As a teacher he aims to excite students with the breath-taking wonder of God’s good news and to explore how this can be understood and communicated in today’s world. Along the way he looks to uncover the unexamined assumptions of our contemporary (increasingly secularised) culture in the West, exploring how they came to be, and how they might be addressed in the light of the good news. Over the years Paul has taught a number of courses in this area (both here and abroad), and he enjoys the way in which it brings together a number of disciplines, including theology, history, philosophy, sociology and cultural studies.
As Director of the Newbigin Centre for Gospel and Western Culture, Paul oversees research students working for Masters and Doctoral degrees in association with the Centre, and in partnership with the Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco, hosts the annual ‘Lesslie Newbigin Summer Institute’ at Trinity Hall Cambridge, with attendees from the States, Europe, and Asia.
“Training to be an effective missional leader in the West today is an enormous challenge requiring the kind of sustained reflection and personal formation that only a community like Ridley can provide.” Paul Weston
In the Common Award he teaches Mission & Apologetics in Contemporary Culture, and contributes to Missional Theology. On the BTh course he teaches The Gospel and Western Culture, and contributes to The Study of Christian Mission. On the MA course he teaches Advanced Study of a Christian Figure (Lesslie Newbigin) and Reflective Practice - Mission and Evangelism.
On the Emmaus Teaching Programme he contributes teaching on Evangelism, Apologetics, Missionary leadership, and Preaching.
Paul also looks after the Admissions for Ordinands at Ridley, along with Ann-Marie Moriarty (the Admissions Officer for Ordinands), handling enquiries about courses, and interviewing ordinands who are interested in coming to the college.
- Personal background
Paul was born in Cheltenham but spent most of his formative years growing up in the centre of Oxford. He first came to Cambridge as a history undergraduate at Trinity Hall in 1976.
He has an MPhil in New Testament studies and gained his PhD from King’s College London on Lesslie Newbigin’s missionary engagement with Western culture. He has been a theological educator for over 25 years.
When not teaching, Paul is a serious mountaineer (specialising in mixed-rock, snow and ice climbing in the Alps). He is also an enthusiastic landscape photographer (mountains especially), and loves most kinds of music (particularly classical and jazz). He also loves to travel and is something of an aficionado of contemporary ‘Nordic Noir’.
Married to Ginny, he has two grown-up children, and possesses a sense of humour that is generally considered on the dry side.
- The Word's Out: Principles and Strategies for Effective Evangelism Today (Bible Reading Fellowship, revised and updated edition, 2019), co-authored with David Male
- The End of Theology: Shaping Theology for the Church’s Mission (Fortress Press, 2016), co-edited with Jason Sexton
- The Word's Out: Speaking the Gospel Today (Bible Reading Fellowship, 2013), co-authored with David Male
- Theology in Missionary Perspective: Lesslie Newbigin’s Legacy (Wipf & Stock, 2012), co-edited with Mark Laing
- Faith in a Changing World (Lesslie Newbigin) (St Paul’s Theological Centre, 2012), edited with introduction
- Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian – A Reader (SPCK/Eerdmans, 2006), edited with introduction and commentary
- X-Ray: In-sight from Outside (Inter-Varsity Press, 1999)
- Planning a Parish Mission (CPAS, 1993)
- Why We Can’t Believe (Inter-Varsity Press, 1991), published in USA as My Problem with Christianity is . . . Harold Shaw, 1992
- 'What does the development of fresh expressions in the UK tell us about mission?’ in International Review of Mission 108, no. 2 (November 2019) 276–89, co-authored with David Male
- 'A Missiological Approach to Tradition' in The End of Theology: Shaping Theology for the Sake of Mission, edited by Jason Sexton & Paul Weston (Fortress Press, 2016), 59–72
