The Pruit Symposium
The Pruit Memorial Symposium is an annual event at Baylor University that brings the perspectives of the Christian intellectual traditions to bear on issues of common concern. Through the articulation of differing perspectives within the realms of Christian thought concerning the subjects of the symposia, Baylor aspires to be a locus for a world view that is distinctly Protestant, Christian, and true to the best thought in Baptist traditions.
The Pruit Memorial Symposium Endowment Fund was established in 1996 by Lev H. and Ella Wall Prichard of Corpus Christi, Texas, in memory of Mrs. Helen Pruit Matthews and her brothers, Dr. Lee Tinkle Pruit and William Wall Pruit.
2009:Religion, Politics and Society: The Baptist Contribution
The 2009 Pruit Symposium examined the impact of Baptists on 400 years of history. Through plenary sessions, panel discussions, and presented papers, we sought a scholarly examination of Baptist tradition while commemorating this heritage. An outstanding array of academics and theologians offered insight and invited discussion on the mark Baptists have left upon both past and present.
2005: Global Christianity: Challenging Modernity and the West
Christian movements continue to exert significant influence in North America and increasingly in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. The growth of world Christianity since the eighteenth century confounds conventional expectations of modernity and secularization, challenged the centrality of the "West" in traditional narratives of Christianity, and presented an intriguing religious aspect of the postmodern condition.
This symposium brought together scholars, pastors, seminarians, students, and others to clarify the underlying economic, political, social, and spiritual causes for slavery. This included discussion on the complex history of Christian complicity in and censuring of slavery, the morally and theologically credible conclusions about the antebellum practice of slavery, the perpetuation of prejudicial and oppressive practices in today's society, and the church's appropriate responses.
American higher education faces significant challenges, not the least of which is a loss of the moral direction once part and parcel of the educative process. Scholars across the political spectrum disagree about the causes and possible remedies for this loss. However, they by and large agree that the failure of higher education to provide any kind of coherent moral vision for life constitutes a critical problem for contemporary culture.
While the basis of modern economics, to use Paul Vitz's description, is functional atheism, a Christian perspective is not wholly absent. Such publications as Christian Scholars' Review, the Journal of the Association of Christian Economists, the Journal of Social Economics, and the Journal of Markets and Morality have shouldered the responsibility of promoting Christian scholarship. It is our belief that the Christian faith should make a difference in the work and scholarly activities of economists.
Augustine's Confessions is an autobiographical account of his journey from a modest childhood in North Africa, through his conversion in a garden in Milan, to a lengthy and distinguished career as the Bishop of Hippo. Using enormous literary and rhetorical skill, Augustine chronicles a story of education and miseducation and narrates a spiritual quest from the wasteland of sin to the liberation of salvation. The freedom that emerges permits him to move from faith to understanding and to understand the ultimate underpinnings of the relationship between God and the soul. The impact of the Confessions on subsequent Christian theology, literature, history, and philosophy, in both the Catholic and Protestant traditions, is unparalleled.
Since the mid-1960s, Protestant scholars and clergy have been paying more attention to the potential role of the visual arts in the theology and liturgy of the Christian church. As a result, numerous programs were begun. Despite the success of these endeavors, two basic problems have persisted that this symposium hopes to address: the relationship between art historian and theologian and how contemporary Christians can appreciate developments in theology and the arts.
America's material state has arguably never been better, but many contemporary observers express deep concern for our democracy. Some point to complex pathologies that afflict important segments of society. Others note that disaffection and cynicism pervade the electorate at large. Still others contend that a public spirited concern for the common good is on the wane. In response to such observations, calls for revitalizing our sense of citizenship and the conditions that nurture it have become increasingly frequent.
How religion has shaped Southern culture is not just an ivory-tower matter for artists and intellectuals; it is a topic that has relevance to the world in which we conduct our lives each day. It is our hope that the symposium this year will not only raise pertinent questions about the role of religion in Southern life, but actually will help to clarify the long-lasting and ongoing interplay of Christianity and culture in our region.