The Intellectual Virtues (Fall 2015 Table Talks)

The Fall 2015 Table Talks will examine the intellectual virtues. This continues a discussion on human flourishing we began last semester, turning our attention to virtues that are particularly important to cultivate for a flourishing intellectual life. Intellectual virtues are desperately needed in an academic world that is often vitriolic, closed to alternative viewpoints, and uncivil. Unfortunately, these qualities seem prevalent in both Christian and non-Christian contexts. Furthermore, the intellectual virtues are of value in every time and place, simply because they foster an intellectual life that discerns truth, sees beauty, and loves goodness.

Dr. Jason Baehr from Loyola Marymount is our first speaker. He has taught Philosophy since 2003. He has been one of the most influential voices in the field of “virtue epistemology,” which focuses on intellectual virtues like curiosity, attentiveness, intellectual humility, open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and intellectual tenacity. His work includes The Inquiring Mind: On Intellectual Virtues and Virtue Epistemology (Oxford University Press, 2011), as well as editing Intellectual Virtues and Education: Essays in Applied Virtue Epistemology (Routledge, forthcoming). In 2012, Baehr was awarded two grants from the John Templeton Foundation totaling over $1 million to advance and implement new research at the intersection of virtue epistemology and educational theory and practice. Dr. Baehr‘s overview of the intellectual virtues will provide an essential starting point for the entire semester.



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Christian Reflections on Human Flourishing (Spring 2015)

Table Talks during the Spring 2015 semester addressed Christian visions of human flourishing. Human flourishing is a broad concept with a rich history, and finds varied expression in a remarkably diverse set of academic disciplines. Known roots in ancient philosophy have produced substantial blossoms in contemporary philosophy—first in the rediscovery of virtue ethics, then in wide-ranging discussions about virtue, and now in virtue epistemology. Human flourishing is also the focus of positive psychology; one of the most thriving research projects among the psychological disciplines. It is also intimately related to vocation and calling, a subject with stands at the intersection of several different academic disciplines. Human flourishing is also a helpful framing device for integrative conversations between theology and almost every academic discipline.

Sanctification and Human Flourishihng

Our first Table Talk was hosted by Rick Langer and John Coe, and it considered the relationship between Sanctification and Human Flourishing. This is a central question for Christians. Some see the pursuit of human flourishing as a pagan replacement for Christian notions of sanctification and spiritual maturity. For some, human flourishing is a self-improvement project that is futile and useless apart from the gracious work of the Spirit. Rick offers a brief overview of human flourishing, but from the perspective of ancient Greeks and from a Christian perspective. John connects notions of human flourishing with sanctification and spiritual development.

Educating for Shalom: Strategies for Cultivating Students’ Callings

The second in our series of Christian Reflections on Human Flourishing is presented a special guest speaker, Bryan Dik (see bio below).

Christian colleges have many opportunities to teach students about how they may use their gifts to advance the kingdom throughout their careers. What strategies should faculty and staff use to help students discern and live out their callings? How can cutting-edge research on career development in general and a sense of calling in particular inform these efforts? This session will explore the meanings of calling and vocation, explore the intersection of psychological science and Biblical teaching related to these topics, and offer some strategies for helping students overcome obstacles that can disrupt their pursuit of God’s plan for their careers.

Bryan Dik: Bryan is associate professor of psychology at Colorado State University and cofounder of jobZology, a company that uses psychological assessment to bring job-seekers and organizations together in ways that help both thrive. His research is primarily in the area of career development, especially perceptions of work as a calling, and meaning, purpose, religion and spirituality in career decision-making and planning. He has published or presented more than 140 papers and has served on editorial boards for six research journals. He is co-author of Make Your Job a Calling: How the Psychology of Vocation Can Change Your Life at Work, and is co-editor of two other books: Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace and Psychology of Religion and Workplace Spirituality.

Suffering and Human Flourishing

Liz Hall, from Rosemead School of Psychology, concludes our series of Christian Reflections on Human Flourishing with a discussion of Suffering and Human Flourishing. Suffering is often subsumed into philosophical discussions of the problem of evil. There is an equally relevant psychological question: How can we experience suffering in such a way that it contributes to human flourishing rather than diminishes it? Liz has published on this topic but will also draw on her own personal experience with suffering as she had a bout with cancer in the past year. She will help us consider how we can grow, mature, and even thrive in the midst of our suffering!

