American Religious History
“How Can We Account for the Extraordinary Culture of Biblical and Religious Scholarship in Churches of Christ?: A Position Paper by Richard Hughes."
David Fleer, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Richard Hughes, Messiah College,“How Can We Account for the Extraordinary Culture of Biblical and Religious Scholarship in Churches of Christ?”
- David Edwin Harrell, Auburn University, Emeritus, Respondent
- Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Respondent
- Robert Randolph, MIT & Brookline Church of Christ, Respondent
- Richard Hughes, Reply
Especially in light of the anti-intellectual impulse in the Church of Christ, how might we account for the fact that this tradition has produced not just an Abraham Malherbe, but an entire corps of top-flight biblical and religious scholars far out of proportion to the size of the religious movement from which they come? In order to explore that question, this paper will examine the work of a number of scholars—Malherbe, his contemporaries, and their heirs—who, in order for their work to flourish, had to resist the forces opposed to scholarship and the life of the mind.
“Major Book Review: The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History, D. Newell Williams, Douglas A. Foster, and Paul M. Blowers, eds. (Chalice Press, 2013)”
James L. Gorman, Johnson University, Convener
- Lamin Sanneh, Yale Divinity School, Yale University, Reviewer
- Thomas H. Olbricht, Pepperdine University, Emeritus, Reviewer
- David Edwin Harrell, Auburn University, Emeritus, Reviewer
- Douglas A. Foster, Abilene Christian University, Editor, Response
- D. Newell Williams, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, Editor, Response
Stone-Campbell historiography has developed extensively over the last fifty years, and two of the most important works come from a collaborative group of scholars responsible for the Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (Eerdmans, 2004). These editors offer their second substantial contribution in The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History (Chalice, 2013), an unprecedented, collaborative, comprehensive, and global history. The reviewers will discuss this volume’s contributions to the story of the Stone-Campbell Movement in America and globally. Two of the book’s leading editors will offer responses to the reviewers.
"A Critical Assessment of Abraham J. Malherbe’s Scholarly Work: Hellenistic Moral Philosophy, Patristics and Second Century Christianity."
John T. Fitzgerald, Professor of New Testament, University of Notre Dame, and Gregory E. Sterling, The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School, Conveners
- Johan Thom, Professor of Classics of the Department of Ancient Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, “‘Greeks Seek Wisdom’: Abraham Malherbe’s Contribution to Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity”
- David Rankin, David Mackay-Rankin; Holland Park Central and St. David’s Holland Park Uniting Churches; formerly Principal Lecturer in Church History, Academic Dean, and Principal of Trinity Theological College, Brisbane, Australia, “Athenagoras and the Second Christian Century: Abraham Malherbe’s Contributions to Patristics Studies.”
"A Critical Assessment of Abraham J. Malherbe’s Scholarly Work: New Testament Studies."
James W. Thompson, Onstead Professor of New Testament, Abilene Christian University, and Carl R. Holladay, C. H. Candler Professor of Testament, Emory University, Candler School of Theology, Conveners
- Clare Rothschild, Professor of New Testament, Lewis University, “Light from the Gentiles: Abraham Malherbe’s Contributions to New Testament Studies.”
These two sessions will be devoted to an analysis and evaluation of Abraham Malherbe’s scholarly work, with particular attention given to the recently published collection of his essays in two volumes titled Light From the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays, 1959–2012, by Abraham J. Malherbe (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2014). The essays are arranged in four categories: Neotestamentica, Philosophica, Patristica, and Miscellanea/Theologica. The sessions will be chaired by the editors of these two volumes of essays: John T. Fitzgerald, Carl R. Holladay, Gregory E. Sterling, and James W. Thompson. Three scholars have been invited to assess critically three areas of Malherbe’s scholarly work: Hellenistic moral philosophy, patristics and second century Christianity, and New Testament studies, especially Paul and his engagement with philosophical, moral, and religious traditions within the Graeco-Roman world. Johan Thom, a South African classicist with special expertise in ancient Greek moral and popular philosophy, will discuss ways in which Malherbe explored connections between Hellenistic philosophy and the New Testament. David Rankin, an Australian patristics scholar, who published Athenagoras: Philosopher and Theologian (Ashgate, 2009), will focus on Malherbe’s ground-breaking work on Athenagoras, especially as related to the Hellenistic philosophical tradition of Middle Platonism, but also look at his other essays on second-century Christianity. Clare Rothschild, an American New Testament scholar with special expertise in the impact of Graeco-Roman literary traditions on New Testament studies, especially Luke-Acts and Paul, will focus on Malherbe’s New Testament work. The sessions have been structured to allow ample time for these formal presentations, along with time for questions and answers and discussion among the editors, presenters, and attendees. This should allow an opportunity to identify some of the main contours of Malherbe’s scholarly oeuvre, but also to ascertain distinctive contributions he made to Pauline studies and New Testament studies more broadly both within the Stone-Campbell tradition and within North American and international biblical and theological scholarship in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.
“Discourse and Communal Formation in the Third – Fourth Centuries.”
Earl Lavender, Lipscomb University, Convener. A Peer Review Session.
- Jacob A. Lollar, Florida State University, “The Ambiguous John: Origen and Focalization in John 1:15-18”
- James E. Walters, Princeton Theological Seminary, “Shaming Jewish Practice, Shaping Christian Identity: The Function of Anti-Jewish Polemic in Aphrahat’s Demonstrations”
- Nathan Howard, University of Tennessee at Martin, “Trans-Historical Fellowship in the Cappadocian Fathers”
The third and fourth centuries saw crucial developments in patristic discourse that would shape fundamental Christian thought and practice. This session analyzes three instances illustrating these developments. These moments demonstrate the extent to which influential Christian authors drew upon non-Christian rhetoric, materials, and pedagogies—such as those of the Persian Jews and classical Greek literature. These Christian thinkers appropriated their non-Christian inheritances, refashioning the content and modes of existing discourse to construct new discourse of recognizable pedigree yet distinct character. Notably, they worked in response to the needs of their communities, deploying their rhetoric for the sake of enhancing biblical interpretation, defining robust Christian corporate identity, and helping church leaders negotiate their new roles in a complex and rapidly changing society.
“Early Christian Studies and Stone–Campbell Scholarship.”
Robin Jensen, Luce Chancellor’s Professor of the History of Christian Art and Worship, Vanderbilt University, Convener
- Mark Weedman, Johnson University, “Language, Practice and the Place of Patristics in the Stone-Campbell Movement”?
- Trevor W. Thompson, Abilene Christian University, “‘Rubbish under the Name of Ignatius.’ The Authenticity of the Ignatian Corpus: A Reconsideration of the letter from Ignatius to Polycarp”
- Paul M. Blowers, Dean E. Walker Professor of Church History, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, “From Mythos to Logos and Back Again: Interpretation of Creator and Creation in Pre-Nicene Patristic Thought”
- Elizabeth A. Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion (emerita), Duke University, Respondent
In celebration of the inaugural Ferguson Lecture on Early Christian Studies, three scholars present research that both analyzes and instantiates the continuing vitality of Early Christian Studies and Patristics in the Stone-Campbell Movement. Elizabeth A. Clark of Duke University is the respondent.
“The Future of Biblical Theology, Session II.”
Lewis Donelson, Austin Presbyterian Seminary, Convener
- Jeannine Brown, Bethel Seminary (San Diego), Panelist
- Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, Emeritus, Panelist
- Robert L. Foster, University of Georgia, Panelist
This second session carries forward the discussion on the future of biblical theology in scholarship initiated in the previous session. The three panelists will discuss issues raised in the previous session’s papers as well as engage in dialogue with the audience.
“Major Book Review: Marcan Priority Without Q, Jeffrey Peterson and John C. Poirier, Eds. (Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2014).”
Richard Wright, Oklahoma Christian University, Convener
- Jeffrey Peterson, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Précis
- Kenneth L. Cukrowski, Abilene Christian University, Reviewer
- Gregory Sterling, Yale Divinity School, Reviewer
- Mark Goodacre, Duke University, Respondent
- John C. Poirier, Kingswell Theological Seminary, Respondent
As Austin Farrer observed in 1955, the Two-Source theory of Synoptic relationships “wholly depends on the incredibility of St. Luke’s having read St. Matthew’s book.” The collection of essays reviewed in this session builds on the work of Farrer, Michael Goulder, John Drury, E. P. Sanders, Mark Goodacre, and others by exploring the possibilities for interpretation opened up by recognition of the evidence that in the composition of his Gospel Luke made use not only of the earliest bios of Jesus (Mark) but also of the first revision of Mark (Matthew), a theory that eliminates the need to postulate Q.
“Old Testament Theology of Prayer.”
Phillip Camp, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Andrew Hill, Wheaton College, “Theology of Prayer in the Minor Prophets”
- Brittany Kim, Wheaton College, “Theology of Prayer in Ruth and Esther”
- Phillip Camp, Lipscomb University, “Theology of Prayer in the Pentateuch”
There are several studies on prayer in the Psalms or on select prayers within the Old Testament, but little in the way of a comprehensive exploration of the theology of prayer in all the Old Testament. This session is the third in a three-year project to examine the theology of prayer in the various sections of the Old Testament with the intent of providing the groundwork for a canonical Old Testament theology of prayer.
“Reading the Old Testament as Scripture: A Conversation Between Ellen Davis and Walter Brueggemann on Biblical Interpretation, Theology, and the Relationship Between Church and Academy.”
Brad East, Yale University, Convener
- Ellen Davis, Duke Divinity School
- Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, Emeritus
Eminent Old Testament scholars Ellen Davis and Walter Brueggemann will engage in a wide-ranging conversation on issues such as what it means to read the Old Testament as Christian Scripture; the relationship between the Old and New Testaments; the state of Old Testament scholarship today; the uses of academic scholarship for the church; the relationship between church and academy; the value of theological interpretation; the relationship between scriptural exegesis and systematic theology; and much more. They will also reflect on their own work, areas of focus and emphasis, and fruitful topics for fellow and future scholars to take up going forward.
“A Sudden Scholar.”
Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School
- Brad East, Yale University, Convener
- Amanda Pittman, Duke Divinity School, Respondent
The lecture traces the experiences, from childhood to middle age, that were definitive for shaping me as the particular biblical scholar I am, and treats the elements that sustain me as a teacher and writer—largely, though not exclusively, for the church. This lecture is hosted by the Church of Christ Theology Students and sponsored by Lipscomb University’s Hazelip School of Theology, Pepperdine University, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Oklahoma Christian University’s Graduate School of Theology, Lubbock Christian University, and Abilene Christian University's Graduate School of Theology.
“Missions in Business.”
