Missouri Baptist University strives to promote academic excellence in a Christian environment. The third annual Faith and Learning Symposium allows faculty and graduate students from MBU and other universities to present their research within the context of faith and academic disciplines.

Dr. Holly Brand, professor of psychology and published author, who has spoken at many conferences throughout her tenure at MBU, exemplifies the quality of academics who will be speaking at this year’s Faith and Learning Symposium. Students are invited to attend any of the sessions.      Photo courtesy of MBU Communications


After a year-long delay due to COVID-19, the Scholarship and Research Committee at Missouri Baptist University hosts its third annual Faith and Learning Symposium as a virtual and live conference on Friday, April 9, 2021, in the Pitch Room of the Learning Center.

Dr. Keith Ross, president of MBU, said he believes there is great value in a symposium that combines Christian faith and education, as the university strives to grow future leaders.

“Two of the most powerful forces on Earth for positive change are the Christian faith and education,” Ross said in an email. “To that end, the Faith and Learning Symposium at MBU provides a depth and breadth of resources for individuals to engage in scholarly learning and dialogue. Thereby, equipping them to inspire the next generation of leaders to think deeply about their faith, shape culture and reflect the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is truly God’s work in His world.”

The Faith and Learning Symposium will take place in the Pitch Room of  the Jung-Kellogg Learning Center on MBU’s main campus.

Dr. John Han, professor of English and creative writing, and a chairman for the symposium, will be presenting his work. Han said he believes the symposium is a testimony of the importance of research to the university. 

“For a long time, MBU was a ‘teaching institution.’ It is now considered a master’s level institution whose main focus is teaching but also takes scholarship and research seriously,” Han said via email. “It is only logical for MBU to offer our faculty the annual Faith and Learning Symposium.”

Dr. C. Allin Means, professor of journalism and communications in the Fine Arts Division, and organizer for the symposium, said an intentional integration of faith and scholarship sets the Faith and Learning Symposium apart from other research conferences in higher education.

In an academic environment in higher education that too often tries to separate Christian faith from scholarly research, the Faith and Learning Symposium at Missouri Baptist University enthusiastically embraces the logical connection between our Christian faith and our academic endeavors,” Means said during a recent interview. “It is impossible to separate Christian faith from scientific or social research because we know that all knowledge, all understanding, all academic breakthroughs, come from an almighty God. We embrace that, encourage that, and we champion that in our Faith and Learning Symposium.’

According to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Research’s page on the MBU website, possible topics of presentation include integrating faith in academic studies, new trends in specific disciplines, Christianity in a contemporary culture and more.

“The Faith and Learning Symposium seeks to promote collaboration and scholarship among faith-based universities, faculty and administrators. Thus, this conference focuses on significant themes and emerging trends within Christian higher education,” Dr. Amy Harrison, assistant professor and graduate program director of higher education leadership, said via email.

While the symposium is hosted by MBU, faculty, staff, administration and graduate students from any institution are invited to submit a proposal for presenting at the symposium.

“One of MBU’s core values is to be ‘serious and intentional about our Christian faith.’ As a Biblically based institution, we offer a forum for discussing the way Christian faith informs various academic fields,” Han said via email. “Faculty members have an opportunity to share their research results with their colleagues without traveling outside the campus.”

Han added: “Non-MBU scholars have an opportunity to present their papers before an audience that is supportive and offers constructive feedback. The ultimate goal is for the presenters to receive feedback on their papers, revise them, share them with their administrators and fellow faculty members, and publish them.”

In addition to presenting at this year’s symposium, Han is also the editor of the symposium proceedings that will be published on MBU’s website after the event. Han will also invite select presenters to submit their work to be published in an edition of the biannual, “Intégrité: A Faith and Learning Journal.”

Dr. Timothy Delicath, associate professor of educational research and director for institutional effectiveness and research, serves as chair of the Scholarship and Research Committee.

“The symposium is about encouraging continued research and academic excellence in the areas of faith and learning,” Delicath said via email. “The university seeks to create an environment where academic excellence is emphasized, and a Biblically based Christian perspective is maintained.”

Dr. Matthew Bardowell, assistant professor of English at MBU, will present his work at the symposium.

“Conferencing in general is an important part of the academic life and so we’re always looking for opportunities to produce work that we can present somewhere,” Bardowell said via email. “The nice thing about the Faith and Learning Symposium, for me, is that it’s a place where you’re working and you’re presenting in the same community that you’re living and you’re engaged with on a daily basis.”

While the symposium generally appeals to those interested in higher education, Harrison, who is also presenting at the symposium, believes that many can benefit from the symposium.

“I also believe this would be great opportunity for anyone interested in faith-based approaches to education. Pastors and lay people alike would find the content wholly enriching,” Harrison said via email.

Dr. Carl Trueman, professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and author of several books, will be speaking and answering questions on his book, titled, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution,” published in 2020.

Dr. Keith Beutler, professor of history at MBU, will be the Symposium’s keynote speaker, discussing his book, “George Washington’s Hair and the Roots of Evangelical-American Patriotism.”

Rebecca Duke, director of first-year composition and instructor of English, Guy Danhoff, assistant professor of health and sport sciences, Dr. Jason Jordan, assistant professor of counseling education, and Dr. Matthew Easter, director of Christian studies and associate professor of Bible, are also presenting their research to their fellow MBU colleagues.

See the program below for the most up-to-date list of presenters at the Faith and Learning Symposium, along with abstracts of the topics on which they will be speaking.

Virtual attendance costs $75 for non-MBU faculty or staff, $50 for MBU faculty or staff, and $25 for graduate or doctoral level students.

Registered participants will be able to watch the sessions live or via a recording of the event. Registration for attendance to the Faith and Learning Symposium can be purchased from MBU’s website.

Next year’s Faith and Learning Symposium is tentatively scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, 2022.


2021 Faith and Learning Symposium Schedule — Learning Center Pitch Room

Friday, April 9, 2021

———————————– 9 a.m. ———————————–

Rebecca Duke, M.A.
Director of First-Year Composition and Instructor of English
Missouri Baptist University

Title: My Call to be a Piece of “Crazie Glasse”: George Herbert’s Philosophy of Instruction Presented within The Temple

Abstract: Within his poetry collection “The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations” (1633), George Herbert delights in his position as a priest in the Church of England and the beauty to be found in holy worship. Herbert, following the metaphysical poet’s tradition of the conceit, places emphasis on his role as minister and messenger of truth to his congregants. The poet presents his philosophy of faith-based instruction, a philosophy with practical implications for the 21st century, professional instructor who desires to fuse faith with learning. Through poetic form, Herbert defines biblical instruction and illustrates healthy relationship between instructor, his content knowledge, and that knowledge’s true Source.

———————————– 10 a.m. ———————————–

Dr. Matthew Easter and Dr. Matthew Bardowell

Dr. Matthew Easter
Director of Christian Studies / Associate Professor of Bible
Missouri Baptist University

Title: Robot Butts and Hazelnuts: Divine Interactions with the Miniverse in Julian of Norwich and “Futurama”

Abstract: In “Revelations of Divine Love,” 14th-century Christian mystic Julian of Norwich depicts creation as a “hazelnut,” which “will last for ever because God loves it; and everything exists in the same way by the love of God.” Julian’s God is revealed as the initiator and sustainer, who invites his creatures into participation in his self-giving love. Those humans who participate in God’s love become vehicles of that same love to the rest of creation. I will be contrasting Julian’s vision of God and his miniverse with that of the robot Bender Rodriguez in the “Futurama” episode “Godfellas.” In this episode, an asteroid collision creates a miniverse on Bender’s shiny metallic body. Unlike Julian’s God, however, Bender does not treat his miniverse as an object of love, but rather as utilitarian subjects. Bender’s efforts to sustain his miniverse from motives other than love brings only destruction. Bender later discovers the real God, who explains to Bender that it is best to lead with a “light touch,” and, “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” This essay concludes by exploring ways the “Futurama” God’s “light touch” may relate to God’s expectation for human participation in God’s love in “Revelations of Divine Love.”

