Charles Sturt University
PACT - Public and Contextual Theology


To provide a coherent research agenda and small groups in which our members collaborate, PACT operates three Research Streams, which are summarised below.  All PACT members join and support the activities of one of our Research Streams and there is also significant inter-Stream collaboration.

Religion and Society

  • Critically exploring the place of religion in Australia, including indigenous spirituality, the impact of European mission activity, and religious social service and education agencies
  • Examining how societies and cultures inform sacred texts, religious ethics, the practice of theology, as well as how context informs and transforms religious traditions
  • Examining the contribution of religions and their theological traditions to social justice, indigenous reconciliation, a civil society and the public good.

Religion & Society Research Stream Leader: Dr Jane Foulcher (

Interreligious Collaboration

  • Critically exploring and comparing the intellectual foundations of inter-religious relations
  • Examining theological foundations behind religiously implicated acts of bigotry, intolerance, violence and extremism
  • Contributing to debate and research within the academy and society about interreligious harmony, dialogue and social well-being.

Interreligious Research Stream Leader: A/Prof Salih Yucel (

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

  • Theological research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries
  • Theology and ethics examining humanity's threat to the environment, faith and climate change, science and religion, economics and religion
  • Scholarly and spiritual insight into what constitutes a 'good life', what it means to be human and what constitutes a civil society.

Current Research

Child Abuse in the Catholic Church

Dr Miller is currently researching child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the related topic of designing an integrity system for the Church. On the subject of child sexual abuse Virginia has an audience in the general public and academia. Her article Child Sexual Abuse and the Roman Catholic Church in Australia Today was published in by three different media outlets including the Australian National Broadcaster, and the Italian press. It was also published on Abundant Life.

Virginia has published an academic version of this work in the recent edition of St Mark’s Review. She has been invited to make the following contribution, “Toward an Integrity System for the Anglican Church” for the Journal of Anglican Studies (Cambridge University Press). She was recently a keynote speaker at the National Theological Educators Conference in Australia, speaking on child sexual abuse inquiries and integrity systems.

Virginia received her doctorate at Murdoch University in the area of Old Testament studies. She is a co-editor of the book, New Perspectives in Ecumenism, that is under contract with Palgrave MacMillan. The other editors are the Most Rev’d Sir David Moxon, and the Rt Rev’d Prof Stephen Pickard. Virginia has studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, authored a book on Bonhoeffer’s concept of cheap grace. The book is titled, Grace: Free, Costly or Cheap? (2012). She has published 7 book chapters, 4 peer-reviewed articles, given 13 invited international presentations (including King’s College and Humboldt University, Berlin), has been a scholar in residence at the Anglican embassy in Rome (the Anglican Centre in Rome), and has been the recipient of numerous research grants.

She will be a Crawford Miller visiting scholar at St Cross College, Oxford in October 2019.

Political Theology

PaCT Fellow Dr Jonathan Cole is currently writing a book with the working title “Orthodox and Evangelical Political Theology in Conversation: A Comparative Analysis of the Political Ontologies of Christos Yannaras and Oliver O’Donovan."

The book brings the political theologies of Evangelical Anglican theologian Oliver O’Donovan and Greek Orthodox theologian Christos Yannaras into critical dialogue. O’Donovan’s political theology centres on the notion of the divinely authorised political act and posits that the function of secular government within the context of salvation history is to enact judgment, defined as a moral discrimination between right and wrong. Yannaras’ political theology, in contrast, centres the notion of authentic existence in accordance to, and in communion with, the “Trinitarian prototype of existence”—the self-transcendent, self-giving communion of loving interpersonal relationship made a historical reality through the incarnation. The book will examine the ways in which O’Donovan’s and Yannaras’ Evangelical and Orthodox theological commitments respectively, along with their distinct political contexts (the UK and Greece), have shaped their differing perceptions of political ontology and the telos of politics within the divine economy.