New College Lectures - A Christian Critical Theory?

Tuesday 10 October, 2023-Thursday 12 October 2023
7:30 PM-9:30 PM
Type: New College Lectures
Location: New College, Main Common Room

This event has now past. If you would like to view the video recordings of the lectures you can view them on our YouTube channel.


How we understand the world is influenced by our background and experiences. For each of us, there will be some things that grab our attention, others we overlook, some things that we celebrate, others we condemn. Critical theories describe and develop these sensitivities, allowing us to see things that were previously hidden, giving us a sense of how the world works, and showing us how to make it better.

In recent decades feminist, postcolonial, race and queer theories have played an important role in shaping mainstream public discourse and policy. But what happens if we let the Bible, with its own distinctive emphases and outlook, fashion a critical approach to modern society? Associate Professor Christopher Watkin will explore this question in his 2023 New College Lecture series, as he discusses some of the unique, fresh, and often surprising insights to be drawn from a biblical critical theory.

Event Program:

Lecture 1: Origin (Tuesday, 10th October)
The stories we tell about human origins often say more about us, the ones telling those stories, than they do about our ancestors. This lecture analyses some of the prominent stories late modernity tells itself about the human past, comparing them to the Bible's account of human origins and evaluating how different stories seek to account for the complexities of human life and experience.

Lecture 2: Identity (Wednesday, 11th October)
No single question is more important to our late modern consciousness than "who am I?" Haunting and tantalizing in equal measure, it drives the plot of our films and books, fills our academic libraries, and sometimes even keeps us awake at night. Through contrasting prominent modern responses to that question with an account of identity drawn from the Bible, this lecture shows how different ways of understanding who we are have great power to shape our lives.

Lecture 3: Destiny (Thursday, 12th October)
Just as the final chapter of a novel or the final scene of a film can change our understanding of everything that came before it, no account of human life is complete or stable without a sense of human destiny. This lecture looks at some of the most influential modern theories of humanity's future alongside the biblical account of the last things, showing how different ideas of human destiny yield radically diverse ways of living in the world.