Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference


Updated March 24, 2015

American Religious History

“‘Can We Divide?’ Revisited.”

James L. McMillan, University of Illinois, Urbana, Convener

  • Wesley E. Dingman, Loyola University Chicago, “‘Can We Divide?’ Revisited: The Rhetoric of Moses Lard’s Treatise against Division”
  • Greg Demmitt, Pastor, Cornerstone, Gatesville, Texas, “John Thomas and the Christadelphians”
  • Stanley Helton, Minister, First Christian Church, Hammond, Louisiana, “Can We Divide? Jesse B. Ferguson: Alone, Neglected, but not Forgotten.”
  • James L. McMillan, University of Illinois, Urbana, “Reforming the Reformation: The W. S. Russell Defection”

Moses Lard published an essay with the question, “Can We Divide?” in his Quarterly in April, 1866. Restoration Quarterly 56:4 (2014) included Wesley E. Dingman’s essay “‘Can We Divide?’ Revisited: The Rhetoric of Moses Lard’s Treatise against Division.” After Dingman critiques Lard’s essay, other panelists will discuss the ramifications of Lard’s conclusions about the rifts mentioned: the John Thomas (Christadelphian) defection, the Jesse Ferguson controversy, and the W. S. Russell defection.

“History of Churches of Christ in Oklahoma.”

Frank V. Bellizzi, Texas Tech University, Convener

  • Gary Lindsey, Oklahoma Christian University, “East to West: Christian Missionaries in the Twin Territories”
  • Frank V. Bellizzi, Texas Tech University, “An Oasis in a Desert: Meta Chestnutt and Her College at Minco, I.T.”
  • Stephen V. Crowder, Sandia National Labs, “The Oklahoma Roots of George Stuart Benson and Sallie Ellis (Hockaday) Benson”
  • W. David Baird, Pepperdine University, “Churches of Christ in Oklahoma in the 1930s”

Since the 1850s until the present, Christians of the Restoration Movement have preached the gospel and planted churches, started schools, and established children's homes in the land now known as the state of Oklahoma. This session will highlight the work of missionaries before statehood, Christian educators and their fledgling schools, and church life during the Great Depression. Presenters will move beyond simple “history of recovery” to relate their specific findings to broader historical currents. Above all, they will tell the stories of some who, despite hardship and religious division, were “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

“Major Book Review: Elizabeth H. Flowers, Into the Pulpit: Southern Baptist Women and Power Since World War II (North Carolina Press, 2012)."

Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Convener

  • Douglas Foster, Abilene Christian University, Reviewer
  • Courtney Pace Lyons, Baylor University, Reviewer
  • Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Reviewer
  • Micki Pulleyking, Missouri State University, Reviewer
  • Elizabeth Flowers, Texas Christian University, Respondent

Women’s roles in Southern Baptist churches were one of the issues that contributed to the split in the Southern Baptist Convention near the turn of the twenty-first century. In Flower’s recent book, she claims that the women’s issue was one of the most divisive of the Baptist battles—it moved from the sidelines to occupying a central place because it was “inextricably intertwined” with biblical inerrancy, familial roles, and ecclesial authority. Through her well-researched historical account and the telling of Baptist women’s stories, she provides a window through which others in conservative Protestant traditions can compare and contrast their own battles over women’s roles today.  

“Major Book Review: Randall Balmer, Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter (Basic Books, 2014).”

Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Convener

  • Richard C. Goode, Lipscomb University, Reviewer
  • Richard T. Hughes, Messiah College, Reviewer
  • Robert E. Williams, Jr., Pepperdine University, Reviewer
  • Randall Balmer, Dartmouth, Respondent 

Randall Balmer’s new biography about Jimmy Carter is unique because it focuses on Carter’s understanding of “born-again Christianity,” and how his faith commitments shaped his life and his presidency. Although Evangelical Christians helped get him elected, they turned against his progressive Evangelicalism by the 1980 election, and contributed to his defeat and Reagan’s victory. Their vote against Carter seemed to represent the shift from an ideology that stressed such things as human rights and the poor, to a concern for nationalism and free-market capitalism. In late twentieth-century America, Balmer speaks to how one national leader with deep faith convictions attempted to balance those convictions with political realities. 

“Writing Religious Biography: A Roundtable Discussion with Randall Balmer, Ed Harrell, and Bill Martin.”

Scott Billingsley, University of North Carolina, Pembroke, Convener

  • Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College (Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter), panelist
  • David Edwin Harrell Jr., Auburn University, Emeritus (Oral Roberts: An American Life), panelist
  • William Martin, Rice University (A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story), panelist

Award-winning historians Randall Balmer (Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter), David Edwin Harrell Jr. (Oral Roberts: An American Life), and William Martin (A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story) share their experiences writing biographies of prominent figures in modern American religion.


“The Artist/Researcher/Teacher: Theory, Practice, and the Christian Art Educator.”

Michelle Kraft, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

  • Mike Wiggins, Abilene Christian University, “Creating to Know: Building the Bridge As We Cross”
  • Hannah Celeste Dean, Texas Tech University, “Gesture: Sight-As-Being”
  • Michelle Kraft, Lubbock Christian University, “Integrating the Artistic Selves: The Role of Arts-based Research in Preparing Pre-service Art Educators”
  • Trey Shirley, Abilene Christian University, “Coping with Academic Multiple Identity Disorder: Integrating Art Educator Identities as Artist, Researcher, and Teacher through Design Thinking” 

Among visual art educators, the roles of Artist/Researcher/Teacher are intertwined; consequently, teachers of art inhabit the liminal spaces between insider and outsider, theorist and practitioner. For the Christian art educator—whether working from within or outside the Christian educational setting—the integration of these three modes of artistic being is situated within one’s meta-awareness of self as a creative being made in the image of the Creator. How do Christian art educators find, and teach, equilibrium between their Artist/Researcher/Teacher identities? This panel reflects upon Christian contexts for integrating these modes of reflective practice. 

“Reflected Light: Art Photography.” 

Larry E. Fink, Hardin-Simmons University, Convener

  • Carrie Isaacson, Hardin-Simmons University, “Conceptual Realism”
  • Nil Santana, Abilene Christian University, “Seascapes and Cityscapes”
  • Roger W. Jones, Ranger College, “Collecting Fine Art Photography”
  • Larry E. Fink, Hardin-Simmons University, “Traditional Street Photographs”

Three art photographers will show examples of their current work and discuss the challenges posed by philosopher Jacques Maritain in his book Art and Scholasticism.  An art collector will reflect on the aesthetic appeals of the fine art photograph. "By the words 'Christian art' I do not mean Church art, art specified by an object, an end, and determined rules....  Everything belongs to it, the sacred as well as the profane. It is at home wherever the ingenuity and the joy of man extend....  Christianity does not make art easy" (Maritain).

Business and Engineering

“Classroom and Educational Practices I.”

Ray Eldridge, Lipscomb University Convener

  • Kerry Patterson, Lipscomb University and Kristopher Hatchell, Barge Waggoner Sumner and Cannon, Inc., “Humanitarian Engineering”
  • Rich Brown, Harding University “Putting the Golden Rule in Marketing Practice by Putting it in the Marketing Classroom”

In this session, participants will focus on classroom and educational practices in business, computing, and engineering disciplines. The two disciplines addressed here (Engineering and Marketing) offer rich opportunities for students to develop global and Christian perspectives. They also demonstrate the diverse subjects where Christian faith intersects professions.

“Classroom and Educational Practices II.”

Ray Eldridge, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Mike Kendrick, Lipscomb University, “Global Mindset”
  • Christopher Davis, Harding University “Emotional Intelligence and Faith Based Institutions”

In this session, participants will focus on classroom and educational practices in business, computing and engineering disciplines. These presentations address the development of global mindset and emotional intelligence in undergraduate and graduate students. These two topics are further demonstration of the integration of faith and higher education in a holistic and global sense.

“Computing Topics.”

Fortune Mhlanga, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Ryan Jessup and Don Pope, Abilene Christian University, “Google and Sports: Forecasting Outcomes of Sporting Events via the PageRank Algorithm”
  • Bryan Black, Freed Hardeman University, “Adoption of Healthcare Information Systems in Georgia Nursing Homes”
  • Andrew Borchers, Lipscomb University “Enterprise Systems and Analytics – a 2015 answer to MIS course offerings in BBA/MBA Programs?”

In this session, participants will focus on a range of computing topics of interest to business and computer science faculty. Information Technology has a profound influence on connecting people throughout the world. Combined with mathematical techniques, organizations can optimize their operations and create superior customer or constituent value.

“Global Business Practices.”

Fortune Mhlanga, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Joshua Watson, Oklahoma Christian University, “A Case Study of CVS Health’s Social Responsibility About-Face”
  • Brad Reid, Lipscomb University, “International Legal Standards Required to Address Enemy Combatants, Terrorists, and Confidential Informants—The Historic Case of Sampson and Delilah” 

In this session, participants will gain insights on two important topics: corporate social responsibility and international legal standards. Corporate social responsibility brings a stakeholder perspective to organizations that extend beyond financial return to include environmental and social objectives. In a global business environment, legal issues abound, particularly in areas of conflict.

Civil Rights

“Biblical Scholars in Churches of Christ and Questions of Social Justice,” Richard Hughes, Messiah College and Pepperdine University, Emeritus, Convener

  • Richard Hughes, Messiah College and Pepperdine University, Emeritus, “Biblical Scholars in Churches of Christ and Questions of Social Justice”
  • Harold Straughn, St. Francis of Assisi Christian Church, Utah Women’s Prison, Draper, UT, Respondent
  • Victor Hunter, Disciples Center for Human Wholeness, Respondent
  • Robert M. Randolph, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Respondent
  • Alisha R. Winn, African American Research Library and Cultural Center of Palm Beach County, Inc., “A Walking Message:  Jesus, Social Justice, and Scholarship”
  • Raymond Carr, Pepperdine University, “Toward a Theology of Spiritual Freedom”

This panel will ask about the extent to which biblical and religious scholars in Churches of Christ have engaged one of the major themes in the biblical text—the question of justice for the poor, the stranger, the marginalized, and the oppressed.  Two younger scholars—Alisha R. Winn and Raymond Carr—will then ask how biblical and religious scholars can help lead congregations toward a fuller engagement with this biblical theme.

“Bloody Tears of the Oppressed: Liberating Black and Hispanic Rage.”

 Steven T. Moore, Convener

  • Steven T. Moore, Abilene Christian University, “Lifelessly Walking: Black Rage in a Post-Racial America”
  • Gabriel Prado, Abilene Christian University, “Vacancies/Evictions: The Black Spaces and Mute Cries of Brown Rage”
  • Will Powell, Duquesne University, “Outrageous Liberation: Holiday’s Strange Fruit as Hip Hop Christology”
  • Luis Balmore Rivas, Metropolitan State University

Four poet-scholars will creatively and intellectually examine the realities of Black and Hispanic Rage in American Literature. They will provide an understanding of this rage walking our streets today, highlighting the thinking and theories of feminist and race critic bell hooks from her book Killing Rage: Ending Racism: “I felt a killing rage…With no outlet, my rage turned to overwhelming grief and I began to weep, covering my face with my hands. All around me everyone acted as though they could not see me, as though I were invisible” (hooks).  

“For Such a Time as This:  Churches of Christ and Social Justice in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Richard Hughes, Messiah College, Convener

  • Harold Straughn, St. Francis of Assisi Christian Church, Utah Women’s Prison, Draper, UT, “Churches of Christ and Social Justice: My Experience in the 1960s and 1970s”
  • Victor Hunter, Disciples Center for Human Wholeness, “Churches of Christ and Social Justice: My Experience in the 1960s and 1970s”
  • Robert Randolph, MIT, Respondent

In the 1960s and 1970s, Churches of Christ, along with the entire American nation, faced enormous moral and ethical issues, sparked by the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. How Churches of Christ responded—or failed to respond—to these crises is the theme for this session.  Both the panelists and the respondent engaged those issues in important ways, but also had to navigate a perilous course between the world they sought to serve and the church they loved. 

“Pre-Conference Screening: Selma.

Ted Parks, Lipscomb University, Convener

Released shortly before the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” on Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma trains a lens on the Civil Rights Movement and a pivotal moment in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Screening on the eve of the 2015 Christian Scholars’ Conference, Selma will be the subject of a later conference session exploring its cinematic vision and its potential for illuminating race in the United States today. The screening and session continue the conversation on race and cinema inaugurated with 12 Years a Slave.

Selma: Cinematic Past and Social ‘Present Tense.’”

Ted Parks, Lipscomb University, convener

  • Tanya Smith Brice, Benedict College, Panelist
  • Jerry Taylor, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
  • Phyllis Hildreth, Lipscomb University, Panelist

New York Times film critic A. O. Scott starts his review of Selma not with a lead about the movie, but a two-paragraph history lesson about the events it depicts. Scott warns of the difficult task awaiting any filmmaker trying to tell a story as complex as that of the Civil Rights Movement, hinting at the challenge of making thoroughly documented events from a few decades back impact audiences today. “How do you endow a relatively well-known episode from the recent past with the urgency of the present tense?” Scott asks. The critic’s question provides a point of departure for analyzing Selma’s relevance to America’s ongoing racial story. Does director Ava DuVernay's film speak with the “urgency of the present tense” to all audiences, young and old, black and white? How can viewing the film help us understand who we are called to be as educators, the body of Christ, and society?

Creative Writing

“Explorations in Counter-Unity: Creative Works in the Depth of Culture and Faith.”

Brett Butler, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Brett Butler, Abilene Christian University, “Resident Strangers”
  • Steve Weathers, Abilene Christian University, “Breakers on the Eve of Keith Richards”
  • Debbie Jay Williams, Abilene Christian University, “Clear Dances in the Sight of Heaven: Praying for Death”

The popularity of memoir is exploding, demonstrated by the success of authors such as Anne Lamott, Mary Karr, Barbara Taylor, Andrea Dilley, and Donald Miller. These are stories of struggle within a system of belief or a culture that did not explain why or who they are. They resonate with those readers of this generation who are exploring and testing the limits of faith and the meta-narratives of culture. To obtain unity, these stories of disunity need to be told. This panel will explore personal stories of estrangement or alienation from culture, faith, or both expressed through creative nonfiction.

