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Answering Dystopia: Christian Hope and the Promised End

July 15-19, 2014 Regent’s Park College Oxford

The intuition that the world has already or may soon go desperately awry seems to be a commonly accepted theme in both popular entertainment as well as natural and social sciences, humanities, and the arts. Dystopian films, games, novels, and music suffuse our culture without challenge from the academy. Although dystopias apparently arise in every culture and time, we live in an age of particularly pervasive anxiety about the present and future.  Dystopias do not often overtly frame the question “where is God in the midst of our suffering?” but as Christian scholars we bear such inquiry as our unique responsibility.

Knowing that “in the Lord our labor is not in vain” (1 Co 15:58), Baptists profess a personally and socially redemptive hope grounded in the love of God, the incarnation of Christ, and the abiding witness of the Spirit. Alongside faith and charity, the gift of Christian hope especially helps us avoid the errors of despair and presumption alike, enabling us to address the anxieties of our age in a spirit simultaneously given to humility and magnanimity.



  • Paul Fiddes, Oxford University – Senior Scholar
  • John Schmalzbauer, Missouri State University – Consultant

Planning Team

  • Beth Newman (Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond)
  • Doug Henry, (Baylor University)
  • Brad Creed (Samford University)
  • Andy Chambers (Missouri Baptist University)
  • Sheila Klopfer, (Georgetown College)
  • Roger Ward (Georgetown College)


Schedule of sessions

July 15 — Arrive 4-5pm at Regent’s Park

7pm – Dinner in the Great Hall

8pm – Opening Worship and Keynote lecture. Regent’s Park Chapel

Paul Fiddes,  “Dystopia, Utopia and Millennium. Competing Images in an Anxious World”

9.30pm – Convivium, Junior Common Room


July 16– 8:30-12:30 Seminar session 1

  • Introductions
  • Adam Glover “Answering Dystopia: Christian Hope and the Promise of Place”
  • Geoff Wright, “Hobbes, Locke, Calvin, and Zombies: The Post-Apocalyptic Politics of Ethics in AMC’s The Walking Dead”


July 17 – 8:30-12:30 Seminar Session 2

  • Melissa Jackson, “The Hebrew Bible’s Prophets Answer Dystopia
  • Eric Gilchrest, “New Testament Apocalypticism and a Theology of the Cross:
    Answering Dystopianism”
  • Jennifer Bashaw “Jesus, Girard, and Popular Dystopian Fiction”

7pm –Tentative group outing to the Trout and a walk back to Oxford


July 18 – 8:30-12:30 Seminar Session 3

  • Jason Wallace “Wendell Berry, Walker Percy, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Christian responses to Dystopia”
  • Kristopher Norris “Church for the World: Ecclesial Practices of Hope and Transformation
  • Open Conversation: Christian hope and dystopia

Lunch Break

1:30-3:00p Seminar Session 4

John Schmalzbauer, summary and conclusion