Revd Prof Jeff Astley

Jeff Astley holds the part-time post of Alister Hardy Professor of Religious and Spiritual Experience. His main research interests are religious and spiritual experiences, Christian formation and ‘ordinary theology’. He is currently working on a research project jointly with the University of Warwick and Boston University, USA.

For four years (1977-1981) Jeff was Head of Religious Studies at Bishop Grosseteste College and Associate Tutor at Lincoln Theological College, overseeing a joint degree programme taught at both institutions. From 1981 to 2013, he was the founding Director of the North of England Institute for Christian Education, an independent, ecumenical research and development centre ( with strong links with Durham University where he taught on courses in philosophical theology, science and religion and practical theology, and where he is also an honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion.

Jeff studied biological sciences and theology as an undergraduate at Cambridge University, and did postgraduate work in theology at Birmingham University and Durham University (where he received his PhD). He is the author or editor of over 40 books and 150 articles or essays on religious faith, experience and formation; philosophical, systematic, ordinary and practical theology; and various related issues in Christian education and spirituality.

Astley, J. (2020) ‘What Prevents Christians from Learning to be Good?’, Rural Theology, 18, 2, 2020, 108-119.

Astley, J. (2020) ‘The Ineffable Mystery of God?’, Challenging Religious Issues: Supporting Religious Studies at A-level and Beyond, 16, 28-35.

Astley, J. (2020) SCM Studyguide to Religious and Spiritual Experience, London: SCM Press. ISBN 978-0334-05796-3.

Astley, J. (2019) ‘Evolution and the Argument from (or to) Design’, Challenging Religious Issues: Supporting Religious Studies at A-level and Beyond, Special Issue on Science and Theology, 15, 9-14.

Francis, L. J., Astley, J. and McKenna, U. (2019) ‘“Science Disproves the Biblical Account of Creation”: Exploring the Predictors of Perceived Conflict between Science and Religion among 13- To 15-Year-Old Students’, British Journal of Religious Education, 41, 2, 188-201.

Francis, L. J., Astley, J. and McKenna, U. (2018) ‘Belief in God, Belief in Science: Exploring the Psychological Correlates of Scientific Fundamentalism as Implicit Religion’, Implicit Religion, 21, 4, 383-412.

Astley, J. (2019) ‘What Can we Learn about Young People’s Religious Experience, and Why Should We Bother? Reflections on a Study from the Republic of Ireland’, in G. Byrne and L. Francis (eds), Religion and Education: The Voices of Young People in Ireland (Dublin: Veritas), 103-121.

Astley, J. and L. P. Barnes (2018) ‘The Role of Language in Religious Education’, in L. P. Barnes (ed.), Learning to Teach Religious Education in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience (Abingdon: Routledge, third edition), 73-88.

Astley, J. (2018) ‘The Naming of Parts: Faith, Formation, Development and Education’, in R. Stuart-Buttle and J. Shortt (eds), Christian Faith, Formation and Education (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan), 13-27.

Astley, J. (2017) ‘Conceptual Enquiry and the Experience of “the Transcendent”: John Hick’s Contribution to the Dialogue’, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 20, 4, 311-322.

Astley, J. (2017) ‘Asking Questions and Analysing Answers about Religious Experience: Developing the Greer Tradition’, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 20, 4, 348-358.

Astley, J. (2016) ‘“Ordinary Theology” und Jugend’, in T. Schlag and B. Roebben (eds), Jahrbuch für Jugendtheologie, Band 4 (‘Jedes Mal in der Kirche kam ich zum Nachdenken’) (Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag), 26-41.

Astley, J. (2016) ‘Researching the Field of Christian Education: Reflections on an English Experiment’, in B. Gates (ed.), Religion and Nationhood: Insider and Outsider Perspectives on Religious Education in England (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck), 327-348.

Astley, J. and Francis, L. J. (eds) (2016) Diversity and Intersectionality: Studies in Religion, Education and Values (Oxford: Peter Lang). ISBN 978-3-0343-2252-2.

Astley, J. (2015) ‘Beyond Science and Nature? Reflections on Scientific Reductionism and Mental and Religious Experience’, Journal for the Study of Religious Experience, 1, 1, , 32-48.

Astley, J. (2015) ‘Discipleship Learning’ and ‘Forming Disciples: Some Educational and Biblical Reflections’, Rural Theology, 13, 1, pp. 1-3, 4-17.

Astley, J. (2014) ‘Anglican Perspectives on Christian Religious Education’, Theo-Web. Zeitschrift für Religionspädagogik, 13, H.2, 75-91.

