Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference

Session Abstracts

American Religion Section

“History of Stone-Campbell Higher Education in Texas”

Frank V. Bellizzi, Amarillo College, Convener

  • Carisse Mickey Berryhill, Abilene Christian University, “‘Read and Forget Us Not’: The History of Lockney Christian College, 1894-1918”
  • David Langford, Quaker Avenue Church of Christ, Lubbock, TX“A Tale of Two Colleges: Reflections on the Beginning and Ending of the Gunter/Littlefield Bible Colleges”
  • Frank V. Bellizzi, Amarillo College, “‘Athens of the Panhandle’: A Brief History of Hereford College, 1902-1911”
  • Steven S. Lemley, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent

In 1838, Alexander Campbell asserted that second only to the gospel, education “is the most important of human concerns and interests.” Without education, he reasoned, people will not become literate; and if they are not able to read the Bible, people can hardly understand and obey the message of salvation. Because Campbell’s religious descendants shared this outlook, one aspect of their mission involved the founding of schools. This session will explore the brief histories of three colleges in Texas with connections to the Stone-Campbell Movement.

“Major Book Review, The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education, John Schmalzbauer and Kathleen A. Mahoney, (Baylor University Press 2018)”

Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Convener

  • Connie Horton, Pepperdine University
  • Richard Hughes, Lipscomb University
  • Robert Randolph, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emeritus
  • John Schmalzbauer, Missouri State University, Respondent

The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education by Schmalzbauer and Mahoney brings attention to the sacred across the academy, paying special attention to religious scholarship, church-related colleges, and student spirituality. Focusing on religious literacy, civic engagement, and the arts, it shows how the return of religion has enriched the national conversation and strengthened American intellectual life. It concludes by exploring the outlook for religion on campus in light of recent challenges to the humanities, the struggles of small liberal arts colleges, the rise of the “nones,” and the globalization of both religion and higher education.

“Major Book Review: Richard T. Hughes, The Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories that Give Us Meaning, 2d ed. (University of Illinois Press, 2018)”

Todd M. Brenneman, Faulkner University, Convener

  • Raymond C. Carr, Pepperdine University, Reviewer
  • Doug Foster, Abilene Christian University, Reviewer
  • Angela Sims, St. Paul School of Theology, Reviewer
  • Richard T. Hughes, Lipscomb University, Respondent

Recent events in American culture have evidenced the enduring power of myth of white supremacy. In his new book, Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories that Give Us Meaning, Richard T. Hughes explores how this myth shapes the other myths that define the United States. Not only does the myth of white supremacy bolster the others; they in turn help obscure the continuing power of whiteness in the country. This session will explore the argument of the book from theological and historical perspectives, from white and black scholars, and from the author as well.

“The Radical Kingdom Vision of Barton Stone, James A. Harding, and David Lipscomb Still Lives Today”

Richard T. HughesLipscomb University, Convener

  • Lee Camp, Lipscomb University
  • Leonard Allen, Lipscomb University
  • Catherine Meeks, Executive Director, Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing, Atlanta
  • John Mark Hicks, Lipscomb University
  • Robin Meyers, Senior Minister, Mayflower United Church of Christ, Oklahoma City
  • Raymond Carr, Pepperdine University, Respondent

In the nineteenth century, Barton Stone, James A. Harding, and David Lipscomb embraced a radical theology that rejected nationalism of any kind, pledged allegiance only to the Kingdom of God, rejected war, embraced non-violence, and stood shoulder to shoulder with marginalized people, regardless of race or creed. The books of a number of scholars with roots in Churches of Christ reflect that vision still today. Those books, and their authors, include Lee Camp, Mere Discipleship; Leonard Allen, The Cruciform Church; Catherine Meeks, Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America; John Mark Hicks, Kingdom Come; Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding; and Robin Meyers, The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus. This session will feature each of those scholars reflecting on the radical theological vision that informs their work.

Biblical Interpretation Section

“Major Book Review: Keith Stanglin, The Letter and Spirit of Biblical Interpretation: From the Early Church to Modern Practice (Baker Academic, 2018)”

Brad East, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Kelli Gibson, Abilene Christian University
  • Joseph Gordon, Johnson University
  • John Mark Hicks, Lipscomb University
  • Keith Stanglin, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Respondent

For the better part of fifteen centuries, Christians read Scripture on two complementary levels—the literal and the spiritual—and their interpretation was regulated by the common doctrine passed down in the rule of faith. This book notes the major shifts, beginning in the modern period, that led to marginalizing the spiritual in favor of the literal sense, understood as the original human authorial intention. The author argues in turn for a recovery of premodern spiritual habits of reading Scripture. This panel engages the book from historical, theological, and exegetical perspectives.

