Richard A. Davis
Acting Vice-Principal
Senior Tutor
Director of the Centre for Faith in Public Life​

Dr Richard A. Davis joined Wesley House in January 2021. He supervises research students engaged in qualitative research projects from across the world and develops the work of our Centre for Faith in Public Life.

Prior to coming to Wesley House, Dr Davis was Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Ethics at Pacific Theological College in Fiji. Richard worked for many years in central and local government in Aotearoa. As a student he was very active in the youth movement of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, Student Christian Movement Aotearoa, and is currently an Elder and lay preacher in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. In 2014 Richard worked as the Clerk of the Presbytery of Wellington in the PCANZ. He has previously worked for the Joint Methodist-Presbyterian Public Questions Committee and then in the General Assembly office of the PCANZ in administration and communications roles. Richard studied for the PhD at New College, Edinburgh on a Council for World Mission scholarship, graduating in 2013.

Richard is a former International Fellow at the Kettering Foundation in Ohio (2003) and continues to be interested in deliberative democracy and the contribution of civil society to democracy. In 2019 he had study leave at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton participating in the Research Workshop on Religion & Violence. Richard teaches across the fields of contextual theology and ethics, with a special focus on Christian social ethics and public and practical theology.


Web presence


Research interests

  • Contextual theology
  • Social issues
  • Public and political theology
  • Ecumenical and contextual ethics
  • Christian social ethics
  • Christian anarchism
  • Ecotheology and climate change
  • Faith-based activism


Recent publications

  • Settler Colonialism. [online] Political Theology Network. Available at: <>.
  • “From Empire to Independent Composite Successor States: Postcolonial Political Theology in Melanesia”, in Resisting Occupation: A Global Struggle for Liberation, eds. Miguel A. De La Torre and Mitri Raheb, Decolonizing Theology (Lanham: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2022), 195–209.
  • “Climate Justice and God’s Justice in the Pacific: Climate Change Adaptation and Martin Luther”, in Beyond Belief: Opportunities for Faith-Engaged Approaches to Climate-Change Adaptation in the Pacific Islands, eds. Johannes M. Luetz and Patrick D. Nunn (Springer, Cham, 2021), 99–113.
  • Pacific Resistance Unmasking the Old Normal in the Era of Covid 19” Political Theology Symposium (15 October 2020)
  • ‘Review of Religion and Power, edited by Jione Havea (Lexington Books/FortressAcademic, 2019).’, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa March 2020 (166).
  • “Can Theology Contribute to the Security of Women in the Pacific Household?”, in Mapping Security in the Pacific: A Focus on Context, Gender and Organisational Culture, eds. Sara N Amin, Danielle Watson, Christian Girard (London: Routledge, 2020), 133–145. [online]
  • Making a Difference: Faith-Based Organisations Contributing to Social Change in Aotearoa (Faith-Based Leadership Working Papers Series, No. 1). Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Otago, 2019. [online]
  • “Jacques Ellul”, in The Palgrave Handbook of Radical Theology, eds. Christopher D. Rodkey and Jordan E. Miller, Radical Theologies and Philosophies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 187–202. [online]
  • “Domestic Violence in Oceania: The Sin of Disobedience and the Violence of
    Obedience”, in Rape Culture, Gender Violence, and Religion: Christian Perspectives, eds. Caroline Blyth, Emily Colgan, and Katie B. Edwards, Religion and Radicalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 143–158. [online]
  • “And Finally…,” The Expository Times 129, no. 5, (February 2018): 24.
  • “The Rainbow Covenant, Climate Change, and Noah’s Exile,” The Pacific Journal of Theology Series II, 54 (2015): 37–44. [read]
  • “If You Want Peace, Go In Peace,” Refresh: Journal of Contemplative Spirituality 15, no. 2 (Winter 2015): 30–33.
  • “True and False Spirits for ‘Unity’ and ‘Peace’: Ephesians 4:3 in Political Perspective,” Reformed World 60, no. 3 (December 2010): 203–213.
  • “Love, Hate, and Kierkegaard’s Christian Politics of Indifference,” in Religious Anarchism: New Perspectives, ed. Alexandre J. M. E. Christoyannopoulos (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), 82–105.
  • “Social Capital and Strong Communities in New Zealand,” in Race, Neighborhoods and the Misuse of Social Capital, ed. James Jennings (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 145–156.
  • “From Patriotism to Peace: Considering September 11,” Stimulus: The New Zealand Journal of Christian Thought and Practice 9, no. 4 (November 2001): 37–41.
  • “Towards a Christian Social Ecology,” Pacifica 13, no. 2 (June 2000): 181–201.
  • Davis, R., 2021a. Methodism in public life? Methodist Recorder, (8552), p.24.
  • Davis, R.A., 2021b. Reconciliation, Forgiveness and Violence in Africa: Biblical, Pastoral and Ethical Perspectives, edited by Marius J. Nel, Dion A. Forster, and Christo H. Thesnaar. International Journal of Public Theology, [online] 15(3), pp.452–453.
  • Davis, R.A., 2022a. From Empire to Independent Composite Successor States: Postcolonial Political Theology in Melanesia. In: M.A.D.L. Torre and M. Raheb, eds. Resisting Occupation: A Global Struggle for Liberation, Decolonizing Theology. Lanham: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic. pp.195–209.
  • Davis, R.A., 2022b. Settler Colonialism. [online] Political Theology Network. Available at:
  • Davis, R.A., 2022c. The Church and the climate crisis. Methodist Recorder, (8573), p.24.
  • Davis, R.A. and Pohue, M., 2021. French Polynesia. In: K.R. Ross, K. Tahaafe-Williams, G.J. Hill and T.M. Johnson, eds. Christianity in Oceania, Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press.



