Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference


     Theme for 2019 CSC:

         Pursuing Wisdom:

Goodness, Truth, and Beauty

   June 5-7, 2019

At the 2018 CSC, Tracy K. Smith delivered the Willis Plenary Address. She was just named Harvard Arts Medalist. To see the article, see the following link: [link]

We mourn the loss of CSC speaker Lamin Sanneh, the D. Willis James professor of missions and world Christianity at Yale Divinity School and a professor of history at Yale. We are a family of scholars and recognize his stunning contributions to academics and mourn his passing. Professor Sanneh delivered the inaugural Frank and Della Pack Plenary address in 2014. For the announcement and comments from Professor Sanneh's Dean, Greg Sterling see ( For his obituary in the New York Times, see (

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,


2019 Plenary Speakers

David Brooks

The CSC is thrilled to have David Brooks headline the 2019 CSC. Brooks is one of America's most prominent political commentators who writes a bi-weekly OpEd column for the New York Times and is a regular analyst on PBS NewsHour and on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. David has a gift for bringing audiences face to face with the spirit of our times with humor, insight and quiet passion. David's most recent book, Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, explores reactions to life's greatest adversities. His previous books include The Road to Character, The Social AnimalOn Paradise Drive, and Bobos in Paradise. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for nine years and has written for The New YorkerForbesThe Washington Post, and other periodicals.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Brooks in our newsletter: [click here]

David Brooks will deliver the Frank and Della Pack Plenary Lecture on Friday, June 7 at 10:45 a.m. in the Talkington Nursing Building, Collier Auditorium. The title of his lecture is "The Second Mountain".

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye is an award-winning Palestinian-American poet, writer, and educator. Nye is Professor of Creative Writing - Poetry at Texas State University. Having written and/or edited over 30 volumes, poetry books, essays, short stories, and anthologies, her most recent book is Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners, and her upcoming book of poems is entitled The Tiny Journalist; the release of which is expected for April, 2019. Her children's novel The Turtle of Oman was chosen a Best Book of 2014, a Notable Children's Book in 2015, and was awarded the 2015 Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature. She has been featured on National Public Radio, The Writers Almanac, and two PBS poetry specials. Nye describes herself as a "wandering poet". Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, her travel experiences and the cultural diversity of her home, she uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. 

Click the following link to see more information regarding Nye in our newsletter: [click here]

Naomi Shihab Nye will deliver the John T. Willis Plenary Lecture on Wednesday, June 5 at 4:30 p.m. in the Talkington Nursing Building, Collier Auditorium. The title of her lecture is "'The Tiny Journalist' and Other Readings in Poetry".

David Gushee

The 2019 Fred D. Gray Plenary lecturer will be Professor David P. Gushee who serves as the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University in Georgia. One of the premier Christian ethicists in the world, Professor Gushee is the author or editor of twenty-four books, including Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics, The Sacredness of Human Life, Changing our Mind, Still Christian, and his latest book, Moral Leadership for a Divided Age which he co-wrote with Colin Holtz. Professor Gushee is the immediate Past-President of the American Academy of Religion, and is Past-President of the Society of Christian Ethics. A husband, father, and grandfather, he lives with his family in Atlanta.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Gushee in our newsletter: [click here]

David P. Gushee will deliver the Fred D. Gray Plenary Lecture on Wednesday, June 5 at 10:00 a.m. in the Talkington Nursing Building, Collier Auditorium. The title of his lecture is "Shattering Truths: What Classic Novels by Black Authors Reveal about White Racism".

John T. Fitzgerald

The 2019 Abraham J. Malherbe Plenary lecturer will be Dr. John T. Fitzgerald. The title of his lecture is "Good Kids Spoiled Brats: Perspectives on the Task of Properly Rearing and Educating Children in the Ancient World and Early Christianity." Having earned an M.Div., M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D., from Yale University, Fitzgerald is now the Director of Master of Theological Studies and Early Christian Studies and Professor of Biblical Studies/Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity at the University of Notre Dame. He is the recent ACU Carmichael-Wailing lecturer and an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature. Fitzgerald is currently researching the economy and domestic violence in antiquity and the role of friendship in the spread of early Christianity.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Fitzgerald in our newsletter: [click here]

John T. Fitzgerald will deliver the Abraham J. Malherbe Plenary Lecture on Thursday, June 6 at 10:45 a.m. in the Talkington Nursing Building, Collier Auditorium. The title of his lecture is "Good Kids and Spoiled Brats: Perspectives on the Task of Properly Rearing and Educating Children in the Ancient World and Early Christianity".

