David S. Robinson

Visiting Lecturer & Tutor, School of Divinity


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Ph.D., New College, University of Edinburgh

Master of Divinity, Regent College (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Bachelor of Arts, Briercrest College (Saskatchewan, Canada)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Member of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics, Society for the Study of Theology, Society of Christian Ethics, International Bonhoeffer Society

Undergraduate teaching

Visiting Lecturer:

THET08010 - God in Philosophy: Plato to Hume (Winter 2017)

THET08017 - Introduction to Christian Theology: Doctrine and Debates (Autumn 2017)


THET08015 - Ethics and Society (Winter 2016)

DIVI08002 - Atheism in Debate (Autumn 2015)

THET08010 - God in Philosophy: Plato to Hume (Winter 2015)

DIVI08001 - Religion, Violence & Peacebuilding (Autumn 2014)

Current research interests

Modern Theology, German Idealism, Christology, Ecclesiology, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, G.W.F. Hegel

Project activity

'Disruption of the Word: Revelatory Community in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Reception of G.W.F. Hegel,' Ph.D. Thesis

Many scholars identify the phrase ‘Christ existing as community’ as a pivotal expression in the theological and ethical works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945). Although it is acknowledged that Bonhoeffer adapts the phrase from G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), the two figures have not been brought together in a sustained critical treatment. This gap in scholarship can be partly attributed to Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran polemic against philosophical idealism for its susceptibility to the ‘incurvature’ of human reason, while Bonhoeffer’s political acts of resistance seem to further distance him from Hegel, an alleged proponent of state ‘absolutism.’ The primary aim of this thesis is to challenge such surface contradictions by providing a nuanced account of Bonhoeffer’s reception of Hegel as he pursues their common interest in the ‘revelatory’ quality of a particular faith community. I argue that Bonhoeffer’s eclectic use of his source material is rooted in the awareness that Hegel derives core aspects of his logic from theological claims. Such philosophical derivation can lead to estrangement with its doctrinal origin, which Bonhoeffer identifies in Hegel’s ‘docetic’ distinction between idea and appearance in the coming of Jesus Christ, as well as in Hegel’s diminishment of the ‘confessing’ identity of the church vis-à-vis the state. Nevertheless, I show that Bonhoeffer’s theological response involves constructively adopting Hegel’s thought, as shown in his use of key Hegelian terms of art, such as ‘objective Geist’ or ‘sublation,’ in order to challenge one-sided construals of oppositional pairs. In light of Bonhoeffer’s variations, a secondary aim of the thesis is to present aspects of Hegel’s philosophy as a promising resource for theologians, even in order to critique a pervasive ‘idealist’ legacy in modern theology. To that end, this thesis provides a vital precedent for investigation into how faith and reason are socially composed, how a sacramental event might be conveyed conceptually, and what forms of recognition exist between the state and religious bodies.

Current project grants

Doctoral Award, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada;

Research Grant, International Bonhoeffer Society


‘A Cleaving Mind: Hegel and Bonhoeffer on the Fall into Knowledge,’ Modern Theology 32:4 (October 2016).

 ‘Confessing Race: Toward a Global Ecclesiology after Bonhoeffer and Du Bois,’ Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 36:2 (October 2016).

with Ryan Tafilowski, ‘Conflict & Concession: Nationality in the Pastorate for Althaus and Bonhoeffer,’ Scottish Journal of Theology 70 (Forthcoming, 2017).

‘Peccatorum Communio:  Intercession in Bonhoeffer’s Use of Hegel,’ Studies in Christian Ethics 28:1 (February 2015), 86-100.

Is Christ Divided? Racial Lines in Bonhoeffer’s Work with Hegel & Du Bois, ‘Engaging Bonhoeffer in a Global Era,’ International Bonhoeffer Congress, Basel, Switzerland, July 2016

Bonhoeffer’s Ecclesiology, Idealism, and the ‘Color Line,' ‘Faith & Race,’ Kuyper Centre for Public Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary, April 2015

Split Cognisance: Bonhoeffer Reads Genesis After Hegel, ‘Thinking the Church Today,’ Society for the Study of Theology (UK), University of Nottingham, April 2015  

Peccatorum Communio: Intercession in Bonhoeffer’s Use of Hegel, ‘Sin & Christian Ethics,’ Society for the Study of Christian Ethics (UK), University of Cambridge, September 2014

By the Lips of Foreigners:  Ecclesial Speech and the Politics of Recognition, ‘Migration, Faith, & Action: Shifting the Discourse,’ Las Casas Institute, University of Oxford, May 2014

Gifford Lectures Seminar Respondent, Rowan Williams, ‘Making Representations,' Theology & Ethics Research Seminar, University of Edinburgh, November 2013