Randy Steger, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Josiah Pleasant, Harding University, “Entrepreneurship in Missions”
- Randy Steger, Lipscomb University and Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University,“Missions and Community Development”
Business faculty have long admired their peers in engineering schools for the role missions play in curricular and co-curricular programs. In this session, participants will learn of ways business schools can follow the lead of engineering programs in integrating missions. They will hear about the NIMA program at Harding University's Center for Business as Missions. They will also learn of Lipscomb University's College of Business efforts to develop student consulting projects in missions and community development.
Business and Engineering
“Leadership in Mergers and Acquisitions: Process and Perspectives.”
Chuck Capps, Lipscomb University, Convener.
- Chuck Capps, Lipscomb University, Panelist
- Jeff Mankin, Lipscomb University, Panelist
- Phillip Roe, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, Senior Vice President of Finance, Panelist
- Mark A. Parkey, J. Alexander’s LLC, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Panelist
Last year, J. Alexander’s Restaurants was acquired by Fidelity National ($78M) and Vanguard Health Systems was acquired by Tenet Healthcare Corporation ($4.3B). The Senior Vice President of Finance from Tenet and the Chief Financial Officer from J. Alexander’s will discuss the need for spiritually focused leadership in these challenging situations. The session will also include discussion of Old Testament characters as role models for leadership in difficult times.
“Missions in Engineering.”
Justin Myrick, Lipscomb University and Rich Wells, Harding University, Conveners
- Fort Gwinn, Lipscomb University, and Justin Myrick, Lipscomb University, “Lipscomb University Experiences in Engineering Missions”
- Rich Wells, Harding University, “Harding University Experiences in Engineering Missions”
- Ken Olree, Abilene Christian University, “Abilene Christian University’s Experiences in Engineering Missions”
In this session, participants will learn about engineering mission efforts at two Christian schools--Harding University and Lipscomb University. Over several years both engineering faculty have integrated missions as a key co-curricular activity in their engineering programs.
“Embodiment, Encounter, and Power: Theological and Mystical Frames for Subverting and Reimagining Power Structures.”
Eric R. Magnusson, Spring Arbor University, Convener
- Meredith Minister, Kentucky Wesleyan College, “Mechthild’s Implicit Critique of Scholasticism”
- Andrew Krinks, Vanderbilt University, “Materializing Apophasis: Listening as the Seedbed of Justice”
- Justin Bronson Barringer, Embrace Church, Lexington, KY, “Fluid Hierarchies: Friendship as a Subversive Practice”
In the Christian tradition, the mystical tradition has often been delimited to private and subjective experiences with the divine. Recently, however, scholars have attempted to recover the mystical tradition as a way address the human relationship to power. This session explores three very different works within the Christian spiritual tradition in order to identify how embodiment and encounter, mystical knowing, and subversive friendship can critique unjust and inequitable power structures and reimagine them in ways that are just and equitable.
“Civil Rights and Churches of Christ: Leadership in the Academy.”
Tanya Smith Brice, Benedict College, Convener
- Jeremie Beller, University of Oklahoma, “Terror Management, Dissociation, and Religious Orientation: Addressing Allport’s Paradox of Religion and Racism”
- Carlos Perez, Lubbock Christian University, “Strategies for Racial Reconciliation: Using Theories as a Guide”
- Norma J Bond Burgess, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Lipscomb University, Respondent
The Stone Campbell tradition has struggled with issues of race relations from its very beginning. This movement attempted to be inclusive in its participation of African Americans, however, it continues to remain a largely White movement. This panel examines theoretical perspectives that highlight the interplay between race and religion within the Stone Campbell tradition. Furthermore, this panel will examine strategies, supported by theory, towards racial reconciliation among the fellowship.
“Civil Rights and Churches of Christ: Leadership in Religion.”
Tanya Smith Brice, Benedict College, Convener
- Brad McKinnon, Heritage Christian University, “‘The Wall that Divides’: Mission and Race Relations in the Churches of Christ, 1967-1970”
- Yukikazu Obata, Fuller Theology Seminary, “The Gospel is Almost for All: J.M. McCaleb’s Views on Race and Nationalism”
- Tanya Asim Cooper, University of Alabama School of Law, “Racial Bias in the Church and Its Role in American Foster Care”
- Bennie Harris, Senior Vice President for Development, Lipscomb University, Respondent
The Churches of Christ, a largely Southern fellowship, has a tenuous history of race relations. The US Civil Rights movement served as spotlight on the myth of unity to reveal the reality of a racially divided fellowship. This panel examines that history, highlighting the complexities associated with the goal of one body while maintaining racially separated fellowships.
“A Reading by CSC Authors.”
Forrest Anderson, Catawba College, Convener
- John Struloeff, Pepperdine University
- J. Matthew Boyleston, Houston Baptist University
- Susan Finch, Belmont University
- Forrest Anderson, Catawba College
This panel features four Christian Scholars’ Conference authors reading their own creative works of poetry and fiction on themes of family, land, and memory. Susan Finch, from Nashville, will read a new story about mothers and daughters. J. Matthew Boyleston, a poet from Houston, will read poems on memory and the land from his collection, Viewed from the Keel of a Canoe. John Struloeff, originally from Oregon, will read poems about characters seeking truth. Joining them will be Forrest Anderson, a fiction writer from North Carolina, with a story about a husband and wife dealing with a domestic prowler.
"The Spirit in Tennessee Writers."
John Struloeff, Pepperdine University,Convener
- Forrest Anderson, Catawba College, “The Rough and Tumble Spirit of William Gay”
- J. Matthew Boyleston, Houston Baptist University, “The Region, the Poet, and the Tennessee River: The Unified Field Theory of Donald Davidson”
- Michael Potts, Methodist University, “Faith and Doubt in Mary Noailles Murfree’s The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains”
- John Struloeff, Pepperdine University, “Local Truth in Peter Taylor’s ‘The Old Forest’”
This panel will examine the work of noted Tennessee short story writers, novelists, and essayists through the lens of “the spirit.” From the gritty realism of William Gay to agrarian author Donald Davidson, from the powerful mythologies of Peter Taylor to a spiritual journey in an 1885 novel by Mary Noailles Murfree, these authors explored the heart and soul of Tennessee. Works to be discussed includes Gay’s The Long Home, the varied writings of Donald Davidson, Murfree’s The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains, and Taylor’s long story, “The Old Forest.”
“Cracking the Ceiling: Opportunities and Challenges for Women Leading in Higher Education.”
Lynette Sharp Penya, Abilene Christian University, Convener
- Ken Cukrowski, Dean of the College of Biblical Studies, Theology, and Missions, Abilene Christian University
- Nancy Magnusson Durham, Vice President for Strategic Planning, Lipscomb University
- Kathy Pulley, former Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Missouri State University?, “Respecting and Promoting the Talent”
- D. Newell Williams, President, Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University?, “It Gets Better”
The number of women in leadership positions in institutions of higher learning is increasing; however, that number is not proportional to the population at large in either Christian or public universities. Four panelists, all of whom have previously or are currently holding leadership positions, will offer their assessment of gender matters from their unique perspectives. What are the greatest challenges? What are the lessons learned from their own experiences? What are the benefits to the institution? What strategies might be helpful to others?
“The Future of American Higher Education.”
Jack Scott, California Community Colleges, Chancellor Emeritus and Former California State Senator, Convener
- Royce Money, Abilene Christian University, President Emeritus, “The Future of Church of Christ Colleges and Universities”
- Jerry Hudson, Willamette University, President Emeritus, “The Future of Private Colleges and Universities”
- Joel Anderson, University of Arkansas Little Rock, Chancellor, “The Future of Four Year Public Universities”
- Jack Scott, California Community Colleges, Chancellor Emeritus and Former California State Senator, Convener, “The Future of Community Colleges”
This session features a uniquely qualified panel of former and present college and university presidents who will use their decades of experience and research to discuss the future of higher education in America. Some of the items to be discussed are the financial future of higher education; future instructional and research trends; the possibilities for religious teaching and research; and other particular challenges facing institutions of higher education. There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion after the presentations.
“The Future of Christian Higher Education: The Most Critical Issues We Face in the Decade Ahead.”
Trace Hebert, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Randy Lowry, Lipscomb University, President
- Michael F. Adams, University of Georgia, President Emeritus
- John deSteiguer, Oklahoma Christian University, President
- Bruce McLarty, Harding University, President
- Tim Perrin, Lubbock Christian University, President
This session will discuss the issues that presidents, administrators, and faculty leaders perceive to be the most critical issues facing Christian colleges and universities in the decade ahead. Items discussed will include responses of administrators and faculty leaders at Christian institutions when surveyed about challenges such as academic programming, faculty recruitment and retention, innovation, costs, finance, religious affiliation, recruitment, competition, regulatory issues, and more. The presidents will weigh in on the most pressing issues identified and provide a glimpse into the challenges that institutions of higher education will face in the years to come.
“Leadership in Higher Education: Opportunities and Change.”
David Roach, Texas Tech University, Convener
- David Roach, Texas Tech University, Associate Dean in College of Arts and Sciences, “Curricular Change in Public and Private Universities”
- Rob Stewart, Texas Tech University, Senior Vice Provost, “The Faith Dimension of Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement”
- James Hallmark, Texas A&M University System, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, “Fostering Spiritual Growth in Students at Public Universities: Responding to NSSE Data”
- Barry Ries, Minnesota State University, Associate Vice President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, “When Faith Becomes Public in Higher Education”
- Darryl Tippens, Pepperdine University, Provost, Respondent
Visionary leadership is a foundational component for future success in public and private universities, especially in times of social and economic turbulence. This panel explores current issues in higher education from the perspectives of administrators who work at public institutions. Public and private institutions share much in common and have many opportunities to collaborate. The respondent for the panel will reflect on panel discussions from the perspective of an administrator at a private university.
“What is the Purpose of Christian Higher Education in the 21st Century?—Ten Honors College Students Reflect on the Status of Faith-Based Learning.”
Jonathan Thorndike, Belmont University, Convener
- Landa Dowdy, Abilene Christian University
- Courtney Tee, Abilene Christian University
- Michael Harbour, Abilene Christian University, Faculty Sponsor
- Caroline Cartwright, Belmont University
- Andrew Hunt, Belmont University
- Jonathan Thorndike, Belmont University, Faculty Sponsor
- Julie Anne White, Harding University
- Cana Moore, Harding University
- Warren Casey, Harding University, Faculty Sponsor
- Anna Bray, Lipscomb University
- Zack Eccelston, Lipscomb University
- Paul Prill, Lipscomb University, Faculty Sponsor
- Danielle Chun, Messiah College
- Phoebe Chua, Messiah College
- Richard and Jan Hughes, Messiah College, Faculty Sponsor
Ten Honors college students will reflect on how a faith-informed education differs from a secular one in the modern world. The students will explore the tensions between cultivating internal and external spiritual resources and experiences, and how each of their campuses values living faith through Christian service and worship. They will discuss whether students at Christian colleges and universities are obligated or compelled to do mission or service in the community or whether students at faith-based universities are better off cultivating their inner resources through Bible study, prayer, and worship.
