CCSN’s First-ever Pre-Conference at NCA, A Dialogic Unconference on Christian Scholarship

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You are invited to attend the CCSN’s first-ever pre-conference event at NCA. Space is limited, so please contact if you are interested in attending.

From the Outrageous to the Scandalous: Re-imagining Christian Thinking and Scholarship in an Age of Tribalism and Ideological Resentment

A Dialogic Unconference Hosted by the Christianity and Communication Studies Network (

Date/Location/Time: Tuesday, November 19, 2024, on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; 3:00–8:30 pm (dinner included). RSVP.

Presenters: George Marsden (University of Notre Dame); Mark Noll (University of Notre Dame); Clifford G. Christians (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign); Quentin J. Schultze (Calvin University); Terry Lindvall (Virginia Wesleyan University); Paul Soukup, S.J. (Santa Clara University); Richard Mouw (Fuller Theological Seminary); Mark Allan Steiner (Christopher Newport University); Nicholas Wolterstorff (Yale University); Greg Spencer (Westmont College); and Mark Fackler (Calvin University).

The “What”? The 1990s saw the publication of two seminal books on the intellectual life and practices of American evangelical Christians. In The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (1998), George Marsden addressed the relevance and the unique heuristic value of scholarship done from an explicitly “faith-informed” perspective, making the case that Christians can and should let their faith commitments animate their research and scholarship, and that doing so will be beneficial to the academy and to society as a whole. In The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994), Mark Noll traced the historical development and contemporary consequences of anti-intellectualism, pressing the claim that faithfulness in religious practice and cultural engagement requires a much more serious collective commitment to intellectual and theological work.

The 2024 CCSN Unconference is an invitation for dialogue on the legacy and contemporary relevance of these two books in the current state of the Academy and beyond. What kind of impact have Marsden’s and Noll’s ideas had on the Church and on Christian researchers and scholars who engage and extend their work and life from a Christian perspective? In what ways are Marsden’s and Noll’s calls still needed and how might they be applied today given the multitude and complexity of social and political challenges we face? Additionally, how might the work and life of Christian scholars help re-imagine and reform the current state of higher education? In short, what are the challenges and opportunities of being a faithful and hopeful Christian scholar in today’s educational arena?

The “Why”? American public and political culture are fractured and toxic. Individualism and consumerism dominate communal values and lifestyles. The embrace of self-righteous and resentment-fueled victimhood all too often justifies individual and tribal interests. Moreover, in higher education, recent books point out the one-sided political leanings of most public universities and the demonization of certain voices—including Christian voices—that challenge the ideological status quo. Recent marches organized on campuses around the country, rising anti-Semitism, and rampant “cancel culture” all demonstrate way the university is in ruins. Christian scholars committed to a sustained Christian engagement in this environment need encouragement and supportive communities. Rather than simply add to the critique, this Unconference seeks to embrace the Kingdom opportunities that our current cultural crises present and offer viable pathways forward. Sources and places of common ground are scarce and endangered. To the degree that all of this is true, distinctively and counterculturally faith-informed ideas are as important to the Church, the Academy, and the culture as ever. However re-imagined and applied, Marsden’s and Noll’s ideas are an important wellspring for this type of faithfulness in the world of ideas and the world of culture.

The “How”? To attend, you must first RSVP no later than June 1, 2024. Space is limited for this event to maximize one-on-one and small group discussions throughout our time together. If you are interested in attending, please contact Robert Woods, CCSN Executive Director: The cost of the event (which includes dinner) is $75.00. Housing on the campus of the seminary is also available for an additional and very reasonable fee.

The Outcomes? Finally, we will devote a special edition of the Journal of Christian Teaching Practice to this gathering. We will also publish an edited volume related to the theme of the Unconference. All people in attendance will have an opportunity to contribute to one or both of these outcomes. More details will be shared leading up to and immediately following the Unconference.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Robert H. Woods Jr., JD, PhD

CCSN Executive Director

Managing Editor, Integratio Press

Visiting Scholar, Trinity Western University

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