido Vanheeswijck (eds), Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative (Berlin/New York: De Gruyter), 263-282

2013: 'Moral critique and defence of theodicy', Religious Studies 49(4), 439-458.

Recent Conference Papers:

'The justification of the sinner and the doubter in Paul Tillich's early sermons', SST Conference: Redeeming Human Nature, Durham, April 2016.

'Defence, Doubt and Gracelessness. The theological experience of student Paul Tillich', Oxford-Bonn Exchange Seminar, Oxford, September 2015.

'Paul Tillich's doctrine of God and theory of religious symbols', Oxford-Marburg Graduate Workshop, Oxford, June 2015.

'Is religion good for society? Charles Taylor on the perils and promise of transcendence', Transforming Religion. Conference of the European Society for the Philosophy of Religion, Münster, Germany, August 2014.

'Charles Taylor's Nietzsche in A Secular Age', Working with A Secular Age - Interdisciplinary Reflections on Charles Taylor's Conception of the Secular, Bern, Switzerland, March 2014.

Other research interests:

Theological and philosophical responses to the problem of evil. Charles Taylor.

Academic-related Activities:

Service: Schools Outreach Lecturing with the Oxford Pathways Programme, Student Ambassador for the University Development Office, former committee member for the Oxford Graduate Theology Society (GTS), Web manager for CTMET.

Teaching: Convenor of the German Theology Reading Group in Oxford, OPUS Tutor in Philosophy of Religion.

Organisation: Paul Tillich: Theology and Legacy (Oxford, 14th-15th July 2014), and various graduate conferences.

Membership: British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, Society for the Study of Theology, Deutsche Paul Tillich Gesellschaft.

About me:

I initially studied a BSc Physics at the University of Nottingham before working for three years in student ministry in Scotland, Austria, and Germany. In Marburg, Germany I completed a BA Theology at the Evangelische Hochschule Tabor, and then worked in pastoral ministry for a further two years. Returning to the UK, I completed MA Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at the University of Birmingham. A version of my MA dissertation on D.Z. Phillips’ critique of theodicies won the Religious Studies Postgraduate Essay Prize 2013. For my MPhil in Modern Theology at the University of Oxford I focused on two topics, Charles Taylor’s reception of and response to Nietzsche, and Paul Tillich’s doctrine of God and theory of religious symbols. I am married to Maria and we have three young daughters.


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