Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference

Clifford Anderson, Vanderbilt University, “On Patents, Trade Secrets, and Open Source Business Models: A Theological Reflection”

Is there a tacit Christian dimension in our patent system? In this presentation, I compare the system of patents and trade secrets in law to the distinction between the public witness and the so-called Disciplina arcani (or secret teaching) of the church. In this paper, I argue that a dynamic of publicity and secrecy shaped the history of the Christian church. If everything in Christianity is now an “open secret,” why do differences remain among denominations? This paper argues that, where neither the Disciplina arcani nor state-sponsored protection of Christianity remain, Christian churches resemble open source communities.

Nathan Bills, Independent Scholar, “Is Exodus 19:4-6 a Missional Text?”

Israel arrives at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. As a prelude to the covenant, Yhwh describes Israel as a “priestly royalty and holy nation” (19:6). Many commentators have interpreted Israel's priestly status, conferred by Yhwh, in terms of a horizontal task of mediating Yhwh's presence to the nations. Others have charged that such a reading inappropriately “instrumentalizes” Israel's election. This paper will explore to what extent Exodus 19:4-6 can sustain a “missional reading” of Israel's calling.

Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, “Mothers/Friends and Daughters: Telling Truth as Preservation of Legacy”

In Amy Tan’s 1989 novel, The Joy Luck Club, four women, immigrants from China, live in conflict with their Chinese-American daughters. These daughters, who have rejected the mores and traditions of their mothers’ Chinese heritage, have grown up in the American culture and with modern American values. The Chinese traditions of “saving face” and of modesty have prevented the mothers from revealing their truths to their daughters, a truth the daughters need to become more than just their immigrant stereotypes or the rejection of those stereotypes.

Spencer Bogle, Independent Scholar, “Missional Theology as Economic Enterprise”

In this paper I aim to articulate missional theology as an economic enterprise wherein human agents seek to participate in God’s work in the world. I will first provide a brief conceptual framework for speaking of God’s economy. Next, I will discuss missional theology as prophetic economic practice. I will identify ways in which missional theology, as it is consistent with the person and Spirit of Christ, has embodied counter-cultural challenges to dominant imperial, colonial, and neoliberal economic structures. In conclusion I will identify several prophetic economic possibilities for missional theology in service of churches in the present U.S. context.

David Bosch, Boyce College, “Do Values Matter? Their Impact on Entrepreneurial Intentions”

This exploratory study examines the impact of values on commercial and social entrepreneurial intent. With a cross-sectional sample, this study adds understanding to individual differences in entrepreneurial intentions beyond the theory of planned behavior. It explores the relationships between values and entrepreneurial intentions. This study found that the effects of self-enhancement and openness to change were greater than other values related to commercial entrepreneurial intent; whereas, the effects of self-transcendence on social entrepreneurial intent were significantly greater than self-enhancement. Results provide a robust view of the impact that personal values have on an individual’s intentions to launch new ventures.

Amanda L. Boston, Lubbock Christian University, “Efficacy of Gender Segregated STEM Programs”

A gender gap persists in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Many schools and groups have responded to this disparity by implementing female-only programs to promote and support STEM education and careers. Does research support the efficacy of these programs? Does gender segregation actually increase the gap rather than close it? These questions will be explored in this panel. Suggestions for best practices in STEM programs will also be discussed.

Anna Brinkerhoff, Brown University, “Perspicuity and Peer Disagreement: What to Think when Someone Disagrees with Us about Scripture”

We in the Restoration tradition are committed to charity, in all things. We’re also committed to the perspicuity of scripture. Unfortunately, our commitment to the one threatens to eclipse our commitment to the other: because we think scripture is clear, it’s tempting to dismiss those who disagree with us as either epistemically inferior or viciously self-deceived. Why else – besides epistemic inferiority or vicious self-deception – would they disagree with us? Scripture is clear, after all! In this paper, I argue that we should work to resist this temptation. Not only is it uncharitable to dismiss our disagreers, it’s irrational, too.

Tiffany Yecke Brooks, Independent Scholar, “A Bastard, an Orphan, the Son of a Whore and a Scotsman: Hamilton, Macheath, and the Voice of the Subaltern”

This study examines the significance of both John Gay’s and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s most famous works, where the form is as essential to telling the story as is the story itself, and conventional racial and gender restrictions are defied as a matter of rhetoric. Utilizing working class music forms as well as the similarly-pedigreed, boundary-defying characters of Macheath and Hamilton, Gay and Miranda redefine performance, poetics, patriotism, and cultural power. The Beggar’s Opera and Hamilton are both cultural tipping points whereby they redefine cultural understandings of performance, identity, history, and the cultural relevance of musical theatre.

Kevin Brown, Asbury University, “The Asbury Project”

This presentation highlights “The Asbury Project”—a collaborative effort between Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary. The conference extols the values of faith-driven enterprise as moving beyond simple business success and toward the goal of holistic flourishing. The conference is a picture of what missional entrepreneurship can look like. However, beyond existing as an abstract concept, we want to guide participants to eventually move to the completion of a well-developed business plan that articulates a problem, an idea, and necessary implementation. After highlighting the conference presentations, we will discuss conference follow-through including funding and mentoring. 

Kevin Brown, Asbury University, “What are the Moral Limits to Markets?”

Thought leaders have long debated questions surrounding the moral limits to market activity (or, as it is more often put, “What are the moral limits to markets?”). The question has attracted an array of responses. Notably absent, however, is a distinctly faith-based perspective. Here, I want to borrow from the work of Augustine and, specifically, his notion of ordo amoris (“ordered love”) as a means to ground the boundaries of markets in a manner that recognizes their efficacious nature while also appealing to a teleological standard by which to navigate market complexities in a faithful way.

Orneita Burton, Abilene Christian University, “Tradition and the Future of Faith:  Using Network Theory to Re-Engineer Organizational and Social Change”

Organizations and communities have increased in complexity as physical boundaries disappear and digital channels dominate daily interactions. The diverse nature of communications flowing through multicultural populations adds complexity to social interactions and the transmission of messages across communication networks. With such increases in complexity, traditional methods of communicating and structuring social change are ineffective or unsustainable in modeling improvement strategies for entities. Therefore, the questions considered in this research are, “What factors influence communication and relational processes that define organizational and community structure?” and, “What network characteristics define positive structures in the social and economic status of businesses and communities?” 

Chuck Capps, Lipscomb University, Rob Touchstone, Lipscomb University, Ray Eldridge, Lipscomb University, Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University, “Redeeming Business Schools”

For many business leaders time spent in colleges of business serves as a formative stage in their development. Surely, if business is to redeem itself, business schools must redeem themselves. The purpose of this paper is to describe the spiritual transformation of the College of Business at Lipscomb University. It includes the evolution of the college’s mission statement and specific manifestations of this mission in Business as Mission, courses in servant leadership and service learning.

Heath Carpenter, Harding University, “Defining Heritage: Symbolism, Identity, and the Fight for Cultural Power”

The first Google hit for keyword “heritage” presents the Heritage Foundation. A “heritage, not hate” search provides 27.3 million hits. Whether as fuel for conservative political ideology or an argument for the interpretation of the confederate flag, these two searches demonstrate that “heritage” is a loaded word, easily co-opted to simplify group identity and exclude competing realities. Consequently, “heritage” can be used to pervert history, isolate social classes and races, promote stereotypes, and gain political and social power. This essay looks at heritage symbols which can distort worldviews and galvanize group identity, noting how the arts can be weaponized in response.

Joi Carr, Pepperdine University, “(De)Mythologization of Black Criminality: From Birth of A Nation to Boyz n the Hood”

Ava DuVernay’s 13th suggests that there is a more pernicious “reality” underneath the criminalization of black masculinity in the United States. The text suggests that the ways in which black masculinity has been pathologized in the U.S. is tethered to cinematic language, how the apparatus itself is used to wield an unrelenting construction that shapes U.S. public policy and practices with real world consequences for this population. 

Bill Carroll, Abilene Christian University, “The Virtuous Reader:  The Role of the Arts in Curating a Faithful History Curating, Cultivating, or Contaminating:  William Bennett’s The Moral Compass”

William Bennett’s efforts in The Moral Compass to curate a reading list that would effectively orient its readers towards a virtuous life reflects America’s historically ambivalent attitude towards reading. On the one hand, reading itself is a virtue; on the other, building on the nineteenth-century notion that identity itself is an “effect and register of reading”, what is read determines whether reading is virtuous. Unfortunately, Bennett’s effort and selections reflect an imaginary uncomplicated world and an impoverished notion of both reading and virtue.