“Re-Mapping Identity: Creative Works on Fractured Identities.”

John Struloeff, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Chara Watson, Oklahoma Christian University, “An Exploration of Binding False Narratives and Their Effects on Compassion and Spirituality”
  • Forrest Anderson, Catawba College, “The Motor Court”
  • John Struloeff, Pepperdine University, “Re-Mapping Poetry: A Reading”

This panel features three Christian Scholars’ Conference authors reading selections from their recent creative works in the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The first reading will be a personal essay about a woman’s search for an authentic relationship with God. The second is a short story about a father struggling to find his place within a newly broken family. Last will be a selection of poems, ranging from personal experiences to biographical narratives of historical figures, such as Albert Einstein and Leo Tolstoy, all on the theme of ‘re-mapping identity.’

Doctoral Students in Theology

“Negotiating Scripture and Culture.”

Brad East, Yale University, Convener

  • Joseph K. Gordon, Marquette University, “Scripture, the Historicity of Culture, and Divine Pedagogy and Revelation”
  • Jared Poole, University of Utah “Greeks and Other ‘Invisible’ Persons: A Search for a Christian Vision of Race in Management Research and Higher Education”
  • Paavo Tucker, Asbury Theological Seminary, “The Agrarian Rhetoric of the Sages: Farmers and Their Markets in Proverbs”
  • Ken Cukrowski, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

This session concerns the relationship between the Bible and the cultural contexts in which the Bible is read. On the one hand, this relationship raises questions about scriptural authority and interpretation in ecclesial contexts, both local and trans-congregational. On the other hand, there is no shortage of hot-button issues and pressing questions in the wider culture—whether social, moral, political, or other—that bear directly on biblical interpretation and, in turn, are directly affected by exegetical judgments. These papers pick a particular cultural issue or theme and explore its relationship to Scripture: problems, possibilities, histories, relevance, consequences, and so on.

“Protestant Engagements with Aquinas.”

David Mahfood, Southern Methodist University, Convener

  • William L. Glass, Southern Methodist University, “Tom, Thomas, and Tomorrow: N.T. Wright, Thomas Aquinas, and the Future of New Testament Studies”
  • T. Adam Van Wart, Southern Methodist University, “Aquinas, Causation, and the Unknowability of God”
  • Daniel Houck, Southern Methodist University, “Calvin and Aquinas on Nature’s Need for Grace”
  • Fred Aquino, Abilene Christian University, Faculty Respondent

Recently there has been growing appreciation of Thomas Aquinas as a Biblically-oriented theologian as opposed to the natural theologian par excellence. This development makes him ripe for engagement by Protestant theologians. The papers in these sessions by several current doctoral students with Protestant commitments display the ecumenical and theological promise of this trend, engaging with several aspects of Aquinas’ thought, including his views on scripture, original sin, the possibility of knowledge of God, and the relationship between nature and grace.

“Reflective Praxis for Congregations: Evidence from Exceptional DMin Research.”

Dave Bland, Harding School of Theology, Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University and John York, Lipscomb University, conveners

  • Jason Bybee, Mayfair Church of Christ, Huntsville, AL, “Intentional Mentoring Toward Disciple Formation”
  • Wes Horn, Orient Street Church of Christ, Stamford, TX, “Communal Spiritual Formation:  Does the Practice of the Liturgical Christian Calendar Enhance Spiritual Growth?” 
  • Mark Johnson, Olympia Church of Christ, Olympia, WA, “Preaching to Shape a Holy People”
  • Ron Bruner, Executive Director of Westview Boys Home, Respondent

Each year the Doctor of Ministry programs at Harding School of Theology, Lipscomb University, and Abilene Christian University graduate practitioner-scholars. As practitioner-scholars they have developed great facility in contextual theology, ministry skills, and in theological reflection. This session offers a sample of the research done by recent graduates of all three programs, demonstrating the vitality of congregational and ministerial contexts for research and learning. The session will also create a context for further development of their research for use by scholars, ministers, and congregational leaders.

Engaging Philip Jenkins

“The Next NEXT CHRISTENDOM: The Fourth Edition?”

Monte Cox, Harding University, Convener

  • Monte Cox, Harding University, “The Secularization Thesis: Recent Evidence, Different Prognosis’”
  • Stan Granberg, Kairos Church Planting “Landslides, Landscape, and The Next Christendom: Cultural Implications as North Meets South”
  • Keith Huey, Rochester College, “The Next Crusade, Reconsidered”        
  • Philip Jenkins, Baylor University, Respondent

Significant changes in the global landscape have occurred over the last thirteen years. While Philip Jenkins has published three editions of his 2002 Next Christendom during that time, much has developed since his most recent (2011) installment. What should missiologists and global Christians, especially in the wake of the “Arab Spring” unrest in the Balkans and the much-heralded “Rise of the Nones” in America, be anticipating for the future? Each participant will present on an issue related to these and other shifts followed by a prepared response from Philip Jenkins. The session will invite audience participation, as well.

“Philip Jenkins’ History of Christianity.”

Jeff Peterson, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Convener

  • Jeff Peterson, Austin Graduate School of Theology, “Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way”
  • Jeff Childers, Abilene Christian University, “The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia—and How It Died”
  • Dyron B. Daughrity, Pepperdine University, “The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade”
  • Philip Jenkins, Baylor University, Author and Respondent

The wide-ranging oeuvre of Philip Jenkins invites a reconsideration of the course of Christian history at multiple points. This panel session focuses on four of Jenkins’s historical works, exploring how they alter our view of the Christian past and present. Professor Jenkins will respond to the four review-essays and engage the audience in open discussion.

Faith and Literature

“Christian Faith and Practice in Medieval Literature.”

Perry Neil Harrison, Baylor University, Convener

  • Perry Neil Harrison, Baylor University, “Divine Power in the Old Saxon Heliand
  • Adam Bryant Marshall, Baylor University, “‘The Talking of the Tod’: Sin and Nature in the Fox Triad of Henryson’s Morall Fabillis”
  • David Eugene Clark, Baylor University, “The Role of Hermits and Holy Men in the Morte Darthur’s Spiritual Community”
  • Kenneth Hawley, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent

Literary works provided a versatile and effective outlet for the spread of Christianity during the Middle Ages. Specifically, these texts allowed writers to demonstrate beliefs, practices, and concepts in ways that were more accessible to their audience. These three presentations examine the influence of the Christian faith upon the literature of the Middle Ages. Particularly, they focus upon the ways both the Christian message and church doctrine were taught and spread through this literature, as well as how popular perceptions of the faith were represented within the writings of the period.   

“Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss: Reflections on One Writer’s Spiritual Journey.”

Darryl Tippens, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Matt Byars, Lubbock Christian University, panelist
  • Nancy Magnusson Durham, Lipscomb University, panelist
  • Jeremy Elliott, Abilene Christian University, panelist
  • Susan Pigott, Hardin-Simmons University, panelist
  • Christian Wiman, Respondent

“How does one remember God, reach for God, realize God in the midst of one’s life if one is constantly being overwhelmed by that life?” contemporary poet and cancer survivor Christian Wiman asks in My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern Believer. In this session, four readers of Wiman’s work will discuss the author’s moving responses to this question. They will consider Wiman’s reflections on various themes, including faith, doubt, love, beauty, suffering, death, memory, calling, and transcendence. Mr. Wiman will conclude the session with his responses to the panelists’ comments.

The Future of Higher Education

“Charting a Course for the Future of Christian Higher Education: A Three Year Conversation for Governing Boards.”

Rick Gibson and Rick Marrs, Conveners

  • Andrew Benton, Pepperdine University, “A White Paper Presentation”
  • Panelists TBD                  

The Christian Scholar’s Conference is pleased to offer a series of conversations about the future of Christian Higher Education designed especially for board members. Through this series, we will assess the opportunities and obstacles present in the current higher education environment, and we will rediscover and reimagine the mission of Christian higher education moving forward confidently into the future.

Part I - 2015: Assessing the Current Environment (External Awareness)

In year one, President Andrew Benton from Pepperdine University, will prepare a white paper exploring the forces that are shaping the higher education landscape generally and Christian higher education specifically. Board members from participating institutions will evaluate the strength of these factors and will assess our capability for addressing both the opportunities and threats. Pepperdine Provost Rick Marrs will facilitate the panel discussion. Rick Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President for Public Affairs and Church Relations, will facilitate a workshop to discuss and prioritize key threats and opportunities for further exploration in subsequent sessions.

Part II - 2016: What Matters Most: Rediscovering the Heart of the Mission (Self Awareness)

In year two, a cross-disciplinary team of scholars will survey faculty, administrators, and board members from our participating institutions to uncover and decode the heart of the mission. What matters most? What moves us forward? What holds us back? What are our biggest and most promising ideas?

Part III - 2017: Mapping the Future of Christian Higher Education (Strategy Workshop)

In year three, the cross-disciplinary team of researchers will survey faculty, administrators, and board members from participating institutions to consider several strategic questions. What factors do colleges and universities from Churches of Christ need to raise or reduce or eliminate or create to position them for success?

“Re-envisioning Christian Higher Education for the Next Century.”

Randy Lowry, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Stephen Johnson, Abilene Christian University, Horizon and Promise: Hope for the Future of Christian Higher Education
  • Trace Hebert, Lipscomb University
  • Bruce McLarty, President, Harding University
  • Phil Shubert, President, Abilene Christian University
  • Tim Perrin, President, Lubbock Christian University
  • John deSteiguer, President, Oklahoma Christian University
  • Don Millican, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Oklahoma Christian University
  • Ed Biggers, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Pepperdine University
  • David Scobey, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Lipscomb University

This year the “Presidents’ Session” invites board members from universities associated with the Churches of Christ to engage a series of questions regarding the model of Christian Higher Education and how they might see that model evolving to meet the challenges and opportunities of the next century. Education is in liminal space producing the experience of a “crisis.” Symptoms of this experience appear in many forms including but not limited to enrollment demographics and financial sustainability. Christian higher education is situated within this larger crisis. The resources of the Christian tradition provide a distinctive way of understanding and articulating the crisis and provide critical elements for the re-imagination of Christian higher education and, subsequently, its business model. This re-envisioning must embrace models that deliver on God's desire for human flourishing and the flourishing of human community, moving toward the expansive wholeness of all people and all things.

Gender Studies

“Gender Injustice: Exploring the Negative Effects of Gender-Based Discrimination in Religious Contexts on Individuals and Religious Communities.”

Suzanne Macaluso, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Gary S. Selby, Pepperdine University, “‘Unity’ as a Conversation-Stopper in the Dialog on Gender Roles in Churches of Christ: A Rhetorical Perspective”
  • Cherisse Flanagan, Abilene Christian University, “Discrepancies in Attitudes toward Gender in Church as Predictors of Psychological Distress, Disaffiliation, and Conflict in Church Members”
  • Jess Schell, SMU, Perkins School of Theology, “Androcentrism in the Churches of Christ: Hearing Our Daughter's Voices”
  • Jane Ann Kenney, Lipscomb University, “The Good, the Bad, and the Feminine: Female Imagery in the Minor Prophets”
  • Lynette Sharp Penya, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

Gender-based discrimination in secular and religious contexts has long been normative among conservative Protestant traditions. These panelists explore the negative consequences of gender-based discrimination on individuals and religious communities. Negative effects that will be examined include the use of “unity” as rhetorical device to prevent change and legitimize injustice, the effect of discrimination on psychological distress, disaffiliation, and conflict among church members, and the way in which girls internalize discriminatory messages and subsequently constrain themselves. The panel will conclude with a discussion of the benefits of full inclusion.

“Reflections on the MIT Report: 2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault and a Literature Review on the Ways Alcohol/Drugs are Assessed and Implications for Church Related Schools.”

Robert M. Randolph, Chaplain to the Institute, MIT, convener

  • Robert M. Randolph, Chaplain to the Institute, MIT, Panelist
  • Theresa Patton Pope, Harvard Extension School, Panelist

In the spring of 2014 MIT conducted a survey to understand student’s perceptions and opinions about different types of social behavior and their experiences with sexual assault and sexual misconduct. In the fall of 2014 the survey results were released and the response was noteworthy. This session will reflect on what MIT has learned and explore the results of a literature review on how sexual misconduct involving drugs/alcohol are assessed. Finally for schools that are church related, what are the implications of what we have learned?


“Implications of Aristotle’s Poetics for Preaching.”

Tim Sensing, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Lance Pape, Texas Christian University, “Ricoeur on Biblical Truth: History, Testimony, and ‘Letting Go’”
  •  Mason Lee, Boston University, “‘In Union and Distinction’: Barth, Ricoeur, and Spirit in Preaching”
  • Naomi Walters, Lipscomb University, Respondent

In the three-volume work Time and Narrative, Paul Ricoeur’s use of Aristotle’s Poetics has stimulated several innovative homiletical proposals. Subsequently, I have assigned Poetics the past three years asking students to reflect on the implications Aristotle’s work has for preaching. A fresh reading of Poetics enables students to discover narrative patterns that enhance their plotting of sermons. 

New Testament

“Archaeological Reports from the Front.”

John F. Wilson, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Jesse Long, Lubbock Christian University, “Khirbet Iskander”
  • R. Mark Shipp, Austin Graduate School of Theology, and Craig Bowman, Rochester College, “Tamar”
  • John F. Wilson, Pepperdine University, “Did Agrippa and Berenice Live Here?  Excavating a Palace at Caesarea Philippi”

This session will feature reports on three Biblically-related archaeological sites, presented by scholars who were participants in the excavations. Khirbet Iskander, an early Bronze Age site, is located in Jordan in the biblical Land of Moab. `En Hazeva (Tamar), in southern Israel, was an important stopping place for caravans importing spices from Arabia.  The monumental “Palace of Agrippa,” discovered at Banias (Caesarea Philippi) in northern Israel, provides context for the Herodian family, so prominent in the world of the New Testament.

“Major Book Review: The Church According to Paul: Rediscovering the Community Conformed to Christ (Baker Academic, 2014).”

Richard Wright, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • James Thompson, Abilene Christian University, Precís
  • Greg Sterling, Yale Divinity School, Reviewer
  • David Lemley, Pepperdine University, Reviewer
  • Eddie Sharp, University Church of Christ, Austin, TX, Reviewer
  • James Thompson, Abilene Christian University, Reply

The decline of church attendance in America has been reported in numerous news outlets. Churches around the country are experimenting with a variety of strategies to stem this decline. James Thompson, in his most recent book The Church According to Paul: Rediscovering the Community Conformed to Christ, argues that these attempts have neglected a rich resource for orienting the church in the twenty-first century: the letters of Paul. While attention to these biblical texts will not guarantee a reversal of the decline in church attendance, thoughtful attention to them can transform the church in ways that will allow it to serve its proper role in a post-Christian world.

Old Testament

“Reading From Two Perspectives”: Glenn Pemberton’s, Surely it is God who Saves: An Introduction to the Message of the Old Testament. ACU Press, forthcoming summer 2015, Perspective #1: “Making Core Curriculum Core: When Faculty Read (and influence) Texts beyond their Departments.”

Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

  • Scott Lamascus, Oklahoma Christian University (Language and Literature)
  • Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University (Management and Marketing)
  • Jennifer Shewmaker, Abilene Christian University (Psychology)
  • Glenn Pemberton, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

What if instructors from Education, Language and Literature, Management and Marketing, Psychology, Biology, and others from across campus read and contributed to the production of a textbook for use in a core course introducing students to the Message of the Old Testament? What would they see? How might their insights influence revision of the textbook and how might awareness of the textbook influence or contribute to the courses in their own department? Join the conversation about sharing the development of texts for the core curriculum.

“Reading From Two Perspectives”: Glenn Pemberton’s, Surely it is God who Saves: An Introduction to the Message of the Old Testament. ACU Press, forthcoming summer 2015, Perspective #2: “Reading inside the Department: When the Department considers (and influences) Core Texts.”

 Jason Fikes, ACU Press, Convener

  • Charles Stephenson, Lubbock Christian University (New Testament)
  • John Jackson, Milligan College (Bible)
  • Charles Rix, Oklahoma Christian University (Old Testament)
  • Glenn Pemberton, Professor of Old Testament, Abilene Christian University

Professors from Bible and Religion departments weigh in on the development of a new textbook designed for freshmen and sophomores in their first encounter with the Old Testament (Surely it is God who Saves). These professors signed on for pilot studies using the book with their students, joined a round table discussion in San Diego (SBL 2014), or had private consultations with the author through the writing and rewriting process. This session reflects on the process and the product from the perspective of religion specialists and how this differs from their colleagues across campus (from prior discussion in “Perspective #1”). 


“Knowledge and Scripture in the Fourth Century.”

James Prather, Abilene Christian University, Convener (A Peer Review Session)

  • Ed Gallagher, Heritage Christian University, “The New Testament Canon in Rufinus of Aquileia’s Translations”
  • Jacob A. Lollar, Florida State University, “‘Do not renounce Moses and believe in the Messiah!’: Religious Authority and the Interpretation of Scripture in the Syriac History of Philip” 
  • Tera Harmon, Catholic University of America, “Garden and Fountain: Virtue and Knowledge in Gregory of Nyssa”

The fourth century saw decisive developments in common Christian conceptions of canon, religious authority, and the pre-requisites for correct interpretation. This section hosts presentations that span a range of topics related to these crucial matters, including Patristic discussions about the scope of the canon, Jewish-Christian debates over religious authority and the right to interpret, and the connections between the exercise of virtue and hermeneutics.

“Philo of Alexandria Session.”

Ronald Cox, Pepperdine University, Organizer; Thomas H. Olbricht, Pepperdine University Emeritus, Convener

  • Ronald Cox, Pepperdine University, “‘Come, let us confuse’: Heavenly Powers, Unembodied Souls, and Divine Dirty Work in Philo’s On the Confusion of Languages
  • Zane McGee, Emory University, “Slave to the Servant: The Allegorical Interpretation of Hagar and Sarah by Philo and Paul”
  • Gregory E. Sterling, Yale Divinity School, “A Law to Themselves’: Limited Universalism in Paul and Philo of Alexandria”
  • Justin Rogers, Freed-Hardeman University, “Origen in the Likeness of Philo: Eusebius of Caesarea’s Portrait of the Model Scholar”

This session offers a testament to the importance of the writings of Philo of Alexandria (c. 20–c. AD 50) for understanding Judaism and Christianity in the early imperial and late antique worlds. The first paper considers how Philo’s allegorical method protects divine transcendence in the Tower of Babel story; two studies show how Philo illuminates Paul, with one looking at common allegorical approaches and another looking at similar views about Israel’s identity and circumcision; and the final paper considers Eusebius appropriation of philonic tradition to promote the school of Origen, contributing to Philo’s assumption among the church fathers.

“Reconceiving Patristic Views on Atonement and the Pursuit of God.”

David Kneip, Abilene Christian University

  • Peter Martens, Saint Louis University, “Reconsidering Gustaf Aulén's Christus Victor: Toward a New Account of the Patristic Doctrine of ‘Atonement’”
  • Frederick Aquino, Abilene Christian University, “Synthesis Without Confusion: Maximus the Confessor on the Role of Praktike and Theoria in the Epistemic Pursuit of God”

Thoughtful study of Patristic sources provide opportunities for constructively engaging issues that remain relevant. In this section two presenters propose to demonstrate the lasting potency of Patristic reflection on two fundamental theological loci—one dealing with atonement and the other with knowledge of God—and the need for fresh evaluations of existing viewpoints. 

The Second Annual Everett Ferguson Lecture in Early Christian Studies.

 Jeff Childers, Abilene Christian University and Trevor Thompson, Abilene Christian University, Conveners

  • Robert Louis Wilken, Distinguished Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the William R. Kenan Professor of the History of Christianity Emeritus, University of Virginia, “The Vocation of the Christian Scholar: Love of Learning and the Desire for God”

In this lecture Wilken will look to Origen, but complement his study with reference to others, including Eusebius and Jerome. He plans to speak of Everett Ferguson’s work by analogy and the scholarship done in and for communities of faith.

Popular Culture

“Friday Night Lights ‘Out’? Tackle Football and the Male Teenage Brain.”

 David Worley, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Convener

  • Talmadge Trammell, Neurosurgeon, Abilene Texas

Concussions in the NFL have been highlighted in the media. Less publicized has been research into the sub-concussive result of repeated head impact on the male teenage brain in tackle football. This session will present a review of such research along with an introduction to cerebral anatomy, to injuries to the brain, and to neuro-cognitive testing.

“Intergenerational Tension as a Way of Understanding Multicultural Literature.”

Ronna Privett, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

  • Carole Carroll, Lubbock Christian University, “Malcolm X and Ella: Intergenerational and Gender Tension in The Autobiography of Malcolm X and X: A Novel
  • Shenai Alonge, Lubbock Christian University, “From Black Power to Black Lives Matter: The Intergenerational Struggle for Freedom in One Crazy Summer
  • Darlene Beaman, Lone Star Community College Kingwood, “Breaking Barriers: The Role of Narratives in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel One Amazing Thing

Our world comprises people from a variety of religious, racial, and national backgrounds, but literature helps us understand the ways we are similar, despite these differences. Most texts characterized as “multicultural literature” emphasize these differences in race and culture, but many also include the common thread of intergenerational tension as a significant theme that helps touch a larger audience. This session will explore the theme of intergenerational tension in fiction as a way of coming to a greater understanding of the many cultures of our world. 

“Magical Language in Literature.”

Gregory C. Jeffers, University of Texas at Arlington, Convener

  • Leslie Reed, Vanderbilt University, “The Reality of the Unreal: The Language of Fantasy in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”
  • Matthew Bardowell, St. Louis University, “The Practical Magic of Old Icelandic Poetic Diction: Transforming Experience Through Figurative Language”
  • Sarah Eason, Harding University, “Myth and Magic in The Lord of the Rings: The Power of Logos in Fantasy Literature”

The debate about the function of language is ancient. There are those who believe that language can partially construct reality and there are also those who believe that language is primarily a set of labels for things. And there are those who believe that language can actually act on people. In some ways, this is a magical view of language. This panel considers the way language constructs reality for characters in stories, the way fantasy provides creative resources for other forms of literature, and the way magical language in fantasy helps us negotiate reality in our world.

Spiritual Formation


“‘Are we moving the needle?’ Stability and Change in Spirituality of Students Attending a Christian University.”

Scott McDowell, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Chris Gonzalez, Lipscomb University, “Longitudinal Studies in Spirituality Among Christian Millennials”
  • Randall Dement, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent
  • Greg Brooks, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent

Millennials in emerging adulthood at Christian universities find themselves in a life stage and social context of spiritual freedom and spiritual transition. The college years can be some of the most significant and impactful years of spiritual formation. New research on millennials in emerging adulthood gives insight into the spiritual formation of students at a Christian university. Results show how students change and remain the same between their freshmen and junior years on a variety of spirituality indicators with special attention paid to prevalence and possible antecedents of denominational switching.

“Spiritual Formation and Minister Formation.”

Brady Bryce, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Brady Bryce, Abilene Christian University, “Attentive to God, Self and Others: A Description of Contextual Education in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU”
  • Landon Saunders, Heartbeat and Lipscomb University, Ministry Response
  • Heidi Morris, Abilene Christian University, Marriage and Family Services Response
  • Monty Lynn, Abilene Christian University, Business and Administration Response
  • Jonathan Camp, Abilene Christian University, Communication Response
  • Patricia B. Hernandez, Abilene Christian University, Biology Response

This panel responds to and contrasts the unique issues related to minister formation as compared with the formation of students from their diverse disciplines. The presentation and paper “Attentive to God, Self and Others: Contextual Education in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU” will delineate the current status of the program. Respondents from five diverse disciplines will offer cross disciplinary feedback, comparison, and suggestions for developing student practitioners from novice to expert, arising from their fields of expertise.?


Along the Way: A CSC Generative Conversation Becomes a Book.”

Ron Bruner, Westview Boys’ Home, Convener

  • Suzetta Nutt, Highland Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas, “Practicing Spiritual Disciplines with Children”
  • Dana Kennamer Pemberton, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas, “Holy Hospitality: Following the Call of Jesus to Welcome ALL Children”
  • Steven Bonner, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, Texas, “Understanding Childhood Spirituality”
  • Holly Catterton Allen, Lipscomb University, “Reshaping the Church into an Intergenerational Body”
  • Houston Heflin, Respondent, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas

Many churches are providing increased resources for children’s ministries. However, these efforts are often not informed by serious theological reflection. The result is that practices with children often do not align with the beliefs of the faith community. Flowing out of the CSC Generative session process, we have brought together a group of scholars and practitioners from the Churches of Christ to write a book designed to engage churches in theologically informed conversations about children. This session will include a brief chronicle of the process involved in writing the book as well as author presentations of selected chapters.

“High Impact Practices in the Sciences.”

Stephen Davis, Pepperdine University, Tom Lee, Abilene Christian University, and Jeff McCormack, Oklahoma Christian University

  • Caleb R. Robinson, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Houston, Alumnus ACU, “Drosophila melanogaster as an Emerging Model in Pain Research”
  • Anjel M. Helms, Ph.D. Candidate, Pennsylvania State University, Alumna Pepperdine University, “Eavesdropping Plants: Plants Perceive and Respond to Olfactory Cues”
  • Younghwa “Henry” Shin, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Oklahoma HSC, Alumnus Oklahoma Christian University, “Cell Culture Techniques to Fight Blindness: Finding Molecular Mechanisms(s) of a Mutant Protein Affecting Vision in Humans”

This panel of Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral students will share one recent development in their research specialization and propose methods of integration into best practices in undergraduate scholarship. Conversations will focus on possible applications to 1) the mentoring of undergraduates in research, 2) the formulation of “broader impact statements” as required by granting agencies, such as NSF.  The two primary goals are to update the audience on exciting new developments in science and innovative ways for scholarly engagement of students.  The rationale for this panel has been articulated in the recently edited book Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts College. The authors conclude that we must change an undergraduate’s view of their personal role in the educational process, from being “consumers of knowledge” to being “co-creators of knowledge with faculty” (Chopp, R., Frost, S., and D. H. Weiss. Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts College. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. 212).

“Honors Students at Faith-Based Colleges and Universities: How Do We Respond to Injustice?”

Michael Harbour, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Corinna Carney, Abilene Christian University, “Faith and a Verb Leading Toward Justice”
  • Grace McNair, Abilene Christian University, “AmeriCorps and the Incarnational Move”
  • Sarah Ellis, Belmont University, “Social Justice, Faith, and Serving Community Needs”
  • Samantha Potts, Belmont University Honors Program, “Education, Faith, and Public Policy in Disadvantaged Communities”
  • Corbett Hall, Harding University, “Christian Faith and Medical Science in Appalachia”
  • Kaitlin Plachy, Harding University, “Zambia, Togo, & the Navajo Nation: Becoming a Global Scholar, Citizen, & Christian”
  • Caleb Russell, Harding University, “How Do Justice and Mercy Intersect in World Civilizations and Christian Society?”
  • Tori Willis, Harding University, “The Transformative Love of Christ in Health Care”

Honors students at faith-based colleges and universities respond to the call, “How Do We Respond to Injustice?” For the third year, students from honors colleges and programs present papers about the heart of Christian Higher Education. What is it that makes Christian Higher Education Christian in the context of injustice?  What kind of people are being made in our Christian universities? Scholarship has an impact on the practitioners (faculty and students). This 90-minute session features eight students from three universities presenting their best work and insights followed by general questions from the audience. You are invited to attend and engage these young scholars.