Church & Academy Section

“Schools of Wisdom: Formation Toward Wisdom in the Church and the Academy”

Brandon Pierce, Stamford Church of Christ, Stamford CT, and Paul Watson, Cole Mill Road Church of Christ, Durham NC, Co-Conveners

  • Sarah Dannemiller, Abilene Christian University, “Spiritual Formation as Empowerment for Women in the Church and Academy”
  • Robert Jackson, Jr., Lipscomb University, “Frenemies: Can Seminary and the Local Church Coexist as Schools of Wisdom?”
  • Brady Bryce, Abilene Christian University, “Comparing the Academy and Church's Expectations of What a Minister Should Know”
  • Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

Both the church and the academy are spaces in which education is employed as a means of cultivating wisdom. What ‘wisdom’ looks like in these spaces depends largely on both what is taught and how it is taught. In traditions that have strong anti-intellectual impulses like Churches of Christ, the operative notions of wisdom in churches and academies often come into conflict. These sessions explore the various pedagogical dynamics in both churches and academies that constitute these spaces as “schools of wisdom” in which notions of wisdom are shaped and reshaped by both the instructional content and methods employed.

Higher Education Section

“Major Book Review, The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education, John Schmalzbauer and Kathleen A. Mahoney, (Baylor University Press 2018)”

Kathy Pulley, Missouri State University, Convener

  • Connie Horton, Pepperdine University
  • Richard Hughes, Lipscomb University
  • Robert Randolph, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emeritus
  • John Schmalzbauer, Missouri State University, Respondent

The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education by Schmalzbauer and Mahoney brings attention to the sacred across the academy, paying special attention to religious scholarship, church-related colleges, and student spirituality. Focusing on religious literacy, civic engagement, and the arts, it shows how the return of religion has enriched the national conversation and strengthened American intellectual life. It concludes by exploring the outlook for religion on campus in light of recent challenges to the humanities, the struggles of small liberal arts colleges, the rise of the “nones,” and the globalization of both religion and higher education.

“Spiritual Formation in Higher Education”

John Boyles, Suzie Macaluso, Amanda PittmanAbilene Christian UniversityCo-Conveners

  • John Boyles, Suzie Macaluso, Amanda Pittman, Abilene Christian University, “Results from a Two Year Study of the Spiritual Lives of First Year College Students”
  • Eric Wilson, Pepperdine University, “Research Results on Spiritual Formation and Social Action Among Pepperdine Students”
  • Gary Selby, Emmanuel Seminary at Milligan College
  • Heather Gorman, Johnson University, Respondent

Institutions of Christian higher education, including schools affiliated with Churches of Christ, pledge to support the spiritual growth of students. This session presents different institutional perspectives on the means and measures of that work, with particular attention to the intersection of the efforts of higher education institutions with students’ ecclesial commitments, personal motivations, and social locations.

Interdisciplinary Section

“Apprenticeship In Art – Two Writers”

David Fleer, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • John R. Erickson, Mentor, Author of the Hank the Cowdog series
  • Nathan (S.J.) Dahlstrom, Mentee, Author of the Wilder Good series

The career of beloved Texas writer John R. Erickson began in the turbulent 60s at the University of Texas and then onto Harvard Divinity School.  Despite the early academic pedigree, he 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 shared his wisdom and experience of the craft of writing with 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 is a process too often left outside the academy but which began for Erickson and Dahlstrom in the pasture, horseback, with a shared love of animals and physical labor.  They will discuss their experience and how the process can be mutually beneficial and why it must continue.

Journalism Section

“Evangelicals, Truth and the News”

Christina Littlefield, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Todd M. Brenneman, Faulkner University, “Puff Graham?: Contemporary Evangelicalism and the News”
  • Doug Mendenhall, Abilene Christian University, “Seeking Truth: Journalism History and Ethics”
  • Brian Calfano, University of Cincinnati, “Let Expedience Be Your Guide: The Secular Sea Change of American Evangelicals”

Three scholars who represent the disciplines of political science, American religious history and journalism will present and discuss three papers exploring the complicated relationship evangelicals have had with truth and the news, particularly when it comes to navigating politics in today’s public sphere.