Dr. Matthew Bardowell
Assistant Professor of English
Missouri Baptist University

Title: Presencing God in the Fiction of G. K. Chesterton

Abstract: One would be hard-pressed to think of a figure more influential to twentieth-century Christian thought and apologia than G. K. Chesterton. A journalist, author and poet, Chesterton wrote in a variety of forums, and, in each, Chesterton addresses an age that has perhaps grown foggy and lethargic in its ability to consider and respond to the particular cultural moment in which it finds itself. Ever the cultural critic, Chesterton perceives a deficiency in late-Victorian intellectual life—an inconsistency of constructive thought that left him with the sense that Victorian culture had been rather parochial (The Victorian Age in Literature, 1913). John D. Coates has observed that this intellectual deficiency leads to what he terms the Edwardian cultural crisis of the early twentieth century, a crisis that left England open to “ideological invasion” (Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis, 27). It is these invasive ideologies that Chesterton expends much energy and ink to dispel. Master of aphorism and paradox, critics of Chesterton rightly seize on his style as a hallmark of his work. And it is certainly true that in penning such titles as “Heretics” (1905), “Orthodoxy” (1908), and “What’s Wrong with the World Today” (1910), Chesterton is often engaged in polemic. Yet, what this focus on his style and approach to the ideological invasion that Coates describes may overlook is the constructive project in which Chesterton is invested, morally and intellectually. This presentation will consider three prominent “heresies” that Chesterton addresses across his writings as well as his proposal for what should be constructed upon their ruins. In his articles, essays and fiction, Chesterton is concerned with the flawed philosophies that hold so many in thrall, but he is always at pains to replace them with more durable, and above all more accurate descriptions of the world. He challenges the error of solipsism to replace it with an individuality that holds the possibility of love, he refutes pessimism in order to replace it with mystery, and he rejects nihilism to offer instead a vision of the innate value of creation.

———————————– 11 a.m. ———————————–

Dr. Amy Harrison, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Program Director
Missouri Baptist University

Title: Disability and Christian Higher Education: A Calling to Go Higher and Further than the Social Justice Mandate

Abstract: This session will explore theories and definitions of disability and the related, seminal scholarship of disability and social justice. Adding to this already established conversation, this presentation will explore the biblical mandate for inclusion and advocacy that goes beyond the dominant social justice approach. Appropriate for educators and professionals within a variety of settings, including churches, schools and other ministry and non-profit groups, this session will seek to apply a Christian lens to disability that Christians and Christian institutions should adopt to serve and build community with people with disabilities.

———————————– 12 p.m. ———————————–

Dr. John Walker
Central Christian College of Kansas

Title: The Influence of Masculinity on Christian College Men: A Study

Abstract: The purpose of this presentation intends to present the results of a research study on how the concepts of masculinity and self-authorship influence Christian males’ lived experience in college. Utilizing Magolda’s (2008) dimensions of self-authorship, the researcher sought to understand how masculinity influenced the following areas of self-authorship: epistemology dimension, intrapersonal dimension, and interpersonal dimension.

———————————– 1 p.m. ———————————–

Dr. John Han
Professor of English and Creative Writing and Chair of the Humanities Division
Missouri Baptist University

Title: “Bloody Fool”: Greene’s Moral Imagination in “The Third Man”

Abstract: Graham Greene’s noir novelette “The Third Man” appeared in 1950, one year after the release of a movie version. “The Third Man” tells the story of a private investigator, Rollo Martins (Holly Martins in the movie), who pursues the killer of his friend, Harry Lime, who supposedly died in a car accident. Martins’s search for the killer—the title character—reveals that Lime is alive and is indeed a racketeer on the blacklist. Greene’s story is characterized by mystery, suspense and thrill. In his New York Times article, he recalls the time when he and Carol Reed, a movie director, collaborated on the production of the film version of the story: “We had no desire to move people’s political emotions: we wanted to entertain them, to frighten them a little, to make them laugh.” Indeed, Green classified “The Third Man” as a work of “entertainment,” not a literary work. However, all of Greene’s works of “entertainment” include moral underpinnings in the same way all of his serious works of fiction include elements of entertainment. This paper examines Greene’s moral imagination as reflected in “The Third Man,” which the narrator calls a “strange rather sad story,” with particular emphasis on the contrasting ways in which Martins and Lime view right and wrong. Lime, who insists that he still believes in God and mercy, rationalizes his racketeering that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of patients: “I’m not hurting anybody’s soul by what I do. The dead are happier dead. They don’t miss much here, poor devils” (106). As a loyal friend who initially intended to help clear Lime’s name, Martins learns that Lime is indeed a criminal and thus kills him at close range. In the final chapter of the story, the narrator describes the scene of Lime’s funeral as follows: “It was almost as warm as a spring day when Harry Lime had his second funeral. I was glad to get him under earth again, but it had taken two men’s deaths. […] And there weren’t any tears” (Greene, Third 119). As in many of Greene’s entertainment stories, there is moral clarity in “The Third Man.” Whereas Lime’s crime reflects his utilitarian idea that pleasure is more desirable than pain, Martins carries out his execution of Lime on the grounds of moral absolutes. Interestingly, Martins is not particularly moral in his personal conduct. For example, “he always tried to dismiss women as ‘incidents,’ things that simply happened to him without any will of his own, acts of God in the eyes of insurance agents.” However, similar to the whiskey priest in Greene’s “The Power and the Glory,” a morally unfit priest who dies as a martyr, Martins exhibits his belief in human decency by turning his back on Lime and killing him in the name of justice. Greene insisted that he was “a novelist who happened to be a Catholic,” not “a Catholic novelist,” but “The Third Man” shows that his fiction is grounded in a moral vision no matter how paradoxical the vision seems.

