Katy Perry and Byzantine Icons
2016 Emerging Public Intellectual Award recipient uses art history and today's visual culture to tell sacred stories
3 min. read
October 1, 2016

Most folks are hard pressed to draw the connection between medieval art and the sashaying sharks of Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show, but Dr. Matthew Milliner, professor of art history at Wheaton College, can do just that. His public lectures and writing, which span topics ranging from ancient Byzantine iconography to Salvador Dalí to The Walking Dead, are even more unusual, perhaps, because his actual goal is to illuminate gospel truth.

“Dr. Matthew Milliner is a savant,” says Dr. Robert Joustra, director of Redeemer’s Centre for Christian Scholarship, “at showing and telling the sacred stories that flow under and around the images and encounters we have every day.”

“What made Dr. Milliner’s application stand out was the combination of impressive scholarship with a real attempt to have impact beyond the scholarly world.”

Milliner’s many accomplishments, both in academia and the public square, are the reason that the Redeemer Centre for Christian Scholarship (CCS) is proud to announce that he is the winner of the 2016 Emerging Public Intellectual Award (EPI). The $5,000 award recognizes emerging talent within the Christian academy that is making a public impact. The award is sponsored and adjudicated by Redeemer and leading North American Christian think tanks Cardus, the Acton Institute and the Center for Public Justice.

“What made Dr. Milliner’s application stand out,” comments Ray Pennings, executive vice president of Cardus, “was the combination of impressive scholarship–both in terms of quantity and prominence of placement–with a real attempt to have impact beyond the scholarly world.” Milliner publishes widely in both academic and popular venues. He is also a two-time appointee to the Curatorial Advisory Board of the United States Senate.

In the past year, Milliner has spoken at the local mosque and joined panels promoting dialogue and cooperation organized by Muslim organizations and interfaith coalitions. “In the Wheaton community, in Chicago and across the United States, this has been a very difficult year in which to navigate issues of religious pluralism and, more specifically, Muslim-Christian relations,” says colleague, and last year’s winner, Dr. Noah Toly. “Dr. Milliner has set an example for all of us.”

Milliner’s accolades are many, but his strategy for engaging people with sacred truths is simple–and close to home. “If you stand outside the Art Gallery of Ontario with a placard announcing the gospel, you will probably be ignored, or even ridiculed. But, if you give a well-researched, enthusiastically delivered tour of the Christian themes of the paintings within the Art Gallery of Ontario, you will likely be thanked and applauded.”

Redeemer will have the chance for thanks and applause when Dr. Milliner receives his award and offers the prestigious World and Our Calling lecture at Redeemer on January 25, 2017.

You might also like

In her new children’s book, Amber Kuipers ’10 confronts the many layers of grief.

Resound is Redeemer’s online, multi-faceted publishing hub for the wide variety of stories coming out of Redeemer year-round. It is also offered in a print edition.