Terrell Carter, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, “The Lord Gave Me This: Reconsidering the Educational Needs of Urban Leaders and How Seminaries and Denominations Can Help Fulfill Those Needs.”

This paper addresses the need to understand the general theological differences held between blacks and whites based on their lived experiences and how these differences affect views about the place of traditional theological education within each group. In doing so, participants will better understand how these differences influence the theological education processes historically used by each group. This paper will also explore the question of whether theological education that adequately acknowledges the contributions of black theologians can even occur within traditionally white institutions.

Kelly Carter, Calgary Church of Christ and Alberta Bible College, “Beyond ‘Extended Family’: The Future of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in Western Canada”

In the westernmost provinces of Canada there has been for decades, noteworthy mutually edifying relationships between some Stone-Campbell Movement churches. This is positive for God’s Kingdom for what it could mean with respect to 1) the example, hopefulness, and unifying strategies that could serve to resource unity efforts elsewhere; 2) the joint witness of unified Christians to the unchurched of western Canada; 3) possible collaborative ministry and outreach efforts for western Canada; 4) an increase in the likelihood that each of these bodies will be able to continue into the distant future their existences in western Canada. This paper will explore past, current, and future experiences of Stone-Campbell unity in western Canada.

Shaun Casey, “Rage, Nostalgia, and the Forgetfulness of God”

The planet is awash in anger and rage while nostalgia seems to be an increasingly seductive choice for many Christians. All of these traits are related broadly to memory. What accounts for this rage? Is there a better Christian response to memory than nostalgia? And what are we to make of the theological claim that God is capable of remembering sin no more? This lecture will explore the nexus of anger, rage and nostalgia in our time and offer a theological critique of nostalgia while claiming a role for forgiveness as a form of intentional divine forgetfulness.

Kilnam Cha, Abilene Christian University, “Empires, Then and Now: Who Are We and What Are We to Do?”

Empires come and go. One common characteristic to all of them is their universalist culture, in which human suffering is ever present but overlooked because powerful forces are constantly at work to divert society's attention to mask it in the name of prosperity. Is there still an empire among us? Empires in the traditional sense no longer exist, but Walter Brueggemann argues that it is the Church's duty to name empires, implying empires still exist but in different forms. What gets in the way of naming the empires, and what do we do once we name the empire among us?

Paul Chimhungwe, African Christian College, “Early 20th Century Unity among Stone-Campbell Movement Congregations in Southern Africa: Emphasizing the Gospel over Ecclesiastical Traditions”

The Stone-Campbell Movement has been promoting unity initiatives premised on finding a common thread weaving through the three branches. This article argues that unity was the fulcrum of John Sherriff's evangelical pursuits when he brought the movement from Australasia of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland in 1897. He worked harmoniously with missionaries from all three branches irrespective of their nationality or ecclesiastical traditions cultivating this irenic spirit in his pioneer indigenous scholars. This congenial spirit gradually dissipated with the passing on of Sherriff in 1935 and the arrival of young Western missionaries who emphasized doctrinal differences over the gospel.

Ron Clark, Agape Church of Christ and Portland Seminary, “Agape: Creating Missional Partnerships to Lead Community Shalom, Justice, and Healing”

Agape began as a church plant in Portland in 2007. Since its conception, Agape has worked with and led agencies that address various social justice issues. In keeping with the missional church movement’s call to ground mission in the creative activity of God’s Spirit, Agape has manifested an incarnational spirituality through partnerships with agencies, leadership development initiatives within the community, and a theology that blends faith-based and non-faith-based models to reimagine a community practicing peace and justice. The missional praxis of a church that embraces marginalized individuals and works together for community wholeness should develop successful relationships and community support.

Ann Coble, Belmont University, “Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey”

Mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers created the sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, who was part of the British aristocracy and beloved by many readers. When Sayers began writing mystery novels after graduating from Oxford, she developed Lord Peter Wimsey into a complex hero who solved murder mysteries. Sayers included Harriet Vane, who paralleled her own personality and life story. Many of Sayers’ friends teased that she had crafted the perfect man on paper and fallen in love with him. This convocation explores the connections between the real Dorothy L. Sayers and her ideal partner in Christian faith and companionship, Lord Peter Wimsey.

Stephen Collings, Lipscomb University, “Designing Elections using Engineering Design Principles”

Elections are presented as meeting the definition of critical infrastructure, requiring a clear definition of when the system is or is not functioning to specification. It is argued that elections are properly considered a system subject to standard engineering design principles, including a clear listing of the system specifications. A scheme is presented wherein the potential needs of electoral users are divided into the five categories of accessibility, accuracy, trust, step response, and operating cost. The electoral process is divided into the six procedural steps of defining constituencies, triggering elections, defining ballots, casting votes, counting votes, and determining outcomes.

Salvador Cordoba, FMS Foundation, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Memory Devices in DNA/Chromatin Complexes”

A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and internet connections on Earth, equaling a memory capacity of roughly 10^15 bytes. DNA provides not only 768 megabytes of Read-Only-Memory (ROM) per cell, but when combined with chromatin in the body’s 100 trillion cells, it creates a cellular network with an integrated networked memory capacity on the order of 10^21 bytes of Random Access Memory (RAM). This session will focus on recent discoveries related to information storage via genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. By exploring these mechanisms, we are reminded that humans are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Brady Kal Cox, Abilene Christian University, “A Failed Attempt at a Contextualized Preacher Training School: Dr. William Douglas Gunselman and the Philippine Bible College of Quezon City”

Dr. William Douglas Gunselman moved to Manila, Philippines, in 1964 to serve as a Church of Christ missionary. He quickly created the Philippine Bible College of Quezon City in order to address the lack of trained Filipino preachers. Unfortunately, Gunselman was unable to effectively contextualize the preaching school model due to the ineffective practices of the other Church of Christ missionaries in the Philippines. This case study provides a unique insight into the difficulties that Church of Christ missionaries faced in regard to supporting native preachers with American money, and contextualizing effective preacher training schools. 

Don Cusic, Belmont University, “Johnny Cash and C. S. Lewis”

Although the worlds of Johnny Cash and C. S. Lewis seem worlds apart, upon closer examination there are numerous similarities between the two. Primarily, their Christian faith, which was expressed in autobiographies that documented their spiritual journeys, creative works that center on their faith, and a public life where they exhibited their Christianity to all the world. Neither Lewis nor Cash trained as theologians, yet millions learned or listened to theology from them. Johnny Cash wrote, “Telling others is part of our faith all right, but the way we live it speaks louder than we can say it. The gospel of Christ must always be an open door with a welcome sign for all.”

Sarah Dannemiller, Abilene Christian University, “The American Way of Life: An Analysis of the American Studies Program at Abilene Christian College, 1957-1980”

This paper argues that the implementation of the American Studies Program at Abilene Christian College in 1957 demonstrates the presence of nationalism among ACC administration. This nationalism entailed the glorification of the American way of life and the American free-enterprise system as superior political, economic, and moral ideologies. Primary archival materials reveal that the ASP was marked by an ultra-nationalism which identified Protestant Christianity as the instrument of American economic and political success. The conclusions of this study should prompt deeper reflection on the nature of Christian higher education and the integration of faith and learning.

Christopher Davis, Harding University, “Academic Freedom, Offense, Christianity and Culture”

The historical purpose of higher education has been to prepare minds through vigorous debate and dialogue that challenges thinking in an atmosphere of academic freedom. One can argue that education is under siege by today’s generational cohort, hyper-political landscape and disengaged administrators. Academic freedom is being challenged, creating an education void of unfettered teaching and authentic learning. Christian educators preparing students for lives of service in their respective disciplines must assess their role in today’s higher educational system. This requires acknowledgement of the symbiotic relationships between academic freedom and offense, and Christianity and culture.

Joseph E. Deweese, Lipscomb University, Eric Nichols, Computer Technology Solutions, Robbie Nichols, Independent Scholar, Kenan Casey, Freed-Hardeman University, “Application of the Layered Model as a Means for Describing Complex Cellular Processes”

Analogies between computer information systems and living cells are frequently seen and often readily apparent. As with computer information systems, biological systems are often examined in layers due to their complexity. Since living organisms are composed of cells, breaking down the layers of function within a cell are important to understanding normal cellular operations and pathophysiology of abnormal operations. This session will involve exploring cellular function using the layered approach found in computer systems engineering. We will also lay out several predictions about biological systems and biological complexity that are based upon a design perspective.