Practical Theology Section

“Current Trends in Homiletics: Conversations in Theory and Practice”

Tim SensingAbilene Christian University Graduate School of Theology, and Mason LeePrinceton Theological Seminary, Co-Conveners

  • Ronald Allen, Christian Theological Seminary, “Invitation: Preaching from the Perspective of Process Theology”
  • Mason Lee, Princeton Theological Seminary, “Prophets and Sour Grapes: Wrestling with Tradition in Homiletical Theology”
  • Amy McLaughin-Sheasby, Boston University School of Theology, “Witnessing Wounds: Toward a Trauma-Informed Homiletic”
  • Bryan Nash, Eastview Church of Christ, Salem, IN, Respondent
  • Ian Nickerson, Minda Street Church of Christ, Abilene, TX, Respondent
  • Jarrod Robinson, Southern Hills Church of Christ, Abilene, TX, Respondent

The field of homiletics is witnessing an eruption of new approaches, foci, and methods. Claiming its position as a practical theological discipline with renewed interest, the field of homiletics now engages a multitude of interdisciplinary partners. The result is a myriad of renewed and novel topics, foci, approaches, and resources for the study, teaching, and faithful practice of preaching. This session explores these emerging directions by bringing together academic homileticians and local practitioners to discuss these trends, their promise, and their potential for the practice of preaching.

“The Living Pulpit: A Stone-Campbell Dialog about Preaching”

Tim Sensing, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Ron Allen, Christian Theological Seminary, Introduction to The Living Pulpit
  • Newell Williams, Brite Divinity School, History of The Living Pulpit (4 vols) \
  • Micki Pulleyking, Missouri State University, Response from Multiple Perspectives
  • Doug Skinner, Dallas TX, Response from Disciples of Christ
  • Josh Haynes, Raintree Christian Church, Lubbock TX, Response from Churches of Christ/Christian Church
  • Barry Stephens, Monterey Church of Christ, Lubbock TX, Response form Churches of Christ

The Living Pulpit collects sermons from representative preachers in the Stone-Campbell Movement--pastors affiliated with the Churches of Christ, the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)--over the past 50 years. The fourth volume in a series that began in 1868, this collection of sermons from 40 ministers captures the theological themes and changing approaches to preaching across the Movement’s three streams. Emerging from an era of mutual suspicion, The Living Pulpit reflects how the three streams have developed a better understanding, shared mutuality, and respect for each stream’s unique qualities. "Major Book Review: Gary S. Selby, Pursuing an Earthy Spirituality: C. S. Lewis and Incarnational Faith (InterVarsity Academic, 2019)"

Rhonda Lowry, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Jana Anderson, Lubbock Christian University
  • Jeff Cary, Lubbock Christian University
  • Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University
  • Lauren Leatherberry, Pepperdine University
  • Gary S. Selby, Respondent

C. S. Lewis believed that embracing the earthy, embodied stuff of life—pleasures of taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing—provided a doorway into the presence of God. Much of his writing challenged the common view of spirituality as an ever-increasing distance from physicality. This book examines Lewis’s alternative, centered in the exercise of consciousness and choice, through which physical sensation could be “taken up” into, or united with, the spiritual. This panel explores this possibility from a variety of disciplinary and ministry perspectives.

“Media, Art, and Liturgy: Exploring the Influence of Visual Art and Media Technology on Worship in Churches with Stone-Campbell Ties”

Trey Shirley, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Carisse Berryhill, Abilene Christian University, “Here is Water: Allegory and Acceptance of Baptistery Murals in Mid-20th Century Churches of Christ”
  • Shawn Hughes, Lubbock Christian University, “Worship Media in a Changing Environment: An Examination of the Use of Media in the Church of Christ”
  • Matt Pinson, Highland Church of Christ, Abilene, TX, “Envisioning a Pathway to Discipleship at Highland Church of Christ”
  • Trey Shirley, Abilene Christian University, Convener, “Projecting a Vision: A Case Study on the Relationship Between Environmental Projection and Liturgy at Oak Hills Church”

Use of art and media in worship is on the rise in churches with a heritage in the Stone-Campbell Movement; consequently, worship looks differently today than it did even two decades ago.  This generative session will explore some of the ways visual art and new media technologies have historically influenced and continue to transform the ways churches are approaching worship.  

