The Stalcup School of Theology for the Laity is open to all who want to continue learning and growing through biblical study, exploration of contemporary issues from a faith perspective, interfaith dialogue, and critical thinking about the basis of Christian understanding of God, humanity, and the world. Top scholars with a heart for the church bring their expertise and passion for sharing that knowledge with people engaged in ministry and those who simply want to learn.
Seminars are typically held on Saturdays and participants may attend an individual event or sign up for the whole series.
The School is made possible by the generosity of SSTL’s former Dean, Joe Stalcup, and his wife, Nancy Vaughn Stalcup, and the gifts of others who share their commitment to theological education.
The Christian, the Church, and the Public Good
Eleventh Schubert M. Ogden Seminar on Systematic Theology
Saturday, March 17, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Charles Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
The first part of the presentation will deal with the social mission of the church recognizing its important role in the life of the church, some developments that have occurred, and some limitations on the social mission of the church. The second part will consider the proper understanding of the role of the individual Christian and of the church in the public order from the viewpoint of the church itself. Underlying the whole discussion here is the question of the unity and the diversity of the church. The role and function of the total church working for the public good includes the following: the church as teacher, as provider for those in need, as enabler and empowerer, as advocate, and as model. More particular questions will deal with the taking of stands on specific moral issues and on particular political candidates. The third part will consider the proper understanding of the role of the Christian and the role of the church in working for the public good from the standpoint of the First Amendment and our pluralistic society.
Charles E. Curran is the Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University. He has served as president of the American Theological Society, The Catholic Theological Society of America, and The Society of Christian Ethics. He was the first recipient of the John Courtney Murray Award for Distinguished Achievement in Theology given by the Catholic Theological Society of America. In 2003, the College Theology Society gave him its Presidential Award for a lifetime of scholarly achievements in moral theology. The Society of Christian Ethics gave him its Lifetime Acheivement Award in 2017. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Curran has been named the New York Times Man in the News and the ABC TV Person of the Week. Curran is a Catholic priest of the diocese of Rochester, New York. He has authored and edited more than fifty books. His most recent publications are: Tradition and Church Reform: Perspectives on Catholic Moral Teaching; The Development of Moral Theology: Five Strands; Catholic Moral Theology in the United States: A History which won the 2008 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence in Theology and Religion; and Loyal Dissent: Memoir of a Catholic Theologian.
Blessed to be a Blessing: The Discipleship of the Beatitudes
Saturday, April 7, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Martha Stortz, Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN
In Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount inaugurates Jesus’ public ministry, and the first word out of Jesus’ mouth is ‘blessed’. He repeats this word throughout his first sermon. Jesus calls his disciples by blessing them, and as he speaks, Jesus introduces himself to us but also introduces disciples to themselves, for the Beatitudes offer a character sketch of who disciples will become if they follow him. The Beatitudes function as a compass for the journey of Christian discipleship. The first group of Beatitudes target people in situations of suffering. The second group of Beatitudes target people who help those who suffer. Through an appeal to experience and biblical stories, we will look closely at Jesus, the one blessing and the one blessed, at the disciples who are blessed to be a blessing, and at how blessing is made real in practice.
Martha Stortz is Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN. From 1981 to 2010, she taught at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary where she also served as a member of the core doctoral faculty at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, Calif. Dr. Stortz, who received her BA from Carleton College and her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, is a distinguished theologian whose scholarship includes work in historical and systematic theology, ethics, and biblical studies. She is an acclaimed teacher, scholar, and leader in the church, academy, and wider society. In addition to her many published articles, she is the author of A World According to God: Practices for Putting Faith at the Center of Your Life, Blessed to Follow: The Beatitudes As a Compass for Discipleship, and Journey’s in John’s Gospel: Called to Follow.
Hand to the Plow: Activating Faith and Thought for Change
Eleventh Jean and Parker Wilson Seminar
Saturday, April 28, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Stephen Sprinkle, Professor of Practical Theology, Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and Director of Baptist Programming, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
People of Faith today are seeking ways to advocate for a more just and equal society with an urgency not seen since the days of the U.S. Civil Rights struggle. This workshop will show how the separation of church and state, one of the most cherished American values, and the faith imperative of action on behalf of justice are not mutually exclusive—but are actually complementary. Attendees will learn about strategies for prophetic and pastoral action that does not condemn, but instead uplifts “the better angels of our nature” while challenging faith communities to stand up for marginalized people in today’s political climate.