Shanna Early, Emory University, “‘Each Slow Turn’: Righting History in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide”

History is made not in the past, but in the archive. As Derrida suggests in Archive Fever, archives are sites both of memory and forgetting; for the abundance of documents found in institutional archives around the world, there are equally abundant gaps where the poor and disenfranchised are not represented. Literature has a particular force in drawing attention to the gaps in the official historical narratives. This paper will examine Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Hungry Tide as a case study, examining how Ghosh deploys history, narrative, and character to draw his readers into an ethical fidelity toward the elided histories and forgotten lives of those whom Christ called “the least of these.”

Jeremy Elliott, Abilene Christian University, “Making Something Out of the Pieces: Terry Tempest Williams’ productive ecological vision in Finding Beauty in a Broken World”

Some natural places are easy to love—Yellowstone, the Everglades, the Smoky Mountains. But these remarkable places make up an incredibly small percentage of our world. And while these places may serve to remind us of the beauty of creation, it’s a short-sighted environmentalism that focuses exclusively on these sites. Terry Tempest Williams offers something that’s a bit stranger, and a good deal more useful. In Finding Beauty in a Broken World, she shows us how to see beauty even in the places profoundly marked by human activity.

Colin Enriquez, Pepperdine University, “The 13th Amendment and the Myth of the Superpredator: Young Black Nihilism in the 1990s”

Extending from theories and findings expressed in the documentary 13th, this paper argues that the judicial application of the cited clause in the 13th Amendment not only creates a government endorsed criminalization of black identity in general but leads young black men in particular to view criminal activity as the most prominent, if not sole, means for exercising black masculinity. This paper’s approach will consist of anecdotal accounts supplemented by research pertaining to black masculinity, the “bad man” trope, and blacks’ experience of incarceration. 

Christopher Flanders, Abilene Christian University, “The First Church of Christ Missions Training Program: George A. Klingman and W. W. Freeman at Abilene Christian College—1918 to 1925”

There existed at Abilene Christian College a flourishing missions culture and training program. This was led by the efforts of W. W. Freeman and George Klingman. The first mission course, listed in the 1917-18 ACC catalog, predates the “receive” version published in several places, that upon returning from China, Dr. George Benson created the first Church of Christ college mission courses at Harding in 1936. The creation in 1918 of the “Department of Religious History and Missions” at ACC augmented courses in missions history, theology of mission, and contemporary mission best practices. This story, previously untold, provides a fascinating snapshot of early Church of Christ missions training. 

Steven Tramel Gaines, University of Memphis, “Daring to Prophesy: The First Sermon by a Woman in the Churches of Christ”

By all accounts, Kathy J. Pulley was the first woman to preach a Sunday morning sermon (in the presence of women and men) in the Churches of Christ since the Stone-Campbell split. In a religious culture shaped by patriarchy, Pulley established credibility by speaking from texts treasured by her community and combined prophetic and pastoral rhetoric in an effort to lead organizational change. This paper analyzes her sermon through a lens of feminist rhetorical criticism influenced by Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Sonja K. Foss and provides a launching point for studying female preachers’ sermons in the Churches of Christ.

Steven Tramel Gaines, University of Memphis and Cordova Community Church of Christ, Memphis, “Privileged Repentance in Prophetic Preaching: John A. Scott’s Response to the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Presentation

On April 14, 1968, at a time when many ministers in the Churches of Christ were speaking negatively of Martin Luther King Jr., John A. Scott Sr. of the Church of Christ at White Station in Memphis, Tennessee, responded to the civil rights leader’s assassination in that city by calling for repentance. Since more than a week had passed between King’s death and Scott’s response, this paper investigates to what, other than the assassination, Scott’s sermon responded. Furthermore, this paper explores (1) the sermon’s prophetic call to repentance and (2) racial and economic privileges’ shaping of that challenge. The paper’s contemporary implications include a need for congregations and individual Christians to consider their social privileges’ vast ability to influence responses to racial turmoil.

Samantha Gilmore, Princeton Theological Seminary, “Preaching That is Fully Human”

Kristin Linklater, a renowned teacher of voice production for actors, developed a progression of exercises called Freeing the Natural Voice, which recognizes the physical barriers that impede people from honest and embodied communication and guides its students to let go of them. This paper argues this progression is a legitimate appropriation of Karl Barth’s criteria of humanity as laid out in Church Dogmatics and that it equips preachers to faithfully enact Barth’s morals of preaching as outlined in Homiletics. Consequently, this progression should be appropriated into seminaries so that preachers are better equipped to be “fully human” in the pulpit.

Yohan Go, Boston University School of Theology, “Homiletics as a New Trajectory for Ecclesiology”

Homiletics and ecclesiology are closely related. While homiletic theory is almost always based on an ecclesiology, relatively little attention has been given to the implications of homiletics for ecclesiology. My argument is that homiletics does not merely use ecclesiology but is a locus where a new understanding of the church can be articulated and re-articulated through critical reflection on preaching practice. Homiletical-theological reflection on the church will provide ways to bridge ecclesiologies in academia and “working ecclesiologies” in local churches, and to construct and reconstruct contextualized ecclesiology in relation to ever-changing contexts.

Blaine Grimes, Oklahoma State University, “Norwegian Slow TV: A Phenomenological and Liturgical Analysis”

In 2009, the Norwegian broadcasting company NRK televised a seven-hour train ride from Bergen to Oslo. The program proved to be immensely and unpredictably well received by its initial Nordic audience, and subsequently, Slow TV has become an international phenomenon. However, in spite of the increasing popularity of these marathon-style broadcasts of ostensibly mundane, day-to-day affairs, scholarly work on the subject is remarkably scant. This presentation, therefore, seeks to fill a crucial gap in the scholarship by utilizing a phenomenological and liturgical framework to investigate the widespread appeal of the Slow TV genre. 

John Harrison, Oklahoma Christian University, “The Synoptics as Evidence of Jesus Remembered by Eyewitnesses”

Even if the disciples had written notes taken at the time they heard Jesus, they undoubtedly engaged primarily in the transmission of his teaching in oral performances of what they remembered he said and did rather than the rote repetition of any notes. But how reliable are eye-witnesses’ memories when utilized in the re-performance (oral and later written) of those teachings for new communities? Can actual ancient eyewitness testimony be identified in ancient texts? This paper will test a recently argued method for detecting in the Synoptics reliable eyewitness testimony.

Kenneth C. Hawley, Lubbock Christian University, “Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the Consolation of a Happy Ending

As he concludes his essay “On Fairy Stories,” J. R. R. Tolkien defines the type of story that ends happily, calling is Eucatastrophe, a good catastrophe that brings “the sudden joyous ‘turn’” and that offers “a sudden miraculous grace.” Tolkien explains that stories often end in ways that hold meaning in the story world, but that the eucatastrophic tale speaks beyond its own pages and into our world. Through The Lord of the Rings, whether in the perilous but victorious journey of Frodo and Sam or in the devastating but successful battles in Rohan Gondor, and Mordor, Tolkien presents such moments of metamorphic grace, and so offers readers “a far-off gleam or echo of eungelium in the real world.” Tolkien’s happy endings are a consolation for a world where darkness may be inevitable but not invincible.

Amy Bost Heneger, Manhattan Church of Christ, N.Y., “The Glass Pulpit: How Women Navigate the Dichotomy Between Academy and Congregation”

Many academic institutions affiliated with Churches of Christ have made substantial progress with regard to gender equality. Most congregations, however, still have difficulty thinking of women as gifted for and called to ministry. A woman is almost certain to experience frustration whether she is looking for employment in a congregation, or navigating the transition between the two spheres in some other way. This study identifies some of the many ways women are denied voice in the churches and examines the importance of seeking changes that will invite women to claim their authentic and Spirit-empowered voice in the church. 

Jill Hernandez, University of Texas at San Antonio, “Atrocious Racism: The Problem of Evil and Transmuted Goods,” Presentation

The atrocity paradigm sits at the intersection of ethics and philosophy of religion, and poses a unique threat to theism:  institutions of evil which perpetuate atrocious harms demonstrate the need to rescue ‘evil’ away from theism, so that the human moral liability for such harms can be assessed. Racism is a key institution to oppress, enslave, and subjugate others both in and out of the church, and so the contemporary church has a unique obligation to respond to atrocity. This paper argues that the moral project of the atrocity paradigm is actually threatened by its commitment to transmutativity; and more specifically, that love can function as a ‘transmuted goods’ reply to the problem of evil presented by the atrocity paradigm.