“Justice to the Alien: Four Trajectories for Consideration in the Debate on Immigration that Grow from Presentations by Browning, Baker and Hamilton.”
Randy Lowry, Lipscomb University, President, Convener
- Alberto Gonzales, Belmont University, Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law & U.S. Attorney General, 2005 – 2007, Vantage of the Courts
- Daniel Rodriguez, Pepperdine University, Vantage of Practical Theology
- Michael F. Adams, University of Georgia, President Emeritus, Vantage of Higher Education
- Stephanie Teatro, Director of Advocacy, Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, Nashville, Vantage of the Immigrant
The second Immigration session will take the trajectories identified in Browning’s presentation (that explores the calls for justice for the alien but concludes that there is little call to make the alien a citizen) and the responses from Hamilton and Baker and advance the conversation from the vantage of the courts, higher education, practical theology and immigrant communities. Each representative will have time for a full presentation after which the convener will open the floor for questions for the panelists and comments. We’ll spend a full 30 minutes in dialogue and close with Browning’s reactions to both sessions.
“The Flesh Became Word: A Discussion of the Themes From and Sciences Behind the Stage Adaptation of John Updike’s Roger’s Version.”
Greg Greene, Blackbird Theater, Convener
- Wes Driver, Blackbird Theater, Playwright and Director of Roger’s Version, Panelist
- Clifford Anderson, Director, Scholarly Communications in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University, Panelist
Following the world premiere of the stage adaptation of John Updike’s Roger’s Version this session will feature a conversation involving key participants in the creation, production, and reaction of the play. Topics for discussion will range from dialogue and antagonism between science and theology (“Who’s driving the antagonism today?” and “How does one find God—through subjective experience or objective evidence?”) to the faith of Roger Lambert and “How do we as believers deal with such dark, worldly material that wrestles with Christian faith?”
“John’s Version: Updike and Christian Faith.”
Kimberly Reed, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Ralph C. Wood, Baylor University, Panelist
- Ami McConnell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Senior Fiction Editor, Panelist
- David Dark, Belmont University, Panelist
Looking back on his long career at the end of his life, John Updike wrote, “I believed that realism even in its darkest aspect formed a homage to the God of creation, and a gesture of trust in him.” Treating the most ordinary events “religiously, as worthy of reverence and detailed evocation,” Updike’s version(s) of the human condition is replete with paradoxes. This panel will discuss Updike as what critic Ralph C. Wood calls an “ironist of the spiritual life,” a writer whose works pay homage to the inextricably linked creativity and destructiveness of experience.
Leadership in Ministry
“Leadership in Congregational Life: Practical Aspects.”
Curtis McClane, Johnson University and Highland View Church of Christ, Oak Ridge, TN
- Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University, “Spiritual Formation, Burnout, and Effective Practice of Ministry Among Youth Ministers in Churches of Christ”
- Curtis McClane, Johnson University and Highland View Church of Christ, Oak Ridge, TN, “Pastoral Leadership & Ethical Issues: Cohabitation as a Case Study”
- Tommy Smith, Johnson University, “Leadership and Spiritual Formation: The Role of Doctrinal Preaching”
Pastoral engagement, proclamation, and spiritual practices in ministry comprise the parameters of this session. Leadership in the life of the church takes on many forms. The roles necessary for the transformative participation of the pastoral leader are varied, and bring forth unique issues. It is the aim of this entire session to address leadership issues that impact congregational life: ethical dimensions, proclamation dimensions, and self-care dimensions.
“Leadership in Congregational Life: Theoretical Aspects.”
Curtis McClane, Johnson University and Highland View Church of Christ, Oak Ridge, TN
- David Ward, Oxford Graduate School, “Convictional Intelligence in Christian Scholarship that Leads Prophetically in Church and Society”
- Joshua D. Reichard, Oxford Graduate School, “Leading in the Love of God: An Open and Relational Theory of Leadership”
- Mark Weedman, Johnson University, “Leadership as Reconciliation”
Convictional intelligence, process-relational theory, and reconciliation comprise the parameters of this session. Leadership theory is often overlooked in the life of the church, but articulating and intentionally exploring the theoretical models and metaphors are necessary for the transformative participation of the pastoral leader. It is the aim of this entire session to address leadership theories and metaphors that impact congregational life in its power for change, its foundational character of relationality, and its reconciliatory shape for communal life.
“Partners: Working Together in Church Leadership.”
John Grant, College Hills Church of Christ, Lebanon, TN, Convener
- Chris Smith, Harpeth Hills Church of Christ
- Jason Thompson, Harpeth Hills Church of Christ
- Jon Mullican, Hope Network and Highland Oaks Church of Christ
- Jackie Halstead, Scarritt Bennett Center, Director of Education
The demands of congregational leadership are too complex for a single leader, but it is often difficult to find and develop effective partnerships. Leaders in larger churches are learning to depend on teammates with complementary gifts, not merely as side-kicks (e.g., Batman & Robin) but as equal partners. This session will explore the dynamics of effective partnerships.
"The Reagan Legacy of Rhetoric, Religion and Leadership."
John M. Jones, Pepperdine University, Convener
- Larry Bumgardner, Pepperdine University, “From Supporting Actor in the Movies, to Leading Man in World Affairs”
- James R. Wilburn, Pepperdine University, “Ronald Reagan: Nourished by Faith”
- John M. Jones, Pepperdine University, “Ronald Reagan’s Cold War Rhetoric”
- Jack Foust Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1987 to 1991, “Reflections on Reagan and Gorbachev”
This panel considers Reagan’s rise from actor and television host to a leader who transformed American politics. It discusses Reagan’s leadership style and strategies, the central role that his faith played in his ideology and public discourse, and his rhetorical strategies for winning the Cold War.
“Business and Sustainability.”
Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Randy Steger, Lipscomb University, “Transformational Development and Sustainability”
- Jay Everett, Lose & Associates, INC., “Nashville Parking Optimization”
- Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University, “Mass Transit: Personal and Community Transformation”
In this session, participants will learn of three unique perspectives on the integration of sustainability and business. Two presentations address transit related topics. These include an innovative proposal to uses economic principles to make parking more accessible and environmentally sustainable in downtown Nashville. The second outlines the author’s personal journey shifting from traditional commuting to mass transit. This presentation speaks to personal, environmental and economic impacts of his change. The final presentation describes transformational development that “seeks to restore and enable wholeness of life with dignity, justice, peace, and hope for all members of a community.”
“Energy for Sustainable Living.”
Bard Young, Vanderbilt University, emeritus, Convener
- Sally Holt, Belmont University, “Ethical and Moral Issues Surrounding Sustainable Living & Energy”
- George D. Parks, ConocoPhillips, FuelScience LLC, “Sustainable Energy”
- Bard Young, Vanderbilt University, Emeritus, Respondent
This session will focus on the role energy plays in our lives and future generations. It intends to 1) take a serious look at the current and future energy landscape including lifestyle and climate impacts, 2) address the moral and ethical issues facing Christians as they attempt to live sustainably, and 3) engage in thoughtful and civil dialog surrounding how we address sustainability issues as individuals, churches, businesses and governments. Using the information presented in the papers and insights of the attendees, the discussion will explore behaviors appropriate for sustainably and evaluate personal and communal Christian responses (as churches, universities, and governments).
“Environment and the Arts.”
Jeremy Elliott, Abilene Christian University, Convener
- Luke Morgan, Texas Tech University, “‘The Wild in Our ‘Own Backyard’: Urban Homesteading as Theoretical Middle Ground”
- Chai Green, Independent Artist, “Photography and the Environment: The Numinous Landscape”
- Greg C. Jeffers, Abilene Christian University, “Transcendence and Trauma: Reading Moses, Man of the Mountain as a Nature Text”
- Everett Reed, Northeast Alabama Community College, Respondent
This panel is an examination of the interactions between the arts and the environments in which they are created and understood. Departing from the standard ecocritical model, in which works are analyzed strictly on how they treat the environment within the work (i.e.; how does the work create an environment within the confines of the work, and what are the implications for the outside world?), this panel also considers what role the actual environment plays in the construction of the work. What understanding of the environment does the artist have, and how is that reflected in the work?
Women in Ministry
“Gender Roles & Congregational Change: Making a Way for Women in Leadership in Churches of Christ.”
Lynette Sharp Penya, Abilene Christian University, Convener
- Doug Foster, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
- Lynette Sharp Penya, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
- Suzanne Macaluso, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
- Amanda Rigby, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
- Don McLaughlin, North Atlanta Church of Christ, Panelist
- Naomi Walters, Stamford Church of Christ, Respondent
Gender inequity continues to be the norm in the congregational life of Churches of Christ. While a series of research projects exploring gender-roles in religious contexts have been presented at the Christian Scholars Conference, none have systematically examined how congregational change in gender roles occurs in Churches of Christ. Therefore, panelists will discuss 1) the history of congregational change in Churches of Christ, and 2) the use of the Attitudes toward Gender Roles scale to measure change in two congregations. The panel will conclude with suggestions on ways to effectively manage gender-role change in congregations.
"Women and Leadership in a Christian Context: Insights from a Lean In Reading Group."
Jaime D. Goff, Abilene Christian University, Convener
- Jaime D. Goff, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
- Stephanie Hamm, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
- Jennifer Shewmaker, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
- Stephanie Eddleman, Harding University
- Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University
Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, has been met with both praise and criticism from women in leadership roles in various contexts. This session will share insights and perceptions gathered from a faculty reading group regarding the applicability of Sandberg’s ideas in the context of Christian higher education. How do Christian organizations compare to the businesses mentioned by Sandberg with regard to women in leadership roles? What are the unique challenges facing women who are leaders in Christian organizations? The panelists will address these questions and more as well as provide space for session attendees to share their own thoughts and experiences.
“Born This Way?: Science, Theology and Public Policy on Human Sexuality.”
James O. Browning, Federal Judge, United States District for the District of New Mexico
- Jeanine Thweatt-Bates, The College of New Jersey/Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist
- Steve Rouse, Pepperdine University, Panelist
- Rob McFarland, Faulkner University, Jones School of Law, Panelist
Theological and moral discussions of human sexuality and gender are often narrowly circumscribed in well-worn hermeneutical and theological paths. How might this conversation change when enlarged by interdisciplinary consideration of the various relevant sciences? This session will bring together a scientist, a theologian, and a lawyer to explore how the sciences inform our understanding of human sexuality, the impact that interdisciplinary engagement with the sciences for theological and ethical evaluations of sexual normativity and morality, and the implications for public policy.
“Current Dissertation Projects in Theology: A Workshop.”