Perspective Criticism for Biblical Interpretation and Preaching”

Jesse LongLubbock Christian University, Convener

  • Gary Yamasaki, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, “Perspective Criticism”
  • Rachel Gould, Vanderbilt University, “Perspective Criticism: A Literary Response”
  • Jesse Long, Lubbock Christian University, “Perspective Criticism in Biblical Interpretation
  • Bryan Nash, Eastview Church of Christ, Salem, IN, Perspective Criticism in Homiletics

This interdisciplinary session will explore the value of Perspective Criticism (PC) for biblical interpretation and preaching. As laid out by Gary Yamasaki, following especially Boris Uspensky, PC is a literary approach from a formalist perspective that highlights point-of-view analysis in interpretation. Following a presentation by Yamasaki, respondents will analyze the approach from a literary perspective and demonstrate its application in biblical interpretation and in homiletics.

“Spiritual Formation in Higher Education”

John Boyles, Suzie Macaluso, Amanda PittmanAbilene Christian UniversityCo-Conveners

  • John Boyles, Suzie Macaluso, Amanda Pittman, Abilene Christian University, “Results from a Two Year Study of the Spiritual Lives of First Year College Students”
  • Eric Wilson, Pepperdine University, “Research Results on Spiritual Formation and Social Action Among Pepperdine Students”
  • Gary Selby, Emmanuel Seminary at Milligan College
  • Heather Gorman, Johnson University, Respondent

Institutions of Christian higher education, including schools affiliated with Churches of Christ, pledge to support the spiritual growth of students. This session presents different institutional perspectives on the means and measures of that work, with particular attention to the intersection of the efforts of higher education institutions with students’ ecclesial commitments, personal motivations, and social locations.

Science Section

“The Wisdom of Sustainability in Climate Change”

Stacy Patty, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

  • Katharine Hayhoe, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University
  • Daniel Gordon, Professor of Faith and Science, Lipscomb University
  • Kendra Jernigan, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Abilene Christian University
  • Luke Morgan, Doctoral Student in Ecocriticism and Environmental Literature, Texas Tech University

The Teaching and Learning with Technology section invites proposals for the 2019 conference. The overall conference theme of "Pursuing Wisdom" is especially appropriate for this section. The section co-chairs are planning one session dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom through information literacy (library resources and services) and a second "wild card" section with presentations from a variety of perspectives related to teaching, learning and technology.

Abstract (300 – 500 words) and author bio or general inquiry may be sent to Mindi Thompson (mlt11a@acu.edu) before February 28. Notification will be March 14.  

Theology Section

“Major Book Review: Joseph Gordon, Divine Scripture in Human Understanding: A Systematic Theology of the Christian Bible (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019)”

Brad East, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Frederick D. Aquino, , Abilene Christian University
  • Keith Stanglin, Austin Graduate School of Theology
  • Brad East, Abilene Christian University
  • Joseph Gordon, Johnson University, Respondent

This significant new work is a contemporary doctrine of Scripture informed at once by modern philosophical thought (especially that of Bernard Lonergan) and the ongoing retrieval of patristic and medieval exegetical procedures (not least those of Irenaeus, Origen, and Augustine). The result is a constructive position that serves as a heuristic for affirming the achievements of traditional, historical-critical, and contextual readings of Scripture while providing a basis for addressing issues that are often underemphasized by those respective approaches. This panel engages the book from hermeneutical, philosophical, and theological perspectives.

“On Divine Simplicity: Its Relevance for Contemporary Theology,” A Working Group

Frederick D. Aquino, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • John Kern, Boston College, Presenter
  • Chance Juliano, Abilene Christian University, Presenter
  • Mark Wiebe, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent

This Working Group session will focus on the doctrine of divine simplicity. The aim is to clarify the relevant issues and challenges while making progress towards the development of a constructive proposal. Accordingly, the session will draw insights from historical and contemporary figures and determine the nature and value of the doctrine of divine simplicity for contemporary thought.

“On Wisdom: The Intersection of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,” A Working Group

Frederick D. AquinoAbilene Christian University, Convener

  • David Mahfood, Johnson University, “Wisdom: A Thomistic Sketch”
  • Paul Morris, Cambridge, MA, “Thoughts on Wisdom and Natural Beauty in an Age of High Technology”
  • Frederick D. AquinoAbilene Christian University, “An Integrative Habit of Mind”

This Working Group session will focus on the role that truth, goodness, and beauty play in the pursuit of wisdom. It will highlight some important distinctions and clarifications while exploring critically and constructively ways in which truth, goodness, and beauty intersect in the pursuit of wisdom. 