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Table Talk – Nancy Yuen and Dean Yamada – 11.13.14


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Table Talk – Ivan Moody – 10.9.14

Table Talk Ivan Moody – 10.9.14

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Table Talk – Erwin McManus – 09.19.14

Table Talk Erwin McManus 9.19.14

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Inklings: Spirit and Story in 20th Century England

The Table Talk series for Spring 2014 will focus on four great English literary figures of the 20th century: Chesterton, Tolkien, Sayers and Lewis. Though these authors were not all part of the famed “Inklings” in a direct sense, they all were all admirers of each other’s writings. All of these authors elegantly addressed the questions of their day, bringing them into conversation with the great themes of the Christian faith. All of them did this by writing creative and compelling works of literature. For each of these authors, we will consider how their theology informed their literature, and consider how this helped make them effective witnesses in their cultural moments. Our hope is that we can learn to follow in their footsteps in our own cultural moment!
At our first Table Talk, February 19th,  Chris Mitchell shared his insights on the author and philosopher, G.K. Chesterson.

You may view his presentation by clicking on this link:

Chris MitchellG.K. Chesterton

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March 27th Melissa Schubert shared on her studies of J.R.R. Tolkien and the inspiration he brings to her teaching

Portrait of Melissa Schubert

You may view her presentation by clicking this link: Table Talk JRR Tolkien, Melissa Schubert

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Fred Sanders presented information about the life and writings of Dorothy L. Sayers at the April 16th luncheon

Portrait of Fred Sanders

Click here to view Fred’s presentation: Table Talk Dorothy L.Sayers by Fred Sanders

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Christianity and the Arts

From Northwoods Journal exhibit by Kurt Simonson

This fall our Table Talks focus on Christianity and the Arts. We  want to speak to the University’s theme “Spirit and Story” as well as acknowledging the launch of the Center for Christianity Culture and the Arts.

The relationship between Christianity and the arts has varied widely through the centuries. For a lengthy period of time in the Middle Ages, the church was a major benefactor of the arts. However, for various reasons certain branches of the Protestant Reformation looked askance at the arts. For example, George Müller, the famous prayer warrior and founder of Christian orphanages in 19th century England, stated that he only went to the theater twice after his conversion. He recalled of the first visit: “I went to a concert but felt that it was unbecoming for me, as a Child of God, to be in such a place.” In a similar vein, Scottish Brethren preacher John Ritchie was asked if he objected to a believer reading a high-class work of fiction.  He did: “Novels—the best of them—are lies…to speak of high-class falsehood is strange language…. Can any child of God be helped in spiritual life by that? Certainly not. Our advice, therefore, is, have nothing whatever to do with fiction. Read and meditate on the Word of God.”

In our contemporary context, there is still a palpable tension with the arts in certain Christian communities, while others embrace the arts as a very specific part of a church planting strategy, and still others embrace arts with little Christian reflection at all.

So it is into this somewhat confused conversation that our Fall Table Talks will speak. We will look at specific examples of the arts and reflect on how they express and interact with the Christian Gospel. I think our times will be insightful and enjoyable so please make plans to attend!

Commentary on Northwoods Journals

Kurt Simonson will be a featured photographer in an exhibit in the Biola Art Gallery this fall. Our Table Talk will look at some of the pictures featured in his exhibit and hear comments and interaction with them from Jon Anderson and Chris Davidson.

To view Jon and Chris’ presentation, click here:  Commentary on Northwoods Journals

To view Chris Davidson’s powerpoint commentary, click here: Chris Davidson on Home is Where

To view Jon Anderson’s powerpoint commentary; stored on Google Drive, click here: Jon Anderson powerpoint on Home is Where

Monday, November 4th Trevor Hart—President’s Luncheon

Though this is not technically a Table Talk, we want to strongly encourage all of those who regularly attend Table Talk to join the President’s Luncheon on November 4th. The guest speaker is Dr. Trevor Hart, a professor of divinity at St. Mary’s College at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Dr. Hart is Biola’s fall 2013 Visionary-in-Residence, and is a leading thinker on Christianity and the Arts.

Wednesday, December 4th The Incarnation and the Arts

We will consider various responses to the incarnation from the visual arts, literature and music. It will be a great preparation for your Advent!

A variety of faculty shared their musings and ministry related to the Annunciation event.

