Last week I was honored to give the Dotson-Nelson lectures at Samford University in Birmingham, and I can’t thank Matt Kerlin enough for the time I had at Samford’s beautiful Colonial Georgian architecture. But it got started with breakfast — with our good friend’s son, Owen Wagoner and his buddy Jay, and they took me out for some good oatmeal pancakes. Owen’s the son of Scott and Sarah, and Scott was one of my first students at TEDS (way back when) and we have remained friends all these years. Owen’s a top-notch pole vaulter … so a good start.
Lectureships are important and if your school is fortunate enough to have a lectureship, attend the lectures. We were fortunate at North Park to have the Zarley lectures. I told the students one of the most influential ideas and events for me in college — back at Cornerstone University — was when our philosophers brought in George Mavrodes and he gave a lecture on how people change their mind. It was stretching, beyond what I had studied, but he had a potent idea — relationships with people we trust are most influential in mind-changing — that has never left me. Which makes me ask this:
What lectures have most influenced you over your life? Has any one lecture, or set of lectures, influenced your journey?
The Nelson-Dotson — and we had a luncheon with a kind donor and her friend — lectures involve a morning convocation — and I was asked to do a variant on the King Jesus gospel proposals, so I added some stuff and told some stories, and it went very well. We had some good questions from students after the session and then our luncheon, where I got to sit with the ministry folks and the Religion and Philosophy Dept chair, and then an afternoon lecture on the Ethics of Jesus. In that session I suggested that virtue ethics, while one way Christians have gathered up Christian ethics, isn’t adequate for describing Jesus’ ethics in his Jewish context. This lecture was rooted in my commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, which has an introduction on the ethics of Jesus.
One of the highlights was a short tour through the campus, including a short spell in the amazing Hodges chapel at Beeson Divinity School.
Again, a wonderful time for me and an engaging time with an active and informed set of students. Thanks Matt … and Samford!