Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference

Session 1: Wednesday 1-2:30 p.m.

American Religious History

“Despite Division, a Living Connection Remained: Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in Western Canada” – Swang Center 234

Shelley L. Jacobs, Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Convener

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

The division of the restoration movement in Canada took place during the time when the movement was migrating west, from Ontario to the prairies. Despite the conflict in Ontario, individuals and groups from Christian Churches and Churches of Christ continued to fellowship and to work with one another. This session will explore the division in Ontario and look at relationships and cooperative efforts between Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in Western Canada, past, present and future.

Business and Engineering

“Application of Computer Science and Mathematics to Biological Systems” – Swang Center 244

Joseph E. Deweese, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • 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” and “Application of the Layered Model as a Means for Describing Complex Cellular Processes”
  • Timothy L. Wallace, Lipscomb University, “Investigation of Binary Tree Model for Random Mutation Sequences”

Biological complexity is evident in the living world. From a basic understanding of cellular and molecular biology, we quickly realize that there are a vast number of complex interactions that occur every instant in every cell throughout our bodies. Finding ways to simplify or mathematically describe this complexity is a goal that computer scientists, mathematicians, and other specialists continue to pursue. This session will focus on aspects of computer science and mathematics that can be used to explore and better understand biological systems—in some cases allowing us to make predictions about events and characteristics within those systems.

“Contemporary Educational Perspectives” – Swang Center 246

Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Chuck Capps, Lipscomb University, Rob Touchstone, Lipscomb University, Ray Eldridge Lipscomb University, Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University, “Redeeming Business Schools”
  • Brad Reid, Lipscomb University, “Legal Issues Concerning K-12 Social Media Bullying”
  • Kevin Brown, Asbury University, “The Asbury Project”
  • Christopher Davis, Harding University, “Academic Freedom, Offense, Christianity, and Culture”

Faculty in business, computing and engineering fields face unique challenges in integrating their disciplines with Christian faith. Two papers in this session describe innovative ways that Christian academics can engage students in bridging business and faith. The two other papers speak to conflicts in the educational world—including legal issues in social media and academic freedom.

Civil Rights

“Beyond The 13th: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration to American Exceptionalism” – Ezell Center 109

Joi Carr, Pepperdine University, Covener

  • Angela Sims, Saint Paul School of Theology, Emory University, “Freedom: A Perennial Question”
  • Joi Carr, Pepperdine University, “(De)Mythologization of Black Criminality: From Birth of A Nation to Boyz n the Hood
  • Colin Enriquez, Pepperdine University, “The 13th Amendment and the Myth of the Superpredator: Young Black Nihilism in the 1990s”

This session will explore 13th (2016, Ava DuVernay), an evocative documentary that describes the prison industrial complex and its relationship to the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which officially abolished slavery in 1865, “except as a punishment for crime.” The documentary is a provocative expose of a systemic corporate culture that exploits the U.S. penal system for profit through a sustained pool of free labor. The film traverses the 20th century through archival footage and reflective interviews to uncover a complex narrative that explores mass incarceration and notions of American Freedom.

“Atrocious Racism: The Problem of Evil and Transmuted Goods” – Ezell Center 107

Edward Carson, Brooks School, Boston, MA, Convener

  • Jill Hernandez, University of Texas at San Antonio, “Atrocious Racism: The Problem of Evil and Transmuted Goods,” Presentation
  • Joshua Graves, Otter Creek Church of Christ, Nashville, TN, Respondent
  • Derrick Jackson, First Baptist Church, Gallatin, TN, Respondent  

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.

Film Studies

“Film and Memory in American Cinema” – Ezell Center 322

Brandi Kellett, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Macy Skipworth, Texas Tech University, “Reclaiming Western Nostalgia: High Noon, Rio Bravo, and the Demarginalizing Western”
  • Luke Morgan, Texas Tech University, “Harvesting Documentary Tropes: Relation to Landscape from The Plow to The Garden

The film genre contains its own kind of memories as the repository of previous filmmaking practices, heir of conventions predating the cinema itself, reflector of cultural contexts, and molder of audience expectations over time. This panel will explore how genres ranging from the American Western to the environmental documentary rework the stuff of storytelling to make new statements about the world and push the limits of aesthetic expression.

Higher Education: Crises and Opportunities

“Faculty Hiring in the 21st Century:  Trends and Perspectives from the Front Lines” – Faculty Club 1891, Bennett Campus Center

Gregory Straughn, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Susan Blassingame, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Education, Lubbock Christian University
  • Scott LaMascus, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Oklahoma Christian University
  • Rick Marrs, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Pepperdine University
  • Fortune Mhlanga, Dean of the College of Computing and Technology, Lipscomb University
  • Kathy Pulley, Professor of Religious Studies, Missouri State University
  • Gregory Straughn, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Abilene Christian University
  • Marty Spears, Provost, Harding University

Hiring faculty is the most important work in which academic leaders can engage. The competing expectations of subject-matter expertise, collegiality, support of mission, and promise of research make it difficult to find an “ideal candidate.” This work is even more difficult—though even more crucial—when hiring faculty for Christian universities. Beyond offering answers to the question “how do I get hired?” this panel asks academic leaders to reflect on the characteristics of successful early-career faculty, the kinds of questions they have asked candidates (and a rationale for asking), and the ways they have engaged in the search process on their campuses.


“Current Trends in Homiletics: Conversations in Theory and Practice” – Swang Center 238

Tim Sensing, Abilene Christian University, and Mason Lee, Princeton Theological Seminary, Co-Conveners

  • David Schnasa Jacobsen, Boston University School of Theology, “The Practice of Homiletical Theology in a Confessional Mode: Preaching as a Theological Act”
  • Yohan Go, Boston University School of Theology, “Homiletics as a New Trajectory for Ecclesiology”
  • Samantha Gilmore, Princeton Theological Seminary, “Preaching that is Fully Human”
  • Wilson McCoy, College Hills Church of Christ, Nashville, TN, Respondent
  • Eric Gentry, Highland Church of Christ, Memphis, TN, Respondent
  • Mallory Wyckoff, Nashville, TN, Respondent

In recent years, the field of homiletics has witnessed an eruption of new approaches, foci, and methods to the study and teaching of preaching. Claiming its position as a practical theological discipline with renewed interest, the field of homiletics has engaged a multitude of interdisciplinary partners. This, in turn, has created a plethora of new avenues and modes of homiletical study: a descriptive mode that emphasizes context and localized practice, a confessional mode that engages the place of theological commitments in preaching, and an analytical mode that explores the theological traditions, norms, authorities, and assumptions of preaching. 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 a diverse collection of homileticians and local practitioners to consider and discuss these trends and their influence and potential for the practice of preaching.

Interdisciplinary Studies

“How We Remember and How We Forget: The Neuroscience of Memory and Some Applications” – Ezell Center 234

Nicholas J. Zola, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Stuart M. Zola, Emory University (Interim Provost, former director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center), Presenter
  • Rafael Rodriguez, Johnson University (New Testament), Respondent
  • William Lofton Turner, Lipscomb University (Leadership and Public Service), Respondent
  • Stella Erbes, Pepperdine University (Teacher Education), Respondent

Stuart Zola, former director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and current interim Provost of Emory University, will present the latest research on the neuroscience of memory—how the brain remembers and what factors impair effective communication. Three panel members, leaders in their fields, will respond with how a more robust understanding of memory function can inform a range of disciplines: how the historical Jesus is remembered in the Gospels, how individuals reconcile with others and their surrounding systems; and how students best retain and recall classroom information.

Major Book Reviews and Books in Progress

“Memoir and Vision for the Church, Session I” – Ezell Center 263

Gayle Crowe, World Christian Broadcasting, Convener

  • Andrew J. Hairston, Simpson St. Church of Christ, Atlanta, GA.  Minister Emeritus, Panelist
  • Thomas H. Olbricht,  Pepperdine University, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion, Emeritus, Panelist
  • Robert Randolph, MIT, Chaplain to the Institute, Emeritus, Panelist
  • Jason Fikes, Director, Abilene Christian University Press, Respondent

“Think of us in this way,” wrote Paul to the Corinthians, “as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.” Each of those whose lives have been spent ministering to the church as servants of Christ came to their ministries in unique ways. Two panels this week will allow noted scholars and senior ministers to reflect on what it was that framed their approach to “God’s mysteries” and led them to serve God’s people. Each of these—all of whom have advanced degrees from the world’s premier universities and seminaries—will conclude by casting their vision for what church life might look like in future years.