Fred Aquino, Abilene Christian University, Convener& Faculty Respondent
- Spencer Bogle, Southern Methodist University, “Transcendence, Development, and Being Other”
- Brad East, Yale University, “Some Nonnegotiables in Theological Interpretation Done Well, or: On Keeping the Fight Alive with Biblical Scholarship”
- David Mahfood, Southern Methodist University, “Midway Between Faith and Sight: The Task of Atonement Theology in Anselm of Canterbury”
In this generative session, three doctoral candidates in systematic theology will present some of their ongoing dissertation research for discussion and critique with students and faculty. Professor Fred Aquino will provide a brief response to each student; discussion will focus on the process of developing these projects further into full-length dissertations. Faculty or students in theology who plan to attend are encouraged to contact the convener at email@example.com for copies of the papers in advance.
“Grace and Law in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.”
Mikee Delony, Abilene Christian University, Convener
- Jessica Christy, Union Theological Seminary, New York, “Beyond Christianity: Hugo, Heterodoxy, and the French Social Gospel”
- Matt Roberts, Abilene Christian University, “Blurring the Distinction between Justice and Mercy: Reading Les Misérables with a Grace-Filled Hermeneutic”
- Matthew J. Dodd, Abilene Christian University “Justice and Mercy as the Path to Peace in Les Misérables and for Christians Today”
Victor Hugo’s magnificent novel, Les Misérables, the story of redeemed thief Jean Valjean and his law-enforcement nemesis, Javart is one of the most widely read and influential books ever written. The late 2012 release of a film adaptation of the musical has revived interest in both the novel and its many adaptations. The story has strong religious and social justice themes that resonate with our own cultural context, especially the idea of grace and redemption vs. law and justice. In Hugo’s novel, both Valjean and Javert believe they are following God’s will although with entirely different motivations and results.
“How to be an Ally: Hearing and Receiving Voices from the Margins of the Church and the Academy.”
Jeffrey R. Baker, Pepperdine University School of Law, Convener
- Edward Carson, The Brooks School, Panelist
- Scott Lybrand, Episcopal Charities and Community Services, Panelist
- Julie A. MavityMaddalena, Southern Methodist University, Panelist
- Jeanine Thweatt-Bates, Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist
This panel will identify and explore issues of power, privilege, and participation in the church and academy among those historically on the margins of these communities. Panelists will consider theological, religious, ethical, political, and educational theories that sustain and challenge structures and organizations that favor dominant, homogenous voices and will critique extant structures and dynamics that silence plural voices. The panelists will offer scholarly perspectives on theology, ethics, history, education, and culture and will speak with expertise about individual congregations, universities, and communities, including experiences promoting plural voices in contexts of diversity.
"Major Book Review: The Slavery of Death, by Richard Beck, (Wipf & Stock, 2014)."
Richard Goode, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Jackie Halstead, Scarritt Bennett Center, Director of Education, Reviewer
- Marcus Geromes, Lipscomb University, Reviewer
- Andrew Breeden, The Upper Room, Discipleship Resources Project Manager, Reviewer
- Richard Beck, Abilene Christian University, Author
Why do disciples live in such fear of death? Why does scripture attribute our fear to "the power of the devil"? Perhaps most importantly, how are we—as individuals and as faith communities—freed from this slavery to death? In his new book Richard Beck blends Eastern Orthodox perspectives, the biblical text, existential psychology, and contemporary theology to describe our slavery to the fear of death, a slavery rooted in the basic anxieties of self-preservation and the neurotic anxieties at the root of our self-esteem. Beck argues that in the face of this predicament, resurrection is experienced as liberation from the slavery of death in the martyrological, eccentric, cruciform, and communal capacity to overcome fear in living fully and sacrificially for others.
"Major Review: Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith, Mark Lanier (InterVarsity, 2014)."
Harold Hazelip, Lipscomb University, President Emeritus, Convener
- John deSteiguer, Oklahoma Christian University, Reviewer
- Gail Hopkins, Ohio Valley University, Reviewer
- Douglas Jacoby, Lincoln Christian University, Reviewer
- Ronald Highfield, Pepperdine University, Reviewer
- Mark Lanier, Respondent
Mark Lanier, the author of this volume, is the principal of the Mark Lanier Law firm of Houston, New York, Los Angeles, and Palo Alto and one of the foremost trial lawyers in the United States. He received his undergraduate degree from Lipscomb University focusing on biblical languages. In this book Lanier discusses the plausibility of the Christian faith from the perspective of common sense, current thought, and science. Some key topics are: Who is God in the light of astronomy and subatomic sciences? and How can divine interpretation of Scripture or Christ’s bodily resurrection be possible?
“Popular Culture and the Christian Scholar.”
Mikee Delony, Abilene Christian University, Convener
- Megan Hartline, University of Louisville, “All I Hear is People Caring Loudly At Me: Examining the Ethos and Uptake of Leslie Knope”
- Shanna Early, Emory University, “Here They Come to Save the Day: Superheroes in the Academy”
- Bill Carroll, Abilene Christian University, “When Virtual Reality Becomes the Dominant Reality: Why Game Studies Matter”
One of the most pronounced influences of post-modernism on the academy was the assault on canonicity in nearly every discipline, which led to a significant growth in studies of popular culture. This democratizing of knowledge has led to, ahem, interesting consequences. These panelists seek to situate the study of three areas of popular culture—rhetorical analysis of a popular television series, superheroes in the graphic novel and film, and game studies—and make the case that not only should Christian scholars engage in research in these areas, but that the absence of academic inquiry into these cultural sites gives them free reign to colonize the imagination unquestioned.
“Religion and Epistemology.”
Kraig Martin, Baylor University, Convener
- Chris Shrock, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, “Thomas Reid, Doxastic Justification, and the Voluntarism Argument”
- J. Caleb Clanton, Lipscomb University, “A Skeptical Theist Interpretation of the Book of Job”
- Kraig Martin, Baylor University, “Just What is Pacifism, Anyway?”
Each paper in this session argues for a thesis that is importantly related to both religion and epistemology. Chris Shrock argues that there is a sense in which beliefs are voluntary, and hence sometimes properly praiseworthy or blameworthy. J. Caleb Clanton argues that the book of Job is potentially consistent with the skeptical theist’s response to the problem of evil. Kraig Martin argues that of the various articulations of pacifism that can be seen in certain works by Niebuhr, Yoder, and Hauerwas, only one is logically consistent--and it is subject to at least two very difficult objections.
“Scientific Breakthroughs: A CSC Mini-Review Series.”
Jay L. Brewster, Pepperdine University and Stephen Davis, Pepperdine University, Co-Conveners
- Jay L. Brewster, Pepperdine University, “A Breakthrough in Genome Editing: The CRISPR System”
- Joseph E. Deweese, Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, "Why Are We Still Studying the Genome: A Review of Recent Findings”
- Michael Sadler, Abilene Christian University, “The Basics of Climate Change”
- Jonathan D. Moore, The Dow Chemical Company, “Computational Materials Science and the Materials Genome Initiative”
- Stephen Opoku-Duah, Ohio Valley University, Gordon Wells, Ohio Valley University & Dennis Johnson, EcH2O International, LLC, “PATHOGENA: Vapor-Ion Enhanced Water Purification System”
This mini-review session will highlight recent scientific breakthroughs in science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) disciplines. This session will focus on either notable new discoveries or research progress announced in the current scientific literature. The intent of these sessions will be to inform a general academic audience of the background and core principles of the discovery. Content will be developed from the primary, peer-reviewed scientific literature, and will be presented by conference attendees with appropriate academic training for the mini-review content.
"A Study in Leadership: Assessing Pope Francis and his Assessment, 'The Joy of the Gospel' (EvangeliiGaudium)."
Richard Goode, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Megan Black, Vanderbilt Divinity School
- Fr. Bruce Morrill, S.J., Edward A. Malloy Chair of Catholic Studies, Vanderbilt Divinity School
- Charles Strobel, Room in the Inn, founding director
Last November Pope Francis issued his first Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” (EvangeliiGaudium). This text provides both the new pontiff’s “state of the church” assessment and pastoral counsel for his flock. The Exhortation is also part policy statement, and as such has elicited cheers and criticism. The pontiff's articulation of progressive Catholic social teaching on capitalism, for example, has simultaneously won him friend and foe. Likewise, the Pope's defense of traditional gender roles in the church has invited vigorous, wide-ranging response. Either way the document is a study in the new prelate's leadership. What are the historic roots of this Pope? What kind of leader will he be? What do his early statements foreshadow for the future direction of the Roman Catholic communion?
Forrest Anderson, Catawba College
“The Rough and Tumble Spirit of William Gay”
William Gay established himself as one of the finest practitioners of a uniquely southern version of dirty realism often labeled the ‘Rough South.’ He set his characters—criminals, alcoholics, and the down-on-their-luck—loose in the hardscrabble landscape of his native eastern Tennessee. Gay brought a deep and abiding sense of generosity to his fiction and granted even his most lowlife characters a sense of dignity. Relying on his story collection, I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down, and his novel, The Long Home, this paper argues that the spiritual views of his region shape his fictional world.
Cliff Barbarick, Abilene Christian University
“Becoming Like God: Theiosis in 1 Peter”
The author of 1 Peter calls his audience to become like God, exhorting them, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1:16). Such an exhortation, however, requires explication. Since humans are not divine and should not (nor cannot) imitate parts of the divine nature, the author must explain how the audience can properly become like God. For Peter, the pattern of Christ is the interpretive key. When Peter calls members of his audience to follow in the footsteps of Christ, he’s inviting them to become like God in a way that fulfills God’s ultimate intentions for humanity.
Jeremy Barrier, Heritage Christian University
“Jesus’ Breath in Gal 4:4-7”
This paper attempts to show that Galatians 4.4–7 is part of a liturgical, baptismal tradition linking the initiate with Jesus in his death that is theologically rooted in several motifs from the LXX, and consequently is being used by Paul to convince the Galatians that they will live eternally (Gal 6.8) by being united with Jesus’ death through baptism. Further, Jesus last words on the cross (i.e., ABBA) are essentially the first words of the newly created Galatians, who are receiving the living pneuma from the dying Jesus; hence the necessity of ‘dying with’ Jesus.
Justin Bronson Barringer, Embrace Church, Lexington, KY
“Fluid Hierarchies: Friendship as a Subversive Practice”
Aelred of Rievaulx once wrote, “God is Friendship.” Aelred’s insights continue to challenge Christians to form boundary-transgressing friendships, which serve to create fluid rather than static hierarchies. This paper will critically examine Aelred’s work De Spiritali Amicitia to explicate his bold assertion, and extract insights that illumine contemporary friendship as a radically subversive practice that when embodied by the Christian community serves to make high places low and low places high. Furthermore, it will articulate specific ways in which properly understood friendships actually serve to create such fluidity thereby undermining unjust power structures.