“Language Diversity Through Inter-institutional Collaboration: The Texas Language Consortium Project.”

Abraham Mata, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

  • Rui Cao, Concordia University, Panelist
  • Josiah Simon, Schreiner University, Panelist
  • Abraham Mata, Lubbock Christian University, Panelist
  • Shawn Hughes, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent

Most higher education institutions strive to produce graduates who can successfully communicate cross-culturally in today’s globalized world. However, many small liberal arts colleges and universities lack resources to offer diverse world language programs. In 2012, five Christian universities created the Texas Language Consortium to address this problem. Using state of the art distance learning technology, they doubled their world language choices while encouraging inter-institutional research. Come join us for a dynamic discussion on the strengths, weaknesses, and implications of this project in the future of world language instruction.

Leaven Journal Presents: The Academy as a Source of Congregational Wisdom.”

David Lemley, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Cliff Barbarick, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
  • Tera Harmon, Catholic University of America, Panelist
  • Cari Myers, Iliff School of Theology, Panelist

Theological scholars may find serving the church abstractly easier than serving the local congregation concretely. This panel puts biblical, historical, and pastoral theologians in conversation about how their particular disciplines may be, and have been, at the service of local churches discerning responses to particular pastoral and missional concerns. This models a practical theological method for generating corporate wisdom in communities of shared Christian praxis, identifying scholars both as disciplinary experts and bearers of spiritual gifts for building up the body of Christ. 

“One World? The Academy from Babel to Pentecost.”

Kenny Jones, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Donald S. Frazier, McMurry University, “When Enlightenment and Scripture Collide:  The Curious Case of American Negro Slavery”
  • David W. Hester, Faulkner University, “And All Who Believed Were Together (Acts 2:44): A Global Strategic Plan for the Academy”
  • David P. McAnulty, Abilene Christian University, “Psychology Practice at the Boundaries of Professional Codes and Biblical Narrative: Towards an Incarnational Ethic”

The Tower of Babel represents the dehumanizing loss of individuality and the sacrifice of genuine community. Conversely, Pentecost offers a vision of unity in diversity. There, God’s creative Spirit reverses the curse of Babel, enabling the recovery of individuality in genuine community. This session will offer a theologically informed remapping within and across disciplines. Presenters will engage the problem of Babel, as well as imaginings of Pentecost, from a perspective in their respective fields. Professor of New Testament Studies Hester will address the tension between biblical truth and acceptance of the individual in the context of Christian Education. Frazier will engage the historical problem of slavery. McAnulty will focus on ethics at the boundaries of professional codes of counseling practice and Scripture.

“‘Thou Readest Black, Where I Read White’: Understanding Biblical Interpretation Through Rosenblatt's Transactional Theory of Reading.”

Stephanie Talley, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Dawan Coombs, Brigham Young University, “‘Slightly in His Own Image’: Rosenblatt’s Literary Transaction”
  • Andrew P. Huddleston, Katlin Sehres, and Ashley Towe, Abilene Christian University “Are All Interpretations Equal? Validity, Community, and Education in Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory of Reading”
  • Sheila Delony, Lubbock Independent School District, “Facts from a Poem: The Effect of Stance on Biblical Interpretation”
  • Steve Bonner, Lubbock Christian University, Discussant

This generative session will apply Louise Rosenblatt’s transactional theory of reading to biblical interpretation. Rosenblatt argued that meaning is constructed in the transaction between a reader and a text, thus producing multiple interpretations.  However, not all interpretations are equal.  The text itself, along with communities of readers, provides parameters to determine validity. It is the teacher’s role to create an atmosphere that allows for explorative interpretation while also serving as a facilitator for discussion. Readers take specific stances (e.g., aesthetic or efferent) toward texts based on features of the text. Such stances lead to particular approaches to Bible study.   

“The Traumatized Church: Reflections on Trauma, Theodicy, Redemption and the Church’s Witness in a Broken World.”

Ron Clark, Agape Church of Christ/George Fox Evangelical Seminary, Convener

  • Michael Hanegan, Independent Scholar, “Trauma – Informed Ecclesiology:
    The Embodied Life and Practices of the Church in the Midst of Trauma and Human Suffering”
  • Charles Rix, Oklahoma Christian University, “Trauma and ‘Narrative Wreckage’ in the Story of Hagar (Genesis 16:21, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her’)” 
  • Ron Clark, Agape Church of Christ/George Fox Evangelical Seminary, “In Those Days There Was No King in Israel . . . . What Do We Do With Sexual Violence, Survivors, and the Sacred Texts?”
  • “Film Clips and Discussion: Deliver Us From Evil and Not in My Church”

The pervasiveness and ferocity of trauma and human suffering in the world is undeniable. Rarely do we recognize that this is also true of those within the Christian community. The consequences of trauma on the life of the church are wide-ranging and systemic. This session seeks to explore the kinds of theological and pastoral commitments necessary to respond to those who have endured trauma in our churches as well as to form a meaningful and redemptive witness in a traumatized world.

“You Are What You Eat, A Food Fight, and What You Don't Know Might Kill You: The Effects of the Modern American Food System.”

Jennifer Rogers, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Stephen Baldridge, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
  • Mark Rogers, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
  • Cini Bretzlaff-Holstein, Trinity Christian College, Panelist
  • Beverly Meyer, Clinical and Holistic Nutritionist, Panelist

This session will address trends and research around our current food system, how it has been developed, and what it is currently doing to the health of Americans. Multiple perspectives will be integrated to inform the participants about the effects of our modern food system. The presenters will address current issues related to human development, healthcare, and issues such as government subsidies and access to quality, sustainable food. 

Paper Abstracts

Forrest Anderson, Catawba College, “The Motor Court”

In this short story, a father finds himself alone with a five-year old son he barely knows thanks to a visitation agreement with his ex-wife who lives halfway across the country. He picks his boy up for the summer at the airport, and after an uncomfortable visit with the ex-wife he ends up stuck in traffic because of a rock slide in western North Carolina. He takes a room in a crummy motel in the mountains and receives a prank telephone call that forces him to embrace his identity as a protector and a father.

Paul A. Anthony, Abilene Christian University, “Was Evolution (at ACU) a Myth? One Man’s Crusade Against Two Biology Professors and a University’s Decision to Fight Him”

In 1985, Abilene Christian University was rocked by a controversy over the alleged teaching of evolution by two biology professors. The two-year conflict was an existential crisis for the university, which relied on students and donations from many of the rural Texas Churches of Christ, most opposed to evolutionary theory. A review of hundreds of letters, internal memos, and other materials—as well as interviews with students, faculty, administrators and board members from the era—allows historians for the first time to assess the accuracy both of the allegations themselves and of the university’s blanket denial of them. 

Frederick Aquino, Abilene Christian University, “Synthesis Without Confusion: Maximus the Confessor on the Role of Praktike and Theoria in the Epistemic Pursuit of God”

Although there is a clear distinction between praktike (ascetic struggle/practice of the virtues) and theoria (contemplation), they are inextricably linked concerning the epistemic pursuit of God. By articulating a synthesis of this sort, Maximus thereby rejects the claim that the epistemic pursuit of God is undertaken primarily (if not only) through theoria. More importantly, praktike has an epistemic payoff insofar as it forms a positive orientation toward deiform knowledge and regulates the pursuit of it. However, praktike is not sufficient in and of itself for acquiring this kind of knowledge. Rather, contemplative practices are largely focused on and responsible for successful acquisition of this epistemic good. 

Randall Balmer, “The Quest for a Moral Presidency: Jimmy Carter, Progressive Evangelicalism, and the Religious Right”          

Jimmy Carter’s improbable quest for the presidency represented an attempt to restore a moral compass to Washington following the scandals of the Nixon years. Carter’s road to the White House received a boost from a brief resurgence of progressive evangelicalism in the early 1970s, but his presidency foundered in part because of opposition from his fellow evangelicals, Billy Graham, and the nascent Religious Right. After leaving the White House in 1981, and thereby freed from political constraints, he has acted more fully on his prophetic convictions, thereby demonstrating that faith functions best from the margins of society and not in the counsels of power.

Matthew Bardowell, St. Louis University, “The Practical Magic of Old Icelandic Poetic Diction: Transforming Experience Through Figurative Language”

In Snorri Sturluson’s thirteenth-century treatise on the language of poetry, Skáldskaparmál, he explains how the kenning functions as an alternative naming practice that is native to Old Icelandic literature and idiosyncratic as a figure of speech. These figurative expressions can transform reality for characters who face highly emotional experiences. The cognitive effect of the kenning can be to permit more fluid movement between conceptual categories, creating a kind of practical magic—one that poets employ to transform their experiences of the world in ways that make sense of the senseless and make the painful endurable.

Bryan Black, Freed Hardeman University “Healthcare Information System Adoption in Georgia Nursing Home”

The purpose of this research was to examine the adoption of Healthcare Information Systems (HIS) in Georgia nursing homes to determine what influenced or predicted HIS adoption. Data for the study were obtained by surveying members of the Georgia Healthcare Association. Using multiple regression analyses, it was determined that non-profit facilities and facilities that had higher CMMS ratings were more likely to have HISs. Facilities that had past OSHA or CMMS compliance issues were less likely to have HISs, as were facilities with administrators that have been out of school longer. 

Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, "Mentoring Female Students on Christian Campuses"

Mentoring women at a Christian university poses some challenges, particularly when mentoring female students. Recently, a panel of female professors was asked to speak at an LCU retreat for selected upper division female students enrolled in the TRiO program at the university. These young women are first generation students, mostly minorities, and disadvantaged socioeconomically. The panelists spoke on the waves of feminism and Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, a brief history of women in the church, and on formalized leadership training. This presentation will discuss the retreat and its effects on the participants.

Dan Blazer, Duke University Medical Center, “Why Survive? The Good in Growing Old”

Aging is frequently associated with negative stereotypes, such as losing one’s friends, function and mental faculties. Yet evidence has emerged to suggest that aging could be the most satisfying time of life. Though we physically experience decline, yet we maintain enough reserve capacity to withstand that decline. Though many dreams have been abandoned, older adults experience what is called “socioemotional selectivity” which contributes to a higher life satisfaction than any other age group. Finally, older adults grow spiritually such that they often feel closer and more secure in their relationship with God than at earlier ages. 

Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University “Enterprise Systems and Analytics – a 2015 answer to MIS course offerings in BBA/MBA Programs?”

In designing BBA and MBA programs, faculty have typically included a core course in information systems. One of the biggest challenges in these courses is deciding which topics to include. Traditional textbooks provide encyclopedic coverage of both management and technical subjects, but do so with limited depth. In this session, the author presents an alternative approach that integrates coverage of enterprise systems and analytics. Within these areas students are introduced to process modeling and data query using QBE and SQL.

Craig D. Bowman, Rochester College, Terrance Christian, Field Archaeologist, OR, and Mark Shipp, Austin Graduate School of Theology, “The 2013 Renewed Excavation at `En Hazeva, Israel (Biblical Tamar)”

In May of 2013, we excavated the earliest strata of Iron Age `En Hazeva. We focused on four loci southwest of the Stratum 8 tower fortress and uncovered a new layer of occupation, now assessed as Stratum 9 of the 11th c. BCE. These areas contained evidence of metallurgical activity, processing copper ore and casting objects, plus an unusually large concentration of grinding stones. An abundance of painted ware, apparently produced at Qurayya, were also found along with numerous hand-made Negbite cooking pots, but containing copper slag inclusions consistent with 10th c. potsherds of the Negev Highland fortresses.

Craig D. Bowman, Rochester College, “Fifty Years of Scholarly Debate over the Prophetic Use of Hôy: Appreciating the Distinguished Work of J. J. M. Roberts”

With the release of Roberts’ Isaiah 1-39 commentary anticipated for the near future and with the recent appearance of two translation handbooks dealing with the Hebrew text of Isaiah and Amos, the half-century-long discussion of the particle hôy receives renewed interest and several new voices. If there is a single word that describes this discussion over the last fifty years, whether among scholars, English Bible versions, commentators, or those turning to them, it is “confusion.” This presentation brings together many of those voices, distant and recent, in appreciation of Robert’s clear and consistent position.

Rich Brown, Harding University “Putting the Golden Rule in Marketing Practice by Putting it in the Marketing Classroom”

The field of marketing is badly in need of leaders who will change the way it is done. The most likely way this can happen is for people teaching marketing to change the way we teach. The foundational assumption of the presentation is that following the Golden Rule is the best strategy when one’s aim is long-term success for the operation of a business that creates value and makes its community a better place. The goal is to encourage business faculty to, and share some ideas about how they can, incorporate the Golden Rule into their curriculum and philosophy of marketing.

Brady Bryce, Abilene Christian University, “Attentive to God, Self and Others:  A Description of Contextual Education in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU”

This paper describes the current layout of the Contextual Education program in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU.  This descriptive presentation provides: a working definition for contextual education, a brief look at influencers on theological education, detail of the five course sequence of five contextual education courses, and other key elements of the program.

Brett Butler, Abilene Christian University, “Resident Strangers”

This work of creative nonfiction unearths the unspoken interior of two friends. While the two college students stroll along a beachside trail, they divulge truths previously unknown—truths that reveal the nature of the repressed and hidden self. The ascetic damage is uncovered and exhumed, illuminating a reality of oppression in which orthodoxy threatens to drive one of the young men away from his Christianity and his family. The essay explores philosophically and practically the existence of God, the alienation felt by a Christian outcast, and the exterior disguises that mask the covert presence of Christianity’s auto-oppressed.

Jason Bybee, Mayfair Church of Christ, Huntsville, AL, “Intentional Mentoring Toward Disciple Formation”

This doctor of ministry thesis presents the results of a project to develop an intentional mentoring model for disciple formation at the Mayfair Church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama. This project was informed by the nature of discipleship in the Epictetus school and the witness of the Pastoral Epistles concerning the Paul-Timothy mentor-protégé relationship. The intervention confirmed the viability of spiritual autobiography as a tool for disciple formation. The project also identified key polarities within which the mentor-protégé relationship must operate: mythic and parabolic narration, encouragement and hard sayings, and intentional and organic interaction. 