Paper Abstracts

Ronald Allen, Christian Theological Seminary, “Invitation: Preaching from the Perspective of Process Theology”

Process theology proposes a distinct theological way of looking at the world and of thinking about the nature and power of God and the human response . Process theology puts forward a distinctive way of thinking about the sermon consistent with process presuppositions: preaching as invitation. The preacher invites the congregation into conversation about what God offers and what God asks. This paper will briefly review the main lines of process thought that are especially important for preaching and will then draw out the notion of preaching as invitation.

Frank V. Bellizzi, Amarillo College, “‘Athens of the Panhandle’: A Brief History of Hereford College, 1902-1911”?Carisse Mickey Berryhill, Abilene Christian University, “Here is Water: Allegory and Acceptance of Baptistery Murals in Mid-20th Century Churches of Christ”

Blanche Garrett Perry (1890-1981) painted more than 200 river-scape murals for baptisteries in Churches of Christ between 1937 and 1960. To mediate her artistic vision to her own religious community Perry accompanied each painting with a detailed typed allegorical interpretation which linked depicted items with scripture texts. The interpretation would be read by a male speaker or distributed in print when the painting was unveiled, frequently at the dedication of a new or remodeled church building and adorned the baptistery, the focal point of the church’s distinctive practice of immersion.

Carisse Mickey Berryhill, Abilene Christian University, “‘Read and Forget Us Not’: The History of Lockney Christian College, 1894-1918”

Founded in 1894 in Lockney, Texas, near the center of Floyd County by St. Clair Smith and Charley Walker Smith, Lockney Christian College was intended first as a high school to “prepare your children for the practical duties of life.” As the town of Lockney grew, so did the school, eventually offering college level classes. It succumbed in 1918 to a complex of national and local political, economic, and religious pressures. Family sources and rare photographs offer a very personal glimpse of the life and work of C. W. Smith (1855-1937) and his family, still involved in Christian churches and colleges today.

Todd M. Brenneman, Faulkner University, “Puff Graham?: Contemporary Evangelicalism and the News”

Evangelicals have had a complicated history with news since their origins in the eighteenth century. Evangelicals have used the news in service of promoting the evangelical variety of Christianity. Opponents of evangelicalism have used the news to examine the movement, and oftentimes its failings.  This paper examines contemporary evangelicalism through four moments in the past century: coverage of the Scopes trial, the development of neo-evangelicalism, the year of the evangelical, and the rise of Donald Trump’s candidacy.  Such an investigation will explore the uneasy relationship evangelicals have with the news and what the future of evangelicalism might look like.

Brady Bryce, Abilene Christian University, “Comparing the Academy and Church's Expectations of What a Minister Should Know”

Most conversations about how the church and academy cultivate wisdom focus on historical interpretations or anecdotal stories.  The grounded research in this paper provides actual data comparing respondent expectations for minister knowledge. These respondents serve as professors, ministers, church leaders, and members primarily in Church of Christ institutions across the United States. This phase of research cross-tabulates the data on knowledge expectations for ministers across both respondents’ profession and role in church.  The results identify points of similarity and disparity between professors and ministers, church leaders and members.

Brian Calfano, University of Cincinnati, “Let Expedience Be Your Guide: The Secular Sea Change of American Evangelicals”

White evangelical Protestants, once reliably Democratic voters, realigned to the Republican Party under the Reagan coalition. Through the late 2000s, it appeared that politically active evangelicals, ostensibly animated by liberal policies on abortion, gay rights, and school prayer, brought a religiously-informed expectation of “proper” conduct by politicians to secular politics. But evangelicals’ fervent and continued support of Donald Trump shows that expedience guides most of today’s white evangelical activity. Drawing on polling data and an analysis of political activity patterns and evangelical media, this presentation helps make sense of this evangelical sea change toward political secularism.   

Sarah Dannemiller, Abilene Christian University, “Spiritual Formation as Empowerment for Women in the Church and Academy”

How might spiritual formation empower fragmented women within the church and the academy? I argue that spiritual formation integrates the fragmented self so that one may come to identify with the true self. In this paper, I will unpack what disenfranchisement looks like for women by drawing upon recent ethnographical and epistemological research. I will then inform the implications of this research with a brief excursus into a metaphysical account of the self. This philosophical account coupled with recent literature within the spiritual senses will yield a more precise discussion of how spiritual formation empowers women.

Shawn Hughes, Lubbock Christian University, “Worship Media in a Changing Environment: An Examination of the Use of Media in the Church of Christ”

This paper provides an examination of the use of media in worship in a Church of Christ.  Specifically, the focus is on the Monterey Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas as it transitions to a dual format worship style.  Breaking with a tradition, the church began an instrumental worship assembly in 2012 combined with a more traditional a cappella worship assembly.  This paper combines autoethnographic research with in-depth interviews to provide a qualitative examination of this church in transition. The theoretical framework is the Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing (LC4MP).