Jeremie Beller, University of Oklahoma
“Terror Management, Dissociation, and Religious Orientation: Addressing Allport’s Paradox of Religion and Racism”
The issue of religion and racism has long been noted by social scientists. Allport said of it, “The role of religion is paradoxical. It makes prejudice and it unmakes prejudice” (p. 444). To address this paradox, Allport articulated the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity to explain the different role religion plays in a person’s life. Allport’s subsequent research demonstrated that intrinsic religiosity was related to a decrease in racism while extrinsic religiosity shows a positive correlation to increased racism. This panelist examines this phenomenon.
Paul M. Blowers, Dean E. Walker Professor of Church History, Emmanuel Christian Seminary
“The Patristic Doctrine of Nothing: Some Pre- and Post-Nicene Perspectives”
The mysterious image of a spirit hovering over a watery abyss (Gen. 1:2) intrigued patristic commentators very early. Many sought to avert associating this text with pagan notions of the eternity of matter, and to defend creation ex nihilo against Greco-Roman cosmological assumptions that “nothing comes from nothing.” Diversifying views on creation ex nihilo prompted some Christian interpreters to turn a negative into a positive, to define the “nothing” as a particular “something”: int. al., a pure ontological void; formless matter itself; matter-with-form before that form was illumined by light; the ontological vulnerability and potentiality of creation; and the mystery whereby the God who is “no-thing” (i.e. beyond being) granted existence to “what was not.”
Spencer Bogle, Southern Methodist University
“Transcendence, Development, and Being Other”
This paper will explore theological contributions concerning transcendence in two parts: the transcendence of God as Other, and the transcendence of the other individuals and communities that comprise international development relationships. I will draw from resources within the field of Systematic Theology in order to emphasize the importance of mystery in any relationship. Upon consideration of ways of relating to the transcendent God as Other, and in consideration of possibilities of transcendence within interpersonal relationships, I will pose the question: How do theological understandings of the mystery of transcendence inform Christian ways of relating in current international development relationships?
J. Matthew Boyleston, Houston Baptist University
“The Region, the Poet, and the Tennessee River: The Unified Field Theory of Donald Davidson”
This essay explores the literature and thought of agrarian author, Donald Davidson, as revealed in his poetry, his essays, and his multivolume history of the Tennessee River. The essay argues that through many and various genres of writing, Donald Davidson pursued and refined a consistent and profound philosophy of politics, literature, and history. This philosophy has been ignored or even reviled in the post-integration world. The essay seeks to revitalize Davidson’s philosophy in the context of a multicultural world.
Jay L. Brewster, Pepperdine University
“A Breakthrough in Genome Editing: The CRISPR System”
Genome science has yielded revolutionary change in the biological and biomedical sciences. Engineering of genes within model organisms is one of the most challenging techniques in the study of gene function. The discovery of the CRISPR genome editing mechanism provides a highly efficient mechanism for genome editing. The CRISPR system provides engineered changes in the genomes of living cells, enabling a spectrum of changes including the repair of dysfunctional genes. Translation of this method to cultured cells and animal models is rapidly progressing. In this session, we will review the CRISPR system and the applications of this landmark discovery.
Jeannine Brown, Bethel Seminary (San Diego)
“Is the Future of Biblical Theology Story-Shaped?”
Theological engagement with the Bible, conceived broadly, has become more attentive to the storied dimensions of the canon, and at least some recent biblical theologies and discussions of biblical theological method seem to be doing the same. This paper considers biblical theology practiced within an evangelical scope of scholarship from a storied perspective. A key question that will be explored is whether this attention to story ameliorates tensions among the biblical authors that have often acted as a stumbling block to the project of biblical theology.
James O. Browning, Federal Judge, United States District for the District of New Mexico
“Does Heeding the Call to Do Justice to the Alien Require the Nation to Make the Alien a Citizen?”
This paper will explore the calls for justice for the alien from a number of sources, including the Bible, other religions, and philosophers. Its conclusion is that, while there is call to do justice to the alien, there is little call to make the alien a citizen. The paper will discuss the implications of that distinction for the United States’ debate on immigration. The paper will explore whether granting legal status may be sufficient, without being greater than necessary, for the nation to do justice to the alien.
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary (Emeritus)
“An Urgent Future for Biblical Theology?”
The governing concern of those who produced the biblical text, and the God who occupies the text, is the practice of social life. No doubt some will continue to pursue biblical theology as a critical project, accommodating theological exposition to the “reasonable canons” of foundationalism. Others will eschew such critical foundationalism. My inclination is to take a post-critical innocence to such issues in order to focus on a contemporary form of reception history. The urgency of intentionally and overtly receiving the witness of the biblical text arises from a recognition that we live in a death-generating political economy.
Larry Bumgardner, Pepperdine University
“From Supporting Actor in the Movies to Leading Man in World Affairs”
Fifty years ago this October, Ronald Reagan burst onto the national political scene with “A Time for Choosing,” his televised address on behalf of Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign. What transformed a fading actor into the undisputed leader of the free world only two decades later? Numerous factors and circumstances played a role, but “leader” may be the key word in explaining his prowess as both a politician and president. Analyzing Reagan’s leadership can provide valuable lessons for today’s leaders in government, business, and other endeavors.
Bill Carroll, Abilene Christian University
“When Virtual Reality Becomes the Dominant Reality: Why Game Studies Matter”
In 2010, the scale of gaming hit an epic milestone. Jane McGonigal announced that cumulatively, World of Warcraft players had been playing for 5.93 million years, which anthropologists speculate is how long primates have been walking upright. Game Studies has traditionally focused on building better games, but in light of how much time our age invests in virtual game play, I argue that we need to start asking questions about how our time in virtual spaces reshapes our notions of self, reality, truth, and value.
Caroline Cartwright, Belmont University
“What is the Purpose of Christian Higher Education in the 21st Century?—Ten Honors College Students Reflect on the Status of Faith-Based Learning”
Christian Higher Education serves the purpose of instilling morals into young men and women. Compared to secular universities, there exists a certain level of expected community service within a Christian Higher Education. However, such obligations provide as much benefit to the students as to the community they are assisting. Both the morals developed within a Christian Higher Education infrastructure and the responsibilities required through service develop post-high school teenagers into well-rounded adults. Such community service is ideal because it benefits the Christian community outside of the university, and enables young adults to experience faith-based personal reflection and experience.
Jessica Christy, Union Theological Seminary, New York
“Beyond Christianity: Hugo, Heterodoxy, and the French Social Gospel”
This paper will present Les Misérables as the capstone work of Nineteenth-Century France’s religious left and explore how Hugo’s ambiguous relationship with Christianity affects Christian readers’ understanding of his work. When Hugo speaks with the eclectic vigor of his own voice, he refuses to be comfortably subsumed into Christendom. This is a complicated situation for devout audiences who would like to make Hugo one of their own, but this paper will argue for the fresh spiritual urgency that Les Misérables retains when not read through a 150 years of forced accommodation with a world that it continues to criticize.
Phoebe Chua, Messiah College
“What is the Purpose of Christian Higher Education in the 21st Century?—Ten Honors College Students Reflect on the Status of Faith-Based Learning”
Different Christian traditions give shape and texture to the purpose of Christian higher education. For example, the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Mennonite, and the Reformed traditions are four prominent faiths established in the early centuries. Subsequently, many traditional and contemporary denominations have sprouted from and remained rooted in the core doctrines of these faith commitments. Thus, as Christian institutions of higher learning are founded upon and driven by the principles of either one of these four main beliefs, these models inform the purpose of the Christian college: to cultivate liberally educated scholars.
Danielle Chun, Messiah College
“What is the Purpose of Christian Higher Education in the 21st Century?—Ten Honors College Students Reflect on the Status of Faith-Based Learning”
This paper proposes reasons to attend a Christian college rather than a secular institution. It focuses on the purpose of secular higher education, that of Christian higher education, and the overlap between the two. Higher education is not an end in itself but is instead opening the eyes of the student to the knowledge that learning is constant and ongoing. Christian higher education involves a firm belief in God and Christ coming alongside and under-girding a rich education, embracing the apparent paradox of integrating faith and learning.
J. Caleb Clanton, Lipscomb University
“A Skeptical Theist Interpretation of the Book of Job”
Some contemporary philosophers claim that the standard "skeptical theist" response to the problem of evil is traceable (in some sense, at least) to the book of Job. But few if any of these philosophers have bothered to explain how a skeptical theist position can, in fact, be reasonably drawn from the pages of that text. This short paper is one philosopher's attempt to show why it's sensible enough to think that skeptical theism is, at a minimum, allowable within the confines of the biblical text.
Ron Clark, George Fox Evangelical Seminary
“Touched by a Sinner? Sinful Women and the Men Who Exploit or Love Them: A Study of Luke 7:36-50”
In Luke 7:36-50 the woman who washes Jesus’ feet is labeled vaguely a “sinner.” Averin Ipsen’s work with women in the sex industry raises questions about both the woman and Simon. Scholars generally ignore that the woman was present before Jesus’ arrival. Was she invited to the dinner to perform a service that involved “inappropriate” touching of guests? The story focuses less on the woman’s “sin” than on the conflict between Jesus and his host. Why did Jesus’ allow her to continue touching him? Jesus’ mixing and eating with marginalized individuals is a model and challenge. What are the implications for Christians living in a world that exploits, marginalizes, and oppresses females today?
Tanya Asim Cooper, University of Alabama School of Law
“Racial Bias in the Church and Its Role in American Foster Care”
Many believe that as a nation we have progressed in matters of race and equality, but racial disparities in American institutions belie that myth. Race matters in American foster care, which some call “basically an apartheid institution.” This is one of the great civil rights problems of our time: the disproportionate representation of Native American and African American children in foster care and the disparities they experience. This panelist examines the role that the church has played in this contemporary civil rights issue.
Joseph E. Deweese, Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
“Why Are We Still Studying the Genome: A Review of Recent Findings”
The landmark Human Genome Project (HGP) and the follow-up Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) Project have been invaluable to our understanding of genetic information. While the HGP has provided valuable genomic data, the ENCODE project has expanded the analysis of the genome to identify functional elements beyond traditional genes. The impact of this research is not yet fully understood and more findings are published each month. In this mini-review, three areas will be briefly examined: 1) functions assigned to non-coding DNA regions; 2) polyfunctional nature of DNA sequences; and 3) epigenetic factors impacting gene regulation.
Matthew J. Dodd, Abilene Christian University
“Justice and Mercy as the Path to Peace in Les Misérables and for Christians Today”
The 2012 film adaptation of “Les Misérables” takes viewers on a journey from injustice and conflict to redemption and peace. Javart’s strict adherence to the law and to justice contrasts Jean Valjean’s redemption journey of grace and mercy in the midst of injustice. The result is an exquisite dramatization of modern-day conflict resolution principles where peace and resolution are achieved through the combination of justice and mercy. This paper examines Jean Valjean’s journey to find peace and redemption through the lens of Biblical and modern-day peacemaking principles that apply to Christians today.