“Major Book Review: Reading Acts in the Twenty-First Century: A Panel Review of Carl R. Holladay’s Acts: A Commentary– Ezell Center 205

Gregory E. Sterling, Yale University, Convener

  • John T. Fitzgerald, University of Notre Dame, Panelist
  • Dale Pauls, Stamford Church of Christ, Panelist
  • Margaret M. Mitchell, University of Chicago, Panelist
  • Carl R. Holladay, Emory University, Respondent

Carl Holladay published a major commentary on Acts in 2016 based on a lifetime of scholarship on Acts and the world in which it was composed, Acts: A Commentary, New Testament Library (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2016). The panel will explore Holladay’s reading of Acts and the relationship of the text to two different cultural settings: the larger Greco-Roman world of the first century CE and the value of the readings for ministers and churches in twenty-first century America.

Old Testament

The J.J.M. Roberts Lecture in Old Testament Studies
“Making Moral Agents in Biblical Israel: Alternative Strategies for Alternative Visions” – Chapel, Ezell Center 241

Carol Newsom, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

  • Mark Hamilton, Abilene Christian University, Convener

    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.

Online Education

“Doctoral Student Socialization in an Online Christian University” – Swang Center 242

Jaime Goff, Abilene Christian University

  • Kristin Koetting, Abilene Christian University
  • Leah Wickersham Fish, Abilene Christian University
  • Wade Fish, Abilene Christian University

Doctoral student socialization is important for the individual’s professional development and success. Research has shown that socialization is linked to numerous positive outcomes, such as increased retention, engagement, and success, as well as decreased burnout and stress. Although scholars agree on the importance of socialization and have developed models of socialization accordingly, these models are largely based on socialization in brick and mortar institutions. There is emerging research and dialogue on online socialization, however, this research is in its infancy. Regardless of the location (i.e., brick and mortar or online), the research on socialization primarily focuses on the non-denominational sector; there is little research on socialization of doctoral students in Christian higher education. Socialization of doctoral students in an online Christian educational environment presents unique challenges and opportunities. The goal of our presentation is to share our strategies, and engage Christian scholars in a discussion of how to best facilitate Christian doctoral student socialization by disseminating Christian values, culture, skills and knowledge.

Popular Culture, Literature and Faith

“Making Something Out of the Pieces” – Ezell Center 359 (Andrews Institute)

Steve Weathers, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Heath Carpenter, Harding University, “Defining Heritage: Symbolism, Identity, and the Fight for Cultural Power”
  • Jeremy Elliott, Abilene Christian University, “Making Something Out of the Pieces: Terry Tempest Williams’ productive ecological vision in Finding Beauty in a Broken World
  • 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 collection of papers examines dark spots in our culture. How do we understand hatred?  How do we understand unloved places, and uncared for children? How are these moments of darkness related to our cultural values? Moreover, what should our reactions be to already broken situations? Terry Tempest Williams proposes the metaphor of a mosaic—something precious created from broken tiles. These papers hope to offer a few tiles.

Theology and the Arts

“The Virtuous Reader: The Role of the Arts in Curating a Faithful History” – Ezell Center 211

Bill Carroll, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • 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
  • Shanna Early, Emory University, “‘Each Slow Turn’: Righting History in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide
  • Julie Jarnefeldt, Chattanooga State Community College, “The Silence This Time: James Baldwin’s Works as a Call to Action and Remembrance”
  • Kalyn Prince, Abilene Christian University, “‘Oceans Rise, Empires Fall’: Negotiating Discursive Ideological Traditions in Hamilton: An American Musical
  • Steven Prewitt, Lipscomb University, Respondent

In Gravity and Grace, Simone Weil argues that Christians, “if we know in what way society is unbalanced, we must do what we can to add weight to the lighter scale… we must have formed a conception of the equilibrium and be ever ready to change sides like justice, ‘that fugitive from the camp of conquerors’”. Seamus Heaney, drawing on this metaphor, declares the writer’s task is, then, “to set the balance right”.  This panel explores how various writers have attempted to use their art to counterbalance imperfect and unjust social realities and histories to imagine a better future.

Session 2: Wednesday 2:45 - 4:15 p.m.

American Religious History

“The Restorationists Go Global: The Stone-Campbell Movement as a World Christian Tradition” – Swang Center 238

Christopher Flanders, Abilene Christian University, and Jeremy Hegi, Boston University, Conveners

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

Business and Engineering

“Genetics, Genomics, and Information Systems: Recent Findings in the Genome” – Swang Center 246

Joseph E. Deweese, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Salvador Cordoba, FMS Foundation, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Memory Devices in DNA/Chromatin Complexes”
  • Kirt Martin, Lubbock Christian University, “Our 3-Dimensional DNA: An Engineering Marvel”
  • Nathaniel T. Jeanson, Answers in Genesis, “Is Speciation an Engineered Process?”
  • Jeff McCormack, Dean, College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Oklahoma Christian University, Discussant
  • Jon Lowrance, Professor, Department of Biology, Lipscomb University, Discussant

Over the last 20 years, a huge revolution has taken place related to the genome beginning with the sequencing of the human genome and extending to the ENCODE project and more recently the Epigenetics Roadmap project. Findings from these projects and from other areas of genetics research have unearthed a vast wealth of knowledge regarding the complexity of the information storage and retrieval system in our cells. This session will explore recent findings about the genome and will show examples of complex engineering in the information systems of our cells.

“Moral Leadership Issues in the Marketplace” – Swang Center 244

James Sennett, Brenau University, Convener

  • Dennis Marquardt, Abilene Christian University “The Ethical Leadership and Follower Performance Link:  Analyzing How and Why”
  • Kevin Brown, Asbury University “What are the Moral Limits to Markets?”
  • David Bosch, Boyce College, “Do Values Matter? Their Impact on Entrepreneurial Intentions”
  • David Johnson, Faulkner University, “What Do I Owe My Competitor?”
  • James Sennett, Brenau University, “Business Ethics Without Borders”

Moral leadership issues are long-standing topics for Christian business faculty. Market economies raise concerns about moral limits and one’s obligation to competitors. A practical and academic question comes in the link between ethical leadership and their follower’s performance. As students ponder entrepreneurial ventures, they need a framework to evaluate ventures using Christ-informed values. Finally, in a globalized economy students need to consider ethics without borders.

Civil Rights

“Telling Our Story: Searching for Our Souls” – Ezell Center 109

Sandra Parham, Lipscomb University

  • Catherine Meeks, Wesleyan College, Emerita, and Chair, Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
  • Lesley Walker, Lipscomb University

The two presenters are 50 years apart in chronological age, but not a day apart in their quest for personhood. What is the journey toward wholeness really like for African American women? Often there are many conflicting narratives that intend to answer that question but upon close examination of their journeys, it becomes clear that the basic threads of their journeys are quite similar and connected. In this session they will share a short version of their story and join in a discussion that allows for a deeper examination of the common threads that they share as they weave their way along the path of soul seeking though one has most of her life ahead and the other has most of her life behind her, the intersections are fascinating.

“Memphis Massacre, Memphis Now, Memphis Tomorrow” – Ezell Center 107

Rodney Plunkett, White Station Church of Christ, Convener

  • Rodney Plunkett, White Station Church of Christ
  • David Jordan, Agape Child and Family Services
  • Tiffany Day, Tennessee Department of Human Services Commissioner’s Office

In May, 1866, in Memphis, Tennessee, mobs of white men led by law enforcement attacked and killed an estimated 46 black people, raped several black women, and committed numerous robberies, assaults and arsons. The first large-scale racial massacre to erupt in the post-Civil War South was largely untold and under recognized until the recent publication of Stephen Ash’s historical account and the placing of a site marker in 2016. This session will begin with a brief summary of the events of the Memphis Massacre, followed by a report of current conditions in the city (e.g., racial tensions and inequities, crime, and state of public education). The next portion of the session will be a story of the state, local churches, and a faith-based non-profit working together to give birth to a transformed tomorrow for Memphis. The session will conclude with a time for questions and answers.

