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Reverend Associate Professor Glen O'Brien

Glen O'Brien -  EBC Associate Professor

Research Coordinator / Lecturer

BTh (Kingsley), MA Biblical Studies (Kingsley), MA Theological Studies (Asbury), PhD (La Trobe) 

Glen O’Brien has been on the College teaching staff since 2009, having formerly served at Booth College, Sydney, as Head of Humanities and Head of Theology. He is a Uniting Church minister in the Yarra Yarra Presbytery with a placement to full-time theological education in The Salvation Army. As Research Coordinator at Eva Burrows College he administers the University of Divinity’s Higher Degrees by Research offered through the College as well as lecturing in Christian History and Theology, specialising in Wesleyan studies. He is Chair of the Research Committee of the University of Divinity and a Deputy Chair of Examiners in the University. He is also a Member of the University of Divinity’s Research in Religion and Social Policy Network, Vice-President of the Religious History Association, President of the Uniting Church National History Society, a Research Fellow of the Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research (ACWR), an Honorary Fellow of the Manchester (UK) Wesley Research Centre, Member of the Australian Historical Association, and Member of the American Academy of Religion.

A graduate of Kingsley College (Bachelor Theology and Master of Arts in Biblical Studies), Asbury Theological Seminary (Master of Arts Theological Studies) and La Trobe University (PhD in History), Glen has engaged in postdoctoral research on John Wesley’s political writings at Duke Divinity School (2011), Asbury Theological Seminary (2013), and Oxford Brookes University (2014). He continued that research as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Manchester Wesley Research Centre for six weeks in the summer of 2015, and was elected a Member of the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies in 2013 and 2018.

He has published widely on Wesleyan and Methodist themes, including two volumes in the Ashgate Methodist Studies Series, many articles and book reviews in scholarly journals including The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, The Journal of Religious History, Methodist Review, Wesley and Methodist Studies, and the Wesleyan Theological Journal, as well as contributing numerous chapters to edited collections. He is currently writing a full length monograph on John Wesley's political writings.

Glen is co-supervising five doctoral students and is available for further supervision in the fields of Wesleyan thought, Methodist history, the Holiness Movement, Australian religious history, eighteenth-century studies, Trinitarian theology, or the doctrine of sanctification. 

Areas of Expertise 

  • Wesley Studies
  • Methodist History
  • History of Evangelicalism
  • Eighteenth-century Religion and Politics
  • Australian Religious History
  • The Trinity and the Doctrine of Sanctification


Associate Professor Glen O’Brien is currently co-supervising five PhD candidates on a range of topics including the worship life of Jesus, the role of social constructionism in theological beliefs, post-independence proliferations of prophets in Ghana, gender inequality in The Salvation Army, and Catherine Clibborn-Booth (‘la Maréchale’) as a preacher whose work subverted male authority.

He has also recently supervised Minor Theses and Research Essays on such topics as  Methodist lay preaching in the Port Phillip District from 1830-1855, collaboration with dialogue partners to communicate the gospel in a ‘post-truth’ world, the gap between belief and practice in The Salvation Army’s inclusion of LGBTQI persons, and the use of catechesis as a preventative factor in disaffiliation from Eastern Orthodox Christianity.


