Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference

Abstracts 2016

Session Abstracts

“What Money Can’t Buy:  The Moral Limits of the Market: A Review and Discussion”

James G. Shelton, Harding University, Convener 

  • Rolland Pack, Freed-Hardeman University, Emeritus, Education Panelist
  • Layne Keele, Jones School of Law, Faulkner University, Law Panelist
  • David Johnson, Faulkner University, Finance Panelist
  • Allen Frazier, Harding University, Business Panelist
  • Peter Rice, Harding University, Bible Panelist 

Michael Sandel’s book, What Money Can’t Buy, questions applying market solutions to areas which traditionally have been off-limits to markets.  He asks if there is something wrong in a society where everything is for sale.  Are we placing market values on things that defy market measurements? While acknowledging the benefits of a market economy, he questions the ethical directions of a market society.  In this session, an eclectic group of scholars from three Christian colleges will give perspectives on these questions from the areas of philosophy, theology, and business.


Paper Abstracts


The 2016 J. J. M. Roberts Lecture in Old Testament Studies: 

F.W. Dobbs-Allsopp, Princeton Theological Seminary: “Isaiah’s Love Song: A Reading of Isa 5:1-7"
In Ezek 33:30-33 Yahweh likens the prophet to a literal “singer of love songs,” a skilled musician (lit. “one who plays pleasantly”) with a “beautiful voice” performing before a live audience, whose (good, pretty, cf. Ps 45:2) words are heard but not acted on. The Song of Songs, of course, offers the Bible's most obvious examples of what such love poetry was like. But Isa 5:1-7 remains of interest for a variety of reasons. If genuine to Isaiah of Jerusalem, it provides relatively early evidence (ca. eighth century) for the knowledge of love poetry in Judah (e.g., roughly contemporary with the Akkadian “Love Lyrics of Nabu and Tasmetu,” IM 3233 = TIM 9 54 = SAA 3 14). It also evidences in scope, the same relatively brief scale that typifies most love poems from the ancient East. And this Isaianic lampoon seems to trade on the very same awareness of the allure of the lyrical that informs the Ezekiel passage. In the close reading of Isa 5:1-7 that follows I track the lyricism of Isaiah’s lampoon, situating it against the backdrop of ancient love poetry generally and following its logic of love through to its prophetic end—justice and righteousness.


Third Annual Everett Ferguson Lecture in Early Christian Studies

Sidney Griffith, Professor of Syriac Patristics and Christian Arabic, Catholic University of America: “Christians at Home in the ‘World of Islam’: The Legacy of Christian Theology in Arabic”
The earliest records of the Greek and Syriac-speaking, Oriental Christians’ encounters with the Qur’an and with Islam come from the early years of the eighth century AD.  By the middle of the century, many of these Christians, living within the territories of the Arab conquest of their homelands that took place during the middle third of the seventh century AD, had already adopted Arabic as their public language.  They began to translate portions of the Bible and other ecclesiastical texts into Arabic, and Arabic-speaking, Christian scholars began the long tradition of doing theology in Arabic within parameters largely determined by the Qur’an and in the Arabic idiom of the then burgeoning Islamic religious sciences, particularly the apologetically oriented ?ilm al-kalam, Islamic systematic theology.
After a very quick overview of the main lines of the development of Christian theology in Arabic up to the early years of the 14th century AD, the presentation highlights central topics such as the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the divine Son-ship of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, in the works of one or two representative theologians, emphasizing how they apologetically, and even polemically, mapped their discourse on the topical outlines, vocabulary, and thought patterns found in the works of contemporary Muslim religious thinkers.  In the conclusion, the presentation explores ways in which contemporary Christian thinkers encountering the challenge of Islam might learn from the earlier experience of the Arabic-speaking Christian theologians at home in the World of Islam as in the twenty-first century we learn to do Christian theology within the purview of Islam.
Daniel McGraw, Abilene Christian Univeristy, "Formulating an Intentional Curriculum for Spiritual Leadership Development at the West University Church of Christ."
Recent conversations among congregational leaders at West University Church of Christ revealed the need for a deeper connection to God and a better understanding of spiritual leadership. This dissertation contends that spiritual leadership is about fulfilling Paul's calling to develop the phronesis of Christ through study, reflection, and intentional spiritual practices, and then helping others do the same in their own lives. Working together, a small, diverse group of members created a curriculum to help develop a Christian phronesis among the current leaders of the congregation. This dissertation explores the theological foundations of the curriculum, the methods of its construction, and its practical possibilities for future leadership development.


Devin Swindle, Harding School of Theology, “The Kerusso Experience: A Resource for Calling Teenaged Students to the Ministry of Preaching.”

For more than a decade, studies of those who are preparing for ministry in the Churches of Christ have demonstrated a disturbing decline in the number of students interested in preparing to preach. The Kerusso Experience was conceived in response to this trend. The Kerusso Experience: A Resource for Calling Teenaged Students to the Ministry of Preaching, describes the creation and implementation of a preacher training camp designed to inspire, recruit, and prepare students for preaching ministry. The dissertation details the developmental, theological, homiletical, and educational considerations necessary to produce a successful program.



Patricia H. Brock, Lipscomb University, “The Long-term Effects of Racism on Reconciliation”  

This paper’s research explores possible reasons and effects of racism on reconciliation and reasons why the church has failed at modeling God’s reconciled community on earth. It examines opinions of a group of interviewed persons on the subject of racism, reconciliation, and the church and reveals society’s pain that the church has seemingly lost its desire to help people groups dialogue about effective solutions. Questions are posed about God’s exclusivity in choosing a particular race/culture, God’s involvement in racial issues and reconciliation, God’s plan for the church, and Jesus’ mandate to love self, neighbor, and enemy.

Ronna Privett, Lubbock Christian University, “The [In]Justice of Sethe’s Punishment in Toni Morrison’s Beloved
The real-life story of slave Margaret Garner is a true horror tale: after her escape with her children, she slit the throat of her 3-year old in an attempt to save her from slavery. She was defended by Lucy Stone, a leader of the woman’s movement, who called Garner “heroic,” but as a slave woman, Garner could not speak in her own defense. The story fascinated more than one author, most particularly Toni Morrison, who in her novel Beloved presents Sethe, a fictional recreation of Garner. Morrison complicates the morality of the issue by illustrating a community who has difficulty assimilating Sethe. In Beloved, Morrison creates a ghostly presence who haunts Sethe, punishing her both psychologically and materially, leaving the reader to confront the ugly spectre of slavery and the physical and psychological scars the former slave bore.

Steven T. Moore, Abilene Christian University, “The Death of Unarmed Black Men: The Prophetic Voice of Toni Morrison in The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s first groundbreaking and electrifying novel, was published in 1970. Unfortunately, society was not ready for its controversial content. Consequently, her book was banned immediately and was left to linger quietly on bookshelves across the nation until it was rediscovered. The naysayers did not realize the importance of her message much less know that this would be a prophetic work of art. Morrison knew that we would continue to struggle with the dreadful issue of race if the subject remained unaddressed. Sadly, in 2016, in this “civilized” country, we are still witnessing the ever-growing number of black corpses. The Bluest Eye shows us how different our world could be like if only those with blue eyes would listen.

Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, “Justice and the Seven Days:  Racism and Retribution in Morrison’s Song of Solomon
In Song of Solomon, Milkman Dead, the protagonist, listens in amazement and fear as his best friend, Guitar Baines, tells him an awful secret: Guitar is a member of the Seven Days, a vigilante group that seeks justice when black men, women, and children are killed. Each member is assigned a day; if someone is killed in racial violence, that member must plan and execute a similar killing: “for balance.”  Guitar explains, “It’s about how you live and why. . . . It’s about trying to make a world where one day white people will think before they lynch.” In light of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Morrison’s novel takes on special significance as readers think about and discuss race relations more than fifty years after the Civil Rights Act.




Updated 3 February 2016 


Click here to see the 2015 CSC Abstracts Archive.