Stephen V. Sprinkle is Professor of Practical Theology, Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and Director of Baptist Programming at Brite Divinity School. A native of North Carolina, and educated with a BA from Barton College, an MDiv from Yale University Divinity School, and a PhD in Systematic Theology from Duke University Graduate School. He is an ordained minister of the Alliance of Baptists. Dr. Sprinkle was named 2010-2011 Hero of Hope by the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas and currently serves as their Theologian-in-Residence. He holds professional memberships in the Academy of Religious Leadership, the Association of Theological Field Educators, and is a member of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy. Dr. Sprinkle is a human rights advocate, a widely sought speaker, and an internationally recognized authority on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. His most recent book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (2011), won the International Silver Medal in Gay/Lesbian Non-fiction, given by the Independent Book Publishers Awards in 2012. Dr. Sprinkle is an official blogger for the Huffington Post.
Losing Faith while Living with Depression
Sixth Betty Jo Hay Seminar on Religion and Mental Health
Saturday, February 24, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Monica Coleman, Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA
Many of us are taught to think of losing faith as the opposite of a strong spiritual life. For individuals living with depression, loss occurs frequently. Depression involves a loss of joy, a loss of self, a loss of functionality. And, for many, a loss of faith. Yet with a loss of faith, can come the ability to find faith anew. This seminar will discuss ways that people living with depression can own the losses that they experience. This seminar will also explore how, amidst loss, people living with depression can choose life. We will discuss both theological perspectives and spiritual practices that support a life of faith for individuals and communities that live with depressive conditions.
Monica A. Coleman is Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont School of Theology in southern California. There she also serves as Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies and Director of Process and Faith. Coleman has earned degrees from Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University. Coleman is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. She is the author or editor of six books, and several articles and book chapters, including her memoir Bipolar Faith: a Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith and a forty-day devotional Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression. Her book Making a Way Out of No Way: a Womanist Theology is required reading at leading theological schools around the country. Coleman is on the standing committee of Persons with Disabilities in the Profession and former co-chair of the Black Theology Group in the American Academy of Religion.
Graceful Improvisation: Faith Resources and Perspectives for Experiences of Aging
Saturday, January 20, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Acton United Methodist Church, Granbury
Nancy Ramsay, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
We Christians affirm that ours is a good and finite life. We’ll engage that paradox together. We will explore how our faith and scriptures offer us important insights about aging well that can help us improvise more gracefully responses to experiences of aging in a good and finite life. These presentations and conversations will help us consider ways experiences of aging unfold all along our lifespan rather than in several decades. We’ll consider how experiences of aging across our lifespan shape our own sense of self, our experience in families and friendship circles, and the experience and ministry of congregations. We’ll also look at the ways our faith may help us resist the ways ageism insinuates our lives in church and culture.
Nancy Ramsay is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care at Brite Divinity School. Dr. Ramsay is also a Presbyterian clergywoman. She came to Brite in June of 2005 to serve as Executive Vice President and Dean following 22 years of service on the faculty at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as the Harrison Ray Anderson Professor of Pastoral Theology. In May of 2012 she stepped away from serving as Dean to resume full-time teaching in both the MDiv and PhD programs in Pastoral Theology. She holds a PhD from Vanderbilt University, a DMin from Union Theological Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia, and a BA from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.
Saturday, January 13, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Shelly Matthews, Professor of New Testament, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
Magdalene Christianity, a term coined by the late biblical scholar Jane Schaberg, serves as an umbrella term for followers of the Jesus movement, from the first through the fourth centuries and beyond, composed of both men and women, who struggled for egalitarian goals and ideals, including the principle that all have equal access to salvation and all persons reflect the image of God. Drawing from both biblical and extra-biblical materials, we will trace the historical presence of “Magdalene” Christians, their theological claims, their strong ties to prophetic strands of Judaism, and their struggles with Christians loyal to the apostles Peter and Paul, who hostilely opposed their egalitarian strivings. This seminar is aimed at all who desire a fuller awareness of the diversity of early Christian communities, and especially for those who see value in reconstructing a past that gives voice to those marginalized by dominant Christian powers.
Shelly Matthews, Professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School, is the co-editor, with Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, of the Feminist Studies in Religion Book Series, FSRBooks; and the co-founder and co-chair, with Tat-Siong Benny Liew, of the Society of Biblical Literature consultation on Racism, Pedagogy and Biblical Studies. Her current projects include a feminist biblical theology of resurrection and a coauthored feminist commentary on the Gospel of Luke. Previous publications include Perfect Martyr: The Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity (2010), and The Acts of the Apostles: Taming the Tongues of Fire (2013). Dr. Matthews holds the ThD from the Harvard Divinity School, the MDiv from Boston University School of Theology, and the BA from the University of North Dakota. She is an ordained United Methodist minister from the Dakotas area conference.
Is This Heaven?: The Afterlife in Literature, Culture, and Scripture
Twelfth Fay and Alfred Grosse Seminar on Religion and the Literary Arts
Saturday, November 11, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Greg Garrett, Professor, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Stories of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory are central to an understanding of Christianity, and are, for many, a central part of their faith. Yet, as N. T. Wright notes, the Bible has few explicit descriptions of the afterlife, and many of our afterlife narratives owe more to art, culture, and literature than to the Gospels or the Revelation to John. Writer, teacher, and retreat leader Greg Garrett will explore our central stories of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, offering some of the best-known cultural depictions of the afterlife and comparing them to their treatment in scripture. In the process, he will offer some answers to the questions “Why do we need these stories?” and “How do we use them?” What Greg argues is that these stories of the afterlife enlighten and inspire us to live more fully in the here and now.
Greg Garrett is the author of over twenty books of fiction, spiritual autobiography, and nonfiction, and a major contributor to the contemporary-language Bible The Voice. Hailed by BBC Radio as one of America’s most important voices on religion and culture, he is best known as a writer on the intersection between faith and literature, movies, television, and cultural narratives. His Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination, was a lead trade title from Oxford University Press in 2015. Greg is Professor of English at Baylor University and Writer in Residence at the Seminary of the Southwest, and he regularly speaks, teaches, preaches, and leads retreats across the US and Europe. He has been interviewed by or seen his work reviewed in National Public Radio, FOX News, BBC Radio, USA Today, New York Times, National Review, New Statesman, and Christianity Today. Greg and his wife Jeanie live with their children in Austin, TX.
History of Christianity in East Asia
Eleventh W.A. Welsh Seminar
Saturday, October 21, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Timothy Lee, Associate Professor of the History of Christianity and Director of Asian (Korean) Church Studies, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
From the arrival of Nestorian missionaries in China in 635, to the systematic persecution of Japanese Christians in the seventeenth century, to the emergence of a 700,000-member, the-world’s-largest, congregation in South Korea in the late twentieth century, Christianity has a long—at times conflicted, and always fascinating—history in East Asia. Focusing on China, Korea, and Japan, the course explores how the faith was disseminated in the continent; interacted with socio-political forces, including colonialism and nationalism; conflicted with or accommodated native religions, such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shamanism; and became indigenized. Along the way, the course discusses missionaries such as Matteo Ricci, Horace Underwood, and Minnie Vautrin; East Asian Christians such as Watchman Nee, Uchimura Kanzo, and Columba Kang; and topics such as the Hidden Christians of Japan, coalescence of nationalism and Evangelicalism in Korea, and tension between the Chinese Communist Party and Christians.
Tim Lee is Associate Professor of the History of Christianity at Brite Divinity School and Director of Brite’s Asian (Korean) Church Studies. He earned his PhD in the History of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He teaches introductory courses in Christian History and more specialized ones on Christian missions and Christian history in Asia and Asian America. His current research focuses on the history of Christianity in Korea, about which he has published a number of works, including a book, Born Again: Evangelicalism in Korea (2010) and a coedited volume, Christianity in Korea (2006); he has also contributed a book chapter on East Asia in Introducing World Christianity, ed. Charles E. Farhadian (2012). Before coming to Brite in 2002, he had taught at the University of Chicago and the University of California at Los Angeles.
Luther and His Legacy: Gospel Promise in Cracked Pot/s
Saturday, October 7, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
First Christian Church, Tyler
James Duke, I. Wylie and Elizabeth M. Briscoe Professor of History of Christianity and History of Christian Thought, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX
Even now Martin Luther sports the public name-recognition lead of Protestantism’s 16th century founders. No wonder: Who did more to shift the flow of Christian history from what it once was into what it is today? Luther’s brand remains controversial. Acclaim comes for fearless faith challenging Church and Empire alike, and ringing appeals to faith, God’s grace, the Bible alone, freedom of conscience, and priesthood of all believers. Detractors target narrow-mindedness, anger-management issues, and mere half-way reforms—a“Dr. Easychair and Dr. Pussyfoot” compromiser. This 2017 class notes the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses Luther tacked on his own home parish-church door. We take a second, fresh look at his life, his times, and his legacy in light of Luther-studies, theology and the church, today. Four themes are uppermost: (1) Luther’s dogged efforts to grasp Christian faith’s ‘gospel’, as good news from God; (2) Luther’s view of ‘the Bible alone’ over church tradition and philosophical learning; (3) Luther’s unsaintly decisions, vicious or comprising, tarnishing his reputation; and (4) Still-swirling trends, controversies, and challenges he bequeaths to today’s Christians.
James Duke, Professor of the History of Christianity and the History of Christian Thought at Brite Divinity School, received his BA from the University of Maryland and his MDiv and PhD from Vanderbilt University. He is recipient of the TCU Deans’ Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Catherine Saylor Hill Award for Faculty Excellence. His publications include translations of German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher as well as studies in the history of theology in North America, history and doctrine of the Stone-Campbell movement, and theological methodology. He has served as editor of American Academy of Religion publications, and the editorial team for The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History. An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Duke has participated in the Theology Task Force of Churches Uniting in Christ (COCU/CUIC), the Theology Commission of the Disciples Council on Christian Unity, and the Disciples-Reformed and Disciples-Roman Catholic dialogues.
Mark & the ‘Other’: Engaging Women, Gentiles, and the Enslaved
Twelfth Fred B. Craddock Seminar on the Gospels
Saturday, September 30, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Rush Creek Christian Church, Arlington
Emerson Powery, Professor of Biblical Studies and Coordinator of Ethnic and Area Studies, Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA
The earliest Gospel in the Christian tradition portrays Jesus encountering a variety of people in the villages surrounding the sea of Galilee. How Jesus interacts with non-Jewish males will attract our attention in these talks. Do these interactions enhance Jesus’ mission? Do they alter his plans? And, why might Mark depict Jesus in such encounters in the first place? In contemporary conversations, it is common to discuss how citizens interact with non-citizens and what the church’s role should be in fostering these relationships. These recent discussions are informed by a long (and, oftentimes, troubling) history of interracial interactions. It is imperative that we search our sacred stories to find guidance and open up new possibilities for opportunities of engagements with the “other.”
Emerson Powery, Professor of Biblical Studies and Coordinator of Ethnic and Area Studies at Messiah College earned his MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary and PhD from Duke University. He has published several books on the New Testament, including Jesus Reads Scripture (2003) and True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary (2008). He served on the editorial board of a recent translation project, the Common English Bible (2011). As his most recent publications indicate—essays “The Bible and Slavery in American Life” (Oxford University Press) and “The Bible, Slavery, and Political Debate” (T & T Clark) and a co-authored book, The Genesis of Liberation: Biblical Interpretation in the Antebellum Narratives of the Enslaved—his research passion is to grapple with how the Bible functions in underrepresented communities. He is the proud father of four sons, including his youngest (a 15-year old) with whom he plays chess on Sundays.
When in Romans
Eleventh Jean and Patrick Henry Seminar
Saturday, September 9, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Beverly Gaventa, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Paul’s letter to the Romans is among the most important documents of Christian intellectual history, but that does not make it easy to understand. Many readers find themselves entangled in Paul’s logic and confused by his abstractions. Spending time “in” Romans, this seminar will introduce Romans as a real letter, paying attention to Paul’s audience and their situation. Then it will look at the large landscape of the letter: what is this new “salvation” Paul writes about, and why is it needed? How is that new “salvation” related to the story of Abraham and to Israel’s future? And how does that new “salvation” make a difference for the way Christians today live amid the radical differences of the 21st century? We will find that Romans is far richer, more challenging, and more hopeful than we have imagined.
Beverly Gaventa is Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Baylor University, as well as Helen H.P. Manson Professor Emerita of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Princeton Theological Seminary. She has written on a variety of New Testament texts and issues, and she has contributed both scholarly studies and resources for pastors and lay people. Her most recent book is When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel according to Paul, published by Baker Press in 2016. In 2016 Dr. Gaventa was president of the Society of Biblical Literature, the largest professional organization of biblical scholars in the world. She has lectured widely in the U.S. as well as in Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. Dr. Gaventa is a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Waco, Texas.