Christianity and the Life of the Mind: An Introduction

What does our calling to be disciples of Christ mean for our academic life, whether temporary as students or longer term as a career? What are some of the promises and pitfalls of the scholarly life? How can academics and postgraduate students serve and relate to the wider body of Christ, the Church? Considering these questions is a matter of Christian discipleship for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and academics.

Saturday 30 – Sunday 31 January 2016
Ship Street Conference Centre, Jesus College, University of Oxford

Register here*

(*Who can participate?)


Along with talks, the day will include prayer, discussion sessions, morning coffee and tea, lunch, afternoon coffee and tea.

Saturday 30 January 2016

9:00 a.m. Registration, coffee, & croissants

9:30 a.m. How Christians relate to the world (Nigel Biggar)

How ought Christians to relate to the world? This lecture looks at a range of answers, from openness to the world to separation from it, as they influence postures toward the quest for knowledge in the modern university. In contrast to accounts of the world as inherently antagonistic or lacking in ultimate purpose, the lecture explores how Christians might tell a better story about the world.

Nigel Biggar video: How Christians relate to the world from oxfordchristianmind on Vimeo.

10:15 a.m. The doctrine of creation and the science of nature (Alister McGrath)

This lecture explores how the Christian understanding of creation has influenced the development of modern science, and opens up the question of how best to understand the relationship between modern science and the Christian understanding of reality. Several approaches will be explored, showing how we can have a constructive dialogue between faith and science, leading to an enrichment of both.

11:00 a.m. Coffee & tea

11:30 a.m. Discussion

12:15 p.m. The calling of Christian postgrad students and academics (Ard Louis)

Based on his own academic career and experience with postgraduate ministry in several countries, Dr Ard Louis will discuss the main themes of the conference in the light of questions such as: What does our calling to be disciples of Christ mean for our academic vocation (whether temporary as students or longer term as a career)? What are some of the promises and pitfalls of the scholarly life? How can academics and postgraduate students serve and relate to the wider body of Christ (the Church)?

Ard Louis video: The calling of Christian postgrad students and academics from oxfordchristianmind on Vimeo.

1:00 p.m. Lunch

2:00 p.m. Discussion

2:20 p.m. What does it mean to be human? (Elaine Storkey

This lecture discusses how the Christian understanding of the human being steers a course between individualism and collectivism, between fatalism and personal freedom, between materialism and ‘idealism’; and how its personal and communitarian understanding of the human being is grounded in the Trinitarian God.

Elaine Storkey video: What does it mean to be human? from oxfordchristianmind on Vimeo.

3:05 p.m. Discussion

3:35 p.m. Coffee & tea

4:05 p.m. Panel discussion: Faith and scholarship (Hannah Christensen, Timothy Endicott, Elaine Storkey, Stephen Tuck)

5:15 p.m. Prayer

5:30 p.m.  Day closing

Subject to availability: Dinners hosted in homes with academics across Oxford


Sun 31 January 2016

9:00 a.m. Coffee & croissants

9:30 a.m. Devotional reflection on faith and the academic life (Donald Hay)

10:00 a.m. What went wrong with humankind? (Elaine Storkey)

The social sciences in particular have implicit or explicit convictions about what is wrong with the world, and many individual scholars are driven by the desire to improve society and to alleviate suffering. How do these understandings relate to the Christian understanding of sin and evil?

Elaine Storkey video: What went wrong with humankind? from oxfordchristianmind on Vimeo.

10:45 a.m. Discussion

11:15 a.m. Coffee & tea

11:35 a.m. Looking to the future: Christian living and scholarship in light of the world to come (Michael Lloyd)

“Christian ethics is ultimately about living now, as far as is possible, the sort of life we shall be able to live when all things — ourselves included — have been renewed. We are to be pictures of, and pointers to, the beauty, harmony, goodness and purity of the new world God is committed to bringing in” (M. Lloyd, Café Theology). This talk indicates how the eschatological redemption affirms, challenges, and directs the lives of Christians generally and their vocations as scholars specifically.

12:20 p.m. Discussion

12:40 p.m. Concluding with a Sandwich lunch


Register here for the Conference: ‘Christianity and the Life of the Mind: An Introduction*

(*Who can participate?)

Further Reading

Recommended by academics and students at Developing a Christian Mind

A work in progress

Studying in the light of Christ Creegan, Nicola Hoggard, and Christine D. Pohl. Living on the Boundaries: Evangelical Women, Feminism, and the Theological Academy. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Dockery, David S., and Timothy George. The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking: A Student’s Guide. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012.

Glanzer, Perry L., and Todd C. Ream. Christianity and Moral Identity in Higher Education: Becoming Fully Human. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Griffiths, Paul J. Intellectual Appetite: A Theological Grammar. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2009.

Klassen, Norman, and Jens Zimmermann. The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1994.

Pieper, Josef. Leisure, the Basis of Culture. London: Faber and Faber, 1952.

