Dr Esther D. Reed

Associate Professor

BA (Hons), PhD (Dunelm)


Extension: 3249

Telephone: 01392 723249

Director of the Network for Religion in Public Life http://www.centres.exeter.ac.uk/nrpl/

Esther D. Reed joined the Department of Theology in 2007. Previously, she taught for ten years at the University of St Andrews including one semester as the visiting O'Connor Professor at Colgate University, NY (Spring 2007).

She is President of the UK Society for the Study of Christian Ethics Sept 2018-August 2021.

Her new book will be published shortly: The Limit of Responsibility: Engaging Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a Globalizing Era (T & T Clark, August Bloomsbury 2018)

Responsibility is not a new topic in Christian ethics but too many accounts are delimited to the immediately personal. What’s needed in Christian ethics is a theologically informed theory of responsibility capable of grappling adequately with the new features of the problem of responsibility and reformulating the concept in ways that

  • exceed agent-causality-consequence definitions that presuppose tight causal links between the agent’s actions and their effects
  • face the temptation to relinquish the question of responsibility because, amidst the realities of globalization, the consequences of one’s own actions appear vanishingly small
  • reckon with the unintended or unknown negative effects of actions on phenomena elsewhere
  • make space for the additional concepts needed for the exercise of responsibility today: uncertainty, risk, solidarity, institutions, the future
  • reverse the agent-act-consequence sequence to an understanding of responsibility that originates in You, that is learned from Christ and neighbor. 

Current research projects include:

1. The Naval Service Ethics Programme

At the invitation of the Fleet Commander, Esther D. Reed is performing a role in the Naval Service Ethics Programme's (NSEP) reinvigoration of professional ethics training and eduction throughout career courses. The Royal Navy ethos is well defined, rooted in long and distinguished history.  "The enduring spirit derived from our people's loyalty to their ship, unit or team, sustained by high professional standards and strong leadership that gives us courage in adversity and the determination to fight and win” (BRd 3(1), Ch. 21, Annex 21H).  The NSEP is reviewing current training with a view to enhancing best practice, promoting innovative teaching and education, and researching diverse approaches to building cultures of ethical responsibility across all ranks.

2. Resistance in Pentecostal Living: An Ethic of Citizenship (Re-)Learned from Acts 1-7

The marks of ecclesial citizenship found in Acts 1-7 include koinonia, leiturgia, diakonia, praeconia and martyria. In this exegetically-rooted project, these marks are explicated and appropriated for a wider ethic of citizenship, with particular application to contexts of growing social inequality. The task is to formulate criteria for an ethic of citizenship at the interface between ecclesial life and political practice.