Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference

Abstracts

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

Ron Bruner, Westview Boys’ Home, Convener
  • Suzetta Nutt, Highland Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas, “Practicing Spiritual Disciplines with Children”
  • Dana Kennamer Pemberton, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas, “Holy Hospitality: Following the Call of Jesus to Welcome ALL Children”
  • Steven Bonner, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, Texas, “Understanding Childhood Spirituality”
  • Houston Heflin, Respondent, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas

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

“Archaeological Reports from the Front.”

John F. Wilson, Pepperdine University, Convener

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

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

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

Michelle Kraft, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

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

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

“‘Can We Divide?’ Revisited.”

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

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

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

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

Suzanne Macaluso, Abilene Christian University, Convener

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

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

“Implications of Aristotle’s Poetics for Preaching.”

Tim Sensing, Abilene Christian University, Convener

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

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

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

Ronna Privett, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

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

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

“Knowledge and Scripture in the Fourth Century.”

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

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

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

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

Abraham Mata, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

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

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

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

David Lemley, Pepperdine University, Convener

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

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

Magical Language in Literature.”

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

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

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

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

Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Convener

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

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

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

Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Convener

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

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

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

Kenny Jones, Abilene Christian University, Convener

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

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

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

Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

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

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

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

Jason Fikes, ACU Press, Convener

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

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

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

David Kneip, Abilene Christian University

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

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

“Reflected Light: Art Photography.”

Larry E. Fink, Hardin-Simmons University, Convener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephanie Talley, Abilene Christian University, Convener

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

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

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

Jennifer Rogers, Abilene Christian University, Convener

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

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

Paper Abstracts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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