The Frank and Pauline Patterson Spring Colloquy Examines: Peacemaking

July 3, 2017
A Peacemaking Harvest was the topic for the 2017 Frank and Pauline Patterson Spring Colloquy held at the Carroll Center on May 22-23. The colloquy featured three plenary speakers who addressed the topic of peacemaking in terms of Biblical Faith, Baptist Life and in the Courts of Justice.

Dr. Myles Werntz, T.B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary, began the Colloquy with a session on Peacemaking…in Biblical Faith. A third-year doctoral student, Josh Pinkston, shares his impressions on Dr. Werntz’s presentation:

The topic of peacemaking presented in the colloquy sessions was an intriguing one to me. Dr. Werntz’s presentation concerning a holistic approach to bringing peace has stimulated some thought concerning the focus of local community outreach and the process of meeting people’s spiritual needs in conjunction with their physical ones.

Sharon Gresham, a doctoral student in the Scripture and Witness cluster, commented:

I look forward to the Colloquies each spring and fall semesters. They have enhanced my studies either by adding to my field or introducing knowledge from other subjects. This spring, I particularly enjoyed the topic of peace as it pertains to biblical faith. Dr. Myles Werntz’s point on peace in the Liturgical Dimension gave new meaning to seeing and seeking peace in the area of worship. Believers should recognize that Jesus has broken down the walls of contention between different groups, so an absence of conflict should ensue (Eph. 2:14). If we as Christians would consider peace as part of our worship of Christ, our churches would bring wholeness (a meaning of peace) within themselves, society, and the world.

Following Dr. Wertz’s session, Dr. Bill Tillman, Professor of Christian Ethics Emeritus at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary and Director of Theological Education for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, served as a respondent to Dr. Wertz’s presentation. Dr. Tillman found the topic of peacemaking refreshing in the sense that Baptists rarely speak about it. He commented that in order for Christian ethics, in dealing with issues of conflict, to have the proper perspective and response, it must depend on the context – peacemaking needs contextualization for application. Dr. Tillman believes that conflict mediation should be an important part of theological education. As he has said to his students over the years, You minister out of who you are…We will not be able to deliver peacemaking very well until we have been more essentially assimilated into and with the peace of God.

The second colloquy session topic, Peacemaking…in Baptist Life, was presented by Dr. Karen Bullock, Fellow and Director of the Ph.D. Program and Professor of Christian Heritage at B. H. Carroll Theological Institute and Vice Chair of the Baptist World Alliance Heritage and Identity Commission. Dr. Bullock’s presentation focused on those leaders throughout 400 years of Baptist history who were the forgotten threads of peace weaving in contrast to the dissenters in Baptist life who were more well-known for their character of discord rather than finding grounds for reconciliation. She brought out the more positive and balanced perspectives of Baptist history in which the legacy of those forbearers of peace offered a more constructive engagement among Baptists for the future of peacemaking. As Dr. Bullock stated, Perhaps there is no other work on earth more Christ-like than this work of reconciliation, as 2 Corinthians tells us. Dr. Bullock challenged her listeners to address inhumanity, to initiate forgiveness and to call for reconciliation among our brothers and sisters around the globe as Christ-followers.

Dr. Mike Williams, Professor of History at Dallas Baptist University, praised Dr. Bullock’s scholarly work as a church historian and talked about how she has helped to define peacemaking in the 21st century. In response to Dr. Bullock’s presentation, Dr. Williams gave more attention to the theme of racial reconciliation in post-bellum United States and the work of T. B. Maston and other advocates of civil rights.

Elsen Portugal, a first year doctoral student in the area of Worship and Mission, shared his thoughts on the colloquy experience:

Spring Colloquy this year was an important edifying event from which I was able to draw encouragement from my fellow students and professors. The theme of peace weaving was passionately and convincingly brought to light, and called on us to walk as Jesus in our personal and institutional ministries.

Mr. Jeff Whitfield, Esq., Attorney at Law and Partner at Kelly Hart & Hallman, concluded the Spring Colloquy with a session on Peacemaking…in Courts of Justice. He shared that throughout his life, he has always wanted to be involved in some way in being an instrument of peace. Even his name, Jeffery, in German means God’s peace. His experiences in the Air Force and later as a peace fellow through the Peace Corp have led up to his profession today as an attorney, as one who engages with people in a legal setting to help them find common ground and a path to resolution or reconciliation. He stressed the importance of having laws and structures to live by so that people can learn to live together in harmony. He took an oath to support the Constitution and its laws, but he has become increasingly more disturbed by the political climate of civil rights today. People have become more interested in their own individual rights rather than the idea of we the people who come together for the welfare of all. As a Christian attorney in the courts of justice, it is important to Mr. Whitfield to promote peace, preserve the nation in which we live, and to give and sacrifice in order to uphold the welfare of all for the greater good.

Mr. Whitfield’s presentation was followed by a response from Dr. Stephen Crane, Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean in the College of Business at Dallas Baptist University. Dr. Crane served previously as the Assistant District Attorney in Lubbock County and is the husband of Carroll Institute’s Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Amanda Crane. Dr. Crane spoke of his struggle in pursuing peace as an advocate of the law when the law sometimes differs from his personal views and ethics. He asked, How do you uphold a law when it is unjust or is against Christian beliefs? He gave examples of Christ-followers in the New Testament who disobeyed unjust laws in order to obey God. Dr. Crane commented that the Creator has put into place natural law – a higher, moral law – as a basis of human conduct. Humans may not always be able to decide what is right and wrong, but the law is a noble profession in which peace and justice can be sought and Christians in the courts can make a difference.

In addition to the sessions with guest speakers, the doctoral students had seminars with faculty, met with their supervisors, and had the opportunity to fellowship with one another and learn what is happening at Carroll Institute. Doctoral student Josh Pinkston remarked:

The highlight of the colloquy for me was the presentation concerning what BHCTI is accomplishing in Cuba. The global mindset of BHCTI and the missional nature of these global educational efforts is something I have always taken pride in as a student here. The opportunity being provided to tag along on one of the trips to Cuba and get to see what is happening there in person is something that I hope to take advantage of in the near future.

Learn how you can help Carroll effectively train tomorrow’s ministry leaders, like Sharon, Elsen, and Josh, by donating to provide scholarships for doctoral students as well as for domestic master’s level students and Carroll’s global students in Cuba, Russia, China and Vietnam.

The Frank and Pauline Patterson Fall Colloquy 2017 will feature Dr. Stephen Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Historical and Systematic Theology at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, UK. Carroll Institute is grateful for the generous contribution of Dr. Burton and Ginger Patterson in setting up the Frank and Pauline Patterson Endowed Colloquy Fund that will provide ongoing financial support for Carroll’s doctoral colloquies.