“Privileged Repentance in Prophetic Preaching: John A. Scott’s Response to the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.” – Ezell Center 136

Tanya Smith Brice, Benedict College, Convener

  • 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
  • Rubel Shelly, Lipscomb University, Respondent

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 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.

Film Studies

“Film and Tradition in World Cinema” – Ezell Center 322

Carole Carroll, Lubbock Christian University, Convener.

  • Blaine Grimes, Texas Tech University, “Norwegian Slow TV: A Phenomenological and Liturgical Analysis”
  • Leslie Reed, Abilene Christian University, “R.W. Fassbinder’s Subversive Gaze: Power Shifts in 1970s New German Cinema”

The medium of film has long been a representation of the desire of both filmmakers and film viewers to see life presented in its myriad of facets. This panel will discuss world cinema and tradition, touching on such topics as slow TV as both phenomenological and liturgical, and the power of the ageist, racial, and gendered gaze in confrontational and taboo-challenging German films of the 1970’s.

Higher Education: Crises and Opportunities

“Presidents’ Session: The Intersection of Race and Christian Higher Education: Our Legacy and Our Responsibility” – Chapel, Ezell Center 241

Trace Hebert, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Joel Anderson, Chancellor, Emeritus, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • L. Randolph Lowry, President, Lipscomb University
  • Tim Perrin, President, Lubbock Christian University
  • Mike Williams, President, Faulkner University
  • Anthony G. (Tony) Kinkel, President, Motlow State Community College
  • Steven Eck, President, York College
  • Brian Stogner, President, Rochester College

In this session, Christian university presidents will engage Joel Anderson, who in July 2011 while chancellor at UALR, founded the Institute on Race and Ethnicity, whose mission is to seek racial and ethnic justice in Arkansas by remembering and understanding the past, informing and engaging the present, and shaping and defining the future. Anderson will set the conversational stage by speaking to the code of silence in our communities about racial tensions which prevents constructive discussion and progress. He will contrast the evasive role that university leaders can sometimes play with the impact they could make by engaging issues and leading their communities to a better and healthier social reality envisioned by Jesus of Nazareth.

Major Book Reviews and Books in Progress

“Memoir and Vision for the Church, Session II” – Ezell Center 263

Gayle Crowe, World Christian Broadcasting, Convener

  • Lynn Anderson, Hope Network Ministries, Emeritus, Panelist
  • Richard Hughes, Lipscomb University, Scholar in Residence, Panelist
  • Gail Hopkins, Pepperdine University and Ohio Valley University, Boards, Panelist
  • Jason Fikes. Director, Abilene Christian University Press, Respondent

“Think of us in this way,” wrote Paul to the Corinthians, “as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.”  Each of those whose lives have been spent ministering to the church as servants of Christ came to their ministries in unique ways. This second of two panels will allow noted scholars and senior ministers to reflect on what it was that framed their approach to “God’s mysteries” and led them to serve God’s people.  Each of these—all of whom have advanced degrees from the world’s premier universities and seminaries—will conclude by casting their vision for what church life might look like in future years.

“Major Book Review: W. David Baird, Quest for Distinction: Pepperdine University in the 20th Century, Pepperdine University Press, 2016” – Ezell Center 205

Scott Billingsley, University of North Carolina Pembroke, Convener

  • George Marsden, University of Notre Dame, Emeritus, Reviewer
  • Loretta Hunnicutt, Pepperdine University, Reviewer
  • Jack Scott, Claremont Graduate School, Reviewer
  • W. David Baird, Pepperdine University, Respondent

Renowned historian and former Dean of Seaver College W. David Baird not only chronicles the history of Pepperdine University, he also brings to life the people who carried out George Pepperdine’s vision to create a faith-based college devoted to academic excellence and a commitment to a Christian mission. He highlights the attributes that made Pepperdine a distinctive university and recounts the struggles that the institution endured to achieve that goal. The three reviewers will place this work and the university into a broader historical and cultural context and provide some personal insight into the subject matter.

New Testament 

“Remembering Jesus: Memory, Texts and Baptism” – Ezell Center 234

Richard Wright, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • John Harrison, Oklahoma Christian University, “The Synoptics as Evidence of Jesus Remembered by Eyewitnesses”
  • Rafael Rodriguez, Johnson University, “Swimming in the Past: Baptism as a Commemorative Site and Rite”
  • Heather Gorman, Johnson University, Respondent

For several decades now, memory studies and investigations into early Christianity have opened new questions about what first followers remembered and what affect Christian rituals had on the formation of that memory.  In this session, two papers will lead the discussion around specific applications of memory studies and early Christian practice. The Jesus tradition was first experienced by eyewitnesses and then handed down orally for others to remember. Can eyewitness memory actually be detected in the Synoptic Gospels? How did baptism come to function as a preserver, transmitter, and transformer of Christian memory?

Old Testament

“The Book of Job in Its World and Ours: A Dialogue” – Ezell Center 207

Mark Hamilton, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Carol Newsom, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Panelist
  • Choon-leong Seow, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Panelist
  • James L. Crenshaw, Duke Divinity School, Emeritus, Panelist

The book of Job has long influenced artists, preachers, and scholars with its story of suffering and triumph before God. As a stimulus for ongoing theological and philosophical reflection, the book has no equal. Yet, questions remain about the intentions of its author(s) and the issues it addresses, as well as the nature of its artistry. This panel discussion brings together leading scholars of Job to discuss some of the key interpretive challenges posed by the book as it speaks to many audiences who also face suffering and wonder about the role of God in it.

Online Education

“Growing a Diverse Faculty:  Experiences of Faculty Members from Diverse Christian Backgrounds Who Have Not Previously Worked in Christian Higher Education” – Swang Center 242

Peter Williams, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Linnea Rademaker, Abilene Christian University
  • Leah Wickersham Fish, Abilene Christian University
  • Wade Fish, Abilene Christian University
  • Kristin Koetting, Abilene Christian University

As Christian institutions of higher education begin to expand their academic offerings at scale in an online environment, they must often look outside of their traditional circles to find qualified faculty members. This panel session will focus on how one online doctoral program has successfully integrated a geographically distributed, diverse group of faculties into the culture and mission of Christian higher education.

Practical Theology

“Towards a Comprehensive Church Health Assessment: Development, Implementation, and Usability” – Ezell Center 359 (Andrews Institute)

Suzie Macaluso, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Carley Dood, Abilene Christian University
  • Suzie Macaluso, Abilene Christian University
  • Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University
  • Candace Nichols, Minter Lane Church of Christ, Abilene, TX

The Church Health Assessment (CHA) is a robust and statistically reliable instrument that provides objective profiles across nine areas of congregational members’ perceptions: vision/mission, ministry/activity effectiveness, family life stages, spiritual formation/discipleship, worship, congregational culture/communication/conflict, leadership, church relationships, and finance/facilities. In this panel we will discuss the creation of the CHA and how churches are using it. Carley Dodd and Suzie Macaluso will discuss the creation of the CHA for the Siburt Institute. Carson Reed will discuss how he is using the tool in his church consulting work. Candace Nicols, Associate Minister at Minter Lane Church of Christ, will talk about how one church used the survey to help further conversations.


“Between Antioch and Cappadocia: Exegesis in Support of Orthodoxy,” A Peer Reviewed Session – Ezell Center 155

Jeff Childers, Abilene Christian University,

  • Becky Walker, St. Louis University, “The Different Aims of Origen’s Epinoiai and Ephrem’s Divine Names”
  • Samuel Pomeroy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, “Iuxta Syriacus: Eusebius of Emesa, Translation Theory, and the Sources of Antiochene Exegesis of Genesis”
  • Nathan Howard, University of Tennessee at Martin, “Basil of Caesarea and Sacred Virility”

The papers in this session focus on key interpreters in two centers of theological ferment during the fourth and fifth centuries: Antioch and Cappadocia. Theological and political activities in these crucial arenas shaped distinct patterns of eastern orthodoxy for centuries to come. These studies explore the ways in which seminal authors in both the Greek and Syriac heritage were influenced by their intellectual traditions in their interpretation of scripture, their theological formulations, and their representation of exemplars.