  • Wesleyan-Holiness Church in Australia: Hallelujah under the Southern Cross (London and New York: Routledge, 2018).
  • Methodism in Australia: A History (edited with Hilary Carey) (Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VA: Ashgate, 2015)
  • Christian Worship: A Theological and Historical Introduction (Melbourne: Uniting Academic Press, 2013).
  • ‘Methodism,’ in Adam Possamai and Anthony J. Blassi, eds. The Sage Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2020), vol. 2: 491-493.
  • ‘John Wesley’s Sunday Service: A Methodist Urtext,’ in When We Pray: The Future of the Prayer Book Tradition, eds. Stephen Burns and Robert Gribben (Melbourne: Coventry Press, 2020), 65-87.
  • ‘What Does Holy Leadership Look Like?,’ in Open and Relational Leadership: Leading with Love eds. Roland Hearn, Sheri Kling and Thomas J, Oord (Grasmere, ID: SacraSage Press, 2020), 77-80.  
  • ‘Holiness as Happiness: A Plain Account of Sanctification,’ in A Plain Account of Christian Faithfulness: Essays in Honor of David B. McEwan. eds. Rob A. Fringer and Dean G. Smith (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2020), 147-163.
  • ‘“Seeing the Clouds through the Aperture of the Helmet”: Reading Ned Kelly’s Life as a Christian Life,’ in Finding a Home in the Uniting Church. Proceedings of the Second Uniting Church National History Conference June 7-10, 2019. ed. Robert Renton (Melbourne: Uniting Church National History Society, 2020), 256-271.
  • ‘George Whitefield, John Wesley, and the Rhetoric of Liberty,’ in New Approaches to Religion and the Enlightenment, ed. B.C. McInelly and Paul E. Kerry (Vancouver: Fairley Dickinson University Press, 2018), 105–128.
  • ‘Freedom in the Atlantic World: John Wesley and George Whitefield on Slavery,’ in Wesley and Whitefield? Wesley vs. Whitefield? ed. Ian Maddock (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2018), 161-182.
  • ‘Liberty and Loyalty in the Long Eighteenth-Century: A Global History Approach,’ Journal of Wesleyan Thought (continuation of Aldersgate Papers) 1:1 (2018).
  • ‘What John Wesley Might Say to the Uniting Church on the Occasion of its Fortieth Birthday,’ in A Pilgrim People: Forty Years On. Proceedings of the Inaugural Uniting Church National History Conference June 9-12, 2017. ed. Robert Renton (Melbourne: Uniting Church National History Society, 2018), 234-255.
  • ‘“A Good and Sensible Man”: John Wesley’s Reading and Use of Jonathan Edwards,’ in The Global Edwards: Papers from the Jonathan Edwards Congress held in Melbourne, August 2015, ed. Rhys Bezzant (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017), 247-60.
  • ‘A Trinitarian Theology of Sanctification for the Wesleyan Tradition,’ Phronema 33:2 (2018): 63–81.
  • ‘Methodist, Congregationalist, and Uniting Church Theologians, 1916-2016,’ St. Mark’s Review no. 242 (Dec 2017): 99-113.
  • ‘“A Divine Attraction between Your Soul and Mine”: George Whitefield and Same Sex Affection in Eighteenth-Century Methodism,' Pacifica 30:2 (2017): 177-192.
  • ‘Irving Benson: Preacher, Writer, Mission Superintendent (1897–1980),’ in Out of the Ordinary: Twelve Australian Methodist Biographies, ed. William Emilsen and Patricia Curthoys (Adelaide: Mediacom, 2015), 217-38.
  •  ‘John Wesley, the Uniting Church, and the Authority of Scripture,’ Pacifica 27 (June 2014): 170-83.
  • ‘Methodist Encounters with Other Religious Traditions in the Southern World,’ Australian Journal of Mission Studies 8: 1 (June 2014): 42-53.
  •  ‘Christian Perfection in Australian Methodism,’ in Sean Winter, ed. Immense, Unfathomed, Unconfined: Essays on the Grace of God in Honour of Norman Young (Melbourne: Mosaic Press, 2013).
  • ‘John Wesley and Athanasius on Salvation in the Context of the Debate over Wesley’s Debt to Eastern Orthodoxy,’ Phronema 28:2 (2013): 28-54. 
  • ‘Not Radically a Dissenter: Samuel Leigh in the Colony of New South Wales,’ Wesley and Methodist Studies 4 (2012): 51-69.
  • ‘John Wesley’s Rebuke to the Rebels of British America: Revisiting the “Calm Address,”’ Methodist Review: A Journal of Methodist and Wesleyan Studies 4 (2012): 31-55.
  •  ‘The Empire’s Titanic Struggle: Victorian Methodism and the Great War,’ Aldersgate Papers vol. 10 (Sept 2012): 50-70
  •  ‘The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia,’ Uniting Church Studies 17:2 (December 2011): 67-81
  •  ‘Anti-Americanism and Wesleyan-Holiness Churches in Australia,’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History 61:2 (April 2010): 314-343.
  • ‘Reading Wesley’s Sermons in Edwardian Melbourne,’ in The Master: Life and Times of Edward Sugden, ed. Renate Howe (Melbourne: Uniting Academic Press, 2009), 109-124.


Interviewed for Behind the Red Shield: The Salvation Army in Australia, ABC Radio National special 14 June 2016 salvation-army-salvos/7499000

‘Methodism in Australia,’ Sunday Nights, ABC Radio, 4 October 2015

‘Fires of Faith and Understanding the Holy Spirit in the Churches,’ Sunday Nights, ABC Radio, 27 May 2012

‘Nature vs Nurture’ dialogue with David Hohne of Moore College on Calvinism and Arminianism, Sunday Nights, ABC Radio, 9 March 2008


“I Wish Them Well but I Dare not Trust Them”: John Wesley’s Anti-Catholicism in Context,’ University of Divinity  Research Conference, June 2020.

‘Samuel and Catherine Leigh in Aotearoa/New Zealand,’ American Academy of Religion, San Diego, California, 26 November 2019.

‘Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon and an Alternative Methodist History,’ Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theology Network Conference, Power, Authority, Love, Pilgrim Theological College, Parkville, 11 October 2019.

‘The Awakening of Maria in Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927),’ Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research Conference, A Curious Machine: Wesleyan Reflections on the Post-Human Future, Eva Burrows College, 13 September 2019.

‘Seeing the Clouds through the Aperture of the Helmet: Reading Ned Kelly’s Life as a Christian Life,’ Uniting Church National History Society Conference, Pilgrim Theological College, 7 June 2019.

‘Samuel and Catherine Leigh in Australia and New Zealand,’ Methodism in Aotearoa, 1819–2019, Bicentenary Conference, St John’s Theological College, Auckland 24–25 May, 2019.

‘Liberty and Loyalty: John Wesley’s Political World,’ presented at a session on ‘New Research on John Wesley and Methodism in the 18th and 19th Century,’ American Academy of Religion, Denver, Colorado, 19 November 2018.

‘John Wesley on the State of the Nation and its People,’ Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research Conference on Incarnation, Salvation, Healing: Wesleyan Perspectives on Human Flourishing, Sydney College of Divinity, 7- 9 September 2018.

‘Religion and Revolution in the Life of Ned Kelly,’ Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies, Pembroke College, Oxford, August 2018.

‘The Religious World of Ned Kelly,’ Australian Historical Association Conference, The Scale of History, Australian National University, Canberra, 3 July, 2018.

‘Freedom in the Atlantic World: John Wesley and George Whitefield on Slavery,’ Symposium on Wesley and Whitefield, Sydney Missionary and Bible College, 16 May 2018.

‘The Sunday Service of the People Called Methodists: The Recovery of a Neglected Liturgical Tradition,’ Seminar on The Future of the Prayer Book Tradition, Trinity College Theological School, University of Divinity, 4 May 2018.

‘A Trinitarian Theology of Sanctification for the Wesleyan Tradition,’ The Mystery of the Trinity. Second St. Andrews Theology Symposium at St. Andrews Greek Orthodox Theological College, Sydney, 1 September 2017.

‘Transgressive Male Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century Methodism,’ Australian Historical Association Conference on Entangled Histories,  University of Newcastle, 4 July, 2017.