Luke Timothy JohnsonSome of the best minds in theological education are gathering at Candler School of Theology to consider the massive and urgent issues facing theology in the coming century. As part of Candler’s yearlong Centennial Celebration, the school will mark the spring of its 100th year with a forward-looking academic conference, “Prophetic Voices: Confronting Theological Challenges of the Next Century,” March 18-20, 2015.

The conference brings together a dozen renowned theologians from Candler and beyond, including Pulitzer Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson, Cambridge University’s Janet Soskice, and Duke University’s Norman Wirzba, among others.

“By prophecy, we don’t mean predicting the future, but speaking a vision to the present,” says Luke Timothy Johnson, R.W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, and chair of Candler’s Centennial Celebration.

Johnson will present the conference keynote address, entitled “Theological Challenges of the New Century.” Four Candler faculty members will deliver major presentations on the themes of theological imagination and the issue of secularization, the image of God in contemporary society, creation and care of the earth, and the kingdom of God and global pluralism.

Candler faculty presenters include Ted A. Smith, associate professor of Preaching and Ethics; Ellen Ott Marshall, associate professor of Christian Ethics and Conflict Transformation; Carol A. Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament; and Jehu Hanciles, D.W. and Ruth Brooks Associate Professor of World Christianity. 

Following each presentation will be two shorter presentations by guest scholars. In addition to Robinson, Soskice and Wirzba, presenters include M. Shawn Copeland, Boston College; Steven J. Kraftchick, Candler; Sally G. Bingham, Interfaith Power and Light and The Regeneration Project; Dana L. Robert, Boston University; and Daniel Jeyaraj, Liverpool Hope University. The program includes time for worship and discussion among participants. See the full schedule.

The four themes of the conference presentations were deliberately crafted and selected by Candler’s Centennial Committee and are being integrated into classroom instruction throughout the school year.

“These were identified as issues that are distinctive to our age in a way that they weren’t when Candler was founded,” says Johnson. “We live in a world in which global pluralism is not far away, in which world religions are not esoteric. Thinking through the Christian reality in light of these pressing concerns is what we want to initiate in a formal fashion, and make this a signature statement as we move forward into the next century.”

The conference is sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation. Online registration will open in late November at

Read more about the conference.