To read poems shared by Todd Pickett, click here: Annuciation (D. Leverton) OR Annunciation (J.Donne, M.Guite)

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Human Sexuality in Christian Perspective

There are few issues where Christianity is more in tension with our culture than in issues related to human sexuality. We live in a climate that is sexually permissive, generally self-indulgent, and usually confused. It seems the only thing which is immoral is declaring someone else’s sexual practice to be immoral. At the same time, many Christians seem to affirm their moral commitments in a way that is offensive not only to our culture at large, but to many Christians as well. Other Christians find it hard to speak at all because they feel like they are at odds with the findings of modern science and they fear being ignorant or ill-informed.

In the spring of 2013, we are going to be engaging this controversial topic at our Table Talk luncheons. These luncheons are designed to help us think through important issues in a way that integrates the best of faith and learning. Though we will pay particular attention to homosexuality, we will also be addressing broader issues of marriage and human sexuality, as well as discussing ways to engage these issues with civility and respect. It should be an exciting time!

Here’s the schedule, we will be posting videos of the luncheons as we go along:

Shouting Doesn’t Help Me Hear You–Tim Muehlhoff
One of the projects Tim worked on in graduate school was facilitating a discourse between students from an evangelical campus ministry and self-identified gay students. Tim will share about this experience as well as sharing some wisdom on “abnormal discourse” and strategies for effective communication in an adversarial environment.

To view Tim’s powerpoint, click here:  The Argument Culture

To view Tim’s Presentation, click here:  February 2013 Table Talk

The Origins of Sexual Orientation–Tammy Anderson
Tammy has been actively involved with the GLBT community in various settings within academic psychology. She will provide an overview of current research regarding the origins of sexual orientation as well as some very practical experience in working with the GLBT community.

To view Tammy’s powerpoint, click here:  Origins of Homosexuality

To view Tammy’s Presentation, click here:  March 2013 Table Talk

Biblical Perspectives on Homosexuality–Matt Jenson and Darian Lockett
Matt and Darian will discuss important biblical passages concerning homosexuality, as well as some of the hermeneutical issues that sit behind contemporary discussions of homosexuality and the bible. They will also consider some of the challenges of pastoral ministry to the gay community.

To view Matt and Darian’s powerpoint, click here:  Homosexuality and Scripture

To view Matt and Darian’s Presentation, click here:  April 2013 Table Talk

Thursday, May 16: Marriage: Straight and Gay–Rick Langer and Panel Discussion
Rick will discuss biblical perspectives of marriage and how those translate into modern social policy–especially as related to same-sex marriage. We will conclude our time with a panel discussion including all of the presenters from this Spring’s series.

To view Rick’s presentation and the panel discussion, click here: May 2013 Table Talk

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What does Jerusalem have to do with Washington?

As so many have done before me, I thought I’d borrow (and butcher) this phrase from Tertullian. Though he originally asked about Athens and Jerusalem in reference to the church and the secular academy, it is fitting to ask the same question about Washington in reference to the church and secular politics. What does our faith have to do with our politics? Join us as we think through this important question which is particularly timely in an election year!  

Starting us off, Rick Langer and Andy Draycott will address Politics and the Bible: The History of a Conversation.  Christian political reflection did not begin in 1980 with Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. Ever since Jesus said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what it God’s,” Christians have been contemplating exactly what is Caesar’s and what is God’s. Join us for an in-depth look at this 2000 year old conversation and some very specific applications to our world today.
It will be especially interesting to hear some thoughts on American politics from our brother from the other side of the Pond, Andy Draycott!

To view the September presentation, click here:  September 2012 Table Talk

To view Andy’s notes, click here:  Notes

Doug Geivett and Dave Peters—Christian Involvement in Contemporary American Politics.

To view the October presentation, click here:  October 2012 Table Talk

Dave Peters handout:  Biblical Principles for Voting

Doug Geivett handout:  Why I’m Voting Republican

Scott Waller—Election 2012 in Retrospect: What happened and where do we go from here?

To view the November presentation, click here:  November 2012 Table Talk

Scott Waller presentation:  Election Post-Mortem

Here are some questions we hope to address.

  • What does the Bible teach about human government? Furthermore, how have Christians understood and practiced these teachings over the last two millennia?
  • What does our commitment to the Lordship of Christ mean for political allegiance and political involvement? (If we are “aliens”, does that mean we really do not have anything to do with the politics of this world? On the other hand, does the preeminence of Christ require us to see that he is honored in all realms, including the realm of human political society?)
  • How should we vote in a modern political democracy? (Do we vote for Christian candidates? Do we vote for people of character and integrity even if they are not Christians? Do we practice single issue politics? If so, what issue? If not, how do we balance the many issues we confront? How do these questions map onto American political parties?)
  • Finally, after the current election has run its course, we want to stop and ask what does the outcome mean for us as Christians? What will be our major political concerns as we move forward?

