Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference

Christian Scholars' Conference theme

                             2020 CSC Theme:

                              A Livable Planet:

Partnerships in Creation, Wellness, Economy and Justice

                                            June 3-5, 2020

Comments on the theme:

How can collaboration impact social and ecological health? What pathways might converge to lead us to a durable social and ecological future? What can creation, wellness, economy and justice do in partnership? Join us June 3-5, 2020, when the Christian Scholars' Conference returns to Lipscomb University where we will examine the intersections of creation,wellness, economy and justice through plenary events and scholarly sessions to explore what makes our world livable. Together, we will consider current issues and scholarship that speak into the beauty and diversity on earth. How will we care for what has been entrusted to us?

To view the Section Committees, peer review leaders, and generative pages for the upcoming 2020 conference, click here and follow the links on the left hand side of the page.

Click here to see the 2019 Sessions Archive.

Tom Olbricht Celebrates his 90th Birthday in Style

We were in Nashua, New Hampshire on the third of November to celebrate the 90th birthday of Tom Olbricht. All five children with a host of family and friends gathered, with folk coming in from several states in the Northeast and Tennessee. The church hosted a “double potluck” for the occasion, both breakfast and lunch! As many of you know from current email correspondence, Tom remains as sharp as ever and a vibrant supporter of the conference he founded.

We mourn the passing of Dr. Lynn E. Mitchell Jr.

With profound sadness, we announce the passing of Lynn E. Mitchell Jr. (August 15, 1940–July 20, 2019), the visionary founder of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Houston, which he served as academic director for 29 years (1985–2014). Lynn Mitchell was a regular CSC attendee and participant and brought fresh perspectives and honest convictions. We loved him for his scholarship, candor and faithfulness.

We convey our heartfelt condolences to his family, many friends and colleagues.

We are pleased to announce the following speakers for the 2020 CSC:

Plenary Speakers

Katharine Hayhoe

Hayhoe is an accomplished atmospheric scientist whose research focuses on understanding what climate change means for people and the places where we live. She is a professor at Texas Tech University, hosts the PBS digital series Global Weirding, and has been named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People. The following link leads to a recent New York Times article that features Hayhoe:

Click the following link to see more information regarding Hayhoe in our newsletter: [link]

Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi, a historian and New York Times best-selling author, is Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He is an Ideas Columnist at The Atlantic and in 2016, his book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, won the National Book award. The following link leads to an article recently published in the Washington Post that features Kendi:

Click the following link to see more information regarding Kendi in our newsletter: [link]

Ibram X. Kendi will deliver the Fred D. Gray Plenary Lecture.

James W. Thompson

James W. Thompson will deliver the 2020 Abraham J. Malherbe Plenary. Thompson is Scholar in Residence and professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University. Since 1993 he has been the editor of Restoration Quarterly. His research focus has been in the philosophical background of the Epistle to the Hebrews and in Pauline theology. He is the author of numerous books, including The Beginnings of Christian Philosophy: The Letter to the Hebrews, and Preaching like Paul.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Thompson in our newsletter: [link]

James W. Thompson will deliver the Abraham J. Malherbe Plenary. The title of his lecture is "The Groaning and Redemption of Creation: Does Paul Speak to the Environmental Crisis?"

2020 Lectures

Laura Nasrallah

Yale's Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Laura Nasrallah, will be delivering the 2020 Everett Ferguson Lecture in Early Christian Studies. Nasrallah's research and teaching bring together New Testament and early Christian literature with the archeological remains of the Mediterranean world, and often engage issues of colonialism, gender, race, status, and power. Her Archeology and the Letters of Paul (Oxford University Press, 2019) focuses on reconstructing the social, economic, and religious contexts of those to whom Paul wrote, focusing on case studies in specific cities and regions. Her first book, An Ecstasy of Folly: Prophecy and Authority in Early Christianity, focuses on 1 Corinthians and on materials from the second- and third-century controversies over prophecy and the nature of the soul.