  • PhD (University of Edinburgh) – Theology
  • MA(Hons) (Victoria University of Wellington) – Philosophy
  • BTheol(Hons) (University of Otago) – Christian Thought and History
  • DipGrad (University of Otago) – Religious Studies and Philosophy
  • BBS (Massey University) – Valuation and Property Management Description


Recent presentations

  • “What’s so Methodist about Faith in Public Life?” to Methodist Theology and Spirituality Seminar, Wesley House, Cambridge, England (14 October 2021)
  • “Indigenous Māori Theology, Postcolonial Pasifika Theology, Decolonial Settler Theology, and the Bicultural Journey of the Methodist Church of New Zealand: A Pākehā Perspective” at the Wesley House World Parish Webinar, Cambridge, England (13 July 2021)
  • “Biological Metaphors for Church and Ecclesial Eugenics in an Evolutionary Age: A Case Study from New Zealand” at the Wesley House Research Seminar, Cambridge (11 February 2021)
  • “Being a Methodist in New Zealand: Some Personal Reflections in Public and Contextual Theology” at Methodist Theology and Spirituality Series, Wesley House, Cambridge (4 February 2021)
  • “Jacques Ellul on Obstacles to True Peace and How to Overcome Them” at the Things that Make for Peace Conference II: “Peace Within, Peace Without: Theological and Philosophical Explorations”, Uniting Theological College, Sydney Australia (18-20 March 2020) (conference cancelled)
  • “Theological Fragments on Child Poverty in Aotearoa” at the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (20 November 2019)
  • “Independent Composite States as Occupying Institutions: Pacific States as Mini Empires” at CWM’s DARE Global Forum 2019, Luodong, Taiwan (20 June 2019)
  • “Climate Change in the Pacific: Christian Perspectives on an Existential Crisis” at the Centre for Climate Justice, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland (28 May 2019)
  • “What Are We Afraid Of?: Theology, Culture, and Human Rights Discourse
    in the Pacific” at York St John University, York, England (23 May 2019)
  • “Weber’s Definition of the State and the Problem of Violence in Political Theology” at the Center of Theological Inquiry’s Seminar on Religion and Violence, Princeton, USA (15 April 2019)
  • “The Paradoxes of the Regional and the Particular in Pacific Christianity” at the Second Annual World Christianity Conference, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton NJ, USA (17 March 2019)
  • “Can Theology Contribute to the Security of Women in the Pacific Household?” at the APTO Conference 2018, Pacific Regional Seminary, Suva, Fiji Islands (November 2018)
  • “What Are We Afraid Of?: Theology, Culture, and Human Rights Discourse in the Pacific” to the PTC/NZIPR conference “Churches Tackling Gender-Based Violence: Preventing Violence, Reporting Perpetrators, Restoring Survivors“, Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji (13 April 2018)
  • “Jacques Ellul’s Nonviolent Christian Revolution: A Reappraisal” presented to the Rethinking Pacifism for Revolution, Security and Politics conference, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (23 November 2017). [Watch on YouTube]
  • “The Sin of Disobedience and the Violence of Obedience” to the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (5 September 2017) and Wellington, New Zealand (8 September 2017)
  • “Reading Martin Luther in a Climate Change Affected Pacific” an Open Lecture at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (4 September 2017)
  • “Prosperity Preaching and the Kingdom of God”‘ to ECREA’s forum on “Re-Visiting the Life of Christ and Restoring the Heart of His Message: The Kingdom of God”, Epworth House, Suva, Fiji Islands (20 July 2017)
  • “A Biblical and Theological Perspective to Managing Common Resources in the Context of Climate Change in the South Pacific” to the Oceania Biblical Studies Association, Auckland, New Zealand (21 April 2017)
  • “Luther’s Theology of Creation and Climate Change in the Pacific” to 500 Years of Reformation – A Celebration, Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji Islands (17–18 March 2017)
  • “Public Theology in the Context of Climate Change and Fiji’s Unchanging State of Exception” to the Global Network for Public Theology Consultation, Stellenbosch University, South Africa (October 2016)
  • “The Sin of Disobedience and the Violence of Obedience”‘ at the Pacific Centre of Peacebuilding’s Pacific Peace Conference, GPH, Suva, Fiji Islands (19 September 2016).
  • “The Commons: A Pacific and Theological Perspective on Managing Common Resources” to ECREA’s ‘Seminar and Deliberative Forum on Climate Justice in Rethinking and Reclaiming our Common Home’, Novotel, Lami, Fiji Islands (13 April 2016).
  • “Biological Metaphors for Church and Ecclesial Eugenics in an Evolutionary Age” to the School of Social Sciences seminar, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji Islands (13 November 2015)
  • “The Relationship between the State and Violence” to the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Accra, Ghana (16 January 2015)
  • “Pure Social Justice: The Unity of James 1:27 and Political Theology” to The Bible: Culture, Community and Society Conference, University of Winchester, Winchester, UK (13 July 2011)



