Christopher Craig Brittain
Christopher Craig Brittain is Dean of Divinity and Margaret E. Fleck Chair in Anglican Studies at the University of Toronto. His primary research interest is in contemporary Christianity, which he explores from a variety of differing perspectives and concerns.
I. Power and Powerlessness. The project is a theological study of the concept of power. Many scholars have observed that the concept of power remains contested and often neglected. The absence of a theoretical grasp of the concept is even more striking in Christian theology. Churches in the Global North evidence considerable discomfort over the idea of power: to avoid the charge of colonial imposition of their worldview; due to conflicts over authority within the churches; or to dissociate from the dominant political order. In the Global South, however, the vibrant Neo-Pentecostal and Charismatic movements celebrate the immediacy of the ‘power of the Spirit’. What needs to be better understood, therefore, are the resources contained within the Christian tradition to make sense of competing claims about the nature and significance of power, particularly given that existing literature does not often address these issues in a sustained manner.
II. Conflict in the Anglican Communion: This project analyses the nature of the ongoing conflict within the global Anglican Communion, a conflict that has played out both within and between the different Provinces of the Communion. Although the conflict has often been presented (particularly in the press) as a dispute over sexual norms, preliminary investigations suggest that, while homosexuality is a focus of the conflict, it is to a large degree a ‘presenting symptom’ for other issues and tensions.
III. Issues in Political Theology. I have recently completed essays on populism and religion (focusing on evangelical support of Donald Trump) and in Christian responses to the migration crisis.
Brittain, CC and Andrew McKinnon (2020) “Reshaping Offline Community in the Image of Online Experience: The Impact of Digital Media on Church Conflict in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh,” Ecclesial Practices 7.1, 48-66.
Brittain CC (2007) Can a Theology Student be an Evil Genius? on the concept of habitus in theological Education, Scottish Journal of Theology vol 60 (4): 426-440. (* reprinted in Toronto Journal of Theology in 2009).
Brittain, CC. (forthcoming) “Karl Marx,” T&T Clark Handbook of Modern Theology, ed. Philip Ziegler & David Nelson (Bloomsbury).
Brittain, CC. (2021) “Donald Trump and the Stigmata of Democracy: Adorno on the Consolidation of a Religious Racket.” In: How to Critique Authoritarian Populism: Methodologies of the Frankfurt School, ed. Jeremiah Morelock (Leiden: Brill, 2021), 366-390.
Brittain, CC. (2021). “The Church, Migration, and the Primacy of Motion: Beyond Hospitality.” In Gerald Mannion et. al. (eds), The Church and Migration: Global (In)Difference (Cham: Palgrave, 2021), 61-78.
Brittain, CC (with Andrew McKinnon). (2021).“Anglican disputes over sexuality in the intersection of global power relations: accounts from African church leaders.” In: Sarah Page & Andrew Yip (eds) Intersecting Religion and Sexuality: Sociological Perspectives (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 85-102.
McKinnon, A. & Brittain, CC. (2016). ‘Anglicans in a globalizing world: the contradictions of Communion’. in A Day (ed.), Contemporary Issues in the Worldwide Anglican Communion: Powers and Pieties. Ashgate Contemporary Ecclesiology, Ashgate.
Brittain, CC. (2015). ‘Adorno’s Debt to Paul Tillich?: On Parataxical Theology’. in G Schreiber & H Schultz (eds), Kritische Theologie: Paul Tillich in Frankfurt (1929-1933). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/Boston, pp. 343-360.
Brittain, CC (2013) ‘Washing his Hands of the Enlightenment: a Critique of John Milbank’. In: Nowers J & Medina N (eds), Theology and the Crisis of Engagement: Essays on the Relationship of Theology and the Social Sciences. Wipe and Stock, pp.58-76.
Brittain CC (2011) Ethnography as Ecclesial Attentiveness and Critical Reflexivity: fieldwork and the dispute over homosexuality in The Episcopal Church. In: Scharen C (ed) Church and Culture: A ReaderStudies in Ecclesiology and Ethnography, Vol. 2. Eerdmans.
Brittain CC (2011) Against Eschatological Overdetermination: on Theology and Sociology. In: Brittain CC and Murphy M (eds) Theology, University, Humanities: Inititium Sapientiae Timor Dominum. Wipf & Stock.
Brittain CC (2011) Initium Sapientiae Timor Alius and the Constituents of the University. In: Brittain CC and Murphy F (eds) Theology, University, Humanities: Inititium Sapientiae Timor Dominum Wipf & Stock.
Brittain CC (2006) From A Beautiful Mind to the Beautiful Soul: Rational Choice, Religion, and Adorno. In: Goldstein WS (ed) Marx, Critical Theory, and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice. Leiden, Boston: Brill, pp. 151-177.
Brittain CC (2000) Subjective Destitution and the Postmodern Saint: A Reply to Slavoj Zizek’s interpretation of Breaking the Waves. In: Angermueller J, Bunzmann K, and Rauch C (eds) Hybrid Spaces: Theory, Culture, Economy. New York: Transaction/ Hamburg: LIT, pp.137-148.
Brittain CC (1999) Miming the Crucifixion: Irigaray’s Mimicry and the Power of Religious Language. In: Angermueller J & Martin Nonhoff M (eds) PostModerne Diskurse zwischen Sprache und Macht. Hamburg: Argument Verlag, pp. 90-100.