Astley, J. (2013) ‘Ordinary Theology and the Learning Conversation with Academic Theology’, in J. Astley and L. J. Francis (eds), Exploring Ordinary Theology: Everyday Christian Believing and the Church (Farnham: Ashgate), 45-54.

Astley, J. (2013) ‘Church Schools and the Church’s Service to the Poor’, in Howard Worsley (ed.), Anglican Church School Education: Moving Beyond the First Two Hundred Years (London: Bloomsbury Academic), 101-118.

Astley, J. (2012) ‘A Theological Reflection on the Nature of Religious Truth’, in J. Astley, L. J. Francis, M. Robbins and M. Selçuk (eds), Teaching Religion, Teaching Truth: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives (Bern: Peter Lang), 241-262

Astley, J. (2012) ‘Can we Choose our Beliefs? A Philosophical Question for Religious Education’, in S. Parker, R. Freathy and L. J. Francis (eds), Religious Education and Freedom of Religion and Belief (Bern: Peter Lang), 81-93.

Astley, J. (2011) ‘Forms of Faith and Forms of Communication’, in J. Sullivan (ed.), Communicating Faith (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press), 16-30.

Astley, J. (2010) SCM Studyguide to Christian Doctrine London: SCM Press. ISBN-13: 978-0334043249.

Astley, J. ( 2009) ‘The Psychology of Faith Development’, in M. de Souza, L. Francis, J. O’Higgins-Norman and D. G. Scott (eds), International Handbook of Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing (Dordrecht: Springer), 231-245.

Francis, L. J., Robbins, M. and Astley, J. (eds) (2009), Empirical Theology in Texts and Tables: Qualitative, Quantitative and Comparative Perspectives (Leiden: Brill). ISBN 978 90 04 16888 6.

Astley, J. (2009) ‘Evolution and Evil: The Difference Darwinism Makes in Theology and Spirituality’, in S. C. Barton and D. Wilkinson (eds), Reading Genesis After Darwin (New York: Oxford University Press), 163-180.

Astley, J. (2008) ‘Giving Voice to the Ordinary: Theological Listening and the Mother Tongue’, in N. K. Watson and S. Burns (eds), Exchanges of Grace: Essays in Honour of Ann Loades (London: SCM Press), 202-212.

Astley, J., Francis, L. J., and Robbins, M. (eds) (2007) Peace or Violence: The Ends of Religion and Education? (Cardiff: University of Wales Press). ISBN: 978-0-7083-2078-5.

Astley, J. ( 2005) ‘Religious Schooling and the Challenge of the Poor’, Journal of Empirical Theology, 18, 1, 41-47.

Francis, L. J., Robbins, M. and Astley, J. (eds) (2005) Religion, Education and Adolescence: International Empirical Perspectives (Cardiff: University of Wales Press). ISBN: 0-7083-1957-2.

Astley, J. (2004) ‘Religious Non-Realism and Spiritual Truth’, in Gavin Hyman (ed.), New Directions in Philosophical Theology (London: Ashgate), 19-33.

Astley, J. (2004) ‘Christian Ethics in the Classroom, Curriculum and Corridor’, Studies in Christian Ethics, 17, 1, 54-68.

Astley, J., (2004) ‘What is Religion and Whose Faith is it Anyway? Some Issues concerning the Nature and Normativity of Religion, and the Risks of Religious Education’, in H. Lombaerts and D. Pollefeyt (eds), Hermeneutics and Religious Education (Leuven: Leuven University Press), 399-416.

Astley, J., Francis, L. J., Sullivan, J. and Walker, A. (eds) (2004) The Idea of a Christian University: Essays on Theology and Higher Education (Milton Keynes: Paternoster). ISBN: 1-84277-260-0.

Astley, J. (2004) Exploring God-Talk: Using Language in Religion (London: Darton, Longman and Todd). ISBN: 0-232-52519-6.

Astley, J., Brown, D. and Loades, A. (eds) (2004) Science and Religion: A Reader (London: T. & T. Clark). ISBN: 0-567-082-431.

Astley, J., Brown, D. and Loades, A. (eds) (2003) Creation: A Reader (London: T. & T. Clark). ISBN: 0-567-08977-0.

Astley, J., Brown, D. and Loades, A. (eds) (2003) Evil: A Reader (London: T. & T. Clark). ISBN: 0-567-08975-4.

Astley, J. (2003) ‘Spiritual Learning: Good for Nothing?’, in D. Carr and J. Haldane (eds), Spirituality, Philosophy and Education (London: RoutledgeFalmer), 141-153.