Current Research students

  • Maudy Muchanyereyi (Zimbabwe) Towards the development of Shona theology of sacred space in the Zimbabwe United Methodist Church.
  • Trista Soendker Nicholson (USA) More Power, Less Glory: An Analysis of Martin E. Marty’s Writing on Christian Nationalism and Fundamentalism.
  • Simphiwe Mthembu (South Africa) A critical analysis of the relationship between the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) and the African National Congress (ANC).
  • David Baraza (Kenya) Developing Accountable Ministry, with reference to the Theology of Stewardship and Case Studies from the East Africa Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church.
  • Anastacio Chembeze (Mozambique) – Church role in peace making in Mozambique
  • Jerry Kulah (Liberia) – Discipleship and spiritual formation in the UMC in Liberia: Interface of biblical theology and culture
  • Allen Paye (Zimbabwe) – An exploration of the Theology and Diaconal Practices of the UMC in Liberia addressing poverty in context, in light of Liberation Theology: A case Study of the Gio and Mano Tribes in Gompa District

Previous Research students

  • Esera Esera (Congregational Christian Church in Samoa, MTh with Distinction, 2020) – `A `So’o Tulutulu’ Economy: A Theological-Cultural Approach Towards a Renewed Understanding of Economic Growth in Samoa’.
  • Tobora Tamatone (Kiribati Uniting Church, BD(Hons) with High Distinction, 2020) – `Re-Visiting Christ’s Holy Saturday Through Teiao: A Kiribati Feminist Christology’.
  • Leinamau Seru (Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, MTh, 2019) – ‘Looking at God’s Image and Likeness through the Cultural Lens of Fakaolia to Re-image the Woman as a Theological Response to Domestic Violence in Vanuatu’.
  • Charles Aru (Anglican Church of Melanesia, MTh, 2019) – ‘Preserving Life and Identity in Araga Society, Vanuatu: Towards an Eco-Theology of Maliudu’.
  • Harry Gereniu (Anglican Church of Melanesia, MTh, 2018) – ‘Ali’Afu Anga Theology – A Re-Invigoration of Theological Education for Fata’Abus in the Anglican Church of Melanesia’.
  • Allan Walter (Anglican Church of Melanesia, MTh, 2018) – ‘The Distortion of Kastomary Land Laws and Its Effects of Land Disputes on Mota and Gaua in Vanuatu’.
  • Verenaisi Toga (Methodist Church in Fiji, MTh, 2017) – ‘Promoting Dauniyau Vinaka in the Methodist Church in Fiji through John Wesley’s Teachings’.
  • Leinamau Seru (Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, BD(Hons), 2017) – ‘Women’s Ordination in the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu: A Theological Contribution’.
  • Berenike Bakarere (Kiribati Uniting Church, MTh, 2016) – ‘Oi N Aomata: A Christological Exploration of Marriage in the Midst of Violence against Wives in Kiribati Context’.
  • Josaia Betomakita (Methodist Church in Fiji, MTh, 2016) – ‘Re-Thinking Vakanomodi: Towards an I Taukei Theology of Silence in Contemporary Fiji’.
  • Esala Nasaroa (Methodist Church in Fiji, MTh, 2015) – ‘Kalougata, the Horizon of God’s Presence and Blessing: Towards a Methodology for Fijian Theology’.