Chris Doran, Pepperdine University
“Eating as a Christian Act of Hope”
This paper argues that eating can be understood as a profound act of Christian hope. Christian hope anticipates God’s act of bringing creation to its glorious consummation and rests fundamentally on the faithfulness and power of God, uniquely demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, by modeling behavior that exhibits at least a pale reflection, as Sallie McFague calls it, of the kingdom of God. Hopelessness, though, exists around every corner in two forms: despair and presumption. This paper explores the notion of eating and food systems as representations of Christian hope against the perniciousness of despair and presumption and contends that a Christian understanding of eating virtuously shapes the individual as well as the common good.
Landa Dowdy, Abilene Christian University
The purpose of 21st century Christian higher education is to teach students how to interact with the world as modeled by Christ. Christian students need an intersection of biblical and spiritual knowledge, and experience through serving others to understand the importance of Jesus' greatest lesson: the value of people and the value of being a servant-leader. Christian higher education must create communities that emphasize the giving up of one's self for the sake of the world; through all majors, in all locations, and for all people, Christian service is the highest good.
Shanna Early, Emory University
“Here They Come to Save the Day: Superheroes in the Academy”
Though near and dear to the hearts of adolescents, and the perpetually young, heroes in capes and tights are often packed away and left behind as college and careers begin. The degree of commercial success of recent movies transitioning these heroes from print to screen demonstrates, though, that these heroes are no longer being left behind after the transition to adulthood, as theaters are filled with an older crowd. This presentation explores how this trend in popular culture not only warrants attention, but can reshape how we think about saving the world.
Brad East, Yale University
“Some Nonnegotiables in Theological Interpretation Done Well, or: On Keeping the Fight Alive with Biblical Scholarship”
The renewal of theological interpretation of Scripture continues, but not unabated. Both theologians and biblical scholars have expressed points of concern with the movement as well as areas of convergence or even rapprochement. This paper's aim is to clarify the abiding disagreements between theological readings of the Bible when done well and the kinds of reading practices (and disciplinary assumptions) that continue to characterize academic biblical scholarship. Moreover, it seeks to specify the theological logic motivating these disagreements, to address the most contentious issues in question (hermeneutics, history, authority, tradition), and to discuss the stakes involved in this as-yet-unresolved debate.
Robert L. Foster, University of Georgia
“Is There a Future for Biblical Theology?”
Much scholarship on biblical theology in actuality focuses on either Old Testament theology or New Testament theology or on a more narrow subfield, like justice in the prophetic literature or salvation in the Pauline corpus. This paper explores the possibility of more Christian scholars reaching across the divided fields of biblical studies and producing work that addresses the larger Christian canon, whether in full-blown biblical theologies or studies of theological issues that span the canon.
Chai Green, Independent Artist
“Photography and the Environment: The Numinous Landscape”
The conclusion of a two year period of study and ministry in Northern Ireland, my recent body of work “Liminality of the Numinous” meditates on how the spiritual is revealed in the tensions found within the natural environment. This body of work is used as a case study to reflect theologically on landscape intervention photography. Specifically, this presentation examines the notion of the photographer as partner with nature to make images that highlight and create a deeper awareness of the spiritual. In addition, it touches on the use of photography as an aid to spirituality.
James Hallmark, Texas A&M University System, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
“Fostering Spiritual Growth in Students at Public Universities: Responding to NSSE Data”
“Development of Spirituality” is an expectation among many students, according to data from the National Survey of Student Engagement. This expectation is true at both private, church affiliated institutions and at public universities. While private institutions routinely aid these students in their spiritual maturation, what role may public universities play? In recent history, public institutions have played a “hands-off” role, and certainly their role must be nuanced. Still, since spiritual development is a student expectation and part of their intellectual maturation, it is incumbent for public universities to understand the nuanced role it may play in aiding spiritual growth.
Megan Hartline, University of Louisville
“All I Hear is People Caring Loudly At Me: Examining the Ethos and Uptake of Leslie Knope”
Leslie Knope, the main character of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, has spent six seasons of television cleaning rivers, listening to the concerns of rude, frustrating citizens, and other tasks required of the Assistant Director of the Parks department of Pawnee, Indiana with joy, enthusiasm, and an unwavering determination to better her community. Examining how Knope’s ethos is created in the context of the show illuminates Knope’s growth away from her beginnings as a caricature (of sorts) of an overzealous government employee and suggests that the audience is meant to read her kindly, contributing to a wide uptake of her particular brand of intensity and enthusiasm for her work.
Stanley Helton, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
“Paul’s Priestly Self-Description in Romans 15:16”
Scholars frequently comment on Rom 15:16 about how unusual Paul’s priestly self-description is. Yet when viewed rhetorically in the context of Romans, Paul’s metaphors prove to be a powerful means of persuading his varied readers/hearers. This paper, framed within George Kennedy’s rhetorical model for reading the New Testament, argues that Paul is intentionally employing priestly language, rather than apostolic language, to build ethos with his readers. Paul’s ultimate goal is to solicit priestly partners in his sacred ministry to Spain, and maybe, even priestly offerings for his current ministry, the collection for the saints in Jerusalem.
Stanley Helton, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Hammond, LA
“Solomon Northup among Baptists and Campbellites in Antebellum Louisiana”
Now a major motion picture, Solomon Northup’s autobiographical Twelve Years a Slave tells how he, a free man of color, was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. and transported to New Orleans. There he was sold as a slave to a Baptist minister and plantation owner named William Prince Ford. Influenced by Alexander Campbell and other Reforming Baptists, Ford and others separated from Beulah Baptist Church in Cheneyville, Louisiana, to form a Campbellite church in 1843. This paper utilizes Northup’s narrative to illuminate Baptist-Campbellite relations while also documenting an extensive network of Campbellite sympathizers among the Baptists in antebellum Louisiana.
Sally Holt, Belmont University
“Ethical and Moral Issues Surrounding Sustainable Living & Energy”
When Christians read their sacred texts in search of meaning and for guidance as they seek to make ethical decisions regarding their actions, how are they to apply the texts to issues within environmental ethics that the Bible doesn’t seem address? The Bible doesn’t mention global warming, genetically modified organisms or the use of pesticides. Yet, Christians today must wrestle with issues such as these, and Christians must utilize the Bible as they seek to determine their ethical responsibilities to creation. Using the religious concepts of reconciliation, natural revelation, sacred space, and pilgrimage, this work focuses on how biblical texts support the claim that Christians are called to be responsible stewards of creation.
Nathan Howard, University of Tennessee at Martin
“Trans-Historical Fellowship in the Cappadocian Fathers”
This study addresses the correspondence of three late-fourth century bishops from Cappadocia: Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory of Nyssa. These episcopoi sustained social networks with pepaideumenoi, individuals trained in classical Greek literature, history, and philosophy. By deploying aphorisms, historical exempla, and rhetorical devices from venerated Greek texts (e.g. Homer), the Cappadocians underscored a trans-historical camaraderie with addressees that included imperial officials, teachers, and fellow bishops. The Cappadocians activated their audiences’ nostalgia for a bygone era, subsequently enhancing their own authority through cultural capital that accentuated shared values rooted in Hellenic pedagogy. They instantiated classical Greek literature into a discourse among elites that increasingly defined Eastern church leadership in the late 300s.
Andrew Hunt, Belmont University
Christians are called not only to the renewal of our hearts but to be “transformed by the renewal of [our] minds” (Romans 12:2). Faith-informed education in the 21st century ought to advance the believer in his wisdom and understanding by helping him discover God’s truth in all things, from ancient history to present-day discoveries, and everything in between. This endeavor is unique in that it is an attempt to more fully appreciate the vast expanse of God’s ultimate reality, to edify ourselves and one another, and to more fully become the people we are meant to be.
Greg C. Jeffers, Abilene Christian University
“Transcendence and Trauma: Reading Moses, Man of the Mountain as a Nature Text”
In Race and Nature, Paul Outka argues that in American literature, nature is experienced as either transcendent (for white characters) or traumatic (for black characters). As white Christianity has defined people of color as more akin to nature than humanity, it is important that intersections of religion, black experience, and nature be explored. Zora Neale Hurston's Moses, Man of the Mountain reinterprets Moses according to black cultural and religious categories and confirms Outka’s explanation of the black nature experience. This essay offers implications about the way white experiences of nature and religion collude to erase black history, experience, and ultimately, identity.
John M. Jones, Pepperdine University
“Ronald Reagan’s Cold War Rhetoric”
This essay analyzes the Cold War rhetoric of President Ronald Reagan. It argues that embedded within the discourse were three major themes that comprised Reagan’s “grand strategy” in dealing with the Soviet Union. Reagan labeled the Soviet Union as evil and a failure, justified a military buildup as a rhetorical strategy to convince the Soviets to negotiate, and defended liberal democracy in order to win the war of ideas with the Soviet Union. The essay also highlights Reagan’s commitment to real arms reduction and eventual abolition.
Andrew Krinks, Vanderbilt University
“Materializing Apophasis: Listening as the Seedbed of Justice”
Apophasis is language that speaks at the limits of language. Apophatic theology enters the limits of language in order to speak of the God who resides beyond all language. However, rather than an apophasis that concerns itself exclusively with the transcendence of God, this paper formulates a materialized apophasis in which the practice of listening to human others is understood as a dimension of God. Finally, because social injustice depends upon the silencing and erasure of human beings, this paper posits the practice of listening—of providing space for silenced persons to speak—as the ground from which justice may emerge.
Jacob A. Lollar, Florida State University
“The Ambiguous John: Origen and Focalization in John 1:15-18”
This paper explores Origen of Alexandria’s use of ancient Greek literary critical analysis on biblical texts. More specifically, Origen addresses Heraclean’s interpretation of John 1:18 that the words were spoken by John the Evangelist, not John the Baptist. Origen challenges this reading on literary-critical grounds of focalization (“point of view”). The essay argues not only that Origen was well aware of, and made particular use of critical analysis that was common among Alexandrian Homeric scholars, it also argues that Origen believed there to be theological consequences to arbitrary focalization in the interpretation of a biblical narrative.
Mary E. Lowe, Erskine Theological Seminary and Stephen D. Lowe, Erskine Theological Seminary
“Reciprocal Ecology: A Comprehensive Model of Spiritual Formation in Theological Education”
Integrating theological concepts of spiritual formation with social science insights from human ecology theory and social network theory, the authors set forth a reciprocal ecology of spiritual formation model for theological education in the 21st century. Countless holistic (academic, social, spiritual, emotional) transactions occur within the social ecology of the seminary community (and beyond) to instigate mutual spiritual formation toward Christian maturity. An ecological and social network perspective of student spiritual formation situates seminary formation efforts within a larger context of influence than previously considered.
