Professor Robin Gill

Emeritus Professor of Applied Theology


Professor Robin Gill is Emeritus Professor of Applied Theology. He was previously the first holder of both the Michael Ramsey Chair at Kent and the William Leech Research Chair at Newcastle. 

Robin has published extensively in sociological theology, the sociological study of churches, Christian and religious ethics, and health care ethics.

Academic appointments:

  • 2011-14: Professor of Applied Theology, University of Kent.
  • 1992-2011: Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology, University of Kent.
  • 1988-92: William Leech Professorial Fellow in Applied Theology, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • 1987-88: Senior Lecturer, Department of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, University of Edinburgh
  • 1985-88: Associate Dean, Faculty of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
  • 1972-87: Lecturer, Department of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, University of Edinburgh
  • 1971-72: Lecturer, Anglican Theological College, Papua New Guinea.

Named lectureships:

  • 1990: John Coffin Memorial Lecture, University of London.
  • 1992: Prideaux Lecturer, University of Exeter
  • 1994: New College Lecture, University of New South Wales
  • 1998: Charles Gore Lecture, Westminster Abbey
  • 2002: Select Preacher, Oxford University

Church appointments:

  • 1997-98: Theological Consultant to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops
  • 1993-2006: Chair of Archbishop of Canterbury’s Medical Ethics Advisory Group, Lambeth Palace
  • 1992-present: Honorary Canon, Canterbury Cathedral
  • 1988-99: Member of Archbishop of Canterbury’s Theological Advisory Group, Lambeth Palace

Other appointments:

  • 2009-present: Council member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics
  • 2003-6: Chair of British Sociological Association’s Study Group of Religion
  • 2001-present: Member of Medical Research Council’s Stem Cell Steering Committee
  • 1999-present: Member of BMA Medical Ethics Committee
  • 1996-98: President of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics



  • Phillip, S., Dandy, N., Gill, R. and MacMillan, D. (2009). Is legislation a barrier to the sustainable management of game species? A case study of wild deer in Britain. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management [Online] 52:993-1012. Available at:
    Wild game management for hunting in Western society has become increasingly complex as stakeholders have multiplied and as ‘sustainability’ influences the contemporary debate. This paper questions whether the current legal framework for game management, which has evolved from early European civilisations to focus on ‘hunting rights’, is relevant to regulate the contemporary environmental, social and economic dimensions of wild game and their management. Employing a narrative analysis to focus on deer, the study identifies key legislative tenets and highlights the pertinence of historical laws to contemporary conflicts. The analysis suggests that current legislation is increasingly divergent from contemporary trends and has created inertia with respect to sustainable deer management. The
    paper offers four options to redress this: state intervention; voluntary collaboration; financial incentives; and establishing a legal responsibility for management. It is concluded that significant innovation is required in one or more of these four areas to facilitate the contemporary sustainable management of wild deer in Britain.
  • Gill, R. (2000). Steps to the future: Issues facing the church in the new Millennium. Expository Times 111:427-427.
  • Gill, R. (2000). Sociology, theology and the curriculum. Expository Times 111:281-282.
  • Gill, R., Hadaway, C. and Marler, P. (1998). Is religious belief declining in Britain?. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion [Online] 37:507-516. Available at:
    The understanding and interpretation of the presumed "secularization" of Britain and other European nations is clouded by a lack of adequate information regarding the substance and timing of religious change. This paper represents the first systematic effort to collect and analyze existing survey data on religious belief in Britain from the late 1930s to the present. Overall, the results show an increase in general scepticism about the existence of God, the related erosion of dominant, traditional Christian beliefs, and the persistence of nontraditional beliefs. A theoretical perspective is needed that recognizes the often corrosive effects of modern life on the transmission of religious beliefs and the continued popularity of worldviews which presume a transcendent referent, however broadly defined.
  • Gill, R. (1998). Christianity and liberal society. Expository Times 109:221-222.


  • Gill, R. (2013). Society Shaped by Theology: Sociological Theology Volume 3. [Online]. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. Available at:
    Over the last thirty years a number of theologians have been using aspects of sociology alongside the more traditional resources of philosophy. In turn, sociologists with an interest in theology have also contributed to an interaction between theology and sociology. The time is right to revisit the dialogue between theologians and sociologists. In his new trilogy on Sociological Theology, Robin Gill makes a renewed contribution to the mapping of three abiding ways of relating theology and sociology, with the three volumes covering: Theology in a Social Context; Theology Shaped by Society; Society Shaped by Theology. Society Shaped by Theology explores the possibility that theological concepts may sometimes still be influential in the modern world. It follows in the tradition of Max Weber, arguing that theological virtues and debates can at times be transposed, wittingly or unwittingly, into society at large. Robin Gill examines the unusual instance of the public debate about Honest to God in the 1960s, but then turns to the current debate about faith and social capital, adding fresh and unexpected evidence. Finally Gill argues that bioethics in the public domain, especially on global issues such as AIDS, can be enriched and deepened by a judicious use of theological virtues.
  • Gill, R. (2012). Theology Shaped by Society: Sociological Theology Volume 2. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.
  • Gill, R. (2012). Theology in a Social Context: Sociological Theology Volume 1. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.
  • Gill, R. (2006). A Textbook of Christian Ethics. London: T&T Clark.
    Sets out modern contributions to Christian ethics alongside texts from Augustine, Aquinas and Luther. The modern writers range from thinkers such as Niebuhr, Barth and Bonhoeffer to liberation and Third World theologians. The differing ethical positions and arguments are examined together with social and historical factors which shaped them

