Dr Justine Toh

Senior research fellow-Centre of Public Christianity, writer and social commentator

Justine is Senior Fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity where she speaks and writes about the Christian faith in a secular age, with a particular interest in freedom and individualism, the body as a project, and other trends in contemporary culture. She hosts the Spiritual Lifehack segment on ABC RN’s Soul Search. Justine is also a presenter of the documentary For the Love of God: How the church is better and worse than you ever imagined. Justine has a doctorate in Cultural Studies from Macquarie University and lives in Sydney with her husband Vaughan and their two very noisy boys.


“Our heart is restless until it rests in you,” Augustine famously wrote. If the biblical narrative tells a grand story of how God tirelessly pursues his people, this lecture will explore some of the many ways that people restlessly seek after God, even if they don’t know it. Justine will take listeners on a cultural tour of human restlessness and existential angst in W.E.I.R.D. societies (nations that are Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic). Through an audit of various cultural stories at work in the contemporary West, we will examine some of the ways that people seek after fullness apart from God, and probe the opportunities—the longings, desires, and cross pressures—that these open up for the inbreaking of the gospel.

Think about: expressive individualism, meritocracy, wellness culture, modern narratives of self-discovery in the wild, modern Stoicism, the Australian dream of home ownership, and more.

Elective: The stories we live by

This elective goes behind-the-scenes of my lecture by exploring various cultural stories we inhabit that influence our understanding of the good life, and that shape us and how we should live. We will practice ‘cultural literacy’—the practice of reading cultural texts to understand their underlying values and attitudes that position people to live according to particular assumptions—and compare and contrast these with the biblical story and its emphases. We will explore how the Christian story offers a distinctive vision and ethos for our life together, especially in an increasingly diverse world crowded with competing visions of what it means to thrive.