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About Dr Steve Knowles

My current research interests include examining the interface between religion and popular culture with a specific focus upon contemporary apocalyptic beliefs. Related to this is an interest in the correlation between notions of risk in contemporary western society and apocalyptic ideologies.

I am a product of the Theology & Religious Studies Department at the University of Chester, having successfully completed all undergraduate and postgraduate study at this institute. After gaining a First Class degree in theology and also being the recipient of the Hollybank Prize for ‘outstanding contribution to theology', I embarked upon postgraduate studies.

The focus of this was analyzing the theological method of Stanley J. Grenz and his engagement with postmodernism. During my time as a doctoral student at Chester, I was invited to teach on a range of theological topics at undergraduate level. On completion of my PhD in 2007 I became a visiting lecturer, increasing my level of responsibility. I was appointed as a full-time member of staff in January 2010.


Undergraduate Modules:

Studying Religion (L4)

Studying Christianity (L4)

Religion and Popular Culture (L5)

New Religious Movements (L6)


Postgraduate Modules:

Spirituality and Contemporary Popular Culture.


Research Interests

Christian fundamentalism

Religion and popular culture

New Religious Movements

Sociology of Risk

Apocalyptic ideologies

Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (Exclusive Brethren)

Digital Religion


PhD (and DProf) supervision

I welcome enquiries from students wishing to conduct research in any of the areas above, particularly around Christian fundamentalism and apocalypticism.

Published Work


  • 'Beyond Evangelicalism: The Theological Methodology of Stanley J. Grenz' (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010).

Chapters in Books

  • 'Signs of Salvation: Insecurity, Risk and the End of the World in Late Modernity' in H. Bacon, W. Dossett and S. Knowles (eds), Alternative Salvations. London: Bloomsbury. Forthcoming 2015.

  • 'Apocalyptic Imagery in Extreme's III Sides to Every Story' in C. H. Partridge (ed) Anthems of Apocalypse Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012).

  • 'Postmodernism: Reasons to be Cheerful', in H. Bacon, W. Morris and S. Knowles (eds), Transforming Exclusion: Engaging with Faith Perspectives (London: T&T Clark, 2011)

Edited Work

  • Bacon, H., Dossett, W. and Knowles, S. (2015). Alternative Salvations. London: Bloomsbury.

  • With H. Bacon and W. Morris, Transforming Exclusion: Engaging with Faith Perspectives (London: T&T Clark, 2011).


  • ’The Appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies by the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church’, The Journal of CESNUR Special edition on the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church [forthcoming Spring 2021], co-edited by B. Doherty and S. Knowles.

  • ‘The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, Media Engagement and Public Benefit’ Ecclesial Practices 7 (2020), pp. 101-116

  •  ‘Brexit, Babylon and Prophecy: Semiotics of the End Times’, Religions, 9 (12), 2018. 

  • ‘Brexit, Prophecy and Conspiracy: The Necessary Rejection of an Endtime Empire’, Nova Religio vol. 21 (3), 2018, pp.7-28. 

  • ‘Plymouth Brethren Christian Church’, Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements co-authored with B. Doherty (Bedford: Panacea Charitable Trust, 2017). Online at:

  • 'Risk or Rapture: signs of the end or symptoms of world risk society', in Culture and Religion 2014 Vol. 15:4, pp. 419-435.

  • 'Rapture Ready and the World Wide Web: Religious Authority on the Internet', in Journal of Media and Religion 2013 Vol. 12:3, pp. 128-143.

Current Projects

I am currently researching the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (Exclusive Brethren): an exclusivist Christian sect. This work will culminate in a book length study of the contemporary beliefs, practices and culture of group.

Memberships of learned societies

  • Society of Study of Theology

  • Mediating Religion Network

  • American Academy of Religion

  • Member of steering group for UK Network for Theology & Religious Studies and Popular Culture 


  • Journal of Contemporary Religion

  • Modern Believing


BTh (Liv), PhD (Liv), PGCertHE