A number of articles and papers from the archive project based at Gladstone’s Library. They include a trilogy of articles in Theology and a special issue of the journal Modern Believing.

List of publications by Elaine Graham and Graeme Smith, 2021-24

‘Don Cupitt and the Sea of Faith Archive’. Sofia: the journal of the Sea of Faith Movement, No 141: 4-6, 2021.

‘Prophet without Honour: The Marginalisation of Don Cupitt’, Theology, Volume 126 Issue 1, January-February 2023, 20-27.

In the first of three articles evaluating the work and legacy of Don Cupitt, we suggest that he might be depicted as a ‘prophet without honour’ in both his ecclesiastical home of the Church of England and at the University of Cambridge, where he spent most of his professional life. This is based on the observation that, after a promising early career, Cupitt never received the ecclesiastical preferment or academic promotion that many argued he deserved. This arguably represents a missed opportunity for both Church and academy, because Cupitt is more accurately understood not as an enemy of religion but as essentially an ecclesiastical insider whose chief motivation was to uphold the contemporary relevance and credibility of Christianity.

Don Cupitt: Public Intellectual’, Theology, Vol. 126 Issue 3, May 2023, 174–182.

The 1984 BBC TV series The Sea of Faith offered Don Cupitt an exceptional degree of public recognition and notoriety. His advancement of a non-realist and social constructivist theology had a strong polarizing effect on his audience, engendering disapproval and approbation in equal measure. Opinion was strongly divided between those who resisted any kind of critical approach to Christian teaching and those who felt liberated by Cupitt’s call for a more modern and questioning theology. Through archives of audience reactions to his broadcasts and writings, this article considers whether Cupitt’s influence through The Sea of Faith and other writing and broadcasting was sufficient to rank him as a ‘public intellectual’. It will argue that the controversy Cupitt attracted and his categorization as ‘atheist priest’ and ‘radical theologian’ may ultimately have limited his efforts to promote broad-based, serious theological debate in Church and society. .

‘Don Cupitt: Theological Pioneer?’, Theology, Volume 127, Issue 1, 4-12.

The final article in the series examines the extent to which Cupitt might be considered a ‘theological pioneer’. There are three possible areas of innovation: Cupitt’s work on non-realism, his adoption of postmodern philosophy and his advocacy of a religion of everyday speech. In each of these, Cupitt carried out ground-breaking work, but it is less clear whether his ideas have exercised a significant and lasting influence. While the Sea of Faith television series (1984) generated a substantial popular following, his work has not been widely adopted or developed by successive generations of theologians or scholars of religion.

In press:

Elaine Graham & Graeme Smith, editors, ‘The Sea of Faith 40th Anniversary’ Special Edition of Modern Believing (Liverpool University Press, vol 65, no.3) forthcoming, July 2024 (

Guest editors Elaine Graham and Graeme Smith reflect on the enduring impact of the series in the context of the mid-1980s. In a further article they explore the main themes of the series and their abiding importance. Mark Chapman describes the social and theological background to the series, drawing out their influences on Cupitt. Steven Shakespeare challenges some of Cupitt’s positions in the light of current ecological and metaphysical concerns. Jessica Eastwood assesses the realism / non-realism debate sparked by the series.

This highly focussed issue brings to life once more a memorable theological and historical event occurring well before the lifetime of some of our younger readers.

Other outputs:

“Taking Leave of Transcendence: ‘Embodied Spirituality’ in the Theology of Don Cupitt,” paper presented at British and Irish Association of Practical Theology Conference July 2022. Available to download below:

“The Sea of Faith 40 Years On”, Paper presented to the Progressive Christianity Network, 7th March 2024, Elaine Graham. Available to download below: