5 in 10: Junius Johnson

Yesterday, the Brazos Fellows wrapped up our unit on Christology with Dr. Junius Johnson, who led us in a discussion of a classic theological text from the fifth century: Cyril of Alexandria’s On the Unity of Christ. Dr. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Baylor, where he teaches and writes on everything from Trinitarian theology, to metaphysics, to philosophy and culture, to cosmology. He also serves on the advisory board of Brazos Fellows and is a frequent guest teacher in our course of study. 

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Learning Love from Leviticus

One of our goals at Brazos Fellows is to become a genuine community of study–to learn how to think with others, and particularly, to learn how to think with the Church. Last night, Brazos Fellows hosted the first of a new series, rather mischievously named “Tipsy Orthodoxy.” The goal of this series, held at Pinewood Pub, is to invite others into the kinds of conversations we have in the fellowship, to think in public about theological questions, and, while we’re at it, to drink good beer.

Our speaker last night was Dr. Rachel Toombs, who teaches at Baylor in Religion and the Interdisciplinary Core, and serves as minister at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. Rachel spoke on “Learning Love from Leviticus: A Theological Reading of a Difficult Book,” and helped us understand how this hard-to-read book is profoundly theological. Leviticus shows shows us something about God’s relation with His people.

The Book of Leviticus, Rachel argued, echoes the first chapter of Genesis, where we see the Creator bringing order out of chaos by separating things–by putting things in their proper place. Once things are rightly ordered, God calls them “good,” and dwells at rest in the middle of His creation. This is the same concern of Leviticus: to properly separate things so as to maintain this orderly goodness so that God can dwell with His people. What looks like pointless rules or legalism, is, in fact, about what makes a rightly-ordered community, a people in which the Creator God can be present.

As you can imagine, both Rachel’s presentation and the discussion and questions that followed were very interesting. If you missed it, all the more reason to mark your calendar for the next Tipsy Orthodoxy: Tuesday, November 19, when Dr. Brendan Case will present on “Creation as Theophany.” More details on this soon.

5 in 10: Malcolm Foley

Today our Brazos Fellows class was led by Malcolm Foley, a PhD candidate in Baylor University’s Department of Religion studying the history of Christianity, as well as a Student Regent on Baylor’s Board of Regents. Malcolm also serves as Director of Discipleship at Mosaic Waco, a church that is “gospel-centered, multi-cultural, and spirit-led.” Malcolm’s historical research looks at African American Christian responses to lynching–to get a sense of the importance of the questions he is asking, here’s a few minute video on Malcolm’s project:

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5 in 10: Tom Ward

Today the Brazos Fellows enjoyed class with guest instructor Dr. Tom Ward, who led us in a great discussion of how we interpret the Bible. Dr. Ward is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, where he teaches a number of courses on ancient and medieval philosophy as well as a class on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. His research explores medieval philosophy—everything from medieval science to speculative theories about God’s existence and nature to the history of “divine ideas,” or the relation between creation and the mind of God.

In our class with Dr. Ward, we looked at the history of biblical interpretation, comparing the ways in which St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, and John Calvin read the Psalms. Dr. Ward mapped how shifts in philosophy, in understandings of reality and the unity of creation–what we might call metaphysics–also changed how Christians interpreted scripture from the medieval to the early modern periods.


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Don’t Think For Yourself: Attention, Discernment, and Community

Over at the Baylor Graduate School blog, I wrote a piece on what I learned about scholarly community during my doctoral studies at Baylor–and how these lessons have informed our work with Brazos Fellows:

In his brilliant little book, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, Baylor professor Alan Jacobs takes on a commonly-held myth—the idea that our best thinking happens when we “think for ourselves.” This axiom just doesn’t match up with how thinking works. “To think independently of other human beings is impossible, and if it were possible it would be undesirable,” Jacobs concludes, “Thinking is necessarily, thoroughly, and wonderfully social.”(p. 37) Rather than trying to think for ourselves, Jacobs argues that we should consider who we should think with. We should ask: what makes a good thinking partner? What makes a community trustworthy to think with?

Head over to the Bear Tracks blog to read the rest.