Corinna Carney, Abilene Christian University, “Faith and a Verb Leading Toward Justice”

Society stigmatizes millennials as a self-absorbed generation that lives only concerned about their needs, much less public policy issues. In my experience thus far at Abilene Christian University, I have concluded anything but. A faith-based education is the necessary toolbox for fighting injustice, because of the emphasis that Jesus placed on faith being a verb. This school encourages me to dive deeper than the surface level by committing conscious acts of love.  The Justice and Urban Studies Team is a catalyst on campus that is creating movement to fight inequality. When a group of people gather in His name to bring justice to the least of these, big, big things will happen.

Raymond Carr, Pepperdine University, “Toward a Theology of Spiritual Freedom”
In light of Richard Hughes’ comprehensive interviews and discussions with biblical scholars in Churches of Christ, this paper proposes a pneumatological approach to a “theology of freedom” that will help actualize the gains of the past, transcend any overreliance on the technique of modern hermeneutics, and recapture the prophetic voice of the church in engagement with socio-political reality.

Ron Clark, Agape Church of Christ/George Fox Evangelical Seminary, “Film Clips and Discussion: Deliver Us From Evil and Not in My Church”

Jenkins’ book, Pedophiles and Priests, provides a challenge to churches in addressing sexual oppression through clergy. Two short film clips will be shown to the group illustrating congregational and leadership responses to a guilty leader. The group will have an opportunity to respond to the clips in light of the two previous papers. The discussion will be guided to keep the group focused on the issues for discussion—“How have many congregations responded to clergy who are abusive and oppressive within their community?”

Ron Clark, Agape Church of Christ/George Fox Evangelical Seminary, “In Those Days There Was No King in Israel . . . . What Do We Do With Sexual Violence, Survivors, and the Sacred Texts?”

Philip Jenkins’ book, Pedophiles and Priests, offers a challenge for faith communities concerning sexual violence, oppression, and manipulation. This form of violence causes a strong reaction in the faith community affecting the spirituality of victims, their families, and bystanders. Trauma survivors wrestle with an all-knowing, benevolent, and just God and trusting leaders in their spiritual communities. The haunting phrase repeated in Judges: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit . . . .” is a reminder that without justice, leadership, and support for victims, the community suffered.

Dawan Coombs, Brigham Young University,‘Slightly in His Own Image’: Rosenblatt’s Literary Transaction”

Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor wrote, “Ideal Christianity doesn’t exist, because anything the human being touches, even Christian truth, he deforms slightly in his own image.” This description of the influence of interpretation complements Rosenblatt’s transactional theory of reading. Here meaning making occurs in a “constructive, selective process over time in a particular context…in a to-and-fro spiral” as the text and the reader influence the interpretation of the truths contained therein. Beginning with an exploration of the concept of “transaction,” this paper provides an overview of Rosenblatt’s theory and explores how it facilitates multiple interpretations of Biblical texts.

Monte Cox, Harding University, “The Secularization Thesis: Recent Evidence, Different Prognosis?’

Phillip Jenkins writes with regard to the secularization thesis as it plays out in America, “Matters should proceed very differently in the United States, since the country has never experienced the same kind of general secularization as Europe, and despite all its critics, American Christianity is very much alive” (2011, 263).  The rapid “Rise of the ‘Nones’”—much heralded after the publication of the Third Edition of Jenkins’ The Next Christendom (in 2011)—may temper such optimism. In light of the recent observations of Steve Bruce, Michael Horton, Rodney Stark, James K. A. Smith, Charles Taylor, and others, will Jenkins have to change his tune in the fourth edition? 

Ronald Cox, Pepperdine University, “‘Come, let us confuse’: Heavenly Powers, Unembodied Souls, and Divine Dirty Work in Philo’s On the Confusion of Languages

Philo of Alexandria interprets God’s words “let us confuse” (Gen. 11:7) as referring to powers (dunameis) and incorporeal souls (psuchai asomatai) populating the regions between God and the material world, also the intended audience in Genesis 1:26 (“Let us make humankind”) and 3:22 (“Adam has become like one of us”). In the Babel story, God calls upon the heavenly entourage to exact punishment (“confuse”) on the tower builders. I will examine the role of the heavenly forces in meting out punishment on humankind, drawing from Jewish, early Christian, and Greco-Roman comparanda to illuminate Philo’s purpose of preserving divine transcendence. 

Christopher Davis, Harding University “Emotional Intelligence and Faith Based Institutions”

Businesses and universities are facing greater pressure from society, including the need to meet changing workforce demands. College graduates who lack teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills are creating a burden to society. Faith-based institutions espouse educating the whole student (academic, personal, professional, and spiritual). It appears that graduates lack skills that positively impact their academic, personal, professional, and spiritual success in life. To create an adequate transition from academia to career and life, academic institutions must combat negative effects through the inclusion of a more holistic educational framework incorporating both cognitive and other intelligences, specifically emotional intelligence.

Hannah Celeste Dean, Texas Tech University, “Gesture: Sight-As-Being”

Gesture and Painting, both as nouns and verbs, serve as overarching, philosophical ideas. Merleau Ponty discussions the notion of sight as bodily placement in space. This magic, sight-as-being manifests itself in both studio and classroom as foundation for technique and meaning.  This purposeful way of seeing is the call of the Christian, aligning with Christ’s admonition in Luke 10:23-24: “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see.” I share the act of seeing as a function of being in my teaching and artistic practices.

Sheila Delony, Lubbock Independent School District, “Facts from a Poem: The Effect of Stance on Biblical Interpretation”

Reader response theory suggests that readers take a stance toward texts based on specific features of the text. Structures such as numbered chapters prompt the reader to take an efferent stance, or to look for information that can be gleaned. Such a stance leads to particular approaches to Bible study, which may exclude literary interpretations and holistic applications. This paper will discuss features that have been added to Biblical texts and the impact of readers’ resultant stances toward the Bible. It will also explore the trend toward literary Bible formats and how those may prompt aesthetic readings of the Bible.

Greg Demmitt, Pastor, Cornerstone, Gatesville, Texas, “John Thomas and the Christadelphians.”

In “Can We Divide?” Moses Lard uses John Thomas as an example of one who attempted to divide the movement but came to naught.  In Wesley E. Dingman's analysis of Lard’s essay, he asserts that Lard ignores the role of editors of SCM publications in creating division. Lard, however, seems to be correct in his assessment of Thomas’ tendency toward schism, which was indeed the main factor in Thomas leaving the movement and creating the Christadelphians. This paper examines Campbell’s announced break with Thomas and subsequent reactions of those who aligned with Thomas.

Wesley E. Dingman, Loyola University Chicago, “‘Can We Divide?’ Revisited: The Rhetoric of Moses Lard’s Treatise against Division”

Moses Lard’s 1866 essay “Can We Divide?” can be read uncritically as a dogmatic, divisive work. A critical reading appreciates the post-Civil War context out of which Lard writes and the rhetorical strategies he employs to persuade members of a fragile and fracturing movement to support unity and foster reconciliation. To this end, Lard minimizes the negative impact three former SCM ministers had on the movement so as to portray it as more robust than it was. He also fails to recognize that the SCM press contributed greatly to the controversies engendered by these ministers.

Sarah Eason, Harding University, “Myth and Magic in The Lord of the Rings: The Power of Logos in Fantasy Literature”

By constructing a Christian postmodern theoretical approach to fantasy literature, this paper seeks to highlight the unique ways in which the fantasy genre exposes the power of logos, or magical language, both within and without the fantasy text. On a basic level, magical language operates within a story to alter states of being and hide or display power. On a deeper level, however, the logos of fantasy allows us as readers a glimpse into the ways in which we actually create and/or alter states of being with the use of language in our own world. 

Kari Edwards, University of Mississippi, “‘Equal Space With Adam and Eve’: Tennessee’s Genesis Bill of 1973 and the 50th Anniversary of the Scopes Trial”

Tennessee’s “Genesis Bill” was the first version of an “equal time” law passed by a state legislature. Proposed by Lipscomb University biology professor Russell Artist, the bill represented the earliest successful legal step in the shift from biblical to scientific justifications against teaching evolution. It reflected a growing trend within the creationist movement toward relegating evolution to the level of an unprovable theory. It also demonstrated a fundamental shift that had been taking place for decades after the Scopes Trial of 1925, setting the stage for creationist arguments that evolution, like Christianity, was a philosophical and faith-based concept.

Sarah Ellis, Belmont University, “Social Justice, Faith, and Serving Community Needs”

My experience as an honors student at a Christian university has given me a unique sense of responsibility to respond to issues of injustice in my community. I am a Religious Studies minor at Belmont, and my classes challenge me to think about social issues through a Christian lens and to serve “the least of these” as Jesus did. My time as an undergraduate student has fueled my passion for social justice and has taught me that a life well-lived is one in which I can use my God-given talents to meet the world’s needs. 

Cherisse Flanagan, Abilene Christian University, “Discrepancies in Attitudes Toward Gender in Church as Predictors of Psychological Distress, Disaffiliation, and Conflict in Church Members”

The purpose of the study was to investigate the extent to which attitudes about gender roles in churches, specifically traditional and egalitarian, have resulted in disaffiliation and conflict in church members. Individuals’ beliefs about gender roles in churches across denominations, across different congregations of Churches of Christ, and within congregations are widely disparate. The authors hypothesized that this tension contributes to conflict and patterns of disaffiliation within churches. Results confirm that persons with egalitarian views experience more conflict within church settings than persons with traditional views. Considerations about the source, consequences, and meaning of the conflict will be discussed.

Doug Foster, Abilene Christian University, “Three Decisive Events: 1968 and the Solidifying of Estrangement Between Black and White Churches of Christ” 

The events of 1967 surrounding the closing of NCI were massively important in shaping an ethos of anger, suspicion, and continued betrayal by members of black Churches of Christ toward those in the white churches and church related institutions. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and the death of Marshall Keeble on April 4 and April 20, 1968 respectively also made a powerful impact on the black churches. Three other events of 1968, however, sealed the final separation between black and white Churches of Christ. This lecture will detail the historical circumstances of the events, analyze their significance, and note racial unity meetings held recently in Atlanta and Nashville as possible pieces to a change in the culture of separation and suspicion.

Donald S. Frazier, McMurry University, “When Enlightenment and Scripture Collide: The Curious Case of American Negro Slavery”

The framers of the United States imagined a new nation based on the revolutionary ideas brought forward during the enlightenment: all men were created equal. Ideas, though, have genealogies. Just as a person cannot control his own family tree, neither could the framers of this national experiment completely control the various beliefs that scaffolded the American mind. The new nation preached freedom but tolerated slavery. This Gordian knot would ultimately be undone with bullet and bayonet, loosened by sweat and blood.

Ed Gallagher, Heritage Christian University, “The New Testament Canon in Rufinus of Aquileia’s Translations”

Scholars have long doubted the fidelity of Rufinus the translator, especially his Latin renderings of earlier Greek statements on the New Testament canon. This paper challenges this common scholarly view, arguing instead that Rufinus often represented quite accurately his Greek sources, at least as regards the biblical canon. I first explore the statements on the canon in Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, looking for evidence of his altering his source text to cohere more closely with his own ideas about the biblical canon. Then I turn to Origen’s Homilies on Joshua 7.1, which turns out to be one of the earliest datable lists of New Testament books.

William L. Glass, Southern Methodist University, “Tom, Thomas, and Tomorrow: N.T. Wright, Thomas Aquinas, and the Future of New Testament Studies”

Recent generations have seen several attempts to stem a tide of increasing fragmentation in New Testament studies, perhaps none more effective than N.T. Wright. Wright has argued persuasively for the existence of an early Jewish/Christian worldview common to the gospel writers and Paul. This project is salutary, but is plagued by a restorationist impulse that leads it into problems of coherence. Thomas’ pro-tradition hermeneutic articulates a better historical vision, while allowing theological convictions to answer the question of the New Testament’s character. Thomas thus provides a much-needed discipline to our ongoing inquiry into Christian origins and the question of God.

Joseph K. Gordon, Marquette University, “Scripture, the Historicity of Culture, and Divine Pedagogy and Revelation”

Most theologians who affirm Scripture’s authority recognize its cultural historicity. How can a text which exhibits such linguistic, socio-cultural, and theological diversity function as the final arbiter of Christian thought/praxis?  This essay employs the work of Bernard Lonergan and Kathryn Tanner on culture and meaning to argue that the telos of scriptural exegesis should not be seen as the dissemination of a static normative biblical culture but instead as the transformation of its readers to have the mind of Christ. Such an approach fruitfully weds the pre-modern judgment that Scripture is divine pedagogy with the contemporary recognitions of the historicity of culture.

Stan Granberg, Kairos Church Planting “Landslides, Landscape, and The Next Christendom: Cultural Implications as North Meets South”

Jenkins uses world demographic trends to project the face and force of Christianity through 2050. The face of Christianity has become people of color as the epicenter of Christianity has shifted to the global South. The force of this Christianity is significantly conservative and charismatic. While American Christianity is certainly more comfortable with the theological bent of the rising “new” Christianity than Europe, there are cultural dimensions that may more strongly influence the compatibility of the American and southern forms and expectations of Christianity than sheer demographics. What are those cultural dimensions and will the compatibility be as painless as Jenkins suggests?

Corbett Hall, Harding University, “Christian Faith and Medical Science in Appalachia”

As a junior pre-medical student, I have repeatedly encountered the confluence of faith and science. While others contend the two disciplines are antithetical, I suggest that both are required for the proper treatment of patients. My background in Appalachian Ohio has demonstrated the potential impact of medical missions even within the so-called “Bible Belt” of the Midwest, where economic inequality and racial discrimination still flourish.  My courses at Harding University, specifically my focus on both biblical and pre-medical studies, have better prepared me to address the spiritual and physical maladies affecting my native community.

