Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professors of Religion

The Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor for 2020 is Peter Phan, the Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University. The 2020 lectures are tentatively scheduled for Feb. 17-19.

About the visiting professorship

Dr. and Mrs. Harry Vaughan Smith made a liberal gift to Mercer University in 1990 to establish a distinguished visiting professorship and lecture series in the Christianity Department. The gift bears witness to the life-long commitment the late Harry Vaughan Smith had to Mercer University that began when he enrolled as a freshman in 1920.

A 1924 graduate of Mercer, Harry Vaughan Smith served as pastor of several prominent churches in Georgia before becoming Alumni Secretary and Assistant to the President at Mercer in 1946, a post he held until 1955. From 1955 until 1970 he distinguished himself as Executive-Director of the Georgia Baptist Foundation. In all his years of service, Dr. Smith was a faithful worker on behalf of all Georgia Baptist causes, but always he maintained a special interest in Mercer University and the cause of Christian higher education.

Past Harry Vaughn Smith Distinguished Visiting Professors

2019: Stephanie Paulsell

Lost in the Mystery of God: Spiritual Practices

  • Lost in the Mystery of God
  • The Soul’s Journey
  • On Pilgrimage

2018: Catherine Keller

Political Theology of the Earth

  • The Political:  Sovereign Exception or Collective Inception
  • The Earth: Climate of Closure, Matter of Disclosure
  • The Theology: Kairos of Endless Entanglement

2017: Brad R. Braxton

The Beloved Community in a Pluralistic World

  • Lifting the Veil: The Apostle Paul and Racial Reconciliation
  • A Blueprint for the Beloved Community: Vocation, Values, and Voice
  • Street Corner Religion: Public Theology for a Pluralistic World

2016: Charles Marsh

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: New Perspectives of His Life, Thought and Promise

  • “I Heard the Gospel Preached in the Negro Churches of America”: Bonhoeffer’s Spiritual Awakening
  • Theological Storm Troopers on the March: Bonhoeffer’s Protest Against the Nazis’ Twisted Cross
  • “Are We Still of Any Use?”: Bonhoeffer’s Final Questions and the Christian Witness in the 21st Century

2015: Amy-Jill Levine

Hearing the Parables Through Jewish Ears

  • Dangers on the Road to Jericho: How the Good Samaritan Goes Wrong
  • Finding the Lost: Where Prodigal Readers Go Astray
  • Assessing Our Values: What Contributions Pearls, Yeast, Pharisees, and Tax Collectors Make

2014: Carol A. Newsom

A Thousand Years of Feminist Biblical Interpretation

  • The Quest for Dignity and Autonomy: Medieval and Renaissance Women Interpreters
  • The Bible and the Right to Preach: Women and the Word in Protestant Christianity
  • Radical Outsiders and Ambivalent Insiders: Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Woman’s Bible

2013: Miroslav Volf

Faith and Globalization

  • Faiths in a Globalized World
  • Religious Exclusivism and Political Pluralism
  • Globalization and Reconciliation

2012: Diana Butler Bass

Christianity After Religion

  • Millennial Disappointment: The Great Religious Recession
  • The Longing for Experience: Being Spiritual and Religious
  • Patterns and Prospects of Awakening

2011: Walter B. Shurden

Thin-Slicing the Life of Faith

  • The Flight of the Dove: Giving In to Being Loved
  • The Ascent of the Mountain: Giving Up to the Demands of Love
  • The Descent Into the Valley: Giving Back Because of Love

2010: Pui Lan Kwok

Christianity in the 21st Century

  • Postcolonialism and World Christianity
  • The Bible and Sexuality: Does the Church Have Anything Good to Say About Sex?
  • Obama, American Empire, and Prophetic Christianity

2009: Marcus Borg

Rethinking the Big Questions: God, Jesus, and the Christian Life

  • Thinking about God Again
  • Thinking about Jesus Again
  • Thinking about the Christian Life Again

2008: Tony Campolo

A Sociological Deconstruction of American Christianity

  • Durkheim and Marx Considered and Critiqued
  • Being Christian in a Post-Modern Society
  • Becoming Red Letter Christians

2007: Renita J. Weems

Prophets, Preachers, and Finding Your Purpose: Lessons from the Book of Jeremiah

  • Jeremiah 1:1-10: Your Purpose in Life Is to Figure Out Your Purpose in Life
  • Jeremiah 7: Politics, Prayer, and Prophets in Times of National Crises
  • Jeremiah 9:17-21: Weeping, Wailing, and Recovering Women’s Voices

2006: Bill J. Leonard

Signs of the Times: Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective

  • Spirituality in America: Catholics, Evangelicals, Buddhists and Serpent Handlers
  • The Church: Joel Osteen, Mega-Churches, and the Non-Denominationalizing of America
  • Drinking the Golden Calf and Other Strange Bible Stories: Revisiting the Ancient Text

2005: William E. Hull

Best-Selling Christianity: Jesus Christ as Superstar

  • The Da Vinci Code: Dan Brown on Women in the Life of Jesus
  • Beyond Belief:  Dan Brown on Jesus Outside the New Testament
  • The Passion of the Christ: Mel Gibson on the Death of Jesus

2004: Katie Geneva Cannon

Traversals and Reversals in Contemporary Christian Ethics

  • Untying Ethical Tongues: Social Teachings in Black Sacred Rhetoric
  • Unshackling Ethical Truths: A Womanist Critique of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Unearthing Ethical Treasurers: The Intrusive Markers of Social Class

2003: Walter Wink

Jesus and the Spiral of Violence

  • The Myth of Redemptive Violence
  • Jesus’ Answer to Violence
  • Nonviolence for the Violent

2002: James Forbes

The Spiritual Renewal of the Nation

  • The Case for Prophetic Patriotism
  • The Recruitment of Human Race Activists
  • Spiritual Courage for Justice, Peace, and Compassion

2001: Luke Timothy Johnson

Lessons from the Past: Patristic Interpretation of the New Testament

  • Listening to Voices Strange Yet Familiar: The Interpretation of the Bible Before the Reformation
  • Scripture and the Freedom of the Mind: Origen of Alexandria
  • Scripture and the Constraints of Charity: Augustine of Hippo

2000: Martin Marty

American Religion at the Turn of the Century

  • The American Past as a Foreign Country Religiously
  • The Familiar Country That Is the American Present: Today’s Faiths
  • The Nation on the Horizon of the Future: Religion Tomorrow

1999: Barbara Brown Taylor

The Luminous Web: Addressing the Gap Between Science and Religion

  • Origins: The Evolution of Praise
  • Community: The Myth of Sovereignty
  • Awe: The Limits of Knowledge

1998: Paul Duke

The Poetic and the Worship of God

  • The Poetry of Awe
  • The Poetry of Lament
  • The Poetry of Vocation

1997: James Dunn

A Faculty for Freedom

  • Freedom’s Roots: Presuppositions
  • Freedom’s Tracks: Reports
  • Freedom’s Future: Challenge

1996: Fred Craddock

Jesus and the Life of Prayer

  • Jesus as a Person of Prayer
  • Jesus as a Teacher of Prayer
  • Jesus as Leader of a Community of Prayer

1995: Ralph Wood

Flannery O’Connor and the Southern Race Question

  • The Place of Blackness in “The Artificial Nigger”
  • The Racial Legacy of Her Letters
  • Black and White Reconciliation in “Judgement Day”

1994: Elizabeth Achtemeier

Making Sense of the Scriptures

  • The Basic Theme
  • The Theme Worked Out
  • Fulfillment and Future

1993: Walter Brueggemann

A Counter-Life in a Counter-World

  • Remembering Against Amnesia
  • Hoping Against Despair
  • Covenanting Against Commodity

1992: Walter Harrelson

The Old Testament as Literature

  • The Literature of the Old Testament
  • The Old Testament – as Literature
  • How the Christian Claims the Old Testament as Scripture