Second Vatican Council. “Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word,” December 7, 1965.

A Christian worldview or narrative Blamires, Harry. The Christian Mind. London: SPCK, 1963.

Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man: Or Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools. London: Oxford University Press, 1943.

Lloyd, Michael. Café Theology: Exploring Love, the Universe and Everything. 3rd ed. London: St Paul’s Theological Centre, 2012.

Moreland, James Porter, and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Oden, Thomas C. How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2007.

Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy. 2nd ed. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973.

Smith, Christian. Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009.

Speaking and living as Christians Biggar, Nigel. Behaving in Public: How to Do Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2011.

Hauerwas, Stanley, and William H. Willimon. Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989.

Sanneh, Lamin O. Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012.

Storkey, Elaine. Created or Constructed? The Great Gender Debate. Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2000.

Natural sciences and Christianity Berry, R. J. True Scientists, True Faith: Some of the World’s Leading Scientists Reveal the Harmony Between Their Science and Their Faith. Oxford: Monarch Books, 2014.

Bouma-Prediger, Steven. For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2010.

Brooke, John Hedley. Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives. Cambridge History of Science Y. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Collins, Francis S. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. London: Pocket, 2007.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

McGrath, Alister E. Inventing the Universe: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.

McLeish, Tom. Faith and Wisdom in Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Steane, Andrew M. Faithful to Science: The Role of Science in Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Wagner, Roger, and Andrew Briggs. The Penultimate Curiosity: How Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One. First edition. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

Social sciences and Christianity Archer, Margaret S. Being Human: The Problem of Agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Douglas, Mary, and Steven Ney. Missing Persons: A Critique of the Social Sciences. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1998.

Hay, Donald A. Economics Today: A Christian Critique. Leicester: Apollos, 1989.

O’Donovan, Oliver. The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Smith, Christian. What Is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good from the Person Up. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Medical sciences and Christianity Banner, Michael C. Ethics of Everyday Life: Moral Theology, Social Anthropology, and the Imagination of the Human. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Lysaught, M. Therese, Joseph J. Kotva, Stephen E. Lammers, and Allen Verhey, eds. On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives in Medical Ethics. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012.

Meilaender, Gilbert. Bioethics: A Primer for Christians. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2013.

———. Body, Soul, and Bioethics. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995.

O’Donovan, Oliver. Begotten or Made? Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

Verhey, Allen. The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2011.

Wyatt, John. Matters of Life and Death: Human Dilemmas in the Light of Christian Faith. New ed. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2009.

Humanities and Christianity Begbie, Jeremy. Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991.

Crouch, Andy. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2008.

Jacobs, Alan. A Theology of Reading: The Hermeneutics of Love. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 2001.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980.

Philosophy and Christianity Benson, Bruce Ellis. Graven Ideologies: Nietzsche, Derrida & Marion on Modern Idolatry. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Finnis, John. Natural Law and Natural Rights. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Hare, J. E. God’s Call: Moral Realism, God’s Commands, and Human Autonomy. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001.

Mitchell, Basil. The Justification of Religious Belief. London: Macmillan, 1973.

Plantinga, Alvin. “Advice to Christian Philosophers.” Faith and Philosophy 1, no. 3 (1984): 253–71.

———. Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Smith, James K. A. Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church. Church and Postmodern Culture. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

Swinburne, Richard. Is There a God? Rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

The task of theology Aquinas, Thomas. “Introduction.” In Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation, edited by Timothy McDermott, 1–5. London: Methuen, 1991.

Augustine. Teaching Christianity (De Doctrina Christiana). Edited by John E. Rotelle O.S.A. Translated by Edmund Hill O.P. Hyde Park, N.Y.: New City Press, 1996.

Evagrius Ponticus. “Treatise on Prayer 61.” In The Philokalia: The Complete Text, edited by Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and Makarios of Corinth, translated by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, 1:62. London: Faber and Faber, 1979.

Ford, David. The Future of Christian Theology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

———. Theology: A Very Short Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Thielicke, Helmut. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1962.

Vocation and the value of work Badcock, Gary D. The Way of Life: A Theology of Christian Vocation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998.

Luther, Martin. “Sermon on the Day of St John the Evangelist (1522), John 21:19-24.” In Sermons of Martin Luther, edited by John Nicholas Lenker, 1:239–55. Charlottesville, Va.: InteLex Corporation, 1995.

Volf, Miroslav. Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Character formation for learning Augustine. The Confessions. Translated by Maria Boulding OSB. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997. See the comments on the academy, pride, and humility.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. “Life Together.” In Life Together; Prayerbook of the Bible, edited by Geffrey B. Kelly, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and Albrecht Schönherr, translated by Daniel W. Bloesch and James H. Burtness, 5:25–118. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. See the section on service.

Leithart, Peter J. Gratitude: An Intellectual History. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014.

Wright, N. T. Virtue Reborn. London: SPCK, 2010.


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