Steven Hovater, The Church of Christ at Cedar Lane, Tullahoma, TN, “Youth Outreach and Missional Ecclesiology: Listening to Those at the Church’s Boundary”

The church has numerous sources for developing its understanding of itself and the mission of God. Within a framework of missional theology, this paper asserts that the practice of listening to those at the church’s boundaries can be a fruitful source for such theological work. The church resists reciprocal relationships, but its neglect of the practice of listening to voices from the boundaries deprives it of understanding. This practice and its potential are illustrated through a case study of a congregation undertaking a process of intentional listening with a group of teenagers who have participated in its youth outreach ministry.

Nathan Howard, University of Tennessee at Martin, “Basil of Caesarea and Sacred Virility”

Bishops Gregory of Nyssa (379) and Gregory of Nazianzus (382) composed biographical narratives of Basil of Caesarea that characterized their fellow Cappadocian prelate as a warrior engaged in combat against heretical adversaries, thereby associating him with enduring Greek notions of andreia (manliness) based on the warrior ethos. References from Nyssen’s Encomium on Basil and Nazianzen’s Oration 43 recall characteristics of martial valor in ancient Greek authors, but the Cappadocians re-situate these tropes in the context of theological polemics. By framing Basil as the epitome of virility, Nyssen and Nazianzen were associating Nicene Christianity with elite expectations of classical deportment, while simultaneously portraying doctrinal opponents as effete, decadent, and barbarous.

Kevin L. Huddleston, Johnson Street Church of Christ, San Angelo, TX, “The Cross as Wall and Door: Embracing the Two Hands of Justice”

The church struggles to connect Biblical teaching with contemporary action. This project seeks to bridge that gap by casting a cruciform vison of action. Through sermon and coordinating class discussion, the congregation is urged to see the cross as a wall against injustice and a door of welcome and forgiveness. New imaginations of justice are put forth through images of the Wales Window at the 16th Street Baptist Church and the work of James H. Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Grasping both hands of justice we are empowered to bring balance and reconciliation into our communities.

Shawn R. Hughes, Lubbock Christian University, and Paul Bolls, Texas Tech University, “Critical Incidents in the 2016 Debates between Trump and Clinton”

This paper presents an analysis of the critical incidents during the 2016 presidential debates utilizing a multi-modal approach. Using continuous response measures recorded from viewers in real time during the 2016 Trump-Clinton presidential debates, Z-score transformations are utilized to identify points where CRM responses between Democratic, Republican, and independent viewers diverge the most. Each critical incident is then analyzed to determine the rhetorical function of the candidate’s message, utilizing Benoit’s functional theory. Focus group data from the night of the actual debate provides qualitative data on viewer’s perceptions of the candidates and the arguments prior to the election. Nonverbal behaviors as well as rhetorical strategies of the candidates are analyzed to determine the acceptability of the messages of the candidates.

Christopher Hutson, Abilene Christian University, “’God’s Household Manager’ (Titus 1:7): Would You Ordain Philodemus?”

A common reading of the Pastoral Epistles (PE) is that they seek to inculcate Greco-Roman patriarchal values as normative for the church. A comparative reading of the PE with On Household Management by Philodemus will test that theory. According to the PE, an ideal bishop is “God's household manager” (Titus 1:7) and “presides well over his own house” (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Philodemus represents an ideal of Greco-Roman household management theory, but would he make a good bishop? Are the PE looking for someone like Philodemus? By asking the question this way, we can sharpen our understanding of how Greco-Roman social values function in the PE.

Shelley L. Jacobs, Disciples of Christ Historical Society, “Canada’s Best Kept Secret: Silent Cooperation Between Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in Western Canada”

When the Canadian West was opened for settlement in the late 19th century, members of restoration churches in Ontario moved west and planted new churches. Although it was a time of conflict and division, some members of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ chose to remain in fellowship with one another. This paper will look at two distinct acts of cooperation between Christian Churches and Churches of Christ on the Canadian prairies; the shared worship services of the Christian Church and Churches of Christ in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and the Minister’s Institute hosted by Alberta Bible College in Calgary, Alberta.

David Schnasa Jacobsen, Boston University School of Theology, “The Practice of Homiletical Theology in a Confessional Mode:  Preaching as a Theological Act”

Preachers rightly fret about getting from text to sermon, but Jesus’ commission to us is to go preach the gospel. Confessional homiletical theologians think about preaching as more than technique and consider it a theological enterprise centered on the gospel and brought into critical dialogue with texts, contexts, and situations. Andre Resner argues preachers start from a “working gospel.” This paper explores how this confessional, working gospel then dialogues critically with texts, contexts and situations reflectively so the gospel might be heard for the life of the church and for the sake of the world that God so loves.

Julie Jarnefeldt, Chattanooga State Community College, “The Silence This Time: James Baldwin’s Works as a Call to Action and Remembrance”

A former preacher who grew highly critical of Christianity’s failure to address racial injustice, James Baldwin, in his essays and debates with figures such as William F. Buckley, offers powerful tools for combating revisionist renderings of racial progress in America. This paper explores Baldwin’s important criticisms of American religion, considering the vitality of his works as an urgent call to avoid temptingly nostalgic revisionism and celebrating the role they can play in shaping Christian action and collective memory.

Nathaniel T. Jeanson, Answers in Genesis, “Is Speciation an Engineered Process?”

A priori, the process of speciation is unlikely to represent an engineered process. Darwin’s primary mechanism for speciation, natural selection, was conceived as a substitute for human intelligence. Thus, speciation would seem to be outside the domain of engineering. However, the advent of modern genetics reveals new windows into the history of each species. In this talk, I use current genetic data to dial the clock back to the first species and examine their original state. This analysis uncovers a surprising link between genomic variation and design principles, suggesting that engineering concepts may be involved in the origin of species.

David Johnson, Faulkner University, “What Do I Owe My Competitor?”

Many Christians regard economic competition as a predicament that is only acceptable as a “lesser evil”. On one hand, competition imposes discipline that can bring out the best one has to offer. On the other hand, it punishes firms unable to compete on similar terms, seemingly requiring an adversarial relationship at odds with Jesus’ admonition to “love your enemies.” More directly, what does it means to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” in the context of modern business? This paper explores key ethical and practical insights pertaining to economic competition and outlines a framework that the author has used in a Christian Business Ethics course to identify and understand the issues. The goal is to produce a perspective on competition that is respectful of Christian ethical ideals and applicable in the world of business.

Nancy Shankle Jordan, Texas A&M University-Texarkana, “Memory, Guilt, and Truth in E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars”

While on vacation at her family’s island compound, Cadence suffers a traumatic event that leaves her with migraines and amnesia. Two years later, she returns to the island to understand what happened. The plot shifts back and forth between the summer she was fifteen and the present time as she gradually regains her memory. Her family’s silence about deeply troubling issues contributes to themes of guilt and uncertainty in the narrative.

Dan Knight, Overland Park Church of Christ, Overland Park, KS, “‘It’s Time!’ A Course of Study on Civil Rights for a Suburban Church”

There are many lessons yet to be learned from America’s Civil Rights Movement. In this paper we will look closely at the changes that took place in Mississippi and feature the heroes, martyrs, and key events involved in this non-violent revolution. We will connect all this with the teachings of Jesus about justice and build on our understanding of what the church must learn in order to be the kingdom of God and a voice for the oppressed in their community today. It's time for the church to bear witness.

William “Chip” Kooi, Oklahoma Christian University, “[Re]conciling Identity Politics: The Gift that Can Be Given”

The artificiality of racial divisions can be exposed by a robust Christian witness expressed through the Pauline doctrine of reconciliation, (especially in 2 Cor. 5:16-21) in which God plunges into the godless world and identifies Godself with sinful humanity. This eschatological event changed the nature of reality, according to Paul: true incommensurations are transgressed—therefore destroyed—by God's self-giving. The God who is Light conquers humanly constructed shadows. The ministry of God’s church must emulate—therefore participate in—the divine activity of identifying with the “other,” and thus undermining social/human barriers. 