Tokens Show

The CSC welcomes again Tokens Show, bringing a host of their most outstanding musicians and vocalists and jesters to west Texas, where they have promised to stage an all new show celebrating Beauty, Truth, and Texas. Coming west with the show will be the Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys, Odessa Settles, Jenny Littleton, and host Lee C. Camp, and joining them on stage for the evening will be Texas-born poet Naomi Shihab Nye. They will be weaving together tales and cultural exhibitions of Texas brilliance from the likes of the famed Bob Willis and his Texas Playboys, a good measure of cowboy poetry, and songs and stories from Lubbock natives Mac Davis and Buddy Holly.

Click the following link for more information regarding this year's Tokens Show in our newsletter: [click here]

The Robert E. & Bonnie Cone Hooper Plenary: "Tokens Show" will take place on Thursday, June 6 at 7:00 p.m. in the McDonald Moody Auditorium. The cost is $20.

2019 Lectures

Miroslav Volf

We are pleased to announce that Miroslav Volf will return to the CSC, this time in Lubbock and as the Landon Saunders Lecturer on the Human Being at the Nexus of World and Faith. Miroslav 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. His most significant books include Exclusion and Embrace, and Allah: A Christian Response. His next book, For the Life of the World: Theology that Makes a Difference, co-authored with Matthew Croasmun, is scheduled for release in January, 2019. 

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

Miroslav Volf will deliver the Landon Saunders Lecture on Thursday, June 6 at 3:30 p.m. in the Christian Development Center, Theatre. The title of his lecture is "Religion in 2068: Humanity and What Matters the Most in the Age of Artificial Intelligence".

Katharine Dell

With our focus on Wisdom, Katharine Dell is the perfect scholar to present the fifth annual J.J.M. Roberts lecture in OT studies at the 2019 CSC in Lubbock, Texas. If you were to ask biblical scholars to list the five most significant biblical wisdom experts currently in the world, most lists would contain the name of Katharine Dell. Ever since her dissertation under John Barton at Oxford University on the book of Job, in which she challenges its categorization as wisdom literature, Professor Dell has been a creative and seminal force within the field. She has published extensively, but most notable are her The Book of Proverbs in Social and Theological Context and Interpreting Ecclesiastes: Readers Old and New. Dell has published both an introduction to the Wisdom Literature, Get Wisdom, Get Insight and of the Old Testament, Opening the Old Testament. She has also co-edited volumes on the intertextuality in Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. Recently she published a spirited response to the New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, Who Needs the Old Testament. She is co-editor of the forthcoming New Oxford Bible Commentary and co-authoring a forthcoming book on Ecclesiastes (International Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament). Professor Dell is currently Reader in Old Testament Literature and Theology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of St. Catharine’s College. She is from a clergy family and a member of the Church of England, where she preaches occasionally.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Dell in our newsletter: [click here]

Katharine Dell will deliver the J.J.M Roberts' Lecture on Wednesday, June 5 at 1:00 p.m in the Dobbs Center for Business, Rhodes Lecture Hall. The title of her lecture is "Woman Wisdom and Her Afterlife".

Brian E. Daley, S.J.

The 2019 Everett Ferguson lecturer will be Brian Daley, the Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology, Biblical Studies/Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity and History of Christianity at the University of Notre Dame. He received degrees from Fordham University and Oxford before getting his Ph.L. from Loyola Seminary and the D.Phil, from Oxford. Fr. Daley is a historical theologian who specializes in the study of the early Church, particularly the development of Christian doctrine from the fourth to the eighth centuries. He has prepared a critical edition of the works of the sixth-century Greek theologian Leontius of Byzantium, which is to appear in the series "Corpus Christianorum," and has written a number of articles for scholarly journals on ancient Christology, Trinitarian theology and eschatology. Daley won the Ratzinger Prize in 2013.

Click the following link to see more information regarding Daley in our newsletter: [click here]

Brian E. Daley will deliver the Everett Ferguson Lecture on Thursday, June 6 at 9:00 a.m in the Christian Development Center, Theatre. The title of his lecture is "The Beginning of His Ways' Christ as God's Personified Wisdom in the Early Greek Fathers".

