Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson

Date(s) - 04/05/18
9:00 am - 9:00 pm

Wheaton College Blanchard Hall

Hosted by
Wheaton College

Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson

Thu, Apr 5, 2018, 9:00 AM – Fri, Apr 6, 2018, 9:00 PM

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson is one of the most eminent public intellectuals in America today. In 2016, Time magazine even identified her as one of “The 100 Most Influential People” in the entire world. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, until her recent retirement, was a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Elegant and probing meditations upon the Christian faith often grace her work. Her trilogy of novels, Gilead, Home, and Lila, evocatively and sympathetically present the lives, families, and spiritual convictions of two Protestant ministers in mid-twentieth-century Iowa. Her essays – gathered in collections such as The Death of Adam, When I Was a Child I Read Books, and The Givenness of Things – also recurringly contemplate theological themes. Many of these reflections are grounded in her defiant judgment that the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer John Calvin still deserves a hearing in the twenty-first century. This conference will offer a memorable opportunity for leading theologians, historians, literary scholars, and church leaders to engage in a thoughtful theological dialogue with both her published work and with Marilynne Robinson herself as she participates fully in this event. There were also be an emphasis on how Robinson’s work can illuminate Christian preaching and ministry, and pastors are warmly invited to attend. The keynote addresses will be given by Marilynne Robinson and Rowan Williams.



Marilynne Robinson – University of Iowa, Iowa City, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

Rowan Williams – Cambridge University, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury

Patricia Andujo – Azusa Pacific University

Timothy George – Beeson Divinity School

Keith Johnson – Wheaton College

Han-luen Kantzer Komline – Western Theological Seminary, Holland Michigan

Timothy Larsen – Wheaton College

Lauren Winner – Duke Divinity School

Michael Gerson – The Washington Post

In addition to these speakers, the conference will include musical performances of Spirituals and Hymns by Robert Sims, Northern Illinois University, arranged by the award-winning composer Shawn E. Okpebholo, Wheaton College.



Thursday, April 5

8:45-9:00 Registration and Book Exhibit Open

9:00-9:15 Welcome

9:15-10:30 Special Music; Timothy Larsen, “The Theological World of the Reverend John Ames”

10:30-11:15 Break

11:15-12:15 Speaker – Patricia Andujo, “Marilynne Robinson and the African American Experience”

12:15-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:00 Speaker – Timothy George, Marilynne Robinson and John Calvin”

3:00-3:30 Break

3:30-4:30 TBA

4:30-7:00 Dinner

7 PM Special Music; Plenary Address by Marilynne Robinson


Friday, April 6

7:30-8:45 Pastor’s Breakfast

8:45-9:15 Book Exhibit Open

9:15-10:15 Speaker – Han-luen Kantzer Komline, “Marilynne Robinson and Augustinian Theology”

10:15-10:35 Break

10:40-11:25 Chapel – Patricia Andujo

11:30-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 Speaker – Keith Johnson

2:00-2:30 Break

2:30-3:45 Special Music; Speaker – Rowan Williams

3:45-4:00 Break

4:00-5:00 Moderated Discussion: Marilynne Robinson and Rowan Williams

5:00-7:30 Dinner

7:30 PM Speaker – Lauren Winner, “Marilynne Robinson and the Art of Preaching”


If you have any questions regarding the conference please contact