Elaine Lechtreck, Independent Scholar, “White Clergy Dissenters in the Mid-Twentieth Century Segregated South”

White Christian dissenting clergy were harassed and vilified in the mid-century South by pro-segregation antagonists. This paper recaptures the struggles of ministers in three southern religious traditions: Baptist, Methodist, and the Churches of Christ. In the Baptist and Church of Christ traditions, where the congregation reigns, dissenting clergy lost pulpits or never received church assignments. In the Methodist tradition, where the bishop rules, dissident ministers left the South, requested desk jobs, or were transferred to small congregations in the hinterlands. Over the years, governing bodies of these traditions have issued apologies and restorative acts, proving these ministers to be correct in their biblical interpretations, actions, and statements. 

Andrew Little, Abilene Christian University, “Sweatshops, Uber, and Health Insurance: Justice and Law in Work Relationships”

What is the basis for our critique of work relationships? There is widespread agreement that sweatshops are unjust working environments. Additionally, many are concerned about how ride-sharing service Uber treats its drivers in terms of pay and misleading advertising. Is the treatment unjust? It is hard to say. And finally, there is little consensus on whether private organizations have an ethical duty to provide health insurance to employees. Why is there greater consensus on sweatshops, and less consensus on Uber and health insurance? What are some trends in work relationships that will challenge our definitions of justice and how we create law?

David Mahfood, Southern Methodist University, “Is the Mind of Christ Divided from His Body? A Theological Assessment of the Church-Academy Divide”                                        

In this paper, I offer a theological analysis of the putative divide between the church and the (theological) academy. Such a divide would present a serious problem for theology, since the Church is properly the context and source of the theologian’s vocation. As the recipient of God’s self-revelation, the Church provides the hope of success for the theological enterprise. I offer reasons for thinking that if there is a division, it might not be as bad as it seems. I conclude by suggesting ways theologians and congregations in Churches of Christ might be more intentional in enacting their proper relation. 

Alice Mankin, Family Medicine Physician, Mercy Clinic, Edmond, OK, “Establishing Inter-Institutional Networks of Christian Faculty”

As Christian faculty and campus leadership groups work to mentor undergraduate women in STEM-H disciplines, working professionals from outside higher education are a crucial, strategic partnership to be developed in order to expand the theological and sociological footing for participation; to ground campus mentoring in praxis within the disciplines; and to insure sustainable networks of professional women who can assist students in shadowing and other forms of experiential learning. Exploring methods for establishing such town-and-gown networks must become an inter-institutional priority for networks of Christian faculty.

Corey Markum, Freed-Hardeman University, “A Campbellite in King Asbury’s Court: The Church Trial of William Anderson Roberts”

Nineteenth-century evangelical churches walked a fine line between ecumenical cooperation and denominational/theological distinctiveness.  As long as autonomous denominational beliefs were recognized and honored, various Protestant faith traditions largely tolerated and even supported each other.  But the church trial of William Roberts, a Methodist clergyman who began embracing and espousing Restorationist theology, shows the fragility of that ecumenism in the face of denominational proselytization.  

Lindsay Marolf, Abilene Christian University, “Uncharted Territory: The Path to Board Certification for Female Chaplains within the Churches of Christ”

Many Church of Christ women, despite historically being limited in ministry participation, have discovered a ministerial calling in chaplaincy and pursued the path to Board Certification. However, lack of support from their tradition along with ambiguity surrounding the Board Certification process has caused many women to re-evaluate their calling and place within the tradition. Examining chaplaincy’s historical role within the Churches of Christ while using current stories of female chaplains as a guide, this paper offers clarity on the Board Certification process while ultimately revealing the benefits of receiving endorsement by the Churches of Christ as a female chaplain.

Dennis Marquardt, Abilene Christian University, “The Ethical Leadership and Follower Performance Link:  Analyzing How and Why”

Why do we study leadership? Research points to an underlying perception that effective leaders are able to influence their followers to think, feel, and act in more productive ways. The purpose of this study is to propose a more complete theoretical model of ethical leadership (EL) by analyzing the theoretical processes that are foundational to how ethical leaders influence followers. Using a meta-analysis of relevant ethical leadership studies, I test a model using meta-analytic techniques to compare the specific degrees of usefulness of social learning, social exchange, and social identity processes in explaining the relationship between EL and follower performance.

Kirt Martin, Lubbock Christian University, “Our 3-Dimensional DNA: An Engineering Marvel”

DNA research over the past 15 years has revealed DNA to be more than just linear chromosomes with protein-encoding genes randomly scattered among masses of non-functional DNA. Instead, with the advancement of DNA technology, our genome has been shown to not only be 100% functional, but highly organized into a 3-dimensional arrangement that appears specific for each cell type. DNA is organized into chromosome territories (CTs) or topologically associating domains (TADs) to give long-range associations between loci, coordinating the activity of gene expression. Every cell is unique in the overall arrangement of its chromosomes.  

Kraig Martin, Harding University, and Nathan Guy, Harding University, “Rationality in the Restoration Movement: Is Atheism a Failure of Rationality?”

Many restoration thinkers believed one could conclusively demonstrate the existence of God. For these thinkers, to be an atheist was to be irrational.  Many people in restoration churches today doubt this. If atheism isn’t a failure of rationality, then it appears that one could disbelieve in God without rational fault. How could a good God allow a world in which one could, without any fault of the intellect, be condemned? We argue that an atheist is not necessarily irrational, and that this fact does not create further difficulties for the problem of divine hiddenness. 

Blake McAllister, Hillsdale College, “A Return to Common Sense: Restorationism and Common Sense Epistemology”

Alexander Campbell once declared “a solemn league and covenant” between philosophy and common sense. Campbell’s pronouncement is representative of a broader trend in the Restorationist movement to look favorably on the common sense response to skepticism—a response originating in the work of Scottish philosopher and former minister Thomas Reid. I recount the tumultuous history between philosophy and common sense followed by the efforts of Campbell and Reid to reunite them. I finish by defending the common sense epistemic principles underlying Campbell and Reid’s response as, in the main, correct.

Margaret M. Mitchell, University of Chicago Divinity School, “Tiny Text, Great Advantage: John Chrysostom on Romans 16:3 and the Defense of the Trivial in Scripture”                            

This lecture will introduce and analyze two largely unknown homilies on Romans 16:3 delivered by John Chrysostom in Antioch (ca. 386-398). Chrysostom addresses the objection of his congregants that a text like Romans 16 is hardly suited to a sacred document or to a philosophically sophisticated imperial religion, since it just contains “a tumble of names one after the other.” In these homilies we see how Chrysostom, “the Golden Mouth,” tries to turn straw into gold, to turn an insignificant, tiny text into a proof of the power of all of Scripture. And yet, as we shall see, his own solutions to the problem of the “trivial” in Scripture lead him into new difficulties.

Margaret Mitchell is the author of four books, including Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation, and is currently completing a volume, John Chrysostom on Paul: Praises and Problem Passages, to be published in the Writings from the Graeco-Roman World series (Society of Biblical Literature). 

The Fourth Annual Everett Ferguson Lecture in Early Christian Studies: Margaret M. Mitchell, University of Chicago Divinity School, “John Chrysostom on Love, Marriage and Magic: Assessing the Evidence of a Previously Untranslated Homily (hom. in 1 Cor 7:2)” 

This paper analyzes the occasional homily that John Chrysostom preached, likely in Constantinople (ca. 398-403), in illud: propter fornicationes uxorem, in which he seeks to recast the traditional cultural forms of speech and song at a wedding celebration into Christianized and scripturally inflected terms. Most strikingly, in this homily Chrysostum plays continually on the language and tropes of Greek love magic, which he does not simply oppose outright, but instead he offers his own authorized version: ritual forms by which his congregants can deploy the words of Paul in 1 Cor 7:2 as a counter-spell to avert the powerful erotic charms of the porne, and thereby preserve the marriage.

Professor Mitchell is a literary historian of ancient Christianity. Her research and teaching span a range of topics in New Testament and early Christian writings up through the end of the fourth century. She analyzes how the earliest Christians literally wrote their way into history, developing a literary and religious culture that was deeply embedded in Hellenistic Judaism and the wider Greco-Roman world, while also proclaiming its distinctiveness from each. Special interests include the Pauline letters (both in their inaugural moments and in the history of their effects), the poetics and politics of ancient biblical interpretation, and the intersection of text, image, and artifact in the fashioning of early Christian culture.

