Reading Groups and Guest Speakers

Reading Groups

The Institute for Faith and Learning sponsors occasional reading groups for faculty for timely or timeless books on topics related to the intersection of faith and learning. These discussions sometimes culminate in a lecture by the author on campus.

A sampling of past groups have been organized around the following books.

  • Robert Benne, Quality with Soul: How Six Premier Christian Colleges and Universities Keep Faith With Their Religious Traditions (Eerdmans, 2001)
  • A. J. Conyers, The Listening Heart: Vocation and the Crisis of Modern Culture (Spence, 2006)
  • Steven R. Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (Paternoster, 2006)
  • David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Eerdmans, 2003)
  • Richard Hughes, How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind (Eerdmans, 2001)
  • James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford, 2010)
  • John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998)
  • Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice, Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing (IVP Books, 2008)
  • Elizabeth Newman, Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God and Other Strangers (Brazos Press, 2007)
  • John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University (1858)
  • David I. Smith and James K. A. Smith, Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning (Eerdmans, 2011)
  • James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Baker Academic, 2009)
  • Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Belknap, 2007)
  • Nicholas Wolterstorff, Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education (Eerdmans, 2004)


Guest Speakers

From time to time, the Institute for Faith and Learning hosts or co-sponsors with other departments lectures by visiting guests as well as members of Baylor's own faculty.

Past lectures:

James Davison Hunter
University of Virginia
“Good Kids: Thinking Anew about the Moral Formation of Children”
April 5, 2018

Thomas S. Hibbs
Baylor University
“Skills, Virtues, and the Christian University: Liberal Learning in an Illiberal Time”
April 19, 2017

L. Gregory Jones
Duke Divinity School
“It's Not (Only) About You”
April 21, 2016

Candace Vogler
University of Chicago
“Christian Moral Courage”
April 23, 2015

Paul Wadell
St. Norbert College
“Friendship with God: Embodying Charity as a Way of Life”
April 24, 2014

Graham McAleer
Loyola University, Maryland
“Jay-Z vs. Lorde: The Whig-Tory Dispute in Business Ethics or Hume and Smith versus Aquinas and Kant”
March 24, 2014
“Pope Francis and the Problem of Hope”
March 25, 2014

Francis Spufford
Reading and discussion of Unapologetic: Why Despite Everything Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
November 4, 2013

Robert McClelland
“Parkland Hospital, November 1963”
October 24, 2013

David Smith
Professor of German and Director, Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning, Calvin College
“Teaching as a Christian Practice”
February 21, 2013

Charles Taylor & James Davison Hunter
“An Afternoon Conversation with Charles Taylor and James Davison Hunter on Politics, Faith, and the Future”
November 27, 2012

James Davison Hunter
Labrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory at the University of Virginia and Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture
“Christianity, Politics, and Power”
September 22, 2011

Fr. Uwe Michael Lang
Coordinator of the Master's program in “Architecture, Sacred Art and Liturgy,” Università Europea di Roma/Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum and staff member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican
“Heart Speaks to Heart: John Henry Newman as a Reader of the Church Fathers”
January 25, 2011

Denis Alexander
Director, Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmunds College, Cambridge
“The Dawkins Delusion: Debunking the Conflict between Science and Religion”
October 21, 2010

James K. A. Smith
Associate professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of congregational and ministry studies at Calvin College
“From the Classroom to the Dorm Room and Back Again: Formation Across the University”
April 23, 2010

Br. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.
Astronomer and Curator of Meteorites at the Vatican Observatory
“The Virtuous Astronomer: How the Work of Science Is Shaped by the Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love”
March 2, 2010

Conor Cunningham
Lecturer, Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham
“A Screening and Discussion of the BBC Documentary Did Darwin Kill God? with the Film's Writer and Presenter”
November 4, 2009

Elizabeth Newman
Professor of Theology and Ethics, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
“Hospitality and Higher Education: An Invitation to a Way of Life”
March 17, 2009