Women’s Studies

“Women Beyond Ministry: Celebrating the Vocational Journeys of Women in Higher Education” – Ezell Center 211

Cari Myers, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Anessa Westbrook, Harding University
  • Micki Pulleyking, Missouri State University
  • Shannon Clarke Raines, Lubbock Christian University
  • Jeanene Reese, Abilene Christian University
  • Amanda Pittman, Abilene Christian University

In the last 20 years, more women within the Stone-Campbell movement are entering the academy as religion professors and scholars, often as second careers beyond ministry. By witnessing their ministerial and academic journeys, this panel will celebrate the vocational paths of these women and listen to their stories as they describe their calling to higher education and what it means to live into their calling in this way. We will name the successes of women in these arenas and the allies who have shared the path with them, and dream about the potential for women in religious higher education.

Session 3: Thursday 9-10:30 a.m.

American Religious History

“Dissent and Tradition in American Christianity” – Ezell Center 205

Corey Markum, Freed-Hardeman University, Convener

  • Elaine Lechtreck, Independent Scholar, “White Clergy Dissenters in the Mid-Twentieth Century Segregated South”
  • Corey Markum, Freed-Hardeman University, “A Campbellite in King Asbury's Court: The Church Trial of William Anderson Roberts”
  • Andy Wood, Independent Scholar, “‘Ecclesiastical Bossism’ vs. Tennessee ‘Conference Rights’: The 1890s Polity Dissent in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South”
  • Steven Hoskins, Trevecca Nazarene University, Respondent

This session explores the interplay of individual or minority dissenters against the defenders of dominant traditions and practices within their respective faith communities. Elaine Lechtreck’s anti-segregationist white clergy reveal the personal cost of standing on the redemptive side of religious history, Corey Markum’s Restorationist-moonlighting Methodist pastor exposes the fragility of nineteenth-century denominational and theological ecumenism, and Andy Wood’s politically active Prohibitionist clergy disclose a crisis of clergy rights versus episcopal prerogative. These papers demonstrate the difficulties and travails of dissenting figures against established customs, beliefs, and ecclesiastical authorities, but also reveal the importance of dissent within American Christian faith communities and the necessity of recognizing the role that such “inside outsiders” play in the evolution of the nation’s religious marketplace.

Business and Engineering

“A Collage of Missional Entrepreneurship and Humanitarian Engineering Efforts” – Swang Center Lobby

Presentation and Poster Session: Rob Touchstone, Lipscomb University, Convener

This session is dedicated to posters describing humanitarian engineering and missional entrepreneurship projects at Christian universities. Through these projects students gain practical experience in integrating faith and their disciplines.

Civil Rights

“Race, Reconciliation, and Public Memory: Papers in Conversation with James H. Cone” – Ezell Center 109

Gary S. Selby, Convener

  • Christopher J. Dowdy, Paul Quinn College, “A History of Burnings: Ida B. Wells, White Supremacy, and Horror’s Place among the Moral Emotions”
  • Gary S. Selby, Emmanuel School of Religion, Milligan College, “‘All Lives Matter?’: Frederick Douglass and the Challenge of Moral Blindness”
  • Tanya Smith Brice, Benedict College, “Called Out of Darkness: Church Memory in Black and White”
  • James H. Cone, Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, Respondent

James H. Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, written to promote healing for “the wounds of racial violence that continue to divide our churches and our society,” presents a powerful call to remember “slavery, segregation, and the lynching tree.” To forget these atrocities “leaves us with a fraudulent perspective of this society and of the meaning of the Christian gospel for this nation.” The papers on this panel explore dimensions of race and public memory in conversation with Cone’s call to remember.

Creative Writing

“On Memory and Tradition: A Reading by CSC Authors” – Ezell Center 322

John Struloeff, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Susan Finch, Belmont University
  • Steve Weathers, Abilene Christian University
  • Gary McDowell, Belmont University
  • John Struloeff, Pepperdine University

This panel features four Christian Scholars’ Conference authors reading their own creative works of poetry and fiction on the themes of memory and tradition. Susan Finch, a specialist in creative writing from Nashville, will read short fiction, along with Steve Weathers, a fiction writer and essayist from Abilene. John Struloeff, originally from Oregon, will read poems from his most recent poetry manuscript-in-progress, The Shadow Waters. Joining them will be Gary McDowell, a poet from Nashville, who will read from his recent poetry, including selections from Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None

Early Career Scholars in Theological Disciplines

“Fresh Consideration of Significant Questions: An Interdisciplinary Conversation” – Ezell Center 107

Andrew Krinks, Vanderbilt University, Convener

  • Joshua Ward Jeffery, University of Tennessee, “Criminals in the Church: Federal Persecution of War Resisters in Churches of Christ during World War I.”
  • Sarah Dannemiller, Abilene Christian University, “The American Way of Life: An Analysis of the American Studies Program and the New Religious Right at Abilene Christian College, 1958-1968”
  • Zane McGee, Emory University, “Ho Nyn Kairos: The Significance of Time in Pauline Messianism”
  • Chris Hutson, Abilene Christian University, Faculty Respondent

In this session, the Early Career Scholars in Theological Disciplines Section hosts a conversation among graduate students. Emerging from different academic conversations, these papers address concerns both contemporary and historical with an eye toward broader discussions in their fields.


“Enemies of the People: The Role of Journalism in the Era of Trump” – Ezell Center 136

Michael A. Anastasi, Vice President of News and Regional Editor/Tennessee for The Tennessean, USA Today Network

  • Jerry Mitchell, Investigative Reporter, Jackson Clarion-Ledger
  • Michael A. Anastasi, Vice President of News, The Tennessean
  • Sandra Dawson Long Weaver, Editorial Director, The Tennessee Tribune
  • Mark Russell, News Director, Memphis Commercial Appeal

In this session we take a deep dive examining the role of the media in the Age of Trump. Led by Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Michael A. Anastasi, a distinguished group of panelists representing a variety of viewpoints discuss the ramifications throughout American society of a President who has publicly declared, and repeatedly so, that the work of journalists is not only not to be believed, but journalists themselves are “evil.” How do we build bridges toward civil discourse, an informed citizenry, and a respect for others? We begin at home by engaging our hometown news sources.

Major Book Reviews and Books in Progress

“Scripture (alone) and Schism: Is there a Better Way?: Sola scriptura et multa ecclesiarum ... Est melius?” – Ezell Center 211

Daniel Oden, Harding University, and Kevin Youngblood, Harding University, Co-Conveners

  • Keith Stanglin, Austin Graduate School of Theology, “The Restoration Movement, the Habit of Schism and a Proposal for Unity: A Proposal from an Historical Theologian”
  • Mark Hamilton, Abilene Christian University, Respondent as Biblical Theologian
  • Ron Highfield, Pepperdine University, Respondent as Systematic Theologian
  • Mark Powell, Harding School of Theology, Respondent as Canonical Theist
  • J. David Stark, Faulkner University, Respondent

Heirs to the sola scriptura principle of the Reformation, Stone-Campbell churches have characteristically assumed that Christian unity may solely be achieved via interpretation of Scripture. Considering the interpretive pluralism in Protestantism, the need to reconsider the adequacy of the expression sola scriptura has produced several recent discussions (Kenton Sparks, Peter Enns, William Abraham). Keith Stanglin has proposed a deep restoration for Stone-Campbell churches that would acknowledge the roles played by gospel, community, and creed in maintaining and expressing Christian unity. This session will explore hermeneutical, historical, and theological models that take seriously prima scripturacommunio sanctorum, and divine authority. 

“The Bible, Justice, and Law, Session I” – Ezell Center 207

Kilnam Cha, Abilene Christian University, Andrew Little, Abilene Christian University, and William “Chip” Kooi, Oklahoma Christian University, Co-Conveners

  • 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 Citizens and Police Legitimacy?”
  • Ken Swindle, J.D., Swindle Law Firm, Rogers, AR, “Christianity and the Economic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System”
  • Andrew Little, Abilene Christian University, “Sweatshops, Uber, and Health Insurance: Justice and Law in Work Relationships”
  • Randy Spivey, Lipscomb University, Respondent

This is the first of two sessions addressing justice and law in biblical and theological frameworks. In this first session, the focus derives primarily from a legal perspective, as scholars and practicing attorneys examine criminal justice and procedure and legal and ethical issues in the employment relationship.  

Missional Theology and World Christianity

“Missional Theology and the Future of the U.S. Church” – Swang Center 112

Greg McKinzie, Fuller Theological Seminary, Convener

  • Spencer Bogle, Independent Scholar, “Missional Theology as Economic Enterprise”
  • Ron Clark, Agape Church of Christ/Portland Seminary, “Agape: Creating Missional Partnerships to Lead Community Shalom, Justice, and Healing”
  • 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 dialectic of theory and praxis is essential to missional theology. Accordingly, this session creates a space for theological reflection and dialogue that is both rooted in and generative of missional practices in the U.S. context. In particular, papers will address missional theology as a prophetic economic practice, the practice of community collaboration in peace and justice, and the practice of listening to those at the church’s boundaries.

Online Education

“Memory, Tradition and the Future of Distance Learning” – Swang Center 238

Scott E. Hamm, Hardin-Simmons University, Convener

  • Jerry Sumney, Lexington Theological Seminary, “Some Best Practices in Online Teaching: Things We Have Learned at Lexington”
  • Mindi Thompson, Abilene Christian University, “Culture Counts: Online Learning for International Students”
  • 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”

This session explores new ideas in teaching and learning online as it draws from intercultural engagement, practical techniques from the field, and educational philosophy. Mindi Thompson presents data from Abilene Christian University’s new initiatives in Africa and Europe. Jerry Sumney shares online instruction techniques experienced at Lexington Theological Seminary. Timothy Paul Westbrook, Jordan McDonald, and Morgan Miller explore how qualitative data from an online experience at Harding relate to Dewey’s concepts of experience and learning.


The Fourth Annual Everett Ferguson Lecture in Early Christian Studies:

“John Chrysostom on Love, Marriage and Magic: Assessing the Evidence of a Previously Untranslated Homily (hom. in 1 Cor 7:2)” – Chapel, Ezell Center 241

Margaret M. Mitchell, University of Chicago

  • Trevor W. Thompson, University of Chicago, Convener
  • Jeff Childers, Abilene Christian University, Convener
  • Tera Harmon, Abilene Christian University, Convener
  • Ron Heine, Northwest Christian University, Convener

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 Chrysostom 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.


“Philosophical Engagements with the Stone-Campbell Tradition, Part I” – Ezell Center 234

J. Caleb Clanton, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Chris Shrock, Oklahoma School of Science & Mathematics and Oklahoma Christian University, “Biblicism as Hermeneutical Justice”
  • Blake McAllister, Hillsdale College, “A Return to Common Sense: Restorationism and Common Sense Epistemology”
  • Anna Brinkerhoff, Brown University, “Perspicuity and Peer Disagreement: What to Think when Someone Disagrees with Us about Scripture”

Philosophical engagements with a religious tradition can come in a variety of forms. For example, philosophers can do the work of explicating the conceptual influences that have helped shape a tradition over time, or they can critique or defend the views and arguments for which it is best known. Similarly, they can offer philosophical solutions to problems internal to a tradition, just as they can mine the tradition for resources and insights helpful in addressing matters beyond it. This session (both part I and part II) will survey how the Stone-Campbell movement gives rise to questions, problems, and resources for philosophical inquiry, and in turn examine how philosophical inquiry gives rise to questions, problems, and resources for this tradition. The participants in this two-part session will be contributing to a forthcoming edited volume on this topic.

Practical Theology

“Bridging the Divide: Addressing the Gap between the Church and the Academy” – Swang Center 232

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

  • Jeff Peterson, Austin Graduate School of Theology, “Politics, the Professor, and the Person in the Pew”
  • David Mahfood, Southern Methodist University, “Is the Mind of Christ Divided from His Body? A Theological Assessment of the Church-Academy Divide”
  • Amy Bost Heneger, Manhattan Church of Christ, NY, “The Glass Pulpit: How Women Navigate the Dichotomy Between Academy and Congregation”
  • Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

Seminary trained ministers struggle to fit theologically with the churches they minister and guide. This simple, but near-universal sentiment attests to a commonly accepted reality: there is a wide gap between churches and academic institutions under the Church of Christ umbrella in particular and in Christendom in general. This session aims to address that gap through diverse perspectives and methodologies, and to offer practical insight towards bridging this divide. 

Science and Faith and Women’s Studies

“An Introduction to Women in STEM” – Swang Center 242

Amanda J. Nichols, Oklahoma Christian University, Convener

  • Amanda L. Boston, Lubbock Christian University, “Efficacy of Gender Segregated STEM Programs”
  • Alice Mankin, Family Medicine Physician, Mercy Clinic, Edmond, OK, “Establishing Inter-Institutional Networks of Christian Faculty”
  • Amanda J. Nichols, Oklahoma Christian University, “Women in STEM: Learning From Each Other”

We will present a comparative look at women faculty and students in STEM at our respective universities and professions. Highlights from the literature will present a picture of what women in STEM look like currently in higher education and across professions. An emphasis on faculty-student interaction will bring an inter-generational perspective into focus.

Session 4: Thursday 2-3:30 p.m.

American Religious Studies

“Greater Things for God: History of Mission in the Stone-Campbell Movement” – Swang Center 242

Christopher Flanders, Abilene Christian University, and Jeremy Hegi, Boston University, Conveners

  • Brady Kal Cox, Abilene Christian University, “A Failed Attempt at a Contextualized Preacher Training School: Dr. William Douglass Gunselman and the Philippine Bible College of Quezon City”
  • Christopher Flanders, Abilene Christian University, “The First Church of Christ Mission Training Program: George A. Lineman and W. W. Freeman at Abilene Christian College—1918 to 1925”
  • C. Philip Slate, Harding School of Theology, “Greene Lawrence Wharton: Pioneer in Disciple Missions to the ‘Heathen’ and a Window into 19th Century Disciple Mission Understanding”
  • Douglas Foster, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

Prolific historian Kenneth Scott Latourette referred to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as “The Great Century.” Great fervor and action surrounding international missionary efforts among Christian traditions from the West marked this period of time. While there has been considerable study of the history of mission efforts among mainline, evangelical, and Pentecostal Christian traditions, there is still considerable work to be done on the mission history of churches from the Stone-Campbell Movement. In this session, panelists illuminate the contours of mission history in the Stone-Campbell Movement. 

“Reading David Lipscomb in a Time of Trump” – Swang Center 108 (Stowe Hall)

Richard Goode, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Susan Haynes, Lipscomb University
  • Joshua Jeffery, University of Tennessee
  • Jack Scott, Claremont Graduate University
  • William Lofton Turner, Lipscomb University

This year, 2017, marks not only the advent of a new presidential administration for the U.S., but also the 100th anniversary of David Lipscomb’s death. If Lipscomb were alive today, how might he respond to our political state? If Lipscomb were to compose a new edition of Civil Government for the 21st century, for instance, what might he emphasize? Although these questions are counterfactual, panelists will consider the relevance of Lipscomb’s political theology for our era. Now a century after his death, what might David Lipscomb still have to teach us?

Business and Engineering

“A Christian Perspective on Secrecy, Privacy and Change” – Swang Center 246

Brad Reid, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Clifford Anderson, Vanderbilt University, “On Patents, Trade Secrets, and Open Source Business Models: A Theological Reflection”
  • Brad Reid, Lipscomb University, “Forgetfulness and Privacy in the Internet Age”
  • Stephen Collings, Lipscomb University, “Designing Elections using Engineering Design Principles”
  • Orneita Burton, Abilene Christian University, “Tradition and the Future of Faith: Using Network Theory to Re-Engineer Organizational and Social Change”

This session features a collection of papers on secrecy, privacy and change. Faculty ponder theological reflection on business models, privacy in the Internet age, the design of elections that retain privacy and accuracy and the application of network theory in change.