Janine Morgan, Abilene Christian University, “Pan-Handle Preachers and the Pope: A Cross-Cultural Dialectic and Missionary Identity Formation of the Churches of Christ in Post-War Italy”

Missiologist Janine Paden Morgan explores the ideological environment of post-World War II Italy—tense church-state tensions, pressures from Communism, and emphases of American Church of Christ missionaries. This paper looks at how these early conflicts shaped the movement’s Italian identity. Through her reading of missionary public newsletters (“senders”) and Italian journal articles (“receivers”), Morgan investigates how opposition by the Roman Catholic Church influenced the identity formation among fledgling Churches of Christ to lasting effect. How identity is shaped in a majority/minority climate of opposition can have bearing on how missions is understood and carried out globally today.

Luke Morgan, Texas Tech University, “Harvesting Documentary Tropes: Relation to Landscape from The Plow to The Garden

The past decade has seen a rise in the production of documentary films that examine social, cultural, and environmental issues related to the production of food and the use of land. My presentation examines how environmental documentaries focusing on food and landscape have helped constitute an evolving pastoral environmental imaginary in American culture. I address Pare Lorentz’ The Plow (1936) in comparison to more recent documentaries such as Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc. (2008) and Scott Kennedy’s The Garden (2008)charting the development of an aesthetic of landscape in American documentary film that is increasingly relational and culturally grounded.

The J.J.M. Roberts Lecture in Old Testament Studies: Carol Newsom, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, “Making Moral Agents in Biblical Israel: Alternative Strategies for Alternative Visions”

Social psychologists interested in studying moral systems in comparative perspective have developed an analysis of “moral foundations” that they argue can be found in all human societies, though in many different configurations. Their approach is suggestive for analyzing some of the different moral visions one finds in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (e.g., Proverbs, Deuteronomy, Ezekiel and the Holiness Code). One can bring into focus the different moral foundations these texts emphasize by seeing where they identify the “trouble spots” that arise in forming persons into effective moral agents. The same tools of analysis shine an intriguing light on our own alternative moral visions and their relation to biblical models.

Carol Newsom is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament at Candler and a senior fellow at Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Newsom’s research focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Wisdom tradition, the book of Daniel, and apocalyptic literature. She has written and edited 13 books and scores of articles, book chapters, translations, encyclopedia articles and reviews.

Amanda J. Nichols, Oklahoma Christian University, “Women in STEM: Learning From Each Other”

Because of a gender gap existing within the STEM fields, higher education institutions have made efforts to improve recruitment, mentoring, and retention of women in STEM programs. After giving a brief overview of the literature, the presenters will discuss and invite feedback about their development of a survey for CCCU schools to gain knowledge about what women in STEM looks like at our institutions and what lessons can be learned.

Eric Nichols, Computer Technology Solutions, Robbie Nichols, Independent Scholar, Joseph E. Deweese, Lipscomb University, Kenan Casey, Freed-Hardeman University, “Overview of the Layered Model as a Means for Describing Complex Cellular Processes”

One of the fundamental concerns of software engineering is managing complexity. As software systems become more advanced, the system complexity may overwhelm the ability of developers to maintain them. Consequently, a great deal of engineering effort has been invested in managing complexity. The layered approach is one such way of abstracting away unnecessary complexity. By separating functionality into different layers, designers can effectively maintain and extend systems without having to be aware of all the complexity in the entire system. This session will focus on exploring basic features of the layered approach, which we will subsequently apply to biological systems.

Yukikazu Obata, Ibaraki Christian University, “Building an Intercultural Church in Imperial Japan: Yunosuke Hiratsuka and the Utilization of the Church of Christ and National Identities, 1897-1945”

Christian missions have the potential of forming intercultural networks that affect the existing identities of those who are involved. In this paper I examine the story of Yunosuke Hiratsuka (1873-1953), a leading figure among the pre-World War II Japanese Churches of Christ, to show how he managed to honor two strong and developing identities of the time, the national identity of Imperial Japan and the Church of Christ identity. The discussion includes Hiratsuka’s family networks, the role of Bible women, teaching of distinctive Church of Christ doctrines, relationship with other denominations, and the efforts of U.S. Church of Christ missionaries.

Jennifer Paxton, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, “Ether and the Serpent: The Morality of Anesthesia in Childbirth in 19th Century America”

After the discovery of effective anesthesia in the 1840s, the medical literature included much debate about its safety. However, in only one area was there also concern for the morality of using anesthesia, apart from the issue of safety: childbirth. The debate over the morality of childbirth anesthesia reveals the interplay between science and religion, both of immense importance in America at this time, as well as gender. This paper will discuss the debate over the use of ether or chloroform in childbirth, and how science and religion interacted as both sides argued their points.

 Jeff Peterson, Austin Graduate School of Theology, “Politics, the Professor, and the Person in the Pew”

The 2016 election brought into stark focus a growing political rift between the American evangelical professoriate and the membership of the churches it serves. This situation involves considerable potential for mutual misunderstanding by Christians with conflicting political inclinations. Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind and Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics affords helpful perspective and offers valuable resources for thoughtful, politically committed Christian who seek to engage differences in a spirit of charity and shared commitment to the common good. This presentation surveys their work and offers suggestions for its application to current issues. 

Robbie Pinter, Belmont University, “Fantasy Worlds in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia and Georgie MacDonald’s Lilith: Thresholds, Portals, and Crossovers”

The fictional Mr. Vane from George MacDonald’s Lilith and the children in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series all find themselves in unfamiliar territory at critical points in their stories. The familiar fades away to show an entirely new picture. The ordinary, familiar life looks a little different, and we discover something about life or ourselves that we never before witnessed. It’s as if an open door suddenly appears in front of our view, and we glimpse the same world on the other side that we saw before, but now it’s different — beautiful yet scary, surprising yet familiar. This convocation will focus on the connections among these fantasy tropes to explore the connection between C. S. Lewis and George MacDonald.

Amanda J. Pittman, Abilene Christian University, “Encountering the Words, Learning the Way: Scriptural Imagination as Christian Formation”

This paper takes up “scriptural imagination” as a potential framework for shaping formational encounters with the Scriptures. Scriptural imagination resides at an evocative intersection between practical theology and the biblical text in its simultaneous concern with the creaturely nature of readers and the integrity and complexity of the biblical text. Such a framework further suggests the possibility of more robust engagement between practical theology and the Scriptures than text as proof-text models. Acts, with its vivid narrative portrayal of the Way of Jesus, provides fertile ground for testing the feasibility of this proposal for scripturally disciplined formation in that Way.

Sister Mary Dominic Pitts, O.P., Aquinas College, Nashville, TN, “Many Shall Come from the East and the West: Style, Context and Unexpected Parallels in the Preaching of Augustine and John Chrysostom”

Augustine and Chrysostom were almost exact contemporaries and had similar educations, mutatis mutando, in the Greek East and the Roman West. Yet many would agree with the commentator who observed, “[Chrysostom’s] theological and exegetical contributions are overshadowed in the West by one of his contemporaries, St. Augustine of Hippo.” This paper places Augustine and Chrysostom on a plane not only as contemporaries but as twin geniuses in Christian doctrine. These two great theologians certainly pose contrasts, yet scholarship has often overlooked some remarkable parallels in their theological treatises, their Scriptural exegeses, and even in their manner of delivering popular homilies.

Stuart Platt, Abilene Christian University, and Jason Jones, Abilene Christian University and Portland State University, “Federal Pattern or Practice Methods in Law Enforcement: Are they beneficial or harmful to citizen and police legitimacy?”

The provisions of Title 42 United States Code §14141 empower the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division to conduct investigations of policing agencies and to seek judicial relief to thwart patterns and practices of unconstitutional policing. The methodology for investigations by the division has transformed in application since its origins in the 1990s. While federal intervention is necessary in specific circumstances, the department has refashioned federal oversight of police. The process used in the application of §14141 often fails to provide due process, validity in findings, and lacks collaborative effort, creating crises in police legitimacy and extraordinary costs to local citizens.

Samuel Pomeroy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, “Iuxta Syriacus: Eusebius of Emesa, Translation Theory, and the Sources of Antiochene Exegesis of Genesis”

This paper demonstrates the importance of Eusebius of Emesa’s Commentary on Genesis for later prominent ‘Antiochene’ authors: John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Diodore of Tarsus. More particularly, it shows that Eusebius’s understanding of Old Testament translation problems influenced their methodologies. First, Eusebius’s discussion of translation theory is presented. Then, the paper examines in depth the exegesis of Genesis 1:2 and 49:8-9 by the aforementioned authors. It is demonstrated that while fluid and diverse in their exegetical solutions, their understanding of several key trinitarian and messianic themes are sourced in Eusebius’ discussion of Syriac and Hebrew readings of the Old Testament.