Robert Benne
Director, Center for Religion and Society
Roanoke College
“A Lutheran Vision of Baptist Christian Higher Education”
November 8, 2007

John Wilson
Editor, Books & Culture
“The Political Captivity of the Church?”
September 4, 2007

Tjerk de Reus
Dutch journalist & cultural critic
“Why Was the Great Grandson of Vincent Van Gogh Killed? Christian Responses to Islamist Violence in the Netherlands”
Sponsored by the Baylor University Department of Religion, Center for Jewish Studies, and the Institute for Faith and Learning
October 25, 2006

Norbert Kroó
Vice President
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
“God, the Creator and Heavenly Father”
Hosted by the Department of Physics and Co-sponsored by the Institute for Faith and Learning
January 11, 2006

David C. Schindler
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions
Villanova University
“Free Thinking or Freedom for Thinking? An Untimely Meditation on the Nature of Academic Freedom”
November 3, 2005

Eugene McCarraher
Assistant Professor of Humanities
Department of Humanities and Augustinian Tradition
Villanova University
“Consider the Lillies: Why the Protestant Work Ethic Is So Awful”
October 27, 2005
“The Enchantments of Mammon: Corporate Capitalism and the American Moral Imagination”
Hosted by the Institute for Faith and Learning and co-sponsored by the Honors College
October 28, 2005

Simon Oliver
Senior Lecturer in Theology
University of Wales, Lampeter
Inaugural Traditio Lecture: “Aquinas and Newton on Trinity and Motion”
April 1, 2005

Ellen Charry
Associate Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology
Princeton Theological Seminary
“Can We Know God?”
February 24, 2005

Naomi Schaefer Riley
“God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation are Changing America”
February 10, 2005

Jorge L. A. Garcia
Professor of Philosophy
Boston College
“Race in Christian Higher Education”
March 29, 2004

Terry Mattingly
Associate Professor of Mass Media and Religion
Palm Beach Atlantic University
The Passion and the Press: Inside a Media Storm”
March 9, 2004

David Livingstone
Professor of Geography and Intellectual History
The Queen's University of Belfast
“The Idea of a University: Irish Interventions”
February 12, 2004

Mark Osler
Associate Professor of Law
Baylor University
“Justice, Mercy and a Humbling Walk: The Christian Challenge to the Vocation of Law”
November 13, 2003

Edward Blum
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology
Baylor University
“The Soul of W. E. B. Du Bois: Critically Integrating Faith, Learning, and Social Justice”
October 3, 2003

David Bebbington
Visiting Distinguished Professor of History
Baylor University
“The International Legacy of Jonathan Edwards”
September 24, 2003

Robert Benne
Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion & Director, Center for Religion and Society
Roanoke College
“The Most Contentious Claims of Quality with Soul: How Six Premier Christian Colleges and Universities Keep Faith With Their Religious Traditions”
April 24, 2003
“Vocation as Another Proof for the Existence of God”
April 24, 2003
“Christian Engagement with Higher Education: The Vocation of a Christian Scholar”
April 25, 2003

Byron R. Johnson
Director, Center for Research on Religion & Urban Civil Society
University of Pennsylvania
“Overview of the Relationship Between Spirituality and Social Issues”
April 16, 2003
“The Opportunities and Obstacles in Conducting Faith-Based Research: Being Wise as a Serpent and Gentle as a Dove”
April 16, 2003

Richard Hughes
Distinguished Professor of Religion and Director, Center for Faith and Learning
Pepperdine University
“How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind: The Power of Christian Traditions”
February 13, 2003
“What Might It Mean to Teach from a Christian Perspective?”
February 14, 2003

Ralph Wood
University Professor of Theology and Literature
“On Keeping Our Scholarship Free: How to Avoid Becoming Either Conservatives or Liberals”
November 20, 2002

C. Stephen Evans
University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities
“Must Christian Scholarship Be Overtly Christian?”
October 9, 2002