Ertegun Staff and Scholar Profiles

Sam Shearn

Samuel Shearn

MPhil Modern Theology | 2014 Graduate

I am a great advocate of the Ertegun Scholarship programme – who wouldn’t be? It gave me the opportunity to study in Oxford, helped me to host an international conference, and offered me a chance to be part of an academic community where I was helped professionally and personally.

Now I am completing my DPhil in Theology at Worcester College with an AHRC Scholarship thanks to the doors opened through the Ertegun-funded MPhil in Modern Theology.

My current research project is an intellectual and theological biography of theologian Paul Tillich’s time as a student, young pastor, and army chaplain in the First World War, with special reference to his earliest sermons. I analyse Tillich’s sermons against the background of his biography, intellectual development, and Germany’s cultural and political history, with the aim of producing a historically interesting, English-language portrait of a German army chaplain that contributes to our understanding of theology, piety and politics at the beginning of the 20th Century. The working title is “Pastor Tillich. Politics, Culture, Grace.”

Having spent many years living in Germany prior to my graduate studies in the UK, I returned in 2016 to the university town of Marburg to work on the final stages of my DPhil. I see my future in Germany, encouraging the exchange of good scholarship across the language barrier.

To find out more about my work see



'Moral critique and defence of theodicy', Religious Studies 49/4 (2013), 439-458.

'Charles Taylor, Nietzsche and Theology', in: Florian Zemmin, Colin Jager, Guido Vanheeswijck (eds), Working With a Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative. Religion and Its Others 3 (Berlin/New York: Walter De Gruyter, 2016), 263-282.

Edited with Russell Re Manning: Returning to Tillich: Theology and Legacy in Transition (Berlin/NewYork: De Gruyter, forthcoming). This edited collection of essays emerged from an international conference held at Ertegun House, July 2014. The funding and administrative support from the Ertegun Programme thus made this book possible.