Book section

  • Gill, R. (2009). Jesus, Community, Compassion and HIV Prevention. In: Paterson, G. ed. HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation. Geneva: Ecumencal Advocacy Alliance, pp. 113-120.
    This chapter looks at ways that values can be derived from Synoptic Healing Stories that can then be used by faith communities in order to limit HIV infection. The tension is examined between community compassion and community cohesion. Then the roles of compassion, truth and shame are examined in the context of HIV prevention.
  • Gill, R. (2007). The Cultural Paradigm: Declines in Belonging and Then Believing. In: Pollack, D. and Olson, D. V. eds. The Role of Religion in Modern Societies. New York: Routledge, pp. 177-189.
    The chapter outlines three existing paradigms about the relationship of religion to modern societies: the secularisation paradigm, the persistence paradigm, and the separation paradigm. It then introduces and defends a new paradigm, namely the cultural paradigm. According to this paradigm religious belief is a product of religious socialisation and belonging.
  • Gill, R. (2007). Aids, Leprosy and the Synoptic Jesus. In: Gill, R. ed. Reflecting Theologically on AIDS: A Global Challenge. London: SCM Press, pp. 100-113.
    This chapter explores the way that social perceptions of 'leprosy' in the Jewish and Christian Bibles can be applied to social perceptions of AIDS today and the lessons that can be learned from such application
  • Gill, R. (2007). Altruism and Religious Culture in the West. In: Habito, R. L. F. and Inaba, K. eds. The Practice of Altruism: Caring and Religion in Global Perspective. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, pp. 80-98.
    This chapter examines and evaluates the sociological evidence that connects altrustic attitudes and behaviour with religious belonging and practice in Western countries.
  • Gill, R. (2003). The Empty Church Revisited. In: The Empty Church Revisited. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.
    This is a substantial revision of The Myth of the Empty Church (SPCK, London, 1993) incorporating many theoretical and empirical changes reflecting recent scholarship. It revisits all of the original case-studies (North Northumberland in chapter1, Glan-llyn in chapter 2, and York in chapter 9), makes radical changes to chapters 8 and 10, updates Tables 18 and 19, and adds Table 20. David Martin writes on the cover: ‘This is a necessary text and classic intervention in debates over secularisation, forcing us to revise many assumptions, as well as showing the importance of the economics of over-provision’.
  • Gill, R. (2002). Changing Worlds. In: Changing Worlds. Edinburgh, UK: T&T Clark.
    This is a well-received collection of ten essays in practical theology on the theme of change in three areas: moral issues, churchgoing patterns and theological education. Earlier versions of chapters 2, 4, 9, 10 were published before January 2001, although each was revised for this collection. All the other six chapters were written after January 2001. Together they seek to address the implications of a fast changing world for Christian faith and practice, including issues about churchgoing decline in many so-called Western countries and, conversely, claims about rapid church growth in a number of non-Western countries, bewilderment about changes in theological education, and the role of theology in a world changed by 9/11.

Edited book

  • Gill, R. ed. (2007). Reflecting Theologically on AIDS: A Global Challenge. London: SCM Press.
    The essays in this book address how Christian theology can constructively address the issue of stigma and AIDS. It brings together theologians from Catholic, Anglican and Reformed Churches and uniquely carries the UNAIDS logo.
  • Gill, R. ed. (2001). The Cambridge Companion to Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    A book of essays by leading international experts in Christian ethics examining both methodological and substantive issues in the discipline.


  • Gill, R. (2006). Health Care and Christian Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
    The central issue addressed in this CUP monograph is whether and how Christian ethics might be able to make a significant contribution to health care ethics today in the public forum of a Western, pluralistic society. It is the twenty-sixth monograph in the larger project (edited by Robin Gill) New Studies in Christian Ethics that has received considerable international attention. It offers a fresh basis for health care ethics derived from a detailed exegesis of the Synoptic virtues of compassion, care, faith and humility in order to deepen the widely used secular principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice in health care ethics. In an early review David Atkinson concluded that ‘Gill’s excellent, clear, and well-written book is a significant contribution’.


  • Gill, R. (2008). Theology and families. Journal of Theological Studies [Online] 59:437-438. Available at:
  • Gill, R. (1999). Religion in prison: Equal rites in a multi-faith society. Religion 29:287-288.
  • Gill, R. (1997). A global ethic for global politics and economics - Kung,H. Expository Times 109:61-61.
  • Gill, R. (1995). EUROPEAN RELIGION IN THE AGE OF GREAT CITIES 1830-1930 - MCLEOD,H. Expository Times 106:282-282.
  • Gill, R. (1994). On Feeling, Knowing and Valuing - Scheler,M. Religion 24:191-191.
  • Gill, R. (1994). Religions, Rights and Laws - Bradney,A. Religion 24:192-192.
  • Gill, R. (1994). A Far Glory - the Quest for Faith in an Age of Credulity - Berger,PL. Sociology of Religion [Online] 55:98-99. Available at:
  • Gill, R. (1993). Sociology and Liturgy - Re-Presentations of the Holy - Flanagan,K Flanagan, K. ed. British Journal of Sociology 44:552-552.
  • Gill, R. (1993). Church and Religion in Rural England - Davies, D, Watkins, C, Winter, M Davies, D., Watkins, C. and Winter, M. eds. Religion 23:100-101.
  • Gill, R. (1992). The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism - Sects and New Religious Movements in Contemporary Society - Wilson,Br Wilson, B. R. ed. Scottish Journal of Theology 45:543-544.
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