Click the following link to see more information regarding her in our newsletter: [link] 

Laura Nasrallah will deliver the Everett Ferguson Lecture. The title of her lecture is "What Are You Selling? On Travel, Hospitality, and Christ-Followers"

Steven McKenzie

Steven L. McKenzie will present the J.J.M. Roberts lecture in Old Testament Studies at the 2020 CSC. McKenzie is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Religious Studies and the Spence L. Wilson Research Fellow at Rhodes College. He has authored and edited numerous books, commentary series, encyclopedias, and study Bibles, but is perhaps most widely known for King David: A Biography (2000). He co-founded the Deuteronomistic History Section at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting and has served on numerous editorial boards, including the Journal of Biblical Literature, Catholic Biblical Quarterly and Vetus Testamentum.

Click the following link to see more information regarding McKenzie in our newsletter: [link]

Steven McKenzie will deliver the J.J.M Roberts Lecture.

Miroslav Volf

Miroslav Volf will deliver the 2020 Landon Saunders Lecture on the Human Being: the Nexus of World and Faith. Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He has earned doctoral and post-doctoral degrees (with highest honors) from the University of Tübingen, Germany. He has written or edited more than 20 books and over 100 scholarly articles.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Volf in our newsletter: [link]

Miroslav Volf will deliver the Landon Saunder Lecture. The title of his lecture is: "Meaning and Dimensions of Flourishing."

Jay Jakub

We are pleased to announce Jay Jakub as one of the 2020 CSC speakers. Jay is the Senior Director of External Research at Mars Incorporated / Catalyst, a multinational food company with a unique corporate think tank. He is a co-leader of a new breakthrough business model initiative, the Economics of Mutuality (EoM). Jay co-authored the book, Completing Capitalism: Heal Business to Heal the World (2017) and regularly guest lectures on EoM at Oxford University, where he earned a doctorate in European History, and at other universities and conferences around the world.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Jakub in our newsletter: [link]

The CSC distinguishes itself through its mission and by enacting the bold claims that we are:

  • Committed to meeting and exceeding national conference standards in each academic discipline,
  • interdisciplinary (science dialogues with the arts and social sciences interact with theology, for example) and,
  • people of faith. What we mean by “people of faith” is better described than pronounced. So, I include for your consideration (and use) the following prayer, by Professor Leslie Reed, from a recent conference:

A prayer by Leslie Reed

Merciful God, who is both Lord and loving parent, we bow before you today. We acknowledge your presence and your power.

You are the Faithful One. You are One Who Sees. You are One Who Acts.

From generation to generation you have raised up those whom you have called to action – women and men through whom your hand has moved, bringing about reformation, release, restoration, relief, reconciliation, renewal.

We bear witness to those who have gone before us. We honor them, and give thanks for the works you accomplished through them.

We are grateful today for the opportunity to be here, engaging with our brothers and sisters, seeking to enliven our minds and refresh our spirits in community with one another.

We thank you for this opportunity and for the gifts of the mind. But even as we rejoice in the community around us, we see beyond it. We see the brokenness, the poverty, the racial tension, the ideological conflicts round about us. We see wrath, powers, cruel hate. We see injustice. Give us your eyes that we may see indeed.

Convict our hearts and embolden our spirits that we might be agents of change. Let us not only see and know, but bring us to action. Show us how to use the gifts and privilege you have lent us to work your restoration in the world around us. Let us bring your renewal to our universities, our communities, and our churches.

We long to see your will done and your peace reign.  

We look to your hand and await you.

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Preserve us with your mighty power that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity, but in all we do direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray,


About the Christian Scholars’ Conference

The mission of the Christian Scholars' Conference is to create and nurture an intellectual and Christian community that joins individuals and institutions to stimulate networks of scholarly dialogue and collaboration.

The conference was created in 1981 under the direction of Dr. Thomas H. Olbricht, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Pepperdine University, and has since been hosted by several universities associated with Churches of Christ. The conference calls together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines in the liberal arts, sciences, business, law, education and medicine to develop their own academic research and to reflect on the integration of scholarship and faith. 

In service to its mission, the CSC has adopted a model wherein the conference is hosted at Lipscomb University and every fourth year rotates to  a supporting university. Our recent history and future plans:

Lipscomb University (2008-10)

Pepperdine University (2011)

Lipscomb University (2012-2014)

Abilene Christian University (2015)

Lipscomb University (2016, 2017, 2018)

Lubbock Christian University (June, 2019)

Lipscomb University (June 3-5, 2020; June 9-11, 2021; June 8-10, 2022)

The conference is funded by registration fees and the Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars' Conference Endowment Fund.  If you would like to contribute to the Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars' Conference Endowment Fund, please click here.*