Stephanie Hamm & Rachel Slaymaker, Abilene Christian University, “Knowledge of Gender Equity in Faith-Based Institutions of Higher Education”

While gender bias and equity are salient issues in higher education, little research has been conducted on faculty within faith-based institutions of higher education. Researchers used the Knowledge of Gender Equity Scale and other measures to assess faculty knowledge of gender bias in faith-based institutions in Texas. Preliminary data indicates a moderate level of gender-equity knowledge that is consistent across gender, age, academic rank, tenure status, and years employed in higher education. These results and themes from qualitative analyses will be used to identify gender equity knowledge in this sample and to suggest ways to improve cultural competence training.

Michael Hanegan, Independent Scholar, “Trauma – Informed Ecclesiology:
The Embodied Life and Practices of the Church in the Midst of Trauma and Human Suffering”

The Christian tradition has a long history of responding to questions raised by the inescapable reality of human suffering, free will, moral agency, and the destiny of humanity. Emerging understandings of the consequences of trauma problematize these areas. Trauma-Informed Ecclesiology seeks to create an environment focused on the redemption of the body as part of the larger ongoing life and witness of the church. This construction is given shape by a robust articulation of the complexities of free will, moral agency, and the triumph of the love of God.

Tera Harmon, Catholic University of America, “Garden and Fountain: Virtue and Knowledge in Gregory of Nyssa”

For the Cappadocian father, Gregory of Nyssa, the topic of human knowledge presents some tension because it is necessary for the function and flourishing of humans, but it is also strictly limited, particularly in its abilities to understand God. The exercise of virtue, for Gregory, is the primary way for the human to accomplish the goal of the spiritual life—ascent toward God. Drawing on several images, this paper explores the relationship between knowledge and virtue, concluding that the two work best together, enhancing one another as they aid the person in the spiritual ascent. 

Perry Neil Harrison, Baylor University, “Divine Power in the Old Saxon Heliand,”

The ninth century Heliand, sometimes also referred to as the “Saxon Gospel,” adapts the gospel story into a 6,000 line poem. However, far from simply paraphrasing the gospel, the Heliand refigures Jesus as a Germanic king. This narrative was designed specifically to frame Christianity in a way that appealed to the Saxon people following their conquest by the Franks. To achieve this, the poet places Christ in direct conflict with many supernatural forces revered in the Germanic world, therefore presenting the divine power of Christ as explicitly greater than the otherworldly forces familiar to the culture.

Anjel M. Helms, Ph.D. Candidate, Pennsylvania State University, Alumna Pepperdine University, “Eavesdropping Plants: Plants Perceive and Respond to Olfactory Cues”

Olfactory cues play important roles in many ecological interactions, especially among plants and insects. Some of the best-documented examples include insect pheromone communication and pollinator attraction to floral scents. Recent discoveries have revealed that plants themselves can also use olfactory cues. For example, parasitic plants in the genus Cuscuta grow toward the scent of their host plants. Several studies have also demonstrated that plants can eavesdrop on olfactory cues from neighboring plants. When plants are damaged by insect herbivores, they emit characteristic blends of odors. Undamaged plants can perceive these odors and respond by enhancing their own anti-herbivore defenses, which is thought to be a way for plants to predict and prepare for future herbivore damage. My own recent research has revealed that plants can also perceive and respond to olfactory cues emitted directly by insect herbivores. Despite such intriguing discoveries, however, we currently know relatively little about the occurrence and significance of plant olfaction in natural systems. This field has potential for many engaging and accessible research opportunities for undergraduate students. Plants and insects are excellent tools for student research as they are typically easy to work with, possess many fascinating adaptations, and represent important economic, ecological, and agricultural species. This research is highly interdisciplinary and has potential to train students in a variety of techniques including molecular, behavioral, and chemical analyses. Finally, undergraduate students can bring unique and creative perspectives to developing and solving research questions in this field. This will increase student involvement and motivation by giving students a more central role in their research and learning.

Stanley Helton, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Hammond, Louisiana, “Can We Divide? Jesse B. Ferguson: Alone, Neglected, but not Forgotten.”

Wesley E. Dingman argued that Lard is best viewed as a “rhetorician seeking to persuade members of a fragile and fracturing movement” emerging from the ravages of the Civil War. Lard, therefore, minimized damages caused by three defectors to prove that the SCM had not divided. Dingman faults Lard for ignoring the role the press played in each defection. Yet, in the case of Jesse B. Ferguson, surviving correspondence between Ferguson and churches in Nashville and in New Orleans reveals that Ferguson and allies launched counter measures against the writers who demonized Ferguson and eventually forced exit from the SCM.

Stanley N. Helton, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Hammond, LA, “The Gods of Slavery: The Theologizing of Solomon Northup”

Solomon Northup’s narrative is not intentionally a work of narrative theology, yet implicitly he tackles one of the most theologically challenging questions of his day and perhaps ours. In his Twelve Years a Slave, Northup creates cognitive dissonance in his readers by pitting the incompatibility of divine sovereignty against the culpability of human depravity. To explore Northup’s theologizing this paper approaches the topic in concentric circles, beginning with the broadest consideration of how the Bible and theology appear in Northup’s narrative, followed by an examination of how Northup theologizes within his narrative, and finally, getting to the heart of Northup’s theological case, how the sovereignty of God demands human culpability when others are mistreated.

David W. Hester, Faulkner University, “And All Who Believed Were Together (Acts 2:44): A Global Strategic Plan for the Academy”

A challenge (as well as an opportunity) facing the Christian academy in the 21st century is diversity. Is it possible to structure an atmosphere of acceptance that provides a safe haven for young people, while at the same time not ignoring biblical truth? This paper proposes to formulate a “global strategic plan,” based off of the events at Pentecost and beyond. The early church modeled a paradigm of diversity and acceptance, within divine standards. The academy must work under the divine standard—God’s Word—for spiritual purposes. 

Wes Horn, Orient Street Church of Christ, Stamford, TX, “Communal Spiritual Formation:  Does the Practice Of The Liturgical Christian Calendar Enhance Spiritual Growth?” 

This project tests the thesis that the introduction of the Liturgical Christian Calendar into the worship life of the Orient Street Church of Christ will help lead to the spiritual formation of its members. To test this thesis, the Orient Street congregation followed the Holy Day cycle of the Liturgical Christian Calendar. They were surveyed before entering the liturgical year and then again at the end. The two surveys were then compared to see if measureable spiritual growth had occurred. According to the surveys, growth did occur. 

Daniel Houck, Southern Methodist University, “Calvin and Aquinas on Nature’s Need for Grace”

This paper compares the views of Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin on nature’s need for grace. It is common in American evangelical theology to view Aquinas and Calvin as representing opposed views of human nature. Aquinas is said to be optimistic and semi-Pelagian, Calvin pessimistic and Augustinian. I argue, however, that Calvin and Aquinas both hold that human beings with original sin have a practical inability to avoid idolatry. Both agree that human beings have a dim awareness of God and a moral obligation to pursue the Creator but that without grace fulfillment of our natural good is impossible.

Andrew P. Huddleston, Katlin Sehres, and Ashley Towe, Abilene Christian University, “Are All Interpretations Equal? Validity, Community, and Education in Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory of Reading”

Rosenblatt argued that in addition to parameters set forth by the text itself, community aids readers in determining the validity of interpretations based upon criteria set forth by the larger group as a whole. Community helps readers solidify their own interpretations and widens their perspectives. It is the teacher’s role to create an atmosphere that allows for explorative interpretation while also serving as a guide and facilitator for discussion. These implications for validity, community, and education provide useful tools for Christians as they address and celebrate the differences readers bring to and take from the Bible.

Keith Huey, Rochester College, “The Next Crusade, Reconsidered”

In Chapter 8 of The Next Christendom, Philip Jenkins describes the Christian-Muslim conflicts that torment so much of the Global South. This vital discussion leaves us with serious problems that we dare not ignore. For instance, Jenkins speaks about “religious” tensions, but that language is hazardous and we must ask, on the front end, what it actually means. Furthermore, Jenkins paints the Christian-Muslim conflict in a binary way (with reference to Samuel Huntington); that portrait, however, cannot capture the complexity of the struggle. This conversation requires us to know who the conflicted parties actually are, and what truly divides them.

Richard Hughes, Messiah College and Pepperdine University, Emeritus, “Biblical Scholars in Churches of Christ and Questions of Social Justice”

This paper will ask about the extent to which biblical and religious scholars in Churches of Christ have engaged one of the major themes in the biblical text, the question of justice for the poor, the stranger, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Two younger scholars—Alisha R. Winn and Raymond Carr—will then ask how biblical and religious scholars can help lead congregations toward a fuller engagement with this biblical theme.

Victor Hunter, Disciples Center for Human Wholeness, “Churches of Christ and Social Justice: My Experience in the 1960s and 1970s”

The former editor of Mission Journal and founder of the Disciples House in London, England became pastor of First Christian Church in New Martinsville, West Virginia. Hunter will reflect on the disconnections he experienced as a member of the Church of Christ in a world of human suffering and conflict during the 1960s and 1970s when he was an undergraduate student at Abilene Christian College, an urban missionary, a seminary student at Union Theological Seminary, and editor of Mission Journal.

Philip Jenkins, “Families, Populations, and the Reshaping of Global Faith”

Demography is a critical factor in shaping religions, and one scholars neglect at their peril. Apart from shaping the size and location of different faith groups, demographics also forms the character of those traditions. A religion with high fertility rates, for instance, is likely to be more open to highly activist and zealous revival movements, while low fertility corresponds to declining faith and secularism. Without understanding those demographic factors, we miss so much about the past, present, and future of the world’s religions—and of the impact on culture, trade, information and faith.

Ryan Jessup and Don Pope, Abilene Christian University, “Google and Sports: Forecasting Outcomes of Sporting Events via the PageRank Algorithm”

Google’s PageRank algorithm, the algorithm created by the search engine giant’s founders to improve search, has also been applied to other seemingly unrelated settings where rankings are useful. Here, we use PageRank to predict NCAA college football bowl games. We tested the predictive aspects of various modifications and then compared the predictive errors from our PageRank models using a variety of metrics. Ultimately, the PageRank algorithm performed quite well, particularly given the limited information used. We discuss the success of various implementations as well as future applications to sporting and other environments.

Mark Johnson, Olympia Church of Christ, Olympia, WA, “Preaching to Shape a Holy People”

The specific goal of this project was to develop a preaching strategy that effected movement toward a holy counter-culture in the Olympia Church of Christ. It is fully recognized that there is a web of formative corporate and individual Christian practices which influence holy character, and preaching is but one of these practices. Yet, the preaching ministry is essential for the movement and shape of the congregation. This goal of developing a preaching strategy to cultivate, foster, and maintain a desire to share God’s essential character of holiness is not limited to the time constraints of this project.  

Mike Kendrick, Lipscomb University, “Global Mindset”

Global Mindset is “the set of individual qualities and attributes that help a manager influence individuals, groups and organizations who are from other parts of the world” (Najafi, 2014). The challenge is to develop a MBA course that develops and measures global mindset. This study examines the impact of short-term MBA study abroad courses on the development of four areas of global mindset: Global Business Savvy; Cosmopolitan Outlook; Intercultural Empathy; and Interpersonal Impact. The results suggest short-term study abroad courses have an impact on the elements of Global Mindset. This paper also discusses the Global Business course design.

Jane Ann Kenney, Lipscomb University, “The Good, the Bad, and the Feminine: Female Imagery in the Minor Prophets”

The inclusion of feminine language and imagery in the Minor Prophets speaks to the full humanity of women and the importance of her experiences in formulating an accurate, full picture of the world. The fullness of human experience today cannot be realized until women’s voices are heard and respected as necessary to human flourishing. This paper considers both positive and negative imagery to argue that women are presented within the Minor Prophets as real, dynamic agents of good and evil and thus integral to the health of Israel and finally also of the Church.

Melody D. Knowles, Virginia Theological Seminary, “What Psalm 132:8-10 Sanctions”

Ps 132:8-10 makes three requests of God regarding Jerusalem, priests, and David—all features of the Zion tradition. The subsequent re-use of this prayer witnesses to the on-going reshaping of this tradition as well as the sometimes surprising issues to which this tradition becomes attached. The latter part of Ps 132 reshapes vv. 8-10 to speak of God’s lavishness and the influence of prayer. In 2 Chr 6:41-42, the repetition of Ps 132:8-10 authorizes the trustworthiness of the Chronicler. And in Elizabethan England, an influential paraphrase of Ps 132 strategically expands notions of royal lineage beyond birthright.

Michelle Kraft, Lubbock Christian University, “Integrating the Artistic Selves: The Role of Arts-based Research in Preparing Pre-service Art Educators”

Pre-service (and practicing) art educators often struggle to balance their artistic praxis with their functions as educator and researcher. The ability to interpret and respond to the evolving nature of what art is and how it functions in contemporary society grows out of an awareness of the relational features around and between visual arts practice. Transformative learning that integrates the roles of Artist/Researcher/Teacher empowers pre-service art educators to create meaningful curriculum, merging theory and implementation. This presentation shares one approach for engaging undergraduate art education students in arts-based research as a foundation for pedagogy. 

Mason Lee, Boston University, “‘In Union and Distinction’: Barth, Ricoeur, and Spirit in Preaching”

This paper mediates the divide between a strong theology of the Word and more conversational approaches by integrating Karl Barth’s theology of the Holy Spirit and the hermeneutical dialectic of distanciation and appropriation present within the work of Paul Ricoeur. The merger articulates an understanding of the preaching event whereby the sermon participates with the Spirit in establishing of an imaginative eschatological space in which the congregation enters and is able to envision the world of the “as if.” The paper articulates a theology of preaching to chart a “third” way that affirms both God’s self-communication and the role of human agency in the preaching event.

