Research Profile: John Flett


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Research Interests

John G. Flett is professor of missiology and intercultural theology at Pilgrim Theological College, Melbourne, Australia, außerplanmäßiger Professor at the Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal, Stellvertretender Institutsleiter am Institut für Interkulturelle Theologie und Interreligiöse Studien, Wuppertal, Germany, co-editor of the book series Beiträge zur Missionswissenschaft / Interkulturellen Theologie, LIT Verlag, and contributing editor to the International Bulletin of Mission Research.

John specialises in constructive theologies and methodologies developed in conversation with intercultural and ecumenical theologies. Critical readings of “religion” and of “world Christianity” have opened greater possibilities for appreciating the nature and forms of contextual embodiments of belief systems. This includes methodological shifts in identifying authorities and voices, theological texts (including, art, poetry, dance, architecture), embodied forms (liturgies, structures, practices), and the ends of theology, including mission, the transmission of the faith across cultures and times. This aids the process of decolonising western approaches because it opens the discussion to include Indigenous religions and cultural heritage and shifts the interrogation of ideas like salvation or syncretism because it refuses the hard borders imposed by the category of religion. In short, whereas colonial approaches to religion and theology ignored the culture, history, religion, and contextual and embodied forms of faith in Oceania, these new developments are better able to hear and engage with what is already occurring in this region.

John’s publications have explored such ranging topics as intercultural hermeneutics, migrant Christianity, multiculturalism, contextual theologies and methods, religion and theology in Oceania, ecumenical accounts of difference and unity (including such things as cartography, narratives of arrival, ancestors). He has lived and taught in the USA, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, the DRC, Romania, France, the Netherlands, PNG, and Australia.

His PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary was a ground-breaking examination of the history and theology of missio Dei and was published as The Witness of God (Eerdmans, 2010). His Habilitationschrift, undertaken at the Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel, developed a critical account the church’s apostolicity, understanding the embodiment of the faith in cultural difference as fundamental to the continuity of the faith through time. This appeared as Apostolicity: The Ecumenical Question in World Christian Perspective (IVP Academic, 2016) and was recognised as one of the IBMR’s Ten Outstanding Books in Mission Studies, World Christianity, and Intercultural Theology of 2016. His most recent work (2020) with Henning Wrogemann, titled Questions of Context: Reading a Century of German Mission Theology, examined the range of ideas that underly the theories of contextualisation and the related consequences for local embodiments of the faith. This was his third book to be named as one of the IMBR Ten Outstanding Books in Mission Studies, Intercultural Theology and World Christianity for 2020. His current book length projects include the T&T Clark Handbook on Intercultural Theology and Mission Studies (with Dorottya Nagy), and a critical edition of the life and works of J. C. Hoekendijk (Brill).

He is a minister of the Word in the Uniting Church in Australia (Port Phillip West Presbytery), is married to Priscilla and has two daughters, Trinity and Mila.

Research Supervision

John welcomes research proposals dealing with all aspects of mission, intercultural, and ecumenical theology, including contemporary themes such as intercultural hermeneutics, mission and the arts, the cross-cultural transmission and appropriation of the Christian gospel, and historical themes dealing with the problem of colonialisation and cultural replication, contemporary theologies of religion and secularisation, methodological approaches to world Christianity and intercultural theology, and ecumenical theologies.

Recent Publications

“Evil, Demons, and Exorcism.” Cursor_ Zeitschrift Für Explorative Theologie 6 (2022), online at:

“(Any?) New Approaches in the Theology of Mission.” Verkündigung und Forschung 66, no. 2 (2021): 104–19.

With Henning Wrogemann, Questions of Context: Reading a Century of German Mission Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020.

With David W. Congdon, Converting Witness: Theology for a Pilgrim People. Minneapolis, MN: Lexington Books-Fortress Academic, 2019.

Apostolicity: The Ecumenical Question in World Christian Perspective. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016.

“Multiculturalism as Theology and Policy: The Challenges and Future Possibilities.” In Theological and Hermeneutical Explorations from Australia: Horizons of Contextuality, edited by Jione Havea, 55-68. Lanham: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2020.

“Method in Mission Studies: Comparing World Christianity and Intercultural Theology.” Theologische Literaturzeitung 143 (2018): 717-31.

“Contextualisation and Human Rights Law: A Future Area of Contest?,” in Living in the Family of Jesus: Critical Contextualization in the Melanesia and Beyond, edited by William Kenny Longgar, and Tim Meadowcroft, 371–94. Auckland: Archer Press, 2016.

“Versammlung, Auferbauung und Sendung der christlichen Gemeinde: Die Ekklesiologie in Karl Barths Versöhnungslehre,” in Karl Barth als Lehrer der Versöhnung (1950–1968): Vertiefung – Öffnung – Hoffnung, edited by Michael Trowitzsch, Michael Beintker, and Georg Plasger, 117–37. Zürich: TVZ, 2016.

“Justification contra Mission: The Isolation of Justification in the History of Reconciliation.” Zeitschrift für Dialektische Theologie Supplement Series 6 (2014): 58–80.

The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth and the Nature of Christian Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

For a current CV and complete list of publications download the PDF here.