———————————– 2 p.m. ———————————–

Dr. Jason Jordan
Assistant Professor of Counseling Education
Missouri Baptist University

Title: Butterflies, Tornados, and Relationships: But First, Grace and Peace

Abstract: Interdisciplinary research and scholarship are growingly reshaping how we understand our reality. Our world is changing at an exponential rate and the chaos people feel can seem overwhelming. Mathematician Edward Lorenz is recognized as the founder of Chaos Theory, which was discovered while attempting to predict the weather. He found that seemingly insignificant changes in initial conditions of a system can have unpredictable outcomes over time. Physics, specifically Chaos Theory and social sciences, are increasingly being merged together to change how we understand disciplines such as Social Work, Counseling, Anthropology, Communication and Organizational Psychology. However, as Christian scholars, we should be purposeful in placing our faith first and be discerning in how we integrate our faith with science. The current session will explore how physics, counseling and faith could merge, the significance of initial conditions, and how our Christian faith can reshape our realities in exponential ways now and in the future to come.

———————————– 3 p.m. ———————————-

sponsored by MBU Honors

Dr. Carl R. Trueman, Ph.D.
Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies
Grove City College

Title: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution

Abstract: In “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self,” Dr. Trueman explores the roots and impact of changing ideas of identity – what it means to be a “self.” He examines the influence of modern philosophers, particularly Charles Taylor and Philip Rieff and their studies of the self as both personal and cultural forces. He traces the “foundations of the revolution” in self-identity and corporate identity through the thinking of Rousseau, English Romantic poets, Nietsche, Marx and Darwin, and how the “identity revolution” of the 18th and 19th centuries became the sexual revolution of the 20th century, starting with Freud and moving into the ideas of Wihlelm Reich, Simone de Beauvoir, and Herbert Marcuse, concepts that were influential in spreading the sexual revolution and embracing the idea of sexual liberation from the oppressive restrictions of modern society, showing how our “social imaginary” has been shaped by these ideas and how they are pervasive in both high and popular culture. Having established this historical connection, Trueman discusses the modern challenges of sexual identity, practice and politics, and how this chain of thought has led to many of the conflicts within the 21st century cultural and political discussions. This book was just published in November 2020 and deals with many of the timely debates of our day.

———————————– 4 p.m. ———————————–

Guy Danhoff
Assistant Professor of Health and Sports Science
Missouri Baptist University

Title: Zagging: Building and Promoting Advocacy Through Digital and Social Media

Abstract: This interactive session is intended for anyone involved in creating social media content to communicate and promote advocacy. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, developing and sharing social media content experienced consumption rates at a meteoric rise in views and engagement. Today, over 3 Billion people globally are now using social media. The most significant challenge facing organizations is cutting through all the noise and clutter to grab their audience’s attention. Research has shown there are 60 billion pieces of content shared on social media every 24 hours. This session will break down cohesive and forward-looking strategies and best practices that promote advocacy using data analytics to drive desired outcomes. Ultimately, the purpose of this session is to help educators and professionals develop their influence, impact and advocacy using social media tools for effective communication while promoting faith and learning.

———————————– 5 p.m. ———————————–


Dr. Keith Beutler
Professor of History
Missouri Baptist University

Title: The Weight and Weightlessness of George Washington’s Hair: What C.S. Lewis and a Founder’s Follicles Are Teaching Me About the Weave of God’s World

Abstract: More than 200 years after his death, scores of putative locks of George Washington’s hair are held, in the collections of America’s historical societies, public and academic archives, and museums. In a book due out this October, I pursue clues afforded by that strange deposit from our ancestors into forgotten histories of early American patriotic memory and identity. In this talk, I explain how insights from C.S. Lewis’s 1942 preachment have powered and helped to frame and sustain that research.

By Emily Heflin

Emily Heflin is a staff journalist, photojournalist and managing editor for MBU Timeline. Born and raised in O’Fallon, Missouri, Heflin is a senior pursuing a major in communications studies and a double minor in journalism and public relations. Heflin also works as a communications intern for a non-profit.