The University of Manchester
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Samuel Alexander Building, WG16
Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
Phone: +44 (0)161 275 3064



The University of Manchester
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Samuel Alexander Building, WG8
Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
Phone: +44 (0)161 306 1663


What does it mean to exist in complex relationships with machines? What insights can be offered to our understandings of these relationships by the theologically significant theme of ‘love’? What critical assessments can be made of our multiple uses of technologies in shaping our futures, by reflecting on our pasts?

Events and Outputs
> NEW! Robots vs Loneliness?
> NEW! Focus Groups
> Conference: Care and Machines
Useful links 

Disquiet over the prevalence of social and economic individualism has a long history. In a world of mobile Capital and increasingly mobile people, communities of common tradition and locality appear to be under threat from the advent of a fragmented market society. Are these complaints against individualism justified? And crucially, how should Christians respond to them? Digging down into the substance of these questions, this project will consider the theological, liturgical and scriptural resources Christians have for understanding the notion of individualism in relation to issues of education, public life and the formation of democratic citizenship.


The conference and network meeting of the International Research Network on Religion and Democracy will focus on ‘state of emergency provisions’ and their religious and theological background. The key question is: What are the criteria to legitimately deviate from the normal state of affairs and to make an exception normative? A legitimate deviation from law or the existing order entails at least three elements:

a) The existing order is under threat and therefore swift action is needed;

b) Who is authorised to declare a state of emergency and what are the moral prerequisites?

In a situation when such deviation from the norm or existing law is required, ethical issues arise. Who is entitled to legitimately breach the existing norm/law, which civil rights might be suspended in order to successfully encounter the threat; and finally:

c) What defines the threat, which legitimises extraordinary measures?

In Constitutional Law and Political Theory the ‘state of emergency’ is a well-known paradox i.e. the concrete circumstance that demands a legitimate breach of an existing order to secure the existence of a lawful order. Given the classic criteria for a state of emergency, this project aims to uncover the theological basis, such as equity, asylum, grace and pardon etc. of the juridical concept of a state of emergency in all its facets.


This will be also the focus of the public lecture on Saturday May 16th 2015 "Can Religion replace the Constitution"?



Research Network for Religion and Political Culture

Globalisation Studies Groningen

International Research Network on Religion and Democracy


For more information see: 



2015 - Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Grosshans

Director of the Seminar for Systematic Theology and the Institute for Ecumenical Theology, Faculty of Protestant Theology of the University of Muenster.


‘On Christian Freedom’

In his latest book Soumission (submission) the French novelist Michel Houellebecq formulates the – as one of his figures says – simple idea, that the peak of human happiness is reached in absolute submission. In religion we find this idea in form of the submission of human beings to God. But this idea contradicts all the theological efforts in modern times to reconcile faith in God with human freedom. In modern times especially Christian religion cannot any longer be based on the idea of a general submission of the believers to God and his will. Instead Christian theology has to concentrate on a positive relation between faith in God and human freedom, in the sense, that even the God-relation of the believers is conceived in terms of human freedom. In Reformation times in the 16th century Philipp Melanchthon has even identified Christianity and freedom when he formulated “Christianity is freedom”. But surely this identity is not without problems and some critics say, that it directly leads into secularisation and is part of Christianity abandoning itself.  The lecture will discuss various important aspects of the relation of Christian faith and freedom, starting with the understanding of freedom in the Old and the New Testament. But the main focus will be on the consequences for a concept of God in modern times which satisfies the condition of human freedom, but as well is sound with Holy Scripture. Discussion will be as well about the consequences for our general understanding of religion in the present times, which is sound with human freedom. This then will be drawn out into pressing questions of religious freedom in our present societies. It will be the objective of these reflections to work out a few criteria for distinguishing critically the manifold phenomena of religion.


FINAL CALL FOR PAPERS: Theology and Exclusion

Extended Deadline for submissions: Sunday 25th January, 2015
Particularly interested in papers that address: gender and/or sexuality, exclusion and theology/religions
For Between Theology and the Political - 26th - 28th March, 2015, University of Manchester



Being A Christian Student (Reflective Workshop at Nexus Cafe

Do you identify as a Christian (or as someone open to Christian spirituality) who has been studying at University within the last three years? If so, join Ben Wood and Gary Keogh from the University of Manchester for a reflective workshop exploring what it means to be a Christian student living in a multi-religious and multi-Church city. The organisers are interested in hearing your experiences on what it’s like to be a Christian in Higher Education. How do you understand the idea of Church? How do you decide which Church to go to? What particular spiritual challenges do you think Christian students face? No big religious labels or declarations of faith required. Just pull up a chair and tell us what matters to you.
While the proceedings of the workshop will be recorded by the organisers, all biographical details will be deleted to ensure the anonymity of participants. A write up of the work-shop will be available for participants on request, and will only be viewed by a small band people directly connected with the project. If you wish to attend the work-shop, please contact either Ben Wood ( or Al Lowe (
This event is part of a project run by the Lincoln Theological Institute, called ‘What’s Next for Individualism’? You can find more about the project at:

New LTI Briefing Paper: Post-liberalism and the Religious Turn


This briefing paper (part of the What's Next for Individualism project) explores the religious roots of a quiet revolution taking place in Britain’s two main political parties in the form of Blue Labour and Red Toryism. Placing religious language at the centre of their conception of public life, these movements offer a decisive to both Thatcherism and New Labour. By creatively draws on strands of Catholic Social Thought, Burkean conservatism and English Radicalism, both offer a decidedly Post-liberal model of politics

You can view this Briefing Paper here: 


Self and the City (April 24-25th)

Online Booking Opens on Friday 14th November 2014:


Speakers Include: Dr Ethna Regan (Mater Dei Institute of Education), Professor Linda Woodhead (University of Lancaster),The Revd Professor Timothy Gorringe (University of Exeter), Professor Michael S Northcott (University of Edinburgh), Dr Anna Rowlands (University of Durham), Revd Canon Stephen Spencer (Canon of Musoma Cathedral), Dr Jessica Dubow (University of Sheffield), Dr Chris Shannahan (The University of Manchester) Dr Alana Vincent (University of Chester)

By bringing together theologians, social theorists and political activists, this two-day conference considers the relationship between cities and self-identity. Read through the lens of the Christian tradition, we will reflect on the ecclesiastical, doctrinal and political meanings produced by urban living.  Key to this enterprise is an exploration of the dimorphic nature of the city. From Babylon and Rome to Jerusalem and Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, urban spaces signify both sacred possibilities and moral dangers.

The early monastic movement fled from the corruptions of the city, while the role of the urban bishop was highly political.  In contemporary culture these trends have been repeated in variants of both New Monasticism and 'Hipster Christianity' and 'Cafe Churches'. The enduring nature of these postures of embrace and retreat, raise significant questions for theo-political reflection. Can cities offer untapped resources for faithful discipleship? Or do urban spaces distort the priorities of the Church? Can the individualism(s) encouraged by the anonymity if the city supports Christians in developing alternative communities? Or is urban life a threat to the formation of such a counterculture? With these themes in mind, the conference organizers would welcome papers on the following areas:

The inner-city Church

Discipleship and identity

 Persons in the city

Consumerism and leisure

 Urban planning and theology

Nomad-ism and pilgrimage

 Networks and communities


 Urban and Rural Space

Theologies of the Public and Private

 Christianity and Counterculture

Sacrament and consumption