Professor Nicholas Adams

Professor Nicholas Adams

Department of Theology and Religion
Professor of Philosophical Theology

My two principal areas of research are the impact of German Idealism on Christian theology together with the investigation of philosophical problems in inter-religious engagement.


  • MA (Cantab)
  • PhD (Cantab)


I read Music at King’s College, Cambridge (where I was a choral scholar), followed by Theology. After completing my PhD in Theology, I took up a research fellowship at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

In 1998 I moved to the University of Edinburgh, working in systematic theology and philosophy.

I was appointed to a chair in philosophical theology at the University of Birmingham in September 2015.


I teach courses in philosophical theology (especially in post-Kantian thought), and also contribute to our programme in religion and politics.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from potential students in philosophical theology, especially post-Kantian thought (Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard) and its relation to C20 and C21 Christian theology (including Barth, Bonhoeffer, Tillich, von Balthasar, Pannenberg, Moltmann, Rahner, Jüngel, Tracey, Milbank), as well as key figures in the German tradition who are significant for engagements between religion and philosophy (including Bloch, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno, Habermas).

I also welcome enquiries in philosophical problems in interreligious engagement, a growing sub-field of the Philosophy of Religion, including problems in pluralism, truth, disagreement, and argument, especially in relation to theology of religions, comparative theology and scriptural reasoning.

Supervising doctoral work is one of the high points, and one of the most important parts, of my academic work. I was awarded ‘Best Research Supervisor’ (a university-wide award) in my former institution, in 2015.

All of my former doctoral students have completed successfully (writing on a wide variety of figures including Kant, Schelling, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Gadamer, Horkheimer, Tillich, and many others). My best recent former PhD students have gone on to hold Junior Research Fellowships or British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowships at Oxford.

I encourage all my students to present at academic conferences during their study, and work with them to prepare papers for presentation and publication that will help establish their presence in the academy.

Find out more - our PhD Theology and Religion  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My principal work has been on the ways changes in philosophical method have an impact on theological reasoning. I am especially interested in Kant’s attempt to combine subject and object (in his transcendental idealism) and Hegel’s correction of this in his account of the concept (in his logic).

This has led to associated questions of truth, tradition, subjectivity and argumentation in inter-religious encounter (often stimulated by the practice of Scriptural Reasoning).

Other activities



  • Eclipse of Grace: Divine and Human Action in Hegel (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)
  • The Impact of Idealism: Volume 4 Religion (ed. Adams, Cambridge: CUP, 2013)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought (ed. Adams, Pattison, Ward, Oxford: OUP, 2013)
  • Habermas and Theology (Cambridge, CUP: 2006)

Recent articles/chapters

  • ‘Barth and Hegel’ in Blackwell Companion to Karl Barth (ed G Hunsinger and K Johnson, forthcoming)
  • ‘Superstition and Enlightenment: Engagements Between Theology and Anthropology’ in Theologically Engaged Anthropology (ed. J Derrick Lemons, Oxford: OUP, 2018)
  • ‘Radicalism, Anxiety, and Inquiry’ in The Review of Faith and International Affairs (2017)
  • ‘New Plural Settlements: The Secular and Secularization’ in The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning (Vol. 14 No. 2, November 2016)
  •  ‘Hegel’s China: On God and Beauty’ in 美美与共:人类文明的交流与互鉴 (Beijing: Religious Culture Press, 2016)
  • ‘Pairs: A Response to Rashkover, Farneth and James’ Journal of Scriptural Reasoning (Volume 14, No. 2, December 2015)
  • ‘Arguing’ in Routledge Companion to the Practice of Christian Theology (ed. Fodor/Higton, London: Routledge, 2015)
  • ‘Interreligious engagement in the public sphere’ in Understanding Interreligious Relations (ed. Cheetham, Thomas, Pratt, Oxford: OUP, 2013), pp.281-305
  • ‘Faith and Reason’ in The Impact of Idealism: Religion (ed. Adams, CUP, 2013), pp.194-218
  • ‘The Impact of Idealism on Religion’ The Impact of Idealism: Religion (ed. Adams, CUP, 2013), pp.1-23
  • ‘The Bible’ in The Oxford Handbook of Modern European Thought (ed. Adams, Pattison, Ward, Oxford: OUP, 2013), pp.567-588
  • ‘A Disharmony of the Gospels’ in The Vocation of Theology (ed. Greggs, Muers, Zahl, Cascade 2013)
  • ‘Long-Term Disagreement: Philosophical Models in Scriptural Reasoning and Receptive Ecumenism’ Modern Theology October 2013, pp.154-171
  • ‘Pluralistische Religionstheologie: Neue Modelle’ in Interkulturelle Theologie (Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft), 1-2/2013 pp.116-132

View all publications in research portal