Keith Ward

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Keith Ward
Born (1938-08-22) 22 August 1938 (age 83)
Hexham, Northumberland
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic philosophy, Idealism
Main interests
Philosophy of religion, Christian theology

Keith Ward, FBA (born 22 August 1938) is a British philosopher, theologian, priest and scholar. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a priest of the Church of England. He was a canon of Christ Church, Oxford until 2003. Comparative theology and the relationship between science and religion are two of his main topics of interest. He was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford from 1991 to 2004.

Academic work

Ward graduated in 1962 with a BA from the University of Wales and from 1964 to 1969 was a lecturer in logic at the University of Glasgow. He earned a BLitt from Linacre College, Oxford in 1968. From 1969 to 1971 he was Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. In 1972, he was ordained as a priest in the Church of England. From 1971 to 1975 he was Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at the University of London. From 1975 to 1983, he was Dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was appointed the F. D. Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology at the University of London in 1982, Professor of History and Philosophy of Religion at King's College London in 1985 and Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford in 1991, a post from which he retired in 2004.[1]

In 1992, Ward was a visiting professor at the Claremont Graduate University in California. In 1993–94, he delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow. He was the Gresham Professor of Divinity between 2004 and 2008 at Gresham College, London.[2]

Ward is on the council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and is a member of the editorial boards of Religious Studies, the Journal of Contemporary Religion, Studies in Inter-Religious Dialogue and World Faiths Encounter. He is a member of the board of governors of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. He has also been a visiting professor at Drake University, Iowa, and at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.[3]

Ward has MA and DD degrees from both Cambridge and Oxford universities,[4] and an honorary DD from the University of Glasgow.

Focus and beliefs

One of Ward's main focuses is the dialogue between religious traditions, an interest which led him to be joint president of the World Congress of Faiths (WCF) from 1992 to 2001. His work also explores concepts of God and the idea of revelation. He has also written on his opinion of a relationship between science and religion.[5] As an advocate of theistic evolution, he regards evolution and Christianity as essentially compatible, a belief he has described in his book God, Chance and Necessity and which is in contrast to his Oxford colleague Richard Dawkins, an ethologist and vocal and prominent atheist. Ward has said that Dawkins's conclusion that there is no God or any purpose in the universe is "naive" and not based on science but on a hatred of religion. Dawkins's strong anti-religious views originate, according to Ward, from earlier encounters with "certain forms of religion which are anti-intellectual and anti-scientific...and also emotionally pressuring."[6] He has also been highly critical of materialist philosophers of consciousness such as Daniel Dennett, as well as social scientists such as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, arguing that they each attempt to reduce the human person into aspects of their own discipline.

Ward has described his own Christian faith as follows:

I am a born-again Christian. I can give a precise day when Christ came to me and began to transform my life with his power and love. He did not make me a saint. But he did make me a forgiven sinner, liberated and renewed, touched by divine power and given the immense gift of an intimate sense of the personal presence of God. I have no difficulty in saying that I wholeheartedly accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour.[7]

Ward has criticised modern-day Christian fundamentalism, most notably in his 2004 book What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists. He believes that fundamentalists interpret the Bible in implausible ways and pick and choose which of its passages to emphasise to fit pre-existing beliefs. He argues that the Bible must be taken "seriously" but not always "literally" and does not agree with the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, saying that it is not found in the Bible, elaborating that

There may be discrepancies and errors in the sacred writings, but those truths that God wished to see included in the Scripture, and which are important to our salvation, are placed there without error... the Bible is not inerrant in detail, but God has ensured that no substantial errors, which mislead us about the nature of salvation, are to be found in Scripture.[7]


Ward is the author of many books including:

Books about Ward and his theology include:


See also


  1. Who's Who entry
  2. Online lecture archive at Gresham College
  3. Professor Keith Ward, Gresham College profile, Accessed 26 January 2007
  4. Professor Keith Ward, Gresham College profile, Accessed 7 November 2006
  5. Keith Ward's Oxford University profile, Accessed, 7 November 2006
  6. Video interview] by Robert Wright for at 28:00 and following
  7. 7.0 7.1 Keith Ward. What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists (2004)
  8. "Keith Ward Audio / Video". Keith Ward. Retrieved 28 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Maurice Wiles
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford
Succeeded by
Marilyn McCord Adams