Kalyn Prince, Abilene Christian University, “‘Oceans Rise, Empires Fall’: Negotiating Discursive Ideological Traditions in Hamilton: An American Musical”

With the exceptional popularity surrounding Hamilton: An American Musical, this paper attempts to account for its appeal to a country inclined to question its past and future ideological traditions. By echoing the language of the nation’s foundational documents and of Christian tradition, Hamilton builds an ethos that supports the notion that the show is a retelling of America’s origin-story rather than a mere reimagining. Drawing on essential American texts lends credibility to Hamilton’s narrative, which allows it to be perceived as a retelling of what lies at the philosophical heart of the nation rather than operating as a fairy tale. 

Ronna Privett, Lubbock Christian University, “Memory as Legacy and Confession in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead

In Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead (2004), the elderly pastor John Ames tells his life story in a seemingly meandering letter to his young son. In the process, he also reveals secrets of his family, including stories of his radical abolitionist grandfather who was involved in John Brown’s raid. At the same time, readers come to understand Ames’s own struggles with the events and decisions of his life, making the epistolary novel a kind of confession of a dying man.

Carson E. Reed, Abilene Christian University, “Matthew’s Ministry Manual: An Exercise in Practical Theology”

The gospel of Matthew presents a narrative of the Jesus story. However, that narrative takes on new meaning when examined as a product of a person who is engaging in practical theology for the sake of the church’s vitality. This paper suggests that the way Jesus’ narrative is told invites hearers to become congregational leaders. In particular, the paper will explore Matthew’s editorial work with Jesus’ ministry to articulate the practices of ministry for the early Syrian church.

Leslie Reed, Abilene Christian University, “R.W. Fassbinder’s Subversive Gaze: Power Shifts in 1970s New German Cinema”

Of all the influential directors of the New German Cinema movement, Rainer Werner Fassbinder remains among the most colorful. This paper focuses on Angst essen Seele auf (1973), which though superficially a melodrama, is also a clear statement of Fassbinder’s criticism of both social and cinematic norms, confronting societal taboos concerning age, race, and gender. These confrontations lend the film relevance within a society where people of all backgrounds struggle to work together as equals, sharing a balance of power, both in the brave new realm of 1970s New German Cinema—and today.

Brad Reid, Lipscomb University, “Forgetfulness and Privacy in the Internet Age”

The Bible describes God as forgetting our sins when He forgives. This is a gracious and reassuring action. However, in our internet age, search engines do not forget. Should forgetfulness be legally compelled in some circumstances? The EU has laws creating a “right to be forgotten.” Similarly, California has legislation allowing minors to request the removal of information that they have posted. A crazy quilt of privacy law currently exists in the U.S. This article surveys the EU and U.S. approaches to forgetfulness and privacy in the Internet age with a favorable view of the right to be forgotten.

Brad Reid, Lipscomb University, “Legal Issues Concerning K-12 Social Media Bullying”

The only U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning public school student free speech rights was decided in 1969 in the pre-social media age and was based upon the First Amendment right to political commentary. Today we live in a period of vicious social media bullying that older case law does not always adequately address. This article briefly reviews the contemporary reported court decisions concerning K-12 speech and suggests a legal theory to restrict, if not completely prevent, K-12 social media bullying. 

Kent Rhodes, Pepperdine University “Leading Through Social Justice: A Course to Develop Community Leaders”

A proposed graduate course for Pepperdine University is designed to develop leaders as practitioners of social justice within the public, private and faith-based organizations in which they lead. In class session 1, Social Justice Challenges Faced by People of Colorstudents will deepen their understanding of the ways in which the U.S. history of slavery still impacts people of color and supports widespread systemic racism. They will engage in a “fireside chat” with social justice activist, Alice Harris (Sweet Alice), founder of the Black and Brown Committee and the Parents of Watts (POW) in Los Angeles. 

Charles Rix, Oklahoma Christian University, “Rip Currents: Identifying Unseen Forces in the Enactment of Gender Equality within Our Churches”

Despite exhaustive biblical study surrounding gender equality, a congregation can be suddenly torn apart in its implementation by unanticipated forces. Such disruptions manifest like “rip currents” in an ocean, powerful underwater currents that are not perceived readily on the surface. On examination, the issues at hand have little or nothing to do with the Bible. Rather, the causes of the problem often lie in the “currents” of gender identity formation and performance that have not been adequately identified. Coupling gender theory with congregational experience, I propose strategies to navigate the waters of gender-based changes. 

Rafael Rodriguez, Johnson University, “Swimming in the Past: Baptism as a Commemorative Site and Rite”

This paper addresses the function of baptism as a vehicle of memory. The interdisciplinary, “center-less” enterprise of memory studies offers few examples of consensus. One broadly shared agreement, however, acknowledges the role of space and ritual (site and rite) in the production, preservation, retrieval, transmission, and transformation of memory. In other words, where people remember and how they remember—i.e., through which practices—are integral to what they remember. Baptism offers one site and rite through which Jesus framed and reflected the unfolding present of Jesus’ followers and guided their path through that unfolding present.

The Landon Saunders Lecture on the Human being as the Nexus of World and Faith: Landon Saunders, Heartbeat, “Toward a Relevant Theology in/for Public Spaces”

Theology has been largely shaped in the private spaces of theological schools and church settings. What works in these venues—the content and the language—dominates current understanding. But, theology so conceived is awkward, ill-fitting, and ineffective in public spaces. This disconnect, dare we say irrelevance, has now reached crisis proportions and is the source of increasing confusion and concern. This lecture addresses the roots of this problem and will suggest new possibilities for more effective and engaging communication and dialogue.

Working with the issues of world and faith in direct dialogue with human beings from across the world has marked the work of Landon Saunders, author and founder and president of Heartbeat Radio Broadcast, for more than 40 years. Saunders serves as the president of Heartbeat, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people fulfill the promise of human life; a fellow of Caris Life Sciences Foundation; and as a presidential scholar for Lipscomb University.

Lane Scruggs, University of Toronto, “The Division in Canada: Imported or Indigenous?”

Although the 1906 census has often been identified as the official division between Disciples and Churches of Christ, it is little known that five years earlier the Canadian census had identified the same distinction between “Church of Christ” and “Disciple” in the summary of its data. This paper will provide a brief historical examination of the social and theological factors that led to the movement’s first division in Ontario (Canada West, Upper Canada). Questions of imported and/or indigenous sources of dissension will be brought into focus.

Gary S. Selby, Emmanuel School of Religion, Milligan College, “‘All Lives Matter?’: Frederick Douglass and the Challenge of Moral Blindness”

In his call to remember our history of racial oppression, James H. Cone frames public memory in terms of sight, as a bringing-before-the-eyes of “disfigured black bodies ‘swinging in the southern breeze.’” This essay examines Frederick Douglass’s “John Brown” address as an attempt similarly to provoke sight among Northern whites who saw themselves as “friends to the Negro” and yet were blind to their own racism.

James F. Sennett, Brenau University, “Business Ethics Without Borders”

A pressing issue in contemporary business ethics is whether there is a universally applicable normative foundation capable of supplying a rigorous but transculturally appropriate moral decision-making model. Most ethicists agree that some kind of moral universalism is proper in business ethics. But, “which kind?”  Velasquez argues that attempts at such a theory end up “surreptitiously attempting to impose parochial values on everyone else”. I offer a theory that avoids Velasquez’s complaint. This theory is grounded in the moral intuitionism of Ross. His moral norms, though universal, have an open-ended and interdependent quality that balance out the moral parameters at stake.

James F. Sennett, Brenau University, “Ethics, Faith, and Testimony: Alexander Campbell and Direct Moral Knowledge”

It is my thesis that Alexander Campbell’s views on moral epistemology amount to the claim that moral knowledge is directly warranted—that is, warranted through direct experience without argumentation, similar to knowledge grounded in perception or memory. The source of this warrant is what Campbell labels, “faith”. In particular, Campbell’s view is that moral knowledge is warranted by testimony – a knowledge source that, many have argued, can produce directly warranted knowledge. Campbell’s position is strengthened by the fact that it is reflective of the comprehensive and highly influential epistemological program of contemporary philosopher Alvin Plantinga.

