Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion


Mr John Ievins

Contact Mr John Ievins (email at john.ievins@durham.ac.uk)


I grew up in Peterborough (England), and became fascinated by theology as a teenager. After graduating from my first degree (BA Theology from the University of Birmingham), I completed a 'gap year' in Christian ministry before working in Parliament and the Civil Service. My passion for theology never went away, however, and I decided to return to postgraduate studies - I completed an MA in Biblical Interpretation and Theology at the University of Nottingham, followed by an MSt in Modern Christian Doctrine at the University of Oxford - and have now come to Durham to do my PhD.

Current Research

My research asks the question of how divine love relates to the idea that God seeks his own glory. I am exploring this using the thought of two theologians, Jonathan Edwards and Hans Urs von Balthasar. For both theologians, these ideas are closely connected to the concept of divine beauty.

The Reformed theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) wrote at length on these matters, resolving the question to his own satisfaction with reference to the doctrine of the Trinity and a concept of union between human beings and God. However, I have identified several concerns with his answer: I fear that his solution cannot function without breaking down the distinction between God and creation, and furthermore I would hold that several of his ideas are inconsistent with his ardent Protestantism. Notably, his argument appears to depend upon a concept of moral beauty which he derives from philosophy and tradition.

In an attempt to resolve these concerns with Edwards' argument, I am drawing from the thought of the Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988). Balthasar developed his own account of beauty, drawing on a wide range of sources including Martin Luther. It is my suspicion that Balthasar's theological aesthetics are - ironically - more consonant with Edwards' Protestantism than Edwards' own ideas, and therefore that engagement with Balthasar's theology may enable a reconstruction of Edwards' own thought in a way that resolves my concerns.

Research Interests

  • The Trinity
  • The Moral Attributes of God
  • Theological Aesthetics
  • Public Theology
  • Evangelical-Catholic Relations
  • Biblical Studies and its relation to Systematic Theology