Atkinson and Field (eds.) New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology
Green, Joel (ed.) Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics
Long, D. Stephen, Christian Ethics. A Very Short Introduction
O’Donovan and O’Donovan, From Ireneaus to Grotius. A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought
Scott and Cavanaugh, The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology

Bauckham, Richard, The Bible in Politics. How to Read the Bible Politically
O’Donovan, Oliver, The Desire of the Nations. Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology
OT – Burnside, Jonathan, God, Justice, and Society. Aspects of Law and Legality in the Bible.
McConville, J.G., God and Earthly Power. An Old Testament Political Theology. Genesis-Kings
Wright, Christopher, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God
NT – Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Discipleship
Stassen and Gushee, Kingdom Ethics. Following Jesus in Contemporary Context
Winter, Bruce, Seek the Welfare of the City. Christians as Benefactors and Citizens
Yoder, John Howard, The Politics of Jesus

Bradstock, Andrew, Radical Religion in Cromwell’s England.
Coffey, John: ‘‘Let my people go’: Exodus and Deliverance from Calvin to Obama.’ – University of
Otago, NZ, Thomas Burns Memorial Lectures, 2010
Hill, Christopher, Puritans and Revolution
Leithart, Peter, Defending Constantine. The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom
McDermott, Gerald, One Holy and Happy Society. The Public Theology of Jonathan Edwards
Mahaffey, Jerome D., Preaching Politics. The Religious Rhetoric of George Whitefield and the Founding of a New Nation
Mathewes & McKnight Nichols, Prophesies of Godlessness. Predictions of America’s Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day
O’Donovan and O’Donovan, Bonds of Imperfection. Christian Politics, Past and Present.
O’Donovan, Oliver, The Desire of the Nations
Rowland, Christopher, Radical Christianity. A Reading of Recovery
Walzer, Michael, Exodus and RevolutionThe Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origin of Radical Politics

Contemporary USA:
Grudem, Wayne, Politics According to the Bible
Hauerwas and Willimon, Resident Aliens. Life in the Christian Colony
Hauewas, Stanley, The Hauerwas Reader
Marsh, Charles Wayward Christian Soldiers. Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity
Northcott, Michael, An Angel Directs the Storm. Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire
Sandel, Michael, Justice. What’s the Right Thing to Do?
Wallis, Jim, God’s Politics. Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It
Webb, Stephen, American Providence. A Nation with a Mission

Prophetic Politics?:
Benson, Berry and Heltzel, Prophetic Evangelicals. Envisioning a Just and Peaceable Kingdom
Bevans and Schroeder, Prophetic Dialogue. Reflections on Christian Mission Today
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Ethics
Gutterman, David, Prophetic Politics. Christian Social Movements and American Democracy
Johnson, Luke Timothy, Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church. The Challenge of Luke-Acts to Contemporary Christians
Pally, Marcia, The New Evangelicals. Expanding the Vision of the Common Good
Slessarev-Jamir, Helene, Prophetic Activism. Progressive Religious Justice Movements in Contemporary America
West, Cornel, Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity

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A post-modern cityscape

Brad Christerson and Dan Callis continue our series on Sacred Space by exploring the idea of cities as sacred spaces. In particular, they will be sharing some of their thoughts on Los Angeles as a post-modern cityscape, and reflecting on cities and their significance in Scripture and contemporary society. Brad and Dan have been involved together in teaching experiences that bring together Brad’s expertise in sociology and Dan’s passion for the arts.

To view the presentation, click here:  May 2012 Table Talk

The question Brad and Dan will be addressing is an important one. The contemporary city is a paradox. On the one hand, “urban” conjures up images of poverty, violence, and crime. On the other hand, the entire globe is undergoing a massive urban migration. Why do we go to places we consider to be places of poverty, violence and crime? Perhaps because we are social creatures and are relentlessly drawn towards life in society with others. Perhaps because the city is not only the breeding ground of human depravity, it is also the place where the highest forms of human culture are conceived, brought forth and flourish. Perhaps we live in cities because treasured values like diversity, freedom and self-expression require the inspiration of others to find expression in ourselves. Whatever the reason, the fact remains: we are living in cities in ever-increasing numbers. Finding a Christian voice to address the issues of the post-modern city has to be considered an important task for the church. It is also an important task for Biola if we truly desire to be a global center for Christian thought and spiritual renewal.

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