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
> Robots vs Loneliness?
> 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.

Inaugurated in 1976, the lecture, given annually, provides an opportunity for a senior theologian to present on a theological or philosophical topic of their choice. An international event, to date three continents have been represented.
To watch the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 lectures, click here.
2019 Samuel Ferguson lecturer: Prof. Kathryn Tanner (Yale University)
Date: 7 March 2019, 4 pm
Venue: University of Manchester


In her most recent research, Tanner is developing what she calls a Protestant anti-work ethic. In his classic The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber famously showed how Christian beliefs and practices could shape persons in line with capitalism. In this significant reimagining of Weber’s work, Kathryn Tanner provocatively reverses this thesis, arguing that Christianity can offer a direct challenge to the largely uncontested growth of capitalism. Exploring the cultural forms typical of the current finance-dominated system of capitalism, Tanner shows how they can be countered by Christian beliefs and practices with a comparable person-shaping capacity. Addressing head-on the issues of economic inequality, structural under- and unemployment, and capitalism’s unstable boom/bust cycles, she is drawing deeply on the theological resources within Christianity to imagine anew a world of human flourishing.

The title of the Ferguson lecture is Grace and the Temporalities of Capitalism and develops an aspect of her most recent research. You’ll find a short blurb below.

The fusion of past, present, and future within contemporary capitalism hinders its critique: a fundamentally different future becomes unimaginable. A Christian understanding of grace expands the range of imaginative possibility by offering a counter-temporality in which past, present, and future are broken apart rather than collapsed.

The lecture will take place on Thursday 7 March at 4 pm in the Ellen Wilkinson Building, Graduate School Conference Room, C1.18 at the University of Manchester. (The Ellen Wilkinson building is no. 77 on the campus map. You can access the campus map here.) The lecture will be followed by a wine reception at 5.30 pm.

Earlier the same day there will be a Ferguson presentation at the Visitor’s Centre at Manchester Cathedral at which Prof. Tanner will speak to the topic, Conversion and Capitalism: Breaking the Chains of the Past? In this presentation, she will be discussing the person-shaping capacity of Christian conversion and its capacities for freedom in a capitalist context. You’ll find a short blurb below.

Both workers and debtors within finance-dominated capitalism find their present action to be rigidly constrained by the past. How might the presumed inevitability of this way of relating to the past be undercut by Christian forms of self-repudiation in conversion and the ruptured narratives that go along with them? 

This presentation will take place from noon to 1 pm, followed by lunch.

You are warmly invited to one or both events. The Ferguson lecture and the Cathedral presentation are free and open to the public; a ticket is not required. 

2020 Samuel Ferguson lecturer: Prof. Catherine Keller (Drew University)
Date: 5 March 2020, 4 pm
Venue: University of Manchester 
2021 Samuel Ferguson lecturer: Dr Rowan Williams (Cambridge University)
Date: 4 March 2021, 4 pm
Venue: University of Manchester

1976       Wolfhart Pannenberg

1977       David Martin

1978       Enda McDonagh

1979       John Mbiti

1980       John Cobb Jr

1981       Nikos Nissiotis

1982       Stewart R. Sutherland

1983       Edward Schillebeeckx

1984       Gordon Kaufman

1985       Eileen Barker

1986       Alistair Kee

1987       John Robertson

1988       R.R. Niebuhr

1989       Jürgen Moltmann

1990       Schubert M. Ogden

1991       Maurice F. Wiles

1992       Rosemary Radford Ruether

1993       Raymond Plant

1994       Harvey Cox

1995       Ingolf Dalferth

1996       David Jenkins

1997       Sarah Coakley

1998       Edward Farley

1999       Willem B. Drees

2000       Marjorie Suchocki

2001       Peter Hodgson

2003       John Atherton

2004       James Macmillan, Ben Quash, Sara Maitland

2005       Leonie Sandercock

2006       Kenneth Leech

2007       Anthony Reddie

2008       Stephen Pattison

2009       Terry Veling

2013       George Newlands

2014       David Fergusson

2015       Hans-Peter Grosshans

2016       Janet Martin Soskice

2017       David F. Ford

2018       John Milbank