Jacob A. Lollar, Florida State University “‘Do Not Renounce Moses and Believe in the Messiah!’: Religious Authority and the Interpretation of Scripture in the Syriac History of Philip

This paper interprets the Jewish-Christian interactions in a generally neglected Syriac acts of the Apostle Philip using the theoretical framework of Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu’s theory of domination in social fields provides new insights into how characters function within the narrative and may shed light on how a text like this might have functioned in the social setting external to the narrative. Philip encounters the Jews in Carthage and embarks on a struggle for domination over the Jews for a particular kind of religious authority: the ability to interpret the Scriptures.

Jesse Long, Lubbock Christian University, “Excavating the Early Bronze Age in Jordan: A Report on the 2013 Expedition to Khirbat Iskandar”

The 2013 campaign to Khirbat Iskandar, Jordan, continued work in Area B on the NW corner of the mound in order to obtain more exposure of EB IV remains (a period of decline, ca. 2500-2000 BCE) and the underlying EB III settlement (an urban period, 2900-2500 BCE). In one of the more important seasons of excavation at the site, the expedition discovered a new EB III fortification line, additional EB III occupational remains under a monumental tower, and EB IV reuse of the fortifications. 

Adam Bryant Marshall, Baylor University, “‘The Talking of the Tod’: Sin and Nature in the Fox Triad of Henryson’s Morall Fabillis”

One of the greatest works of Middle Scots literature is Robert Henryson’s Moral Fables, a collection of traditional beast fables accompanied by a series of Christian moralizations. One central question regarding the Fables has been that of its unity. This paper argues that the triad of fables featuring the character of the Fox in particular share several features that encourage us to read these tales as a unit. Such a reading highlights the way in which Henryson uses the fox, whose deceitful nature proves to be irredeemable, as an exemplum for the fallen-yet-redeemable nature of humankind. 

Julie A. Marshall & Jennifer Dabbs, Lubbock Christian University, “Childbearing Among Academic Women”

Women faculty currently at U.S. higher institutions have become professionals when reproductive choices are highly varied and, to a large extent, under individual control. Factors that influence the timing of motherhood include individual, familial, and societal classifications. Our research focuses on the impact of education and career advancement in academia upon reproductive choices. Through interviews with female professors employed in a faith-based institution, we investigate the effect of a career in academia on these choices. Reproductive choices examined include the timing of graduate school, acceptance of pregnancy in graduate school, childbearing during professional career, infertility, aging, and biological clock concerns.

Peter Martens, Saint Louis University, “Reconsidering Gustaf Aulén's Christus Victor: Toward a New Account of the Patristic Doctrine of ‘Atonement’”

There has been no substantial treatment of the patristic doctrine of atonement in roughly a century. Most scholars still lean heavily on Gustaf Aulén's groundbreaking work, Christus Victor. While criticisms have been leveled against this work, very little literature has attended to its presentation of atonement in early Christianity. In this talk I will briefly map out Aulén's argument before assessing his reconstruction of how Jesus' death was interpreted in the patristic period. It is my contention that Aulén made foundational category mistakes, oversimplified, and misinterpreted a number of key themes. I will close with some reflections on the sorts of issues that I think need to be addressed if Jesus’ death in the patristic period is to be adequately captured.

David P. McAnulty, Abilene Christian University, “Psychology Practice at the Boundaries of Professional Codes and Biblical Narrative: Towards an Incarnational Ethic”

Psychological practice has experienced significant shifts over recent decades in the areas of ethical standards, diagnostic nosology, and evidence-based practice. As might be expected, developments in these areas towards greater standardization, specificity, and accountability have attracted both proponents and critics. This paper proposes that Christian ethics represent a helpful frame for many of the concerns about growing institutionalization within the field, and, simultaneously, offer promising areas of inquiry and innovative practice for Christian counseling practitioners. Specific topics will include the professionalization of the counseling relationship, the pathologization of human experience, and the commoditization of counseling.

Zane McGee, Emory University, “Slave to the Servant: The Allegorical Interpretation of Hagar and Sarah by Philo and Paul”

While Philo is quite famous for his allegorical interpretations of Torah, the same cannot be said for the Apostle Paul, making it noteworthy that these near-contemporary authors similarly utilized allegory regarding the story of Sarah and Hagar. This presentation will survey the historical background of these two writers and the cultural influences that contributed to such similar approaches. Through studying these influences and examining Philo’s rhetorical strategy, we will then explore how Paul’s usage of allegory in Galatians 4 can be better understood in light of the common practice of allegorical interpretation employed during his era.

James L. McMillan, University of Illinois, Urbana, “Reforming the Reformation: The W. S. Russell Defection”

Walter Scott Russell was the leading figure in a defection that sought to “reform the reformation.” From 1856 – 1861, Russell and his compeers received a full scale attack from many of the leading personalities of the Stone-Campbell Movement, with more than ten ministers or educators implicated. This presentation explores Lard’s harsh language toward the faction and his analysis of their efforts. It details the treatment of the faction by later writers and the dynamics in Illinois: a leadership coup, a closed college, the hostile takeover of a journal, and a rival journal started by the defection.

Grace McNair, Abilene Christian University, “AmeriCorps and the Incarnational Move”

The inadequacies of education were very evident as I stepped into the housing complex in inner-city Dallas this past summer. The middle-school group that I was placed in charge of had accepted their defeat and was made to feel ashamed for their shortcomings that came from a failing system. How does one encourage these children to grow academically and emotionally without becoming part of the system that they had grown to hate? This was my challenge this summer: to encourage when they caused pain, to inspire without resentment, to build relationships, and to show the love of Christ to eleven middle school children.

Daniel Overton, University of Kansas, “The Greatest Hero of the Great War: Alvin C. York and Religious Individualism in the First World War”

In 1919, through the pen of George Pattullo in the Saturday Evening Post, Alvin C. York became the most famous American soldier of the First World War. Pattullo constructed York to be a reassuring postwar justificatory symbol, presenting him as a single-handed individualist hero, as a simple Appalachian mountaineer, and, perhaps most importantly, as a previously devout pacifist. These currents within the Post article served to render the foreign, enigmatic, and heavily industrialized war legible and palatable to its concerned American audience.

Lance Pape, Texas Christian University, “Ricoeur on Biblical Truth: History, Testimony, and ‘Letting Go’”

This paper is an exploration of the tension between the Ricoeurian notion of a merely textual world as the referential function of poetic/biblical language and Christianity’s stake in the historical and the particular. This tension will be mediated through appeal to the category “poetic testimony,” and the philosophical wager Ricoeur calls “letting go” (se dépouiller).

Kerry Patterson, Lipscomb University and Kristopher Hatchell, Barge Waggoner Sumner and Cannon, Inc.

A few universities with a global perspective are paving the way in providing aspiring engineers and engineering students a path to a more socially relevant career. This new path takes the form of an engineering discipline known as humanitarian engineering. Although the engineering profession has long presented a humanitarian face, only in the last decade or so has humanitarian engineering become a formal discipline. In this paper, we reflect on the existing programs and look not only at how, in general, a program could be built but also what it would look like in a faith-based college of engineering.

Kaitlin Plachy, Harding University, “Zambia, Togo, & the Navajo Nation: Becoming a Global Scholar, Citizen, & Christian”

The Honors College at Harding University exposed me to the concept of cultural exchange and a world of injustice, both economic and social. Rather than merely taking a scholarly approach to global issues, I developed a real-world understanding and context for my learning. My studies and my travels taught me to be a compassionate and culturally sensitive member of an international community and developed my understanding of what it means to be a global Christian. These experiences have helped me develop awareness and have fueled my passion for addressing issues of injustice in my community and the world.

Jared Poole, University of Utah, “Greeks and Other ‘Invisible’ Persons: A Search for A Christian Vision of Race in Management Research and Higher Education”

Some organizational scholars have lamented the “invisibility” of minorities in management research (Cox & Nkomo, 1990; Nkomo, 1992). This paper explores passages related to race and commerce in a diverse society. While the birth of Christ unites all members of society at the manger, the insistence that there is “no longer Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28, NRSV) may leave some to wonder what role racial identity ought to play after the Resurrection.  After attempting to reconcile a Biblical view of race in the marketplace in this way, I then propose one possible Christian vision for management research and higher education.

Samantha Potts, Belmont University Honors Program, “Education, Faith, and Public Policy in Disadvantaged Communities”

As an honors student at a Christian university, I have received remarkable spiritual and educational training. It is crucial to expand upon this foundation to engage in issues of public policy. In my community, there is a lack of education for lower income, immigrant families. I responded by developing a program to assist students in their transition and strengthen their professional skills. Because of my values and increased awareness, I am better equipped to respond with confidence. My education has given me the tools, awareness, and resources necessary to identify these issues and make decisions that are rooted in faith. 

Leslie Reed, Vanderbilt University, “The Reality of the Unreal: The Language of Fantasy in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”

Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), the dark coming-of-age tale of a young immigrant, features an enormous amount of fantasy and sci-fi references, and draws in particular on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Language is central to Tolkien’s works, and it is no accident that they show up in a text that plays with the intersection of language and personal narrative. This paper explores these Tolkien references in detail and the ways that they give Oscar (and his readers) a language and a vocabulary to discuss the unspeakable. 

Brad Reid, Lipscomb University, “International Legal Standards Required to Address Enemy Combatants, Terrorists, and Confidential Informants—The Historic Case of Sampson and Delilah”

The account of Sampson and Delilah (Judges 13-16) is a classic example of asymmetric warfare and confidential informants. Sampson in modern terms would likely be an enemy combatant since he is a lawful representative of Israel. However, whether you classify Sampson an enemy combatant or terrorist, his methods, and those used by the Philistines to capture him, have interesting parallels in our modern global environment. This article discusses the Old Testament account in light of current events. Recent court decisions concerning enemy combatants, terrorists and confidential informants are critiqued. International legal standards to address these parties are suggested.

Charles Rix, Oklahoma Christian University, “Trauma and ‘Narrative Wreckage’ in the Story of Hagar (Genesis 16:21, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her’)” 

How may we understand this instruction for Hagar to return to Sarai's harsh treatment? This paper explores traumatic events in Hagar's story through the lens of Arthur Frank's "narrative wreckage" (The Wounded Storyteller): the moment when the past does not lead up to the present and the future is hardly imaginable. Frank contends the telling of one's story finds a new path through the narrative wreckage. I propose that considering Hagar's story as a trauma narrative provides a sacred space that encourages traumatized individuals to tell their own stories in the context of faith communities thereby finding future life directions.

Caleb R. Robinson, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Houston, Alumnus ACU, “Drosophila melanogaster as an Emerging Model in Pain Research”

Relatively little is known about the mechanisms that drive chronic pain in spite of its widespread nature and the significant cost that it incurs, both financially and upon quality of life. This is due in part to difficulties in translating the findings in animal models to human subjects. Studies in human subjects are only conducted after a condition has already developed, and animal models are hampered by the difficulty in measuring the subjective nature of pain sensation. Furthermore, the significant costs associated with housing and treating vertebrates often makes pain research prohibitively expensive for many investigators. There are lower-cost alternatives to vertebrates, however, such as Drosophila melanogaster, more commonly known as the fruit fly. The use of Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism in neuroscience is not new, but novel behavioral measures of nociception coupled with ease of genetic manipulation are making it an attractive system for pain research. Drosophila larvae have been shown to demonstrate a characteristic “rolling” escape behavior in response to multiple types of noxious stimuli. Latency to escape has since been used among other behavioral measures in adults, and measures of motivational behaviors may be easily implemented into the context of pain research. From a logistical perspective, this model offers not only a low-cost alternative to more common murine models, but also predictable behaviors, a well-documented genome, and a simple nervous system. Taken together, the Drosophila model is an accessible alternative for undergraduate research that allows for effective training of students in basic research methods to answer questions with a broad impact in health science.

Lawrence Rodgers, School of Divinity, Howard University, “Interpreting Stone-Campbell history from a 21st century Black progressive perspective”

This session seeks to answer the question, “Does the racial history of the churches of Christ discourage the formation of a Black progressive?” Due to the anti-intellectualism, anti-activism, sectarianism, and racial segregation within Church of Christ history, both a spiritual and intellectual caste system has developed. This session will explore Restoration History, personal experience, interviews with black progressives, and current trends among the churches of Christ. 

Justin Rogers, Freed-Hardeman University, “Origen in the Likeness of Philo: Eusebius of Caesarea's Portrait of the Model Scholar.”

In this paper I will compare Eusebius' portraits of Philo and Origen, and argue that he intentionally presents both in similar fashion as ideal scholars. I seek to achieve two goals: (1) to expose a desire in Eusebius to establish continuity in the Alexandrian scholastic tradition, beginning with Philo, and (2) to shed new light on the development of the Philo Christianus question. Although Eusebius is careful to assert Philo's proper ethnicity (typically “Hebrew” rather than “Jew”), his presentation lays the groundwork for the “conversion” of Philo.

Caleb Russell, Harding University, “How Do Justice and Mercy Intersect in World Civilizations and Christian Society?”

From ancient times, people have searched for law, peace, and order.  Society has struggled with the paradox of justice and mercy. Where does humanity look to create the utopian society? From the ancient world in Mesopotamia and Egypt, through classic Greece and Rome, past the middle ages, and into the modern world, we explore how Jesus has revolutionized the relationship between humans and law. This scholastic collision of history, political science, and philosophy with Christian faith brings to light this question: Where does the Christian scholar stand, and how do honors classes at Christian universities shape this view?

Jess Schell, Perkins School of Theology, “Androcentrism in the Churches of Christ: Hearing Our Daughters’ Voices”

This presentation explores the speaker’s research discoveries regarding the experiences of adolescent girls within the Churches of Christ. Participants surveyed ranged between 11-17 years old, resided across the United States, and identified primarily as either white or Chicana. Their honest, provocative responses reveal much concerning the multifaceted structural difficulties that make claims over girls’ minds and bodies. Exploring our children’s perceptions concerning their potential or lack thereof reveals the way androcentric ideals are internalized within our religious environment. The speaker offers a critique of the nature of patriarchy which works as a means of sanctification in the church.