Civil Rights                 

“Hearing Sonny’s Blues: Responding to Imaginative Opportunities within the Purview of Church Tradition” – Ezell Center 109

Raymond Carr, Convener

  • Raymond Carr, Pepperdine University, “When ‘Whiteness’ Redeems Itself: Hearing the Blues in a Tone-Deaf Exceptional Nation”
  • Richard Hughes, Lipscomb University, “The Myth of White Supremacy in American Life”
  • Angela Sims, St. Paul School of Theology, “Whose Cross–Whose Tree: Religious Imagery and Women’s Positionality”
  • Stanley Talbert, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, “Lessons from Sonny’s Pain: Hearing the Youth as a Way to Embrace the Future”
  • James H. Cone, Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, Respondent

Cross and Crescent: Intersections of Christianity and Islam

“Comparing Christian and Islamic Views of Jesus” – Swang Center 232

Garry Bailey, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Garry Bailey, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
  • John Barton, Pepperdine University, Panelist
  • Josh Graves, Otter Creek Church of Christ, Nashville, TN, Panelist
  • Keith Huey, Rochester College, Panelist
  • Daoud Abudiab, Faith and Culture Center of Nashville, Panelist
  • Nahed Artoul Zehr, Western Kentucky University, Panelist

This panel seeks to provide a context for scholarly conversation about the different views of Jesus from the perspectives of the Christian and Islamic belief systems. Among the most significant beliefs in the Christian faith is that Jesus is the Son of God. Muslims, however, believe Jesus was human but not divine. There are several notable similarities and differences between Christian and Muslim beliefs about Jesus. There are also many different interpretations of who Jesus is within Christian and Muslim faith communities. The panel will focus on substantive similarities and differences commonly perceived by each belief system. 

Major Book Reviews and Books in Progress

“Major Book Review: Chris Doran, Hope in the Age of Climate Change: Creation Care this Side of the Resurrection, Wipf & Stock, 2017” – Ezell Center 211

G. Dodd Galbreath, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Emily Stutzman Jones, Lipscomb University, Reviewer
  • Dave Bland, Harding School of Theology, Reviewer
  • Heather Bennett, Blessed Earth, Reviewer
  • Chris Doran, Pepperdine University, Respondent

In his new book, Doran argues that the resurrection proclaims a notion of hope that should be the foundation of a theology of creation care that manifests itself explicitly in the daily lives of believers. Christian hope not only inspires us to do great and courageous things, but also serves as a critique of current hopeless systems and powers that degrade humans, nonhumans, and the rest of creation. An ecologically informed and sensitive theology that sees God’s work as Creator and Redeemer, radically affirmed in Christ’s resurrection, can meet the challenge of being hopeful in the age of climate change.

“Major Book Review: Marie Howe’s Magdalene– Ezell Center 107

John Struloeff, Pepperdine University, Convener

  • Steve Weathers, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
  • Gary McDowell, Belmont University, Panelist
  • John Struloeff, Pepperdine University, Panelist
  • Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, Panelist
  • Marie Howe, Respondent

Offering a haunting view of modern life through the lens of the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene, Marie Howe’s Magdalene is an exploration of memory, grief, and the sacred. The author of four poetry collections, including What the Living Do and The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, Howe is one of the preeminent poets in the United States. Her awards include Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, and she served as the New York State Poet from 2012-2014. Currently teaching at Columbia, New York University, and Sarah Lawrence, Howe regularly lectures on her passions of faith, poetry, and prayer.

“The Bible, Justice, and Law, Session II” – Ezell Center 322

Kilnam Cha, Abilene Christian University, Andrew Little, Abilene Christian University, and William “Chip” Kooi, Oklahoma Christian University, Co-Conveners

  • William “Chip” Kooi, Oklahoma Christian University, “[Re]conciling Identity Politics: The Gift that Can be Given”
  • Kilnam Cha, Abilene Christian University, “Empires, Then and Now: Who Are We and What Are We to Do?”
  • Charles M. Rix, Oklahoma Christian University, “Rip Currents, Identifying Unseen Forces in the Enactment of Gender Equality within Our Churches”
  • Andrew Little, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

This is the second session in a series addressing justice and law in biblical and theological frameworks.  Here, theologians and biblical scholars examine issues of race, identity, gender, and empire with an eye towards greater contextualization of these questions within the larger frame of just, ethical living.

Online Education

“A Theological Rationale for Christian Online Higher Education” – Swang Center 244

Stephen Johnson, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Stephen Johnson, Abilene Christian University, Academic Affairs
  • Ben Ries, Abilene Christian University, Vocational Formation
  • Tera Harmon, Abilene Christian University, Faculty
  • Chris Dowdy, Paul Quinn College, Institutional Effectiveness and Research

The ubiquitous nature of information brought on by the technological explosion of the last two decades is one of the many disruptions that has forced institutions of higher learning to pursue online education as a means to expand influence, increase revenue, and adjust to a changing market. In order to responsibly engage this shifting landscape and an uncertain future, Christian institutions of higher education must develop a theological understanding of this moment that moves beyond marketplace economics and emerging technologies. This session will explore a theology of work, place, and the incarnation as ancient resources for the future of education.


“Lecture and Discussion with Margaret M. Mitchell, Shailer Mathews Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature, University of Chicago Divinity School” – Ezell Center 207

Trevor W. Thompson, University of Chicago, Convener

  • 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.


“Philosophical Engagements with the Stone-Campbell Tradition, Part II” – Ezell Center 234

Chris Shrock, Oklahoma Christian University and Oklahoma School of Science & Mathematics, Co-Conveners

  • James F. Sennett, Brenau Univesity, “Ethics, Faith, and Testimony: Alexander Campbell and Direct Moral Knowledge”
  • Kraig Martin, Harding University, and Nathan Guy, Harding University, “Rationality in the Restoration Movement: Is Atheism a Failure of Rationality?”
  • Tess Varner, Concordia College, “Environmental Axiology in the Stone-Campbell Movement”

Philosophical engagements with a religious tradition can come in a variety of forms. For example, philosophers can do the work of explicating the conceptual influences that have helped shape a tradition over time, or they can critique or defend the views and arguments for which it is best known. Similarly, they can offer philosophical solutions to problems internal to a tradition, just as they can mine the tradition for resources and insights helpful in addressing matters beyond it. This session (both part I and part II) will survey how the Stone-Campbell movement gives rise to questions, problems, and resources for philosophical inquiry, and in turn examine how philosophical inquiry gives rise to questions, problems, and resources for this tradition. The participants in this two-part session will be contributing to a forthcoming edited volume on this topic.

Politics and Theology

“Beyond Rage and Nostalgia: Divine and Human Memory in Christian Political Thought: A Plenary Talk Back with Shaun Casey” – Chapel, Ezell Center 241

Mark Hamilton, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Shaun Casey, Berkley Center, Georgetown University, Panelist
  • Randy Spivey, Lipscomb University, Panelist
  • Mark Hamilton, Abilene Christian University, Panelist
  • Elizabeth Bounds, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Panelist

Christian political thought has a long and complex history. The current part of that history faces the challenges of the winding down of Western Christendom. The panel, therefore, explores such questions as how does one do Christian political theology in the contemporary era while avoiding nostalgia for a (mis)remembered past, whether of recent eras in which the church bore the society’s moral weight or of the imagined pre-Constantinian era? How can the cultivation of memory as a spiritual practice help the church navigate this era?  

Politics and Theology and Interdisciplinary Studies

“Political Debates and Beyond: Examining the Role of Emotion in Politics and a Research Vision for Christian Scholars” – Ezell Center 232

Alan Griggs, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Shawn R. Hughes, Lubbock Christian University, and Paul Bolls, Texas Tech University, “Critical Incidents in the 2016 Debates between Trump and Clinton,” Presentation
  • Mary Vaughn, Belmont University, Power in Interpersonal Relationships, Respondent
  • Jason Stahl, Belmont University, Speech and Debate, Respondent
  • Doug Mendenhall, Abilene Christian University, Journalism, Respondent

This session begins with a summary of the scientific examination of audience reaction to the messages and personalities of the Trump – Clinton debates. Researchers at Lubbock Christian and Texas Tech conducted a series of studies during the 2016 Presidential election examining how voters emotionally responded to the two candidates. Research included dial testing of the first and third Presidential debates and an experiment utilizing psychophysiological measures that tested unconscious embodied emotional responses. Three respondents from the fields of debate, interpersonal communication and journalism will add their own expertise to heuristically explore ramifications of this research. The session will work toward a vision for Christian Scholars to research the quality of political discourse.

