Theology Conference presents "The image of God in an image-driven culture"

The Wheaton College Gradu­ate program in Biblical and Theo­logical Studies hosted its annual theology conference from April 12-13, entitled, “The image of God in an image-driven culture.”
The two-day event, which took place in Barrows auditorium, was driven by “The conviction that the Christian doctrine of the image of God offers truth and health in a culture inundated with distorted images.” Both visiting speakers and Wheaton professors illuminated this topic in eight dif­ferent sessions that addressed art, literature, personhood and the Imago Dei, among other topics.
Beth Felker Jones of the Bib­lical and Theological Studies de­partment, who was instrumental in organizing the conference, said, “The theologians in the Biblical and Theological Studies depart­ment work together to develop a theme that we think draws on important questions in contem­porary theology and will be of interest to students, pastors, and people in ministry. Given how image driven our society is, we thought it would be important to think about what it means to be human bearers of the divine im­age in this context and culture.”
Willie Jennings, associate professor of theology and Black Church Studies at Duke Divin­ity School, was a highlighted speak­er at the event, and spoke at un­dergraduate chapel on Friday as part of the conference.
Other speak­ers included Craig Blomberg, profes­sor of New Testa­ment at Denver Theological Semi­nary, who argued that the “Image of God” conferred on man is essentially relational in na­ture, and that it is a communal dynamic that people reflect. Ian McFarland, professor at Chandler School of Theology at Emory University, has research primarily focused on Christology, theological anthropology, and the doctrine of creation, which he used to speak to seeing the Divine Image in one another.
Catherine McDowell, former professor at Wheaton College and Harvard Unveristy, and cur­rently professor of Old Testament at Gordan-Conwell Theological Seminary, spoke on how the hu­man-divine relationship is based on being created in God’s image.
Felker Jones, Matthew Mil­liner of the Art department, and Christina Bieber Lake of the English department represented the work of the Wheaton Col­lege faculty on the image of God and culture. The integration of differing disciplines incorporated facets of the conversation which would not initially seem apparent.
“I was blessed by the confer­ence and found myself profound­ly grateful to all the speakers and contributors for sharing their gifts so faithfully,” said Jones about the opportunity to be involved.
Bieber Lake’s lecture centered around the postmodern language of “The Road” by Cormac Mc­Carthy, comparing it to the gos­pel of Job in the statements it makes about art and humanity.
She commented, “I was very excited to be invited to participate in this conference, because the fact that human beings are made in the image of God is at the cen­ter of my research in fiction. Since we are made in that image, stories that are so focused on particular persons cannot help but reflect the glory of God in those persons,”
She added that the study of literature gains its importance because, “When we read a novel, we reflect in an extended way on why every person’s story has value and is important to God,” some­thing she sees as pertinent for the Wheaton College community.
2015 marked the 24th year of the theology confer­ence, and next April’s will focus on celebrating the 500th an­niversary of the Reformation.

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