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Principal & Professor of Systematic Theology

Rev Principal Michael McClenahan

I joined the faculty at Union in 2017 and enjoy teaching across a broad range of modules. In the undergraduate BA (Hons) programme I contribute to the Systematic Theology modules across the three years and to a number of other modules. I enjoy supervising undergraduate dissertations across a very wide range of theological ideas. Our undergraduate programme is particularly concerned to equip students to think carefully and independently, and write clearly and persuasively. If you are interested in the BA (Hons) and have any questions about the Theology modules (there are Biblical Studies and Practical Theology modules as well) please feel free to email me.

If you would like a taste of what studying systematic theology as an undergraduate at Union will be like please read John Webster, Holiness (London, 2003). You can get a sneak preview here.

We have a number of postgraduate programmes at Union and I am the programme liaison for the MA in Theology which runs in collaboration with the BibleMesh Institute. This course is designed for people wanting to begin formal theological study at postgraduate level. I also teach in the MTh in Reformed Theology and in a number of modules in the Master of Divinity. I supervise Masters dissertations in all three programmes.

 I have an active cohort of postgraduate research students and welcome enquiries from qualified candidates. I’m particularly interested in discussing projects on any area in the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), modern Trinitarian theology (anyone from Karl Barth onwards, except Paul Tillich), and the religious culture of Victorian England. I’m interested in the life, thought, and legacy of John Ruskin (1819–1900) and the work of Anthony Trollope (1815–1882). If you are interested in Ruskin’s exegesis of Scripture or the perception of Protestant evangelical clergy in Trollope (especially Obadiah Slope!) please contact me.

 I am an ordained Presbyterian minister and my role in college is the main way in which I live out that vocation. Before coming to Union I was minister of the congregations of Knappagh & Lislooney in County Armagh and previously served in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church in Newtownards. I am also non-executive member of the board of www.biblemesh.com, a charity that seeks to serve the educational needs of the global church.

 I studied Jurisprudence at St John’s College, Oxford and then moved to Exeter College to study Theology. During my doctoral studies on Jonathan Edwards I spent almost two years at Yale University as a graduate research student and was also a Graduate Fellow at Jonathan Edwards College and a Fellow at the Jonathan Edwards Center. My current research and writing is concentrated on the nature of grace, the persevering quality of faith, the doctrine of the Sabbath, and the development of pro–Nicene theology in the fourth century. All of these involve work on the thought of Jonathan Edwards, apart from the last, which even Edwards could not influence.


Providence: Confidence in God’s Purpose to Perfect His People’ in Theology for Ministry: How Doctrine Affects Pastoral Life and Practice Edited by William R. Edwards, John C.A. Ferguson, & Chad Van Dixhoorn (Phillipsburg, 2021)

Storyline Bible (Grand Rapids, 2019) Editor and Contributor

The Unapologetic Study Bible (Nashville, 2017) Editor and Contributor

‘Justification by Faith Alone’ in A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards Edited by Nathan A. Finn & Jeremy Kimble (Wheaton, 2017)

‘Why baptise babies?’ in The Presbyterian Herald September 2013

Jonathan Edwards and Justification by Faith (London, 2012)

Review of Thomas S. Kidd, The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism (Yale University Press, 2004) in The Journal of Religion 2006 86:1, 126–127.

Review of Josh Moody, Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment: Knowing the Presence of God (University of Chicago Press, 2006) in The Journal of Religion 2006 86:4, 685–686. 

Foreword in Roland A. Delattre, Beauty and Sensibility in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards: An Essay in Aesthetics and Theological Ethics (Wipf & Stock, 2006)