Astley, J. (2002) ‘Evangelism in Education: Impossibility, Travesty or Necessity?’, International Journal of Education and Religion, 3, 2, 179-194.

Astley, J. (2002) Ordinary Theology: Looking, Listening and Learning in Theology (Aldershot: Ashgate). ISBN: 0-7546-0584-1.

Astley, J. and Francis, L. J. (2002) ‘Christian Education and Openness: An Empirical Investigation among Undergraduates’, Religious Education, 97, 1, 4-22.

Astley, J., Francis, L. J. and Robbins, M. (eds) (2001) The Fourth R for the Third Millennium: Education in Religion and Values for the Global Future (Dublin: Veritas). ISBN 1-85390-507-0.

Astley, J. (2000) Choosing Life? Christianity and Moral Problems (London: Darton, Longman and Todd). ISBN: 0-232-52368-1

Astley, J. (ed.) (2000) Learning in the Way: Research and Reflection on Adult Christian Education, (Leominster: Gracewing). ISBN: 0-85244-419-2.

Astley, J., Francis, L. J., Wilcox, C. and Burton, L. (2000) ‘How Different is Religious Education in Catholic Schools? A Study of Teacher Aims in England’, International Journal of Education and Religion, 1, 2, 267-281.

Astley, J. (2000) ‘Plurality, Dialogue and Religious Education’, International Journal of Education and Religion, 1, 1, 198-216.

Astley, J. and Savage, M. (2000) ‘Music and Christian Learning’, in J. Astley, T. Hone and M. Savage (eds), Creative Chords: Studies in Music, Theology and Christian Formation (Leominster: Gracewing), 219-242.

Astley, J. (1999) ‘Learning Moral and Spiritual Wisdom’, in S. C. Barton (ed.), Where Shall Wisdom be Found? Wisdom in the Bible, the Church and the Contemporary World (Edinburgh: T & T Clark), 321-334.

Astley, J. (1997) ‘Non-realism for Beginners?’, in C. Crowder (ed.), God and Reality: Essays on Christian Non-Realism (London: Mowbrays), 100-113.

Astley, J., Francis, L. J., Burton, L. and Wilcox, C. (1997) ‘Distinguishing between Aims and Methods in RE: A Study among Secondary RE Teachers’, British Journal of Religious Education, 19, 3, 171-185.

Astley, J. and Francis, L. J. (eds) (1996), Christian Theology and Religious Education: Connections and Contradictions (London: SPCK). ISBN: 0-281-04853-

Astley, J., Francis, L. J. and Crowder, C. (eds) (1996) Theological Perspectives on Christian Formation: A Reader on Theology and Christian Education (Leominster: Gracewing Fowler Wright; Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans). UK ISBN: 0-85244-288-2. US ISBN: 0-8028-0777-1.

Astley, J. and Francis, L. J. (eds) (1994) Critical Perspectives on Christian Education: A Reader on the Aims, Principles and Philosophy of Christian Education (Leominster: Gracewing Fowler Wright). ISBN: 0-85244-254-8.

Astley, J. (1994) ‘The Place of Understanding in Christian Education and Education about Christianity’, British Journal of Religious Education, 16, 2, 90-101.

Astley, J. (1994) The Philosophy of Christian Religious Education (Birmingham, Alabama: Religious Education Press; London: SPCK). US ISBN: 0-89135-093-4. UK ISBN: 0-281-04776-6.

Astley, J. and Francis, L. J. (eds) (1992) Christian Perspectives on Faith Development: A Reader (Leominster: Gracewing Fowler Wright; Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans). UK ISBN: 0-85244-220-3. US ISBN: 0-8028-0578-7.

Astley, J. (1992) ‘Christian Worship and the Hidden Curriculum of Christian Learning’, in J. Astley and D. Day (eds), The Contours of Christian Education (Great Wakering: McCrimmons), 141-152.

Astley, J. ( 1988) ‘Theology and Curriculum Selection: A Theoretical Problem in Teaching Christianity in Religious Education’, British Journal of Religious Education, 10, 2, 86-91.

Astley, J. ( 1987) ‘On Learning Religion: Some Theological Issues in Christian Education’, The Modern Churchman, XXIX, 2, 26-34.

Astley, J. (1984) ‘Ian Ramsey and the Problem of Religious Knowledge’, Journal of Theological Studies, N.S. 35, 2, 414-440.

Astley, J. (1984) ‘The Role of Worship in Christian Learning’, Religious Education, 79, 2, 243-251.