Robert Jackson Jr., Lipscomb University, “Frenemies: Can Seminary and the Local Church Coexist as Schools of Wisdom?”

When we mistreat disinherited people, it speaks loudly about how followers of Jesus understand God. This mistreatment of others starts when we set limits on God. Our ideologies and practices tend to interpret Scripture for us instead of allowing the Spirit to help us to understand by way of our experiences. Sometimes the church’s view can impede the theological progress that is taught in seminary. On the other hand, seminary has the tendency to negate the importance of the local church. This paper will explore how these two “schools of wisdom” can coexist to further the Kingdom’s Mission.

David Langford, Quaker Avenue Church of Christ, Lubbock, TX, “A Tale of Two Colleges:  Reflections on the Beginning and Ending of the Gunter/Littlefield Bible Colleges”

After Texas becomes a state in 1845 no less than 92 colleges are established before 1900, over 90% religious (70) or private (14).  That trend continues into the next century until state colleges begin to become more predominant around 1917.  What were the motivations for these churches to start colleges? What factors allowed some to endure even to today but many more close? This paper looks at those questions and others particularly in reference to the Gunter/Littlefield Bible College established in Gunter, Tx in 1903 moving to Littlefield, Tx in 1928 and closing abruptly in 1930.

Mason Lee, Princeton Theological Seminary, “Prophets and Sour Grapes: Wrestling with Tradition in Homiletical Theology”

Homiletical Theology understands the work of preaching to be continuing the “unfinished” task of theology. Embracing a fundamentally provisional nature, homiletical theology understands its work as the continual negotiation of the message of the Gospel with the contexts into which preaching speaks. This unfinished quality raises questions for how the preacher, in their theological task, navigates the various theological traditions they encounter. Using the example of the “sour grapes” proverb found in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, this paper explores how Scripture itself wrestles with theological traditions to consider how present-day homiletical theologians might continue to wrestle with their “unfinished” task.

Amy McLaughin-Sheasby, Boston University School of Theology, “Witnessing Wounds: Toward a Trauma-Informed Homiletic”

Many writers in the field of homiletics have explored the significant, manifold challenges of preaching in the midst of suffering. However, very few scholars have worked towards the development of a trauma-informed homiletic, which seeks to reconceive of preaching through the philosophical, ethical, and social implications of trauma in faith communities. This paper will explore the mode of witnessing (drawing upon Thomas Long and Anna Carter Florence, as well as philosopher Kelly Oliver) as a potential avenue for the construction of new paradigms, shaped by ethical obligations and philosophical challenges in trauma-informed preaching.

Doug Mendenhall, Abilene Christian University, “Seeking Truth: Journalism History and Ethics”

This paper will describe four sets of factors that have a bearing on the intersection of Christianity and journalism in a contemporary American setting. Those factors are: 1) The 250-year transformation of news and journalism that has culminated in modern concepts and practices. 2) The positive and negative consequences of technological progress for society and for journalism. 3) The common ground for journalistic principles and Judeo-Christian principles. 4) The expression of contemporary journalistic principles as seen in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

Matt Pinson, Highland Church of Christ, Abilene, TX, “Envisioning a Pathway to Discipleship at Highland Church of Christ”

This paper explores a case study of how Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas developed a “pathway” for members and guests to engage more deeply in the life of church, and used icons to help communicate this new church-wide initiative. In the summer of 2018 the Highland staff set out to create an easily communicated set of steps for members and guests who wanted to be more involved in the life of the church. Each of the four steps on the pathway had an icon developed based on a specific Christian sacrament: Worship, Table, Baptism, Cross.

Trey Shirley, Abilene Christian University, Convener, “Projecting a Vision: A Case Study on the Relationship Between Environmental Projection and Liturgy at Oak Hills Church”

Projection screens are central features of most large Protestant churches in America today (Kilde, 2008). In fact, it would now be more surprising to see a large church without projection capabilities than one with an expensive, top-of-the-line multimedia production system. This has not always been the case, though.  From an historical perspective, the rapid growth and widespread adoption of these technological aids is phenomenal. Rarely in the history of the Christian church has a single innovation been embraced so widely and quickly. This paper explores the influence of projection media on liturgical practices through a case study of Oak Hills Church.

Click here to see the 2018 CSC Abstracts Archive.