Practical Theology

“Scripture and Practical Theology: The Convergence of Text and Practice” – Ezell Center 155

Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University, and Amanda J. Pittman, Abilene Christian University, Co-Conveners

  • Amanda J. Pittman, Abilene Christian University
  • Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University
  • Nathan Bills, Independent Scholar
  • Gregory E. Sterling, Yale Divinity School, Respondent

The Christian Scholars’ Conference has long highlighted the value and significance of the critical study of scripture. This generative session expands the ongoing conversation about scripture by bringing the discourses and categories of practical theology into conversation with biblical texts, reflecting on the ways that scripture arises from and addresses the lived experience of the people of God. Session papers engage in interdisciplinary dialogue between biblical scholarship and theology, toward the end of addressing contemporary congregational mission and life.

Science and Faith

“Integration of Faith, Learning and Clinical Practice in Health Science Programs” – Swang Center 238

Leah I. Fullman, Faulkner University, Convener

  • Roger Davis, College of Pharmacy, Lipscomb University, Panelist
  • Susan Kehl, Carr College of Nursing, Harding University, Panelist
  • Jennifer Gray, College of Natural and Health Science, Oklahoma Christian University, Panelist
  • Leah I. Fullman, Speech Language Pathology, Faulkner University

Health science programs prepare students for entry into professional clinical practice and are optimal training grounds for integration of faith and learning. However, to be effective in developing an active faith in students, integration should extend beyond didactic coursework and into clinical experiences. This interdisciplinary session will explore integration of faith, learning, and clinical practice in health science programs, with open discussion of best practices, ethical considerations, and inter-professional education.

Women’s Studies

“Constraint and Calling: How Women Have Been Constrained and Called by Science and Religion” – Ezell Center 205

Suzie Macaluso, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Jennifer Paxton, Texas A&M University–Kingsville, “Ether and the Serpent: The Morality of Anesthesia in Childbirth in 19th Century America”
  • Steven Tramel Gaines, University of Memphis, “Daring to Prophesy: The First Sermon by a Woman in the Churches of Christ”
  • Lindsay Marolf, Abilene Christian University, “Uncharted Territory: The Path to Board Certification for Female Chaplains within the Churches of Christ”
  • Dave Bland, Harding School of Theology, Respondent
  • Lauren Smelser White, Vanderbilt University, Respondent
  • Jennifer Jeanine Thweatt, Theologian at Large, Respondent

Examining both the contexts of science and religion, this panel explores the ways in which women have been constrained and called over the centuries. Panelists use various methodologies to discuss how women have worked within and beyond such constraints to become agents of change.

Session 5: Friday 9-10:30 a.m.

American Religious Studies

“Of Limits and Demands of Christian Historiography” – Ezell Center 109

Richard Goode, Lipscomb University, Convener

  •  Todd M. Brenneman, Faulkner University
  • Jay Green, Covenant College
  • George Marsden, University of Notre Dame
  • Darlene Rivas, Pepperdine University
  • Nathaniel Wiewora, Harding University

How does faith function for those whose profession is reconstructing the past? Should belief, for example, play an overt and definitive role so that the historiographical work advances the ends of faith? Should professional historians strive to be impartial and dispassionate chroniclers, honoring the disciplinary canons? Jay Green’s recent Christian Historiography: Five Rival Versions provides an indispensable map detailing how Christian historians have gravitated toward certain historiographical practices and models. Using Green’s map, panelists will advance this critical question, envisioning appropriate paths forward.

Civil Rights

“The Lord Gave Me This: Reconsidering the Educational Needs of Urban Leaders and How Seminaries and Denominations Can Help Fulfill Those Needs” – Swang Center 112

Phyllis Hildreth, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • 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,” Presentation
  • Robert Jackson, Lipscomb University, Respondent
  • Joshua Jackson, North Atlanta Church of Christ, Respondent

This session 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 session also explores the question of whether theological education that adequately acknowledges the contributions of black theologians can even occur within traditionally white institutions.

“‘The Role and Opportunity for Communities of Faith in Leading Social Justice’: Strategies for Progressing the National Conversation on Racial Healing in Local Settings” – Ezell Center 136

John York, Lipscomb University, Convener

  • Kevin L. Huddleston, Johnson Street Church of Christ, San Angelo, TX, “The Cross as Wall and Door: Embracing the Two Hands of Justice”
  • Dan Knight, Overland Park Church of Christ, Overland Park, KS, “‘It’s Time!’ A Course of Study on Civil Rights for a Suburban Church”
  • Kent Rhodes, Pepperdine University, “Leading Through Social Justice: A course to develop community leaders”
  • Derrick Jackson, First Baptist Church, Gallatin, TN, Respondent
  • Catherine Meeks, Wesleyan College, Emerita, and Chair, Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Respondent

The history of systemic racism and the civil rights movement in the United States continues to be a deeply formative moment in the United States. Community organizations and houses of worship have much to learn from the movement in terms of helping its members better understand both the role and opportunity to embrace “other” while also serving “the least among us”. This session looks at three unique lessons designed to help church members and community leaders broaden their understanding of the importance of social justice issues as an individual and community Christian response to the teachings of Christ. 

Higher Education: Crises and Opportunities

“Thinking Through the Freshman Seminar at the Christian University” – Swang Center 232

Kristina Campos-Davis, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Anessa Westbrook, Harding University
  • April D. Marshall, Pepperdine University
  • Christin Shatzer, Lipscomb University
  • Trey Shirley, Abilene Christian University

Over 90% of American universities require a freshman seminar course, yet the format, function, and overall approach to these courses varies greatly from institution to institution. Although freshman seminars have been repeatedly identified as a best practice, important for improving retention and academic performance, there is still a lot of disagreement over their value and purpose. Meanwhile, there is even greater uncertainty as to which approach to these classes is most effective. This panel will explore four different approaches to freshman seminars inviting intercollegiate dialogue about the role of the freshman seminar in the contemporary Christian university.

Human Sexuality

“A Theology of Transgender” – Ezell Center 107

Ken Cukrowski, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Dan Brannan, Abilene Christian University (Biology), Panelist
  • Chris Doran, Pepperdine University (Theology), Panelist
  • Chris Riley, Abilene Christian University (Student Life; Law), Panelist
  • Sara Blakeslee Salkil, Abilene Christian University (Marriage and Family), Panelist
  • Ken Cukrowski, Abilene Christian University (Scripture), Panelist

Major news stories from Bruce Jenner’s announcement as Caitlyn (July, 2015) to North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” (March 2016) have made the issue of gender identity part of our national conversation. What questions should Christians be asking? What are the best ways to frame our understanding of this issue? This session explores how we might think theologically about individuals who identify as transgender. Drawing on diverse resources—biology, law, student life, marriage and family therapy, Scripture, and theology—the panelists identify important questions and posit what their discipline can contribute to a theology of transgender.

The Human Being at the Nexus of World and Faith

The Second Annual Landon Saunders Lecture:

“The Human Being as the Nexus of World and Faith” – Chapel, Ezell Center 241

James Walters, School of Theology, Boston University, Convener

  • Landon Saunders, Heartbeat Radio Broadcast, “Toward a Relevant Theology in/for Public Spaces”
  • Lee Camp, Lipscomb University, Respondent
  • Lauren Smelser White, Vanderbilt University, Respondent

In this session Landon Saunders will set forth the thesis that theology conceived in the private spaces of theological schools and church settings has created the content and language which dominates current understanding. But, theology conceived in these private spaces 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 session addresses the roots of this problem and will suggest new possibilities for more effective and engaging communication and dialogue. Two theologians will respond to Saunders thesis and then the panel will dialogue with the audience.

