Faculty of Theology and Religion Announces New Regius Professors

The Faculty of Theology and Religion is delighted to announce that His Majesty The King has approved the appointment of two new Regius Professorships.

Professor Luke Bretherton has been appointed as the new Canon and Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Christ Church, Oxford, in succession to The Reverend Canon Professor Nigel Biggar C.B.E. The Regius Professorship of Moral and Pastoral Theology was established by an Act of Parliament in 1840.

 The Revd Professor Andrew Davison has been appointed as the new Canon and Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford, in succession to The Reverend Canon Professor Graham Ward. The Regius Professorship of Divinity, established by Henry VIII, is one of the oldest professorships at Oxford.

As Canon Professors, both appointees will serve as ordained Canons of the Cathedral, performing duties as Church of England priests. Professor Bretherton will also assume the role of Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life.

Professor Luke Bretherton


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Currently the Robert E. Cushman Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Theology and senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, Prof. Bretherton has a distinguished academic and practical background. Before joining Duke in 2012, he was a reader in Theology & Politics and convener of the Faith & Public Policy Forum at King's College London. His latest book A Primer in Christian Ethics: Christ and the Struggle to Live Well (Cambridge University Press, 2023) provides a new, constructive framework for addressing the question of what it means to live a good life amid the difficulties of everyday life and the catastrophes and injustices that afflict so many today. His previous books include Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy (Eerdmans, 2019), which explores the historical and contemporary relationship between Christianity and democracy.

After completing his PhD, Professor Bretherton was appointed as Director of Studies at St Augustine’s Theological College before moving back to King’s College London in 2004 where he became Reader in Theology and Politics. In 2012 he was appointed to Duke University as Associate Professor in Theological Ethics, becoming the Robert E Cushman Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Theology in 2020. Additionally, he has been a Visiting Professor at St Mellitus Theological College since 2022. Professor Bretherton has an MA in History from Cambridge University and a PhD from the University of London in Moral Philosophy and Theology. Before beginning his undergraduate studies, he served a year in the British army, undertaking a short service limited commission in the 7th Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery. Prof. Bretherton will be made Deacon in June 2024 by the Bishop of London in a service at St Paul’s Cathedral.




Prof. Bretherton's work addresses critical topics including debt, populism, euthanasia, environmental justice, racism, humanitarianism, and church-state relations. He has received several grants, fellowships, and awards, including the Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing. His media contributions include articles in The Guardian, The Times, and The Washington Post. He has also collaborated with various faith-based NGOs, mission agencies, and churches globally, and has actively engaged in grassroots democratic politics in both the UK and the US.

Professor Bretherton remarked:

'I am delighted and daunted in equal measure to be invited to become the next Regius Professor in Moral and Pastoral Theology. The office integrates church and academy in a unique way and provides a platform to address the existentially urgent issues of the day. Alongside scholarly rigour and critical insight, I seek to bring to the demands of the post practical wisdom and an abiding commitment to forging just and generous forms of common life.’


Professor Andrew Davison

Prof. Davison joins as the Regius Professor of Divinity from the University of Cambridge, where he is Starbridge Professor of Theology and Natural Sciences. In the 2022-24 academic years, he has been Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Science and Theology at the Centre of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey. His research spans the theological significance of biological origins, machine learning, and mediation in Christian theology. He is the editor of two Cambridge University Press series (Elements in Christianity and Science and Elements in Origins of Life, with Prof. Nick Tosca), and a co-editor for the journal Theology, Philosophy, and the Sciences.

Prof. Davison's interdisciplinary expertise combines his background as a chemist and biochemist with his theological studies. He has an MA in Chemistry and a DPhil in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford and a second undergraduate degree and doctorate, in Divinity, from the University of Cambridge. Professor Davison trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his title at St Dunstan, Bellingham in the Diocese of Southwark and was ordained Priest in 2004. In 2006 he was appointed Tutor and Fellow at St Stephens House and Junior Chaplain at Merton College Oxford. In 2010 he moved to Cambridge as a Tutor at Westcott House and in 2014 became a Lecturer in the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity and Fellow of Corpus Christi College where he was appointed Dean of Chapel in 2019. In 2023 he was given the title of Professor.

His recent collaborative efforts include projects on the origins of life and climate change, leading to the establishment of the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe, and his collaboration with the Department of Engineering at Cambridge through his fellowship with the UK FIRES initiative.

Professor Davison shared his thoughts:

‘I am delighted to be returning to Oxford, as Regius Professor of Divinity, where my love of theology first blossomed, as an undergraduate in chemistry, and where I later began teaching. Oxford’s interdisciplinary and multi-faith Faculty of Theology and Religion stands at the heart of a British tradition of exploring, developing, and applying the Christian tradition that is admired the world over. The location of this Chair at Christ Church, as a residential canon of the cathedral, offer the integration the worlds of the university and the church, of research and prayer, that I have sought over my over my years as a teacher, writer, and priest.’



Professor William Wood, Chair of the Faculty, stated:

‘I am delighted that Professor Bretherton will be our new Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, and equally delighted that Professor Davison will be our next Regius Professor of Divinity. These are two of our most venerable and important posts, and as Faculty Board Chair, it gives me great satisfaction to know that they will both be filled by candidates of such distinction. I look forward to working closely with Professors Bretherton and Davison for many years.’

Professor Dan Grimley, Head of the Humanities Division, commented:

‘I am delighted to welcome Professors Luke Bretherton and Andrew Davison as Regius Professors in the Faculty of Theology and Religion. These outstanding appointments demonstrate the faculty’s dedication to maintaining academic excellence and to addressing the moral and theological issues of the present day. I look forward very much to working closely alongside Luke and Andrew in their new roles.’

Vice-Chancellor Irene Tracey added:

‘These prestigious appointments reflect the faculty’s ongoing commitment to academic excellence and its dedication to addressing contemporary moral and theological challenges.’

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