The Theologian-in-Residence lecture series is held annually on Tuesdays in February. The sessions focus on a theological topic or other issue of interest to church leaders and lay people.
The series began in 1991 and has explored such topics as music and worship, Christianity and popular culture, reflections on the Trinity, religion in Appalachia, John Calvin and the Reformed tradition, God and athletics in the modern world and Christian principles for managing finances.
The series is sponsored by Tusculum College with partial funding from Ron Smith.
THE 2015 THEOLOGIAN-IN-RESIDENCE SERIES
Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land
Jim Miller is an honorably retired ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and a Ph.D. in theology from Marquette University. Immediately following seminary, Jim worked for five years in the School of Engineering at North Carolina State University. He served as an ecumenical campus minister at Michigan Technological University, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham College. From 1996-2007 he was the Senior Program Associate for the Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is the editor or co-editor of five books on science and religion including The Church and Contemporary Cosmology (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1991), An Evolving Dialogue: Scientific, Historical, Philosophical and Theological Perspectives on Evolution (AAAS, 1998), An Evolving Dialogue (revised edition, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2001), Cosmic Questions (New York Academy of Sciences, 2001), The Epic of Evolution: Science and Religion in Dialogue (Prentice Hall, 2004) and The Evolution Dialogues (2006). He is currently the co-chair of the Broader Social Impact Committee of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Jim has served as an elected officer or volunteer staff for the Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith since its establishment in 1992 and is currently its president.
Session 1 – The Baptism of Aristotle – The development of western Christian culture was influenced by two major antecedents: Judaism and classical post Socratic philosophy, especially that of Plato and Aristotle. By the late middle ages (12th century), the Philosophy of Aristotle had come to provide the primary intellectual framework within which not only the Christian faith but the very cosmos was understood. This lecture will offer a typology of that framework and discuss its continuing influence on the understanding of the Christian faith within congregations today.
Session 2 – How the World Was Divided – The “Scientific Revolution” of the 16th and 17th centuries was rooted in a Platonic and Pythagorean revival that challenged the prevailing Aristotelian culture. Although the Copernican/Galilean controversy has taken on a mythic quality as a paradigm of the inherent conflict between science and religion, it was less about science than about authority in religion. The rise of modern culture is bracketed by Rene Descartes’ response to this controversy and the further development of an epistemological dualism by Immanuel Kant. This lecture will review this history in relation to the typology introduced in the first lecture and discuss its practical theological legacy in contemporary Christianity.
Session 3 – Trouble at the Foundations – Developments in geology in the 18th century, in biology in the 19th century and physics in the 20th century and beyond have been and are dramatically changing human understanding of the nature of nature and humanity’s place in the cosmos. These changes will be characterized adopting the typology used in the previous two lectures as well as pointing toward their theological significance.
Session 4 – The Heavens Are Declaring Bur Are We Listening? – What do we make of the Christian faith today in a “strange land” profoundly different from that assumed by the authors of Scripture and the foundational theologians of the first 15 centuries of the Christian community? What bearing do the discoveries about creation over that past 500 years have on the worship, education and mission of the Christian church? This final lecture will consider the theological implications of the history reviewed in the previous three lectures for practical Christian living, individually and corporately, in the 21st century.
PREVIOUS THEOLOGIAN-IN-RESIDENCE SERIES BROCHURES
Links to previous brochures for The Theologian-in-Residence series are provided below: