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2023 Speakers

Meet the Speakers

The 2023 CSC will feature 5 diverse and stimulating plenary events, all under the theme, “What Will Be Our Future?”

Plenary Events

Mark Lanier

Mark Lanier

Attorney, Author, Teacher

Champion Forest Baptist Church

Willie Jennings

Willie Jennings

Theologian, Author, Minister

Yale Divinity School

N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright

Scholar, Author, Professor

Oxford University


Sharon Dirckx

Neuroscientist, Author

No Small Endeavor

No Small Endeavor

Live Variety Show

Frank and Della Pack Plenary Speaker

Mark Lanier earned an undergraduate degree in biblical literacy from Lipscomb University. After graduating from Texas Tech University School of Law, he founded The Lanier Law Firm as well as the Lanier Theological Library and Learning Center in Houston, Texas, the largest theological library in the world. Lanier is recognized as one of the top civil trial lawyers in America with successes and perspectives featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among other publications.

Click here to read more information about Lanier on our news page.

Mark Lanier will present the Frank and Della Pack Plenary on Wednesday, June 7 at 9:30 a.m. in the Grand Hall at the Learning Center.


Fred D. Gray Plenary in Human and Civil Rights Speaker

Dr. Willie Jennings received his B.A. in Religion and Theological Studies from Calvin College, his M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from Duke University. He is currently Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale University Divinity School. He is the author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race as well as After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging. He is the recipient of the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his groundbreaking work on race and Christianity.

Click here to read more about Dr. Jennings on our news page.

Dr. Willie Jennings will present the Fred D. Gray Plenary on Thursday, June 8 at 10:45 a.m. in the Grand Hall at the Learning Center.


Abraham J. Malherbe Plenary Speaker

Prof. N.T. (Tom) Wright is Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University. He is one of the world's leading Bible scholars, with expertise in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, the New Testament, and Biblical Studies. He is also Emeritus Professor at the University of St. Andrews and the former Bishop of Durham. He has published over 85 books including: The Case for the Psalms; How God Became King; Simply Jesus; After You Believe; Surprised by Hope; Simply Christian; The New Testament and the People of God; Jesus and the Victory of God; The Resurrection of the Son of God; and most recently, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. He is co-founder of N.T. Wright Online which features over 40 online courses.

Click here to read more about Wright on our news page.

N.T. Wright will present the Abraham J. Malherbe Plenary on Friday, June 9 at 10:45 a.m. in the Grand Hall at the Learning Center.


John T. Willis Plenary Speaker

Sharon Dirckx is a neuroscientist and author who speaks and lectures across the UK, Europe, and North America, primarily in the areas of science and theology, "mind and soul," and the problem of evil. Her books include Am I Just My Brain? (2019), that examines questions of human identity from the perspectives of neuroscience, philosophy, and theology, and the just released, Broken Planet (2023) that looks at the question of why God would possibly allow devastating natural disasters. Dirckx is a frequent contributor to podcasts around the world and has appeared on several BBC programs. Sharon lives in Oxford with her husband and two children.

Click here to read more about Dirckx on our news page.

Sharon Dirckx will present the John T. Willis Plenary entitled "Souls, Minds, and Brains: What Does it Mean to Be Human in an Age of AI?" on Wednesday, June 7 at 2:45 pm in the Grand Hall at the Learning Center.


Robert E. and Bonnie Cone Hooper Plenary Event

No Small Endeavor (formerly the Tokens Show) will be featured as the Robert E. and Bonnie Cone Hooper plenary event. Founder and host Lee C. Camp, professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University, will be accompanied by special guest N.T. Wright, as well as a bus full of musicians who will make their way westward from Nashville. The program was founded in 2008 by Lee as a live, staged variety show. The show began weekly public radio broadcasts in Nashville starting in 2020, and begins national syndication through PRX this year. This marks the 14th consecutive year the ensemble will join the conference.

Click here to read more about No Small Endeavor on our news page.

Lee C. Camp will host No Small Endeavor on Thursday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Grand Hall at the Learning Center. This is a ticketed event.


James K. A. Smith

James K. A. Smith

Philospher, Author, Professor

Calvin University

Charles Kiser

Charles Kiser

Pastor, Author

Storyline Christian Community

Patout Burns

Patout Burns

Professor, Author, Scholar

Vanderbilt Divinity School, Emeritus

Bill Bellinger

Bill Bellinger

Professor, Author, Scholar

Baylor University

Landon Saunders' Lecturer on the Human Being: the Nexus of World and Faith


James K.A. Smith is a professor of philosophy at Calvin University. Trained as a philosopher with a focus on contemporary French thought, Smith has expanded on that scholarly platform to become an engaged public intellectual and cultural critic. He is an award-winning author, his latest book being How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithfully Now (2022). Smith's writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Christianity Today, among others. He currently serves as editor in chief of Image, a quarterly journal at the intersection of art, faith, and mystery.

Click here to read more about James K. A. Smith on our news page.

James K. A. Smith will present the Landon Saunders Lecture  entitled "Inviting the World to Wonder: Art and the Church's Witness" on Wednesday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Grand Hall at the Learning Center with overflow in Stone Chapel.

Gailyn Van Rheenen Lecturer in Mission and World Christianity


Charles Kiser has a DMin in contextual theology from Northern Seminary and serves as a faculty member of Neighborhood Seminary. He is also a planter and pastor of Storyline Christian Community in Dallas, Texas. Kiser is the co-author, with Elaine Heath, of Trauma-Informed Evangelism: Cultivating Communities of Wounded Healers. Kiser will be speaking on Trauma-Informed Evangelism.

Click here to read more about Charles Kiser on our news page.

Charles Kiser will present the Gailyn Van Rheenen Lecture entitled "Trauma-Informed Evangelism" on Thursday, June 8 at 1:45 p.m. in Stone Chapel

Everett Ferguson Lecturer in Early Christian Studies


For over a decade, Patout Burns served as a professor of Catholic studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Now, post-retirement, he is a guest professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Burns' research and publication have focused on the development of Christian thought and practice in the Western part of the Roman Empire, especially North Africa. His latest book is Augustine's Preached Theology: Living as the Body of Christ (2022).

Click here to read more about Patout Burns on our news page.

Patout Burns will present the Everett Ferguson Lecture entitled "Augustine's Gradual Assembly of an Explanation of the Efficacy of the Baptismal Ritual" on Wednesday, June 7 at 4:15 p.m. in Stone Chapel

J.J.M. Roberts Lecturer in Old Testament Studies


Professor Bellinger has served on the Steering Committee for the Book of Psalms Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, and as Director of Graduate Studies and chair of the Baylor University Department of Religion. Bellinger is known for his research on worship texts in the Old Testament and much of his work explores the book of Psalms. His writings include Psalms: A Guide to Studying the Psalter; Psalms (with Walter Brueggemann); and many more.

Click here to read more about Bill Bellinger on our news page.

Bill Bellinger will present the JJM Roberts Lecture on Thursday, June 8 at 9:00 a.m. in Stone Chapel

Registration is Now Closed

for the 2023 CSC
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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson delivering the CSC plenary address

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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