David Mahfood, Southern Methodist University
“Midway Between Faith and Sight: The Task of Atonement Theology in Anselm of Canterbury”
In Cur Deus Homo (CDH), Anselm is often thought to have developed a distinctive “satisfaction theory” of atonement opposed to alternative atonement theories in the Christian tradition. I will argue, however, via a close reading of portions of CDH, that Anselm develops a more complex and multifaceted view of atonement that is not adequately captured by the paradigm of atonement theories. Ultimately, in the larger project of my dissertation, I will apply this reading of Anselm towards a constructive proposal regarding the shape of atonement theology; this paper will conclude with a sketch of my constructive proposal.
Kraig Martin, Baylor University
“Just What is Pacifism, Anyway?”
I articulate the Jesus of Reinhold Niebuhr and Niebuhr’s understanding of pacifism. After doing the same to Yoder and Hauerwas, I consider the logical feasibility of the different articulations of pacifism expressed by these three great thinkers, with an eye to entailments of the articulations, inconsistencies within given articulations, and inconsistencies between given articulations. All of these thinkers are represented in a corpus that is dynamic. I directly deal here only with the views of Niebuhr as represented in the essays of Love and Justice, the Yoder of The Politics of Jesus, and the Hauerwas of The Peaceable Kingdom.
Jack Foust Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1987 to 1991
“Reflections on Reagan and Gorbachev”
President Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union will share his reflections on Reagan’s policy toward the Soviet Union. Special emphasis will be placed on the summit meetings with Gorbachev in Geneva, Reykjavik, Washington, D.C., and Moscow.
Curtis McClane, Johnson University and Highland View Church of Christ, Oak Ridge, TN
“Pastoral Leadership & Ethical Issues: Cohabitation as a Case Study”
“Cohabitation does not deliver what it promises, and the long-term advantages of marriage are rooted in the notion of covenant that is absent from any live-in arrangement.” This presentation looks at the entire phenomenon [cohabitation] from a cultural and Christian perspective, providing a conceptual framework for working with cohabiting couples and convincing them of celibacy before they get married. Thus, the purpose of this presentation is to provide a foundational approach (with a solid cultural, theological, biblical, and pastoral analysis) that will seek to provide pastoral guidance for those working with co-habiting young couples during pre-marital counseling.
Brad McKinnon, Heritage Christian University
“‘The Wall that Divides’: Mission and Race Relations in the Churches of Christ, 1967-1970”
This paper examines social ethics in the Churches of Christ through the lens of Mission, a journal published within the fellowship from 1967–1987. Specific attention is given to the first three years of the periodical’s publication. The church did not place a high priority on social ethics in general or race relations in particular. Mission focused on social issues, including race relations, a growing youth subculture, politics, and the anti-war movement, in ways that other Church of Christ periodicals did not. This panel evaluates Mission’s effectiveness in addressing race relations within a larger societal and ecclesiastical context.
Meredith Minister, Kentucky Wesleyan College
“Mechthild’s Implicit Critique of Scholasticism”
Through descriptions of her bodily encounters with God, thirteenth century beguine Mechthild of Magdeburg develops a theological framework that potentially subverts the scholastic method as the dominant way of knowing in the medieval period. This presentation considers Mechthild’s theological and mystical method in relation to the scholastic method in order to propose that Mechthild’s method indirectly challenges dominant theological logics that buttress ecclesial power. It concludes by suggesting that Mechthild’s work creates space for a politics not of success, pleasure, and agency but of failure, pain, and passivity.
Cana Moore, Harding University
College students must be more cautious of what they are learning, what they take as truth, and with whom they spend their time. There are three main ways within this goal that clearly need to be addressed by every place of Christian Higher Education; the ability to value the past, embolden the present, and prepare for the future. Students are often exposed to a variety of data that presents the arguments against faith, but Christian Higher Education should give them the chance to see it with other evidence.
Jonathan D. Moore, The Dow Chemical Company
“Computational Materials Science and the Materials Genome Initiative”
From advertising/marketing, to sports, to aircraft design, data mining and computational sciences are becoming integral to human life and culture. Faster and more efficient paradigms for scientific discovery are seen as critical to keep pace in an increasingly “flat” technological world where pressures to reduce costs, personnel, and development time are more and more intense. After briefly introducing the concepts of high-throughput research, data mining, computational materials design, and the Materials Genome Initiative, this mini-review will highlight several examples of the successful use of this research paradigm and explore its potential for enabling mankind’s next revolutionary advances in technology.
Luke Morgan, Texas Tech University, “‘The Wild in Our ‘Own Backyard’: Urban Homesteading as Theoretical Middle Ground”
In shedding artificial constructs of wilderness, a void is left in ecocriticsm. This essay explores urban homesteading as occupying the “middle ground” William Cronon proposes as a solution to notions of wilderness and the pastoral that separate humanity and nature. Drawing on Cronon, Caroline Merchant, and Greg Garrard, this work examines urban homesteading through texts offering practical advice, environmental ethics, and ideology, focusing on Kaplan and Blume’s 2011 “Urban Homesteading.” My conclusions suggest that urban homesteading represents a practical engagement with the concept of middle, and helps to separate notions of belonging in nature from pejorative associations with classical pastoralism.
Yukikazu Obata, Fuller Theology Seminary
“The Gospel is Almost for All: J.M. McCaleb’s Views on Race and Nationalism”
Race has been an important issue in the historiography of U.S. Churches of Christ. It is necessary to consider race issues beyond the U.S. domestic context. Recent scholarship on race has certainly considered a global context, especially in connection with nationalism and imperialism (Balibar 1991, Brubaker 2009). This panelist will examine the views on race and nationalism held by J. M. McCaleb (1861-1953), a missionary to Japan and the father of missions among Churches of Christ.
Stephen Opoku-Duah, Ohio Valley University, Gordon Wells, Ohio Valley University & Dennis Johnson, EcH2O International, LLC
“PATHOGENA: Vapor-Ion Enhanced Water Purification System”
This paper describes our innovative PATHOGENA water filtration technology (invented by EcH2O International) and being tested at the Ohio Valley University (West Virginia). PATHOGENA is a batch reactor 100-gallon plastic tank fitted with 1-micron filter plus vapor-ion plasma generator which combine to treat contaminated water. The filter is designed to eliminate broad-spectrum bacteria while the generator ionizes ambient gases into aggressive water treatment agents using UV light emission. It is hypothesized that PATHOGENA will treat contaminated water without conventional chemicals. To test this, key research questions including filter, generator and system efficiency are being investigated; initial results are discussed.
George D. Parks, ConocoPhillips, FuelScience LLC
For centuries, Americans have lived in a world where prosperity and consumption increased with each succeeding generation. There appeared to be no limit to prosperity for those “blessed” to live in the United States and to reap its bounty. As we look toward the mid and late 21st century, increasing prosperity in the developing world will bring about increased competition for limited resources, limiting access to cheap energy, food, clean water, etc. Climate change may negatively impact food production, flood coastal areas, and place additional stress on populations living at subsistence levels. These developments will significantly impact the seeming unrestrained growth that has long characterized the American Experience.
Carlos Perez, Lubbock Christian University
“Strategies for Racial Reconciliation: Using Theories as a Guide”
In 1969, the International Convention of Disciples adopted a document, “Principles for Merger of the National Christian Missionary Convention and the International Convention of Christian Churches.” From this document resulted a new entity, the National Convocation of the Christian Church. The convocation was primarily responsible for the emerging of the Christian Church toward racial inclusiveness and unity across all racial boundaries. In the 1960's, schools primarily struggled with the changing of racial attitudes. This panelist will briefly visit the history of Hispanic Churches of Christ and race relations within the Stone-Campbell movement.
Michael Potts, Methodist University
“Faith and Doubt in Mary Noailles Murfree’s The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains”
This paper explores Parson Hi Kelsey’s struggles with faith and doubt in Mary Noailles Murfree’s 1885 novel, The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains. His spiritual journey is from unbelief to faith to doubt to unbelief and a public renunciation of his faith. Yet at the end, he sacrifices his own life for the life of a corrupt former sheriff who knowingly falsely accused Kelsey of helping a murder suspect escape from custody. This Christ-like sacrifice offers the possibility of Kelsey’s final redemption.
Kindalee Pfremmer De Long, Pepperdine University
“'Satan Falling': Apocalyptic Elements in Luke 10:17-23”
In New Testament studies, the word apocalyptic is often equated with eschatology, but there is more to apocalyptic than the “last days.” At its heart, apocalyptic involves the revelation or unveiling of heavenly things. In Luke, Jesus uses the word apokalupto twice (10:21-22), in a context that features the submission of demons, Satan’s fall from heaven, and the writing of the disciples’ names in heaven. This paper explores the apocalyptic elements of Luke 10:17–23—revealed wisdom, spiritual conflict, seeing, the seer’s praise, and heaven/earth parallelism—in light of second-temple Jewish apocalyptic literature and Luke’s larger interest in revelation.
Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University
“Spiritual Formation, Burnout, and Effective Practice of Ministry Among Youth Ministers in Churches of Christ”
The practice of Christian ministry presents many challenges. Multiple roles, mixed and competing demands, ambiguous measurements of success, and more make ministerial leadership a highly stressful profession. Indeed, burnout is common among ministers and churches are often scrambling to find ministerial leaders. Yet how might the practice of spiritual disciplines sustain a minister’s life? This presentation will explore the possible correlation between ministerial burnout and the practice of spiritual disciplines. Undergirding the presentation will be recently gathered data emerging from mixed methods research among youth ministers in Churches of Christ.
Joshua D. Reichard, Oxford Graduate School
“Leading in the Love of God: An Open and Relational Theory of Leadership”
This paper comprises a critical-creative exploration of contemporary theories of leadership, namely transformational and open systems, in light of process-relational theology. This approach is necessary in light of the changing culture that puts a high priority on flexibility and change. Three themes from process-relational theology will be applied to leadership: interdependence, mutual transformation, and creativity. Framed in the foundational context of God's love, philosophical, theological, and socio-scientific perspectives on relationality will be examined. The theory of leadership will be applied to congregational and community life.
Barry Ries, Minnesota State University, Associate Vice President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies
“When Faith Becomes Public in Higher Education”
There are events that occur in a person’s life that force them immediately and usually unwillingly into the public arena. Following the unexpected death of my son, my family and our faith were on display to the local school district that employed my wife, to the university where I served as department chair, and to our home community of sixteen years. The focus of this presentation will be the varied reactions and opportunities that occurred as the faith of an emerging administrator became public at a comprehensive university in Minnesota.
David Roach, Texas Tech University, Associate Dean in College of Arts and Sciences
“Curricular Change in Public and Private Universities”
With current economic pressures, increased business, societal, and governmental scrutiny is being directed toward what college graduates know and can do upon graduation. The value and purpose of a college education is a vigorous national conversation. This has and will have a significant influence on what is taught in universities—on the curriculum. It is important to participate in this national conversation and to track and plan for curricular trends in the context of public and private university missions.
