Dr Joshua Ralston (BA, MTh, MDiv, PhD)

Lecturer in Muslim-Christian Relations


Joshua Ralston is Lecturer in Muslim-Christian Relations at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. Prior to moving to Scotland, he was Assistant Professor of Theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Wake Forest University, before going on to study World Christianity at Edinburgh (MTh with distinction), divinity at Candler School of Theology (MDiv), and Christian Theology and Islamic Thought at Emory University (PhD supervised by Ian A. McFarland). His primary work is concerned with theological, legal-political, and scriptural encounters between Christians and Muslims across the centuries with a particular focus on Protestant Christianity and Sunni Islam.  He approaches these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws on political theology, Islamic Studies, Christian theology, critical theory, migration studies, and comparative theology.


BA, MTh, MDiv, PhD

Responsibilities & affiliations

Chair of the Board of Examiners

Programme Director for the MA Theology and MA Philosophy and Theology programmes

External appointments

AAR Reformed Theology and History Steering Committe 

Advistory Board Member for Book Series,  Ferdinand Schöningh's Beiträge zur Komparativen Theologie


Undergraduate teaching

Christian-Muslim Relations

Global Religions A

Islamic Law: From Prayer to Politics

Comparative Political Theology: Islam, Christianity, Secularism

The Theology of Karl Barth

Postgraduate teaching

Christian-Muslim Relations: Global Perspectives

Islamic Law

Contesting Secularism: Christian and Islamic Political Theologies

Readings in the Church Dogmatics

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Yusuf Celik: Turkish Quranic Hermeneutics, Gadmer and Habermas

Muhammad Abu Shareaa: Fakhr Din al-Razi and Ibn Taymiyya on Christianity and Judaism

Elizabeth Marteijn: Interpreating Local Palestinian Christian Theology

Emmanuel Ossai: Christian-Muslim Relations in Nigeria

Lucy Schouten: Jordanian Christianity, Migration, and Theologies of Hospitality 

Research summary

Dr Ralston teaches and writes on the following, and would be happy to receive inquires from postgraduate students interested in any of these areas:

-  Christian theological engagements with Islam and Muslim understandings of Christianity

-  Comparative Theology and Theologies of Religious Diversity, particularly in Protestant and Reformed thought.

-  Islamic Theology (kalam) and Law (fiqh) 

-  Political Theology

-  Arab Christianity

- Christian-Muslim Relations in Sub-Saharan Africa (particularly Nigeria)

-  Migration, Theology, and Religion

Current research interests

His current book project, Law and the Rule of God, leverages political theology and comparative theology to engage longstanding debates over the place and function of law in Muslim-Christian relations. By adopting a comparative approach, the work avoids two routes that dominate most discussions of political theology in Christian-Muslim exchange. One leans strongly on the legal apparatuses of secularism, and thus too quickly silences religious commitments and their critiques of modernity; and the other attempts to reassert the ultimacy of religious community over and against the secular state largely through reinscribing old battle lines between Christendom and the dār al-Islām. Instead, the book argues that debates regarding Sharī‘a, secularism, and law can be productively reframed by attending to the history of debate over the law in Christian-Muslim encounter and also the nuanced perspectives regarding public law within the theo-legal discourse of both Islam and Christianity.

Knowledge exchange

Dr Ralston is a regular contributor to public forums including ABC's Religion and Ethics Portal, and is an editor in the theology and interreligious studies section of Syndicate Network, an online forum for scholarship in the humanaties. He regularly speaks on themes of religion, secularism, Islam, and migration and is currently serving on the World Communion of Reformed Churches' European Task Force on Migration. 

Recent public scholarship include:

The Same God, or the One God: On the Limitations and Implications of the Wheaton Affair

How Political Theologians Should (Not) Engage Islam

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

Henry Luce Foundation for Theology Education, 3 year project (2017-2019) to develop and launch the Christian-Muslim Studies Network.

Conference details

- Nov 6th: Reforming Attitudes to Islam. St Martin-in-the-Fields: http://bit.ly/2guYvcj

- Nov 16th: Interfaith Dialogue: experience and art and Bearing Witness: a framework for Christian-Muslim dialogue. Al-Maktoum College: http://bit.ly/2gbxpKo