Dr David Newheiser wins theology award

ACU research fellow Dr David Newheiser has been selected as a winner of the 2020 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise.

Dr Newheiser received the award for his new book Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith, published in December by Cambridge University Press.

The Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award is given by the University of Heidelberg to 10 international scholars, aged under 35, for their doctoral dissertation or first book after dissertation.

Hope in a Secular Age argues that hope is the indispensable precondition of religious practice and secular politics. Against dogmatic complacency and despairing resignation, Dr Newheiser argues that hope sustains commitments that remain vulnerable to disappointment. Since the discipline of hope is shared by believers and unbelievers alike, its persistence indicates that faith has a future in a secular age.

Professor Martin Kavka, of Florida State University, has described Hope in a Secular Age as “the book that all intellectuals need to read before they visit their families for the holidays.”

“'In using a twentieth-century philosopher (Jacques Derrida) who described himself as the least of the Jews, and an ancient theologian, Dionysius the Areopagite, whose work offered the possibility of a resolutely non-dogmatic Christianity, David Newheiser displays a dazzling talent for blurring the boundary between expressing faith and critiquing it. The possibility here is immense for extending, deepening, and enjoying those difficult conversations that in today’s world too easily collapse into antagonism and smouldering resentment,” he said.

Dr Newheiser is a research fellow in the Institute of Religion and Critical Inquiry. He was project leader on IRCI’s Atheism and Christianity project and is the Editor of the most recent edition of Modern Theology, with the theme of negative political theology.


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