2019 Special Events

Wisdom of the Ages

LCU has procured a rare and remarkable exhibit for the 2019 CSC. The Wisdom of the Ages exhibit features a world class collection of manuscripts, first and early edition works in original form. On loan from The Remnant Trust, this exhibit provides opportunities for individuals to hold, examine, and contemplate classic literary works that are usually unavailable.

To give you a sneak peek of what to look forward to at this exhibit, the following are just five of the dozens of documents that will be available during the CSC:

  • Abraham Lincoln (Emancipation Proclamation, 1st ed., 1862)
  • Aesop's Fables (1st ed., 1692)
  • Aquinas (Incunable, 1475, Summa Theologiae Pars Secunda)
  • Calvin (Institutes, 1st Octavo, 1578)
  • Frederick Douglas (Equality of All Men Before the Law, 1st ed., 1865)

Click the following link to see more information regarding the Wisdom of the Ages exhibit in our newsletter: [click here]

The Wisdom of the Ages Reception will be held on Wednesday, June 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the University Library.

"Apprenticeship In Art - Two Writers" The Pre-Session

On Tuesday evening (June 4th) the CSC will feature a unique and enriching conversation among two remarkable writers, John R. Erickson (author of the Hank the Cowdog series) and Nathan (S.J.) Dahlstrom, (author of the Wilder Good series). Erickson and Dahlstrom will explore their craft and the mentoring relationship they enjoy. What does mentoring look like between two artists? The career of Texas writer John R. Erickson began in the 60s at the University of Texas and then onto Harvard Divinity School. He later left academia to become a working cowboy back home and the internationally-known children’s author of the Hank the Cowdog series, selling over 9 million copies and having been courted by Disney. In his later years he funneled his wisdom and experience with the craft of writing into Nathan (S.J.) Dahlstrom who has gone on to publish his own award-winning children’s series. The slow but deliberate apprenticeship in craft and art from one artist to the next is a process too often accomplished outside the academy. Erickson and Dahlstrom will discuss their narrative and how the process can be mutually beneficial and why it must continue. 

Click the following link to see more information about Erickson, Dahlstrom, and the session. [click here]

This event is free and open to the public. This Pre-Session will occur on Tuesday, June 4 at 7:00 p.m. in the Cardwell Welcome Center Rotunda.

Bob and Jan Randolph Luncheon

We are grateful to announce that at the 2019 Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars’ Conference will have the opportunity to honor the life and work of Bob and Jan Randolph. For almost forty years Bob and Jan Randolph mentored scores of students and hundreds more through Harvard, MIT and the Brookline Church of Christ, “creating and nurturing an intellectual and Christian community” for the benefit of countless communities around the world. Given the Randolphs’ legacy of mentoring young scholars and nurturing healthy ties between the academy and church and because of the strong relationship they have established over the years with the CSC, we joyfully express our gratitude to Bob and Jan with a luncheon in their honor, replete with testimonies and the announcement of a project that will live into the trajectory of their lives and career.

Click the following link to see more information regarding the Randolphs in our newsletter: [click here]

The lunch to honor Bob and Jan Randolph will take place on Thursday, June 6 at 12:15 p.m. in the Ling Science Center, Atrium.

The Gospel According to Jesse - A Theatrical Production

With a background in theology (Mennonite Biblical Seminaries) and playwriting (Kansas State & Indiana University), Norman Bert brings a faith-shaped perspective to his scripts about poverty, ethnicity, and related social issues. He spent his 2007 sabbatical learning about poverty and homelessness on the South Plains of Texas - including productive hours spent at Broadway Church of Christ's Carpenters Kitchen and Carpenters Church (now the Open Door). The resulting play, The Gospel According to Jesse, was produced that fall under sponsorship by Texas Tech's Department of Theatre & Dance. Bert is thrilled to see his play revived at Lubbock Christian University for the Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars' Conference.

Click the following link to see more information regarding The Gospel of Jesse in our newsletter: [click here]

The Gospel According to Jesse will be performed on Wednesday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Christian Development Center, Theatre.

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 (June 7-9, 2016; June 7-9, 2017; June 6-8, 2018)

Lubbock Christian University (June 5-7, 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.*