Chris Shrock, Oklahoma School of Science & Mathematics and OCU, “Biblicism as Hermeneutical Justice”

Since Miranda Fricker introduced the notion of hermeneutical injustice, where one’s social context lacks the requisite linguistic and conceptual resources for responding appropriately to one’s social experiences, others have built on her work by cataloging species of hermeneutical injustice. This paper attempts to uncover such a species. It suggests that Barton Stone and Thomas Campbell considered extra-biblical creeds threats to hermeneutical justice, and they offer biblicism as a remedy. This example is significant, because it presents a heretofore unnoticed possibility of hermeneutical infection, which might involve purging hermeneutical elements rather than enriching them.

Angela Sims, Saint Paul School of Theology, Emory University, “Freedom: A Perennial Question”

A dominant theme in Ava DuVernay’s documentary, 13th, is a notion of freedom premised on the commodification and criminalization of black bodies. A synopsis of Black people’s constant struggle to be recognized as fully human in the United States contrasts sharply with a mythological interpretation of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” articulated in the Declaration of Independence. With specific attention to a loophole in the 13th amendment, DuVernay invites us to challenge these claims in light of evidence that suggests that slavery, in the form of mass incarceration, suggests that freedom is a perennial question for the 21st century.

Macy Skipworth, Texas Tech University, “Reclaiming Western Nostalgia: High NoonRio Bravo, and the Demarginalizing Western”

The 1950s era is generally considered the “Golden Age” of Western film. Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952) ruptured this age with its narrative and film elements, both unconventional in comparison to its contemporaneous peers. Howard Hawks, director of countless “American classics,” produced Rio Bravo (1959) as a response to High Noon. This project interrogates how Rio Bravo attempted to reclaim the American Western—and ultimately, attempted to counter the disruption of American ideals—through its return to Western filmic norms.

C. Philip Slate, Harding School of Theology, “Greene Lawrence Wharton: Pioneer in Disciple Missions to the ‘Heathen’ and a Window into 19th Century Disciple Missions Understanding”

The North American Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ had started missionary societies in 1849 and 1874, but their focus was chiefly on “Christian” nations. In 1875 the Foreign Christian Missionary Society was formed specifically to go out to the “heathen” in foreign lands. Greene Lawrence Wharton (1847-1906) was sent to India in 1882 and became the pioneer in North American Disciples’ efforts to reach the “heathen.” He was exemplary in character and diligent in work. His 23 years of work reflected the Disciples’ understanding of cross-cultural evangelism at the time.

Michael Strickland, Amridge University, “Construct a Fortress Against the Devil”: John Chrysostom’s Plea to Build Churches

Given Chrysostom’s famous concern for the poor, it is perhaps surprising that he made multiple appeals to rich, land-owning Christians to build churches in the countryside. In fact, Chrysostom preferred that the poor be helped by building churches for them rather than giving them gifts directly. However, it is clear that he was less concerned with architecture and aesthetics and more with evangelization. Chrysostom saw church buildings, with “full-time” ministers, as a way not only to bless the poor of the countryside, but as a means for Christian instruction. Thus, he appealed to rich Christians by challenging them to build more churches. Rather than building baths, or taverns, or hosting markets, why not build churches to establish an eternal legacy, constructing “a fortress against the devil, for that is what the church is”?

Jerry Sumney, Lexington Theological Seminary, “Some Best Practices in Online Teaching: Things We Have Learned at Lexington”

This presentation will discuss some differences between face-to-face teaching and online teaching. We will explore some ways not just of overcoming them, but of using those differences to the educational advantage of the students. We will talk about the kinds of decisions instructors and institutions can make that enhance the students’ experience.

Ken Swindle, JD, Swindle Law Firm, Rogers, AR, “Christianity and the Economic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System”

Prior to the Sixth Amendment to our Constitution, having legal representation was a privilege afforded only to those who could pay. The Sixth Amendment made legal representation a right, and a series of United States Supreme Court cases in the 20th Century clarified the legal circumstances, or types of cases, where that right applied. However, since the 1970s, our “war on drugs” has made the prison population in this country skyrocket and put tremendous pressure on officers of public defenders. As Christians living in a democracy, it is up to each of us to advocate what level representation should be afforded to criminal defendants if we want to ensure that the Sixth Amendment has any meaningful application. 

Mindi Thompson, Abilene Christian University, “Culture Counts: Online Learning for International Students”

The mission of Abilene Christian University is to “educate students for Christian service and leadership around the world”. Many faith-based institutions have similar mission statements. Expanding online programs for international students is a good way to help these schools achieve their mission. The diverse perspectives these students bring to their classes can lead to a rich, engaging learning experience. But without adequate attention to cultural differences these students can struggle with misunderstandings and unmet expectations. Mindi Thompson shares her experience working with international students in the Graduate School of Theology’s online ministry programs. 

Tess Varner, Concordia College, “Environmental Axiology in the Stone-Campbell Movement”

As people from religious traditions across the globe attempt to respond to environmental crises with faith-based resources, it is timely to inquire whether or not the Stone-Campbell Movement can offer resources of its own. My contention is that although the Stone-Campbell Movement has not yet developed its own distinctive environmental philosophy, conceptual resources to do so exist within the tradition—and have, in fact, existed in the tradition since its earliest years—hearkening back to what I will call Alexander Campbell’s own “frontier” theology and to the work of one of his early followers, the great naturalist and “wilderness prophet,” John Muir.

Becky Walker, St. Louis University, “The Different Aims of Origen’s Epinoiai and Ephrem’s Divine Names”

This paper compares Origen’s Epinoiai for the Son of God with Ephrem’s divine names and focuses on the names each thought belonged to God’s Son properly or absolutely. The paper claims that Origen’s selection of titles is determined primarily by his exegesis, but he is also concerned to refute Valentinian views prevalent in Alexandria during the third century. Ephrem’s choice of titles, on the other hand, is driven mostly by polemics against the heteroousians in the second half of the fourth century, but he still grounds his arguments in Scripture.

Timothy L. Wallace, Lipscomb University, “Investigation of Binary Tree Model for Random Mutation Sequences”

Recent advances in genomic sequencing and cell sorting are driving analysis of multi-cellular cancer genomics. One goal of this ongoing research effort is to find an expected distribution of eigenvalues for a simple binary tree model of independent and identically distributed random vectors, previously observed to emerge in linear subspaces. The feasibility that a researcher or clinician may use the model to estimate the sample mutation tree ensemble variance and mean relative to nominal cases of somatic cellular ensembles undergoing mitosis is to be considered. A brief overview and status of this work will be presented.

Mark Weedman, Johnson University, “Augustine on the Productive Capacity of Scripture”

This paper argues for a new understanding of the purpose of Augustine’s Confessions to establish a proper hermeneutical framework for reading Scripture. By locating the Confessions in the Latin theological tradition they are modeled on Hilary of Poitiers’ own “confessional” account. Like Hilary, Augustine discovers that philosophy cannot heal the body and that Scriptures’ materiality teaches him about the Incarnation and prompts redemptive humility in imitation of Christ. Following Hilary, Augustine is devoted to establishing the proper hermeneutical perspective for a transformative engagement with the text. Thus the Confessions are not primarily a spiritual autobiography, but offer important insight into the priority of Biblical exegesis in Augustine and in the spiritual and theological patterns of early Christianity as a whole.

Timothy Paul Westbrook, Harding University, Jordan McDonald, Harding University, and Morgan Miller, Harding University, “An Investigation into the Implications of Dewey’s ‘Learning Situation’ for Online Education”

Educators of distance education face the challenges of finding balance between new technology and educational principles conducive to online learning environments. This study investigates the implications of John Dewey’s understanding of the “learning situation” through a case study analysis of an online course taught at a faith-based institution. In particular, this study explores how the students’ personal contexts create an ecology of learning that support Dewey’s focus on experience and education.

Andy Wood, Independent Scholar, “‘Ecclesiastical Bossism’ vs. Tennessee ‘Conference Rights’: The 1890s Polity Dissent in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South”

When progressive Tennessee Methodist minister David Campbell Kelley—former missionary to China and Confederate commander under Nathan Bedford Forrest—ran for governor on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1890, several incensed Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) bishops sought to force third-party prohibitionist and WCTU-friendly clergy out of the MECS entirely. Episcopal rough treatment, aided by MECS notions of episcopacy that gave the office virtually unfettered prerogative, provoked an intense and sustained reaction from clergy, and divided preachers into competing camps. The dissenting standard-bearer was B. F. Haynes, who used his new paper, the Tennessee Methodist, to defend the political and ecclesiastical rights of clergy while affirming traditional and conservative Methodist themes in doctrine and practice.