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Staff Q&A: Christopher Porter

The Revd Dr Chris Porter describes himself as a reluctant theologian, but when secular science couldn't answer all his questions, he turned to theological research.

Revd Dr Chris Porter

What are your areas of interest or specialisation?

I am particularly interested in how individuals and social groups conceive of themselves and relate to others. From a theological perspective, I look at the differentiation of social groups in the New Testament, and in particular the ‘parting of the ways’ between Christianity and Judaism. Part of the attraction to this area of study comes from my own background as a transracial adoptee in Australia, and working out how I fit into the Australian culture, even as Australia attempts to figure out its own cultural engagement with the rest of the world. There is a unique interaction of Australians and social identity, as seen in the regular rhetoric about certain aspects being ‘un-Australian’ but less rhetoric about what it means to be Australian.

What do you enjoy most about working at Trinity College?

I really enjoy the collegial atmosphere as we are able to speak into each other’s research and teaching and grow in our own research and teaching together. I am also enjoying teaching a broad variety of students from diverse backgrounds, each of whom bring different perspectives to the subject material and interact to provide new perspectives and insights.

How would you describe Trinity’s theological community?

The Trinity theological community is both broad and deep, with deep passion for the subjects and research areas that we work within. Everyone within the theological community is dedicated to their craft of research and teaching, and bring the best out of students and fellows alike.

Current research projects

My current research output is focused around two major books:

  • A Theological approach to Social Identity Formation in the Fourth Gospel
  • A non-supersessionistic Christology of the Fourth Gospel and its Reception to Nicea

In addition, I am working on three further pastorally focused books:

  • Social Identity Theory: A guide for the perplexed (a.k.a. the idiot’s Guide to Social Identity Theory)
  • A New Psychology of Ecclesiological Leadership (applying Social Identity Theory to leadership within the church)
  • Voices of the Adopted (a book of adopted voices engaging with theology and politics of adoption)

Plus, hopefully a series of articles will be printed eventually (COVID delays…)

  • ‘Hic Sunt Dracones' – Mapping the Rebellious Social Dynamics of Bel and the Snake from the Daniel and Joseph Competitive Court-Tales
  • Angels, Priests and Monsters: The Hellenistic Background of the Book of Daniel
  • 'All Things to All People' 1 Corinthians and Social Identity Theory
  • ‘Would you kindly ... brings us the girl and wipe away the debt’ – Puppets and Choice in the Devolution of Utopia to Apocalypse in Ken Levine's BioShock Series
  • Subgroup Identity, Conflict Resolution, and the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15
  • The Ghost in Our Shell? – An Exploration of Self and Identity within Eastern and Western Frames of Transhumanism and Artificial Intelligence.
  • ‘Theirs is the adoption to sonship’ – Huiothesia and Narrative Identity Formation of Israel in Romans 9
  • Continually put on Jesus Christ as Lord: Addiction, Masking, Narrative Identity Construction as a Theological Frame for Habitual Recovery.

Where does your interest in theological study come from?

As one of my teenage diaries attests, I am a relatively reluctant theologian and only shifted into theological study after a formative period of research in cognitive psychology. I made the shift because there were a host of questions that I felt couldn’t be adequately answered in the secular sciences, but rather were the domain of theology: the queen of the sciences.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child, I wanted to be a fighter pilot, and then a racing driver. I can only claim to have succeeded at one of these.

Has there been a pivotal moment in your life?

When my wife and I travelled to Tanzania for her medical elective, I presumed that I would be engaged in some engineering or IT-related activity. Little did I know that I would spend most of the time preaching and teaching across the diocese. I came back with a radically changed focus of study and research.

What’s your favourite movie, TV show or book?

I don’t think that I have any one favourite, but the aspects that connect all my preferred worlds is a focus on in-depth world-building and engaging with the big questions of life in a fictional setting that allows greater insight into what it means to be human.

Which activities make you lose track of time?

Building and machine work. In order to balance the life of the mind I have a hobby of building and creating things with my hands. Just like with research and writing, I can easily lose track of time when crafting something.

Read Chris's bio.