Matt Roberts, Abilene Christian University
“Blurring the Distinction between Justice and Mercy: Reading Les Misérables with a Grace-Filled Hermeneutic”
Les Misérables’ tension between justice and mercy often plays a central role in the novel and is one of the reasons the novel continues to hold such power. I argue that George MacDonald’s equivocation of justice as mercy provides a meaningful and coherent reading of mercy and justice in Les Misérables. Perhaps this paper will be able to open relevant channels into reading this kerygma into more than just these two authors, and will recapture faithful and sensible universalism back into Christian readings of novels.
Michael Sadler, Abilene Christian University
“The Basics of Climate Change”
Although anthropogenic climate change is generally accepted in the scientific community, there is considerable skepticism among the general population. International summits have failed to reach agreements to limit greenhouse emissions. The topic has become highly politicized and misinformation from moneyed interests is abundant. I will review the state of the science, particularly why climate scientists are so confident of their understanding of the problem. I will present my perspective on how we should address the problem, why there is such an enormous split on what is seemingly scientific reality, and a long-term plan of action.
Gary S. Selby, Pepperdine University
“Red Beef and Strong Beer: C. S. Lewis and the Spirituality of Eating”
Contemporary views of spirituality often see spiritual development as an ever-increasing distance from our physicality, with significant implications for how we treat creation, our bodies, and of course, food. Lewis, by contrast, viewed spirituality in terms of an ever-expanding self-awareness and agency. He also saw the spiritual as taking up the physical, a view rooted in his understanding the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, which led him to celebrate physical pleasures as “patches of Godlight in the woods of our experience.” This paper explores one implication of his view of spirituality, his treatment of the joys and dangers of food.
Tyler C. Selby, Hopwood Christian Church, Johnson City, TN
“Becoming a Good Eater: Eating as a Formative Practice for Learning Christian Friendship”
Food studies are experiencing a heyday across America, as philosophers and social scientists explore implications of our eating practices, and as theologians consider how our relationship with food informs understandings of God and ourselves. This paper joins that conversation by examining how eating patterns can habituate us to virtues of friendship with others, creation, and God. Beginning with a conception of worship as narrative-shaped practices that form our fundamental social imagination, I examine four dimensions of eating—sourcing, preparing, consuming, and waste processing—that, as currently practiced, may undermine spiritual formation. I conclude with alternative practices that support positive spiritual formation around the virtues of Christian friendship.
Chris Shrock, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
“Thomas Reid, Doxastic Justification, and the Voluntarism Argument”
This paper illustrates the dialectic strength of Thomas Reid's morally deontological account of doxastic justification in response to the “Voluntarism Argument.” This Argument says that since (a) beliefs are involuntary and (b) voluntariness of beliefs is required for deontological accounts of justification, then (c) deontological accounts of justification must be false. In response, I argue on Reid's behalf, contra (b), that voluntariness of beliefs is required only for blame, not for deontology generally. Furthermore, according to Reid, there is a sense in which beliefs are, contra (a), voluntary. I conclude that Reid is a moral deontologist about doxastic justification.
Tommy Smith, Johnson University
“Leadership and Spiritual Formation: The Role of Doctrinal Preaching”
The two-fold work of Christian leadership within the local congregation may be summarized as “teaching unto salvation” (the work of evangelism) and “teaching unto edification” (the work of spiritual formation). This paper addresses the second of those goals and examines the role of doctrinal preaching in the spiritual formation of both the leader and the congregation. It includes an analysis of current methods and styles of preaching in promoting effective spiritual formation in personal leadership development and in the local church, and a proposal for the “rediscovery” of creative doctrinal preaching in this process.
Rob Stewart, Texas Tech University, Senior Vice Provost
“The Faith Dimension of Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement”
With expanding emphasis on and interest in the “engagement” aspect of faculty work (historically and sometimes interchangeably referred to as “service”), how does a faculty member’s faith intersect with his or her expertise when contributing professionally outside the academy? Should there be and is there anything unique in the way the faculty member of faith engages with external constituents? Such questions are explored by working from Wuthnow’s sociological concepts of public and private religion and Jacobsen’s recent analysis of religion in higher education. Discussing possible answers to these questions could assist in the integrative spiritual and professional development of the faculty member of faith.
John Struloeff, Pepperdine University
“Local Truth in Peter Taylor’s ‘The Old Forest’”
The son of a Baptist pastor, with roots in Tennessee back to the Civil War, Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor became both a prominent and prolific writer, producing three novels and eight short story collections and garnering significant awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Malamud Award in Fiction. This paper will discuss the conflict between faith and doubt--along with the tension in identity caused by this conflict--in Taylor’s long story, “The Old Forest.” Taylor’s use of local mythology will also be discussed through this lens.
Courtney Tee, Abilene Christian University
A Christian education provides students with the opportunity to explore the world through the lens of the life and mission of Jesus. Christian higher education should equip students with faith-informed knowledge in order to dispel ignorance, promote questioning in order to prevent mindlessness, and provide hands-on experience in order to facilitate real learning. It is then imperative that theory be put into action as university and students alike use their unique resources to bring peace and justice to the world through faith in action.
Trevor W. Thompson, Abilene Christian University
“‘Rubbish under the Name of Ignatius.’ The Authenticity of the Ignatian Corpus: A Reconsideration of the letter from Ignatius to Polycarp”
Until the seventeenth century, most Church historians and scholars considered Ignatius to be the author of thirteen, or more, letters. Scholarship in subsequent centuries reduced the number of genuine letters to seven. More recently, attempts have been made to limit the Ignatius collection to four genuine letters or to deny the authenticity of the entire corpus. This paper continues the conversation by taking up the question of the authenticity of the letter from Ignatius to Polycarp, long recognized as an outlier among the Ignatian homologoumena.
James E. Walters, Princeton Theological Seminary
“Shaming Jewish Practice, Shaping Christian Identity: The Function of Anti-Jewish Polemic in Aphrahat’s Demonstrations”
The fourth-century Syriac author, Aphrahat the Persian Sage, wrote twenty-three Demonstrations on various topics pertaining to Christian practices and beliefs, and eleven of these Demonstrations are written “against the Jews.” Previous scholarship has theorized that Aphrahat’s use of adversus Iudaeos arguments was intended to prevent Christians from converting to Judaism in order to avoid persecution from the Persians. This paper proposes a new reading of this anti-Judaic polemic as a rhetorical tool to shape Christian identity by denouncing Christians who maintain “Jewish” practices. That is, Aphrahat was not “competing” with a rival Jewish community for members; he was shaping Christian identity by ridding it of its Jewish elements.
David Ward, Oxford Graduate School
“Convictional Intelligence in Christian Scholarship that Leads Prophetically in Church and Society”
Church history testifies about Christian scholar-leaders who exemplified what Albert Mohler terms convictional intelligence. God used the cloud of these witnesses to change their worlds. A sample includes Paul’s missional praxis, Anthanasius’ orthodoxy defense, Augustine’s apologetics, Wycliff and Luther’s reforms, Zwingli and Calvin’s holistic discipleship, Wesley’s socially reforming revivals, as well as Chesterton, Lewis, and Ellul’s cultural apologetics. The scholar-leader pattern exhibits convictional intelligence that prophetically relates worldview discernment to kingdom challenges in church and society resulting in courageous scholarship to influence constructive change.
Mark Weedman, Johnson University
“Language, Practice and the Place of Patristics in the Stone-Campbell Movement”
At a recent conference, a prominent biblical scholar inquired as to why the Stone-Campbell Movement has produced so many specialists in Patristic studies. My goal in this paper is to propose one answer to that question by exploring one way in which the ethos of the Movement has affinities with that of seminal thinkers and writers in the early church. So, for example, Stone-Campbell Movement thinkers have displayed great confidence in the power of language and experience to reshape human perceptions. We see a similar confidence in a number of early theologians, including Augustine of Hippo, for whom language and practice offer an entryway into the divine life.
Mark Weedman, Johnson University
“Leadership as Reconciliation”
In this paper, I will propose an approach to Christian leadership that takes as its starting place the goal of reconciliation. The literature on leadership and reconciliation tends to focus either on the role of leaders in mediating encounters between individuals or on the kinds of leaders who initiate reconciliatory processes within national or international contexts. In contrast to these theories, I build on an exegesis of Ephesians 4 to argue that reconciliation is a communal endeavor, one in which the members of the community exercise their gifts for the good of the whole.
Timothy Paul Westbrook, Harding University
"Global Contexts for Learning: Exploring the Relationship Between Low-Context Online Learning and High-Context Learners"
As online learning expands, institutions of higher learning must evaluate the extent to which it is inclusive. Though written-based courses may serve well for easy online information dissemination, the low-context medium may consequently restrict the learning experience for students who come from a high-context culture. This paper analyzes the impact low-context communication makes in the learning environment of students from high-context cultures by summarizing Hall’s definitions of contexting and Hofstede’s dimensions of culture, by exploring current research on culture and distance education, and by suggesting implications and strategies for institutions of Christian higher education that serve intercultural online communities.
Julie Anne White,Harding University
“What is the Purpose of Christian Higher Education in the 21st Century?—Ten Honors College Students Reflect on the Status of Faith-Based Learning"
Christian higher education provides students with a unique opportunity to connect our emotional and physical maturity with our spiritual maturity. In an environment where our faith is encouraged rather than stifled, we can easily grow closer to God and make better life decisions with God as our focus. We can also look for ways to connect our career path with our faith. Merging the job that we use to make a living with our journey as Christians leads us to a more productive and holier lifestyle post-graduation.
James R. Wilburn, Pepperdine University
“Ronald Reagan: Nourished by Faith”
One cannot understand Ronald Reagan, including his presidency, without exploring his Christian faith. His habit of adding handwritten Biblical references and quotations to his manuscripts reflected his mother’s faith and his experiences in growing up in the Christian Church in Dixon, Illinois. His view of the providential role of the United States in history and his own part in that drama, especially following his near death experience, is reflected in the details of his domestic and international policies, including his careful strategy to secure greater religious freedom for dissidents in Russia and to end the Cold War without bloodshed.
Wendell Willis, Abilene Christian University
“Paul’s Righteousness Ledger in Philippians 3:4-11”
In Philippians 3 Paul lists his qualifications as a faithful Jew. He describes his prior life as a time of religious accomplishment, but he considers those “gains” as worthless by contrast with the “righteousness” he now possesses based on faith in Christ. Paul’s use of accounting terminology in this passage relates to the question discussed in the “new perspective” about whether in (some forms of) ancient Judaism keeping the Torah was regarded as “meritorious,” or whether in some way Paul regarded his faith in Christ as providing “gain.” While focused on Philippians, this discussion also has implications for the interpretation of Galatians and Romans.