Missional Theology and World Christianity

“The Stories of Mission Journal” – Mullican Studio, Ezell Center 154

Greg McKinzie, Fuller Theological Seminary, Convener

  • Dwain Evans, Bering Drive Church of Christ, Houston TX
  • Vic Hunter, First Christian Church, New Martinsville, WV
  • Richard Hughes, Lipscomb University

This interview-style session is dedicated to recording the stories of some key participants in the production of Mission. They will reflect on the motivations, hardships, and successes of publishing thoughtful, courageous content during a tumultuous time for the country and for Churches of Christ. What were the personal costs? How did the journal evolve and why? What would they do differently if they had it to do over? And what is the legacy of Mission for today? The session is open to a “studio audience.”

New Testament

“‘God's Household Manager’ (Titus 1:7): Would You Ordain Philodemus?” – Swang Center 234

John Harrison, Oklahoma Christian University, Convener

  • Christopher Hutson, Abilene Christian University, Presenter
  • Trevor W. Thompson, University of Chicago, Respondent
  • Jeremy Sumney, Lexington Theological Seminary, Respondent

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 Tim 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.

Online Education

“Best Practices in Online Christian Higher Education” – Ezell Center 359 (Andrews Institute)

Jaime Goff, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Peter Williams, Abilene Christian University, Wade Fish, Abilene Christian University, Natalie Wall, Abilene Christian University, “Social Support for First Generation Doctoral Students”
  • Nina Morel, Lipscomb University, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Professional Studies, and Hope Nordstrom, Lipscomb University, “A Process for Developing Outcomes and Assessments for Online Competency Based Courses”
  • Brian Cole, Abilene Christian University, “Using Student Development Approaches in Online Student Services”
  • Sara Salkil, Abilene Christian University, and Linnea Rademaker, Abilene Christian University, “Creating Hospitable Spaces in a Virtual World”

This session will explore various best practices in online Christian higher education including social support for first generation online students; competency-based education; the development of student services for online students; and creating the hospitality that characterizes residential campuses in an online program.

Patristics and Homiletics

“Scripture and Preaching in Augustine and Chrysostom” A Peer Reviewed Session – Ezell Center 322

Tera Harmon, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Michael Strickland, Amridge University, “Construct a Fortress Against the Devil: John Chrysostom’s Plea to Build Churches”
  • 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”
  • Mark Weedman, Johnson University, “Augustine on the Productive Capacity of Scripture”

The papers in this session focus on two of the most influential biblical interpreters in Christian history: John Chrysotom and Augustine of Hippo. Though basically contemporary, these two leaders functioned in dramatically different circumstances and tend to be seen as different from each other. This session contextualizes Chrysostom’s appeals to the rich, illuminates overlooked similarities between the two churchmen, and offers a new reading of Confessions as a guide to biblical hermeneutics.

Politics and Theology

“Faith in Public: A Roundtable Discussion with Shaun Casey” – Ezell Center 211

Amanda J. Pittman, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • Shaun Casey, Georgetown University
  • David Mahfood, Southern Methodist University
  • Justin Bronson Barringer, Southern Methodist University
  • Brian Michael Smith, Yale Divinity School

The current season in American life raises questions, both old and new, about the role of people of faith in the public sphere. In this session, distinguished plenary speaker Shaun Casey brings both experience and scholarship at the intersection of faith and public life to a dynamic roundtable discussion. Casey, along with three Ph.D. students in the theological disciplines, will engage in constructive discussion about the following question: What are the responsibilities of Christian scholars to various publics, whether civic, ecclesial, or academic?

Popular Culture, Literature and Faith

“C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings”  – Swang Center 238

Jonathan Thorndike, Belmont University, Convener

  • Kenneth C. Hawley, Lubbock Christian University, “Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the Consolation of a Happy Ending”
  • Ann Coble, Belmont University, “Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey”
  • Robbie Pinter, Belmont University, “Fantasy Worlds in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia and George MacDonald’s Lilith: Thresholds, Portals, and Crossovers”
  • Don Cusic, Belmont University, “Johnny Cash and C. S. Lewis”

This panel brings together four essays from scholars of the Inklings (J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and others influenced by them such as Dorothy Sayers and Johnny Cash). The Inklings was a group of scholars who met in Oxford, England in the 19302 and 1940s who shared Christianity and common interest in writing fantasy. Not only did this group of scholars produce great works of fiction, but also some of the 20th Century's most enduring scholarship, apologetics, and imaginative mythologies. The Inklings' books echo some of the great themes of mid-20th century Europe including fears over the rise of totalitarianism, concern with new scientific advancements, the los of traditional religious values, and perceived threats to the old traditions of church, crown, and the natural world. These books live at the intersection of memory and Christian tradition, and they have inspired faith for a new generation in this century.

“Memory and Tradition as Revealed Truth in Literature” – Swang Center 112

Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, Convener

  • Susan Blassingame, Lubbock Christian University, “Mothers/Friends and Daughters: Telling Truth as Preservation of Legacy”
  • Ronna Privett, Lubbock Christian University, “Memory as Legacy and Confession in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead
  • Nancy Shankle Jordan, Texas A&M University -Texarkana, “Memory, Guilt, and Truth in E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars”
  • Jana Anderson, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent

American author Jessamyn West said one of the purposes of writing fiction is that “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” As characters in novels share memories and traditions with others, particularly as adults share with younger people, the characters discover truths about themselves and their situations and hope to pass that knowledge to the other members of their families and communities. This panel will examine various works of fiction as we explore the concepts of memory, tradition, and truth.

Science and Faith

“Uncovering the Inner Lives of Electrons” – Swang Center 242

George D. Parks, FuelScience LLC, Convener

  • Paul W. Ayers, McMaster University, “Uncovering the Inner Lives of Electrons”
  • George D. Parks, FuelScience LLC, Convener, Respondent
  • Austin Privett, Lipscomb University, Respondent

What happens when two substances are mixed together? Does a chemical reaction occur? If so, which chemical bonds are broken? What new chemical bonds are formed? Can we increase the efficiency of the reaction by changing the conditions under which it occurs? Questions like these lie at the core of chemistry. Addressing them requires understanding, at a fundamental level, how the electrons that bind atoms into molecules rearrange during the course of a chemical reaction and, more subtly, how different molecular environments influence these rearrangements. Therefore, in order to understand the nature of the chemical bond, and to master the chemical reactions by which chemical bonds are fractured and formed, we must uncover the inner lives of electrons.

Theology and the Arts

“Theology and the Arts” – Swang Center 244

Charles M. Rix, Oklahoma Christian University, Convener

  • Sally Reid, Lipscomb University
  • Travis Montgomery, Oklahoma Christian University
  • Charles M. Rix, Oklahoma Christian University

This panel lays a foundation for exploring the broad conversation between the arts and theology. The session pulls together researchers and practitioners in literature, music, and painting, both in traditional and cutting-edge contemporary expression to discuss the role of artistic media in portraying and advancing theological ideas and concepts. Discussion will focus on memory, tradition and the future of faith. The goal of the 2017 panel is to provide a platform for more in-depth discussions, performances, and papers to be given in subsequent years at CSC.  

Women’s Studies and Theology and the Arts

Women of Valor: A Chamber Oratorio by Andrea Clearfield” – Ward Hall

Jean Miller, Lipscomb University School of Music, Convener

  • Jean Miller, Lipscomb University School of Music, Soprano
  • Sara Crigger, Nashville Symphony, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Mezzo-soprano
  • LaJuana Gill, O’More College of Design, Narrator
  • Jeff Burnham, Lipscomb University, Belmont University, Nashville Symphony, Pianist
  • Jessica Blevins, New Song Christian Fellowship, Arise Arts International, Violinist
  • Colleen Phelps, Lipscomb University School of Music, Percussionist
  • Claire Frederick, Lipscomb University College of Bible & Ministry, Respondent
  • Mark Sneed, Lubbock Christian University, Respondent

Women of Valor celebrates women from the Old Testament.  Inspired by a midrash (biblical commentary) on Proverbs, each line of the biblical text from Proverbs 31 represents a strong, resourceful woman. Texts are drawn from the Bible and from modern poems and prose. Sung and narrated in English, Hebrew and Yiddish, the oratorio highlights the stories of Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Jocheved, Miriam, Hannah, Jael, Michal, Ruth and Esther. The musical material incorporates ancient Hebrew synagogue chants as well as other traditional melodies and is influenced by cantorial ornamentation, biblical instruments, Jewish dance forms, and Middle-Eastern and Sephardic music.