- ‘Lesslie Newbigin: Looking forward in retrospect’, in Journal of Missional Practice 5 (Winter 2015) 1-13
- ‘Newbigin and the Critique of Modernity’ in Tradition and Modernity: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, edited by David Marshall (Georgetown University Press, 2013) 140–49
- ‘Preaching the Gospel from the Gospels’ in ‘We Proclaim the Word of Life’: Preaching the New Testament Today, edited by Ian Paul & David Wenham (Inter-Varsity Press, 2013) 242–255
- ‘Lesslie Newbigin: His Writings in Context’ and ‘Ecclesiology in Eschatological Perspective: Newbigin’s Understanding of the Missionary Church’ in Theology in Missionary Perspective: Lesslie Newbigin’s Legacy, edited by Mark Laing & Paul Weston (Wipf & Stock, 2012) 10-16, 70-87
- ‘The Missionary Church in the Theology of Lesslie Newbigin’ in Ekklesiologie in missionarischer Perspektive, edited by Christoph Ernst, et al. (Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2012) 116-145
- ‘Michael Polanyi and the Writings of Lesslie Newbigin’ in Critical Conversations: Michael Polanyi and Christian Theology, edited by Murray Rae (Wipf & Stock, 2012) 157–78
- ‘Introduction’ in Lesslie Newbigin, Faith in a Changing World (St Paul’s Centre, 2012) 10–26
- ‘Lesslie Newbigin’s Enduring Legacy’ in The Gospel and Our Culture Network Newsletter 56 (Autumn, 2009) 1–2
- ‘Reading Lesslie Newbigin: where best to begin?’ in Anvil 26 (2009) 198–200
- ‘Lesslie Newbigin: A Postmodern Missiologist?’ in Mission Studies 21/2 (2004) 229–248
- ‘Evangelicals and Evangelism’ in Not Evangelical Enough! The Gospel at the Centre, edited by Ian Taylor (Paternoster Press, 2003) 137-154
- ‘Proclaiming Christ Crucified Today: Some Reflections on John’s Gospel’ in Where Wrath and Mercy Meet: Proclaiming the Atonement Today, edited by David Peterson (Paternoster Press, 2001) 136-163
- ‘Why’, in Reason for Hope (Inter-Varsity Press, 1999) 3-11
- ‘Gospel, Mission and Culture: The Contribution of Lesslie Newbigin’ in Witness to the World, edited by David Peterson (Paternoster Press, 1999) 32-62
- ‘Truth, Subjectivism and the Art of Apologetics’ in Anvil 16 (1999) 173–185
- ‘Pathways to Faith: Some Reflections on Congregational Evangelism’ in Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 16 (1998) 45–57
- ‘Evangelism: Some Biblical and Contemporary Perspectives’ in Anvil 12 (1995) 343–353; reprinted in Evangelical Review of Theology 20 (1996) 248–58
- ‘Preaching and the Purposes of God’, ‘Shaping the Sermon’, and ‘James 3:1-10 - A Test Case’ in The Way of God’s Message. IFES Netherlands, 1994) 9-14, 15-20, 21-30
Reference book/Dictionary articles
- ‘Truth’ in Dictionary of Mission Theology: Evangelical Foundations, edited by John Corrie (Inter-Varsity Press, 2007), 401–5
- ‘Newbigin, Lesslie’ in New Dictionary of Apologetics, edited by W.C. Campbell-Jack & Gavin McGrath (Inter-Varsity Press, 2006) 485-6
- Making Sense of the Modern World – Module Manual for Open Learning Degree in Theology (University of Gloucestershire, 2004); co-written with Trevor Cooling
- Roles outside Ridley
Roles outside Ridley
Paul is a Senior Fellow at the Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco, USA and regularly teaches on their programmes. He also is a visiting professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. A Trustee (and past Chair) of Anvil Journal (an Anglican journal of theology and mission), he is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Missional Practice.
Paul has led over 100 missions in parishes and universities both here and abroad. He also preaches regularly.
Paul’s ongoing research interests focus on the interface between contemporary post-Enlightenment Western culture and the message of Jesus Christ. He is currently writing books on the ‘idea’ of mission and a major book on Newbigin’s contribution to contemporary mission thinking and practice.
He supervises doctoral research through the Newbigin Centre on various aspects of contemporary mission. His current students are working in such areas as imaginative apologetics, the public apologetics of Rowan Williams, Christian engagement with media, and models of Anglican church planting.