Gary S. Selby, Pepperdine University, “'Unity’ as a Conversation-Stopper in the Dialog on Gender Roles in Churches of Christ: A Rhetorical Perspective”

Conversations over gender roles in Churches of Christ are often shut down by claims that they undermine “unity.” This concern is laudable. However, the invocation of unity may actually serve to mask deep division and legitimize injustice. This essay explores that possibility using Michael Calvin McGee’s conception of the “ideograph,” which he defined as an ordinary language term that reflected an assumed collective commitment to an ill-defined normative goal, which could be used to justify particular uses of power.

Younghwa “Henry” Shin, Ph. D. Candidate, University of Oklahoma HSC, Alumnus Oklahoma Christian University, “Cell Culture Techniques to Fight Blindness: Finding Molecular Mechanisms(s) of a Mutant Protein Affecting Vision in Humans”

The retinoid visual cycle refers to vitamin A metabolism in the eye that is essential for vertebrate vision. Once a photon of light reaches the back of the eye, it is absorbed by light sensitive visual pigment molecules—known as rhodopsins—that reside in the photoreceptor cells of the retina. Rhodopsin is made of 11-cis-retinal, a light sensitive derivative of vitamin A, embedded to a protein called opsin. Upon absorption of light, 11-cis-retinal is photoisomerized to all-trans-retinal, which subsequently leads to its dissociation from opsin. To maintain proper visual function, it is critical to constantly regenerate 11-cis-retinal by recycling all-trans-retinal through the retinoid visual cycle. A key enzyme involved in this process is a protein called Retinal Pigmented Epithelium 65kDa, or simply RPE65. Over 60 mutations in the gene encoding RPE65 have been reported thus far, most of which lead to blindness in autosomal recessive manner. In the absence of functional RPE65, 11-cis-retinal is no longer regenerated thereby leading to blindness. My research investigates D477G, the first dominant-acting mutant of RPE65 to be reported, which causes blindness regardless of the presence of a normal copy of RPE65. Using a cell culture technique, D477G mutant was observed to interfere with the normal RPE65 protein (i.e., wild-type RPE65) and form abnormal protein complexes. This provides a clue as to how D477G may lead to blindness in human patients with this mutation. Likewise, cell culture techniques can provide a glimpse of what may happen in a more complex system (i.e. animal models). Seeing real applications of cell culture techniques in biomedical research will help undergraduate students to enhance their level of engagement and the quality of their training as future investigators. 

Mark Shipp, Austin Graduate School of Theology, “‘[He] Was Covered with Every Precious Gem’ . . . and It Was Extremely Confusing!; Another Look at the Gem Lists of the Bible”

There are four lists of gems in the Bible (Exod. 28:17–20, 39:10-14; Ezek 28:13; Rev. 21:18-21). In the case of half of these stones, translations have reflected the confusion surrounding their identification, beginning with the Septuagint and continuing to the present. This study will look at ancient stone lists in order to determine their color, transparency, and other characteristics, and compare these with the biblical stones in order to try to identify them.

Trey Shirley, Abilene Christian University, “Coping with Academic Multiple Identity Disorder: Integrating Art Educator Identities as Artist, Researcher, and Teacher Through Design Thinking” 

Design Thinking (DT) is emerging as a leading collaborative method for generating innovative ideas. By embracing interdisciplinary collaboration, promoting empathetic listening, and encouraging iterative, exploratory processes, Design Thinking is a method of discovery that has the capacity to cultivate lateral thinking in multiple contexts (Cruickshank, 2012).  Although most of its literature has primarily focused on its commercial potential for businesses, Design Thinking is now receiving greater attention as a pedagogical instrument, artistic ideation tool, and research method. This presentation looks at Design Thinking as a possible integrative methodology for linking the three academic identities of Christian art educators as Artists, Researchers, and Teachers.

Christopher A. Shrock, Oklahoma Christian University and Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, “Culpability and Conscience: A Philosophical Look at an Early Restoration Theme”

Is it possible to sin against God’s command if one does not know what God commands? Early leaders of the Stone-Campbell Movement, particularly Thomas and Alexander Campbell, say “no.” Their opinion, that ignorance excuses wrongdoing, reflects that of Scottish Common Sense philosopher, Thomas Reid, who argues that blameworthiness requires the violation of one's conscience. This article capitalizes on the shared commitment between Reid and the Campbells. By studying the philosopher’s account of conscience and culpability, one learns about the cogency of the religious reformers’ ecclesiology.

Tavis Smiley, "Poverty: The Greatest Threat to American Democracy?”

This presentation will engage attendees of the Christian Scholars Conference in a sobering conversation about the perilous state of poverty in America. While discussing poverty’s existing threat to American democracy, Smiley will analyze the socioeconomic challenges of navigating a future when our vulnerabilities outnumber our possibilities.

Gregory E. Sterling, Yale Divinity School, “‘A Law to Themselves’: Limited Universalism in Paul and Philo of Alexandria”

In his indictment of the Gentile world, Paul made several surprising statements. He first stated that Gentiles who live the law written in their hearts are a "law to themselves" (Rom. 2:14-16). The Apostle went on to comment on the critical mark of Jewish identity, circumcision, and to argue that real circumcision is a matter of the heart rather than of the flesh (Rom. 2:25-29). There are some striking similarities between Paul's statements and Philo of Alexandria's observations about the identity of Israel (“one who sees God”) and circumcision. This paper will explore the similarities and differences between their comments. I will argue that Paul and Philo are witnesses to a view among some Jews that can be called limited universalism.

Harold Straughn, St. Francis of Assisi Christian Church, Utah Women's Prison, Draper, UT, “Churches of Christ and Social Justice: My Experience in the 1960s and 1970s”

The former editor of Christian Chronicle, 1967-68, and former writer and producer for the “Herald of Truth” radio and television ministries is now an ordained minister with the Disciples of Christ and a board-certified hospital and hospice chaplain. Straughn will focus on three periods in his early ministry. First, his editorship of the Christian Chronicle and how he came to be fired in 1968 after publishing a story about desegregating Southwestern Christian College. Second, the time he brought children from the Brookline Church of Christ to hear Martin Luther King preach at Harvard, and his participation in King’s Atlanta funeral. Third, his activities as a writer/producer for the “Herald of Truth” television and radio ministries from 1968 to 1977. 

John Struloeff, Pepperdine University, “Re-Mapping Poetry: A Reading”

This will be a reading of selected poems on the subject of fractured identity and the search for a common, unifying world. The poems will be a mixture of personal experiences and biographical narratives of historical figures, all of which illustrate the tensions of broken identities—estrangement, doubt, and uncertainty about one’s purpose in life. The selections will be drawn from new poems, as well as the author’s book of poems, The Man I Was Supposed to Be, which was set in his native Oregon. 

Stanley Talbert, Union Theological Seminary, NY, “Toward a Theology and Praxis of Liberation”

Do the Churches of Christ perpetuate racist ideologies rooted in the civil religion of the United States? Are the Churches of Christ responding (or not responding) to the Black Lives Matter revolutionary activity in similar ways that it responded to the US Civil Rights movement? In what ways are the race relations the same and in what ways are the race relations different in the Churches of Christ in the 21st century as opposed to the Civil Rights Movement? Through a nexus of Cornel West’s prophetic pragmatism, James Cone’s black liberation theology, and Delores Williams’ appropriation of womanist theology, this session seeks to demythologize the historical and contemporary promulgated racial and ecclesiological unity in the Churches of Christ.

Paavo Tucker, Asbury Theological Seminary, “The Agrarian Rhetoric of the Sages: Farmers and Their Markets in Proverbs”

Agrarianism permeated Israel's worldview and values. Because YHWH has established the world with order conducive to life and agriculture, agriculture was a profoundly religious activity. The theological and ethical foundation for agriculture in Proverbs is zedekah, “righteousness,” which is used as a relational term. The sages seek to discern the order in creation and formulate the proper expressions of relational zedekah between God, human, and creation. According to zedekah, humankind must put the communal good before oneself. This has implications for humanity's responsibility to God, one another, and creation in means of production, distribution, and consumption of agricultural goods.

T. Adam Van Wart, Southern Methodist University, “Aquinas, Causation, and the Unknowability of God”

This paper will claim that “the analogy of being” too often names the belief held by many Thomists that a metaphysical analysis of God’s creaturely effects opens the possibility of gaining some positive knowledge of the divine nature qua First Cause.  I argue, instead, that causality is neither the metaphysical basis for analogical predication of God nor does it render the divine essence knowable to any degree. On the contrary, I maintain that causality and analogy are both logical categories and that the former is itself analogical all the way down.

Elizabeth Watters & Suzanne Macaluso, Abilene Christian University, “Christian Female Faculty and Power in Church, Family, and Work Settings”

Using a qualitative methodology, these researchers examine how women view and balance their allotted power within their roles in church, family, and work settings. The main factors taken into consideration include perceptions of the church’s views and expectations for women in their home and work environments, their spouse’s as well as personal beliefs about roles, and the amount of power they have in their current work position. Results focus on the ways in which church, family, and career settings affect women’s views on power, as well as the amount they hold in each context.

Chara Watson, Oklahoma Christian University, “An Exploration of Binding False Narratives and Their Effects on Compassion and Spirituality”

This essay is an exploration of how our narratives can alienate us from humanity and an authentic relationship with God. When I started college, I was involved in a homeless ministry and the young man who was organizing it.  I believed that I was following the script of my life, to marry a minister and show compassion to the less fortunate. Eventually, I came to realize that I had bought into a common cultural narrative. I believed I had a relationship with God because I followed the story rather than having genuine understanding and compassion for other people.

Joshua Watson, Oklahoma Christian University, “A Case Study of CVS Health’s Social Responsibility About-Face”

CVS Health is one of the largest retail pharmacy chains in the world. Last year, it stopped selling tobacco products. This dramatic corporate about-face has been hailed as the fulfillment of the co-creational theories of public relations and the embodiment of corporate social responsibility. A case study of CVS reveals one of the rare times an organization has engaged in CSR for reasons other than to distract from negative, self-inflicted crises. A case study of CVS provides an excellent method of educating business students, especially from a perspective of faith, about the benefits of CSR and the triple bottom line. 

Steve Weathers, Abilene Christian University, “Breakers on the Eve of Keith Richards”

This work of creative nonfiction is a meditation on the concerns that bedevil an aged male in his “last limp to the grave.” Personal guilt, the probability of an afterlife, the entropy to which individuals and indeed planets are susceptible—these concerns are engaged in a cyclical, lyrical manner with surf fishing on Florida's Gulf Coast as a centerpiece. The essay's narrator is beleaguered by uncertainties, not the least of which is his whimsical engagement with the impending death of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones: will the gods of the Sixties, too, one day die?

Darrell Wesley, U. S. Marine Supervisory Chaplain, Miramar, CA, “From Celebration to Liberation: An analysis of the pragmatism of African-American Sacred Music”

African-American sacred music functions in a way to facilitate the liberation beyond oppressive realities. Regardless of particular confessional expressions, spirituality connects African Americans through communal experiences of racism, oppression, and displacement. These experiences give rise to cultural productions that empower, transform, and critique. Building on Mark Lewis Taylor’s conceptualization of spiritual and spirituality, this session seeks to argue that African-American spirituality must include various components that speak to the realities of African Americans. Ultimately through cultural expressions, especially through sacred (and to a lesser extent some secular) music, African Americans (re)create themselves and their community in the face of ontological anxiety.

Mike Wiggins, Abilene Christian University, “Creating to Know: Building the Bridge As We Cross”

If you are in equilibrium you are likely standing still. It is not until you push yourself off-balance that you begin your fall towards first steps. For the artist, the first shove is often creation. Artists make to understand. Like everything else in the arts, the balance between theory and practice is dynamic. Research comes, but generally in response to a creative impulse. Artists are at home in a world with an unreasonable number of variables and very noisy data. In a world like this, it pays to create first and ask questions later. 

Tori Willis, Harding University, “The Transformative Love of Christ in Health Care”

My opportunities at a Christian university have placed me at the feet of teachers who believe in bringing the kingdom of God through redemptive justice, mercy, and love. As a future physician assistant, I am challenged to serve people whom God loves very much: people in poverty without power, without healthcare, and often without hope. I volunteer at a local free clinic, served in an internship learning about health disparities last summer, and will have an internship this summer at a ministry offering health care in downtown Little Rock. I respond to injustice in health care with the transformation of Christ.

Alisha R. Winn, Applied Cultural Anthropologist, African American Research Library and Cultural Center of Palm Beach County, Inc., “A Walking Message:  Jesus, Social Justice, and Scholarship”

Using an applied anthropological perspective on Jesus’ life and character and focusing on questions of race, class, and identity, Winn will explore instances when Jesus challenged systems of injustice. She will argue that Christians can best serve as agents for social justice by viewing culture through a spiritual lens, and that scholars can move that agenda forward by taking a holistic view of the gospel and humanity, focusing on connections and relationships between human experience and the biblical text.

Debbie Jay Williams, Abilene Christian University, “Clear Dances in the Sight of Heaven: Praying for Death”

This work of creative nonfiction will illustrate the tension between prayers for healing or extending life and the reality of negotiating the lengthy illness and dying of family members, as informed by the author’s experiences with the illnesses and deaths of a sibling and a parent. After highlighting the grief-giving prayer practices predicated solely on healing and life as the desired outcomes, the text will then explore possibilities for mutual blessing of the pray-er and the prayed-for when prayers allow space for dying and death. 

John F. Wilson, Pepperdine University, “Did Agrippa and Berenice Live Here?  Excavating a Palace at Caesarea Philippi”

The monumental building discovered at Banias (ancient Caesarea Philippi), while later converted to a public Roman Bath House, and then becoming the foundation of a medieval fortress, seems to have originally served as a royal palace during the reign of King Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25) and perhaps his sister/consort Berenice.  The remains of the structure were hidden beneath a Syrian village until their discovery by our expedition during the turn of the century.  The lower level of the building is remarkably preserved and provides considerable information regarding this city, the most “Herodian” of all cities in the Levant.