The Lyceum Lecture Series on Faith and the Academy draws inspiration both from the history of Grace College and Winona Lake itself. During America’s Progressive Era at the turn of the 20th century, Winona Lake’s Chautauqua tradition attracted lectures and presentations from high-profile speakers who brought refined culture to small-town America. Notable speakers included three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, humorist Will Rogers, and the preacher Russell Conwell. In order to continue this valuable heritage, Grace College established the American Lyceum Lecture Series in the 1990s, which featured people like Allan Keyes and Michael Reagan. In 2011, the lecture series was reorganized under a new name and has since focused specifically on issues related to the intersection of Christian faith and academics.
Grace College was privileged to hear from Dr. Todd Allen, who presented, “What Do These Stones Mean? Race, Civil Rights, and Public Memory.” Allen is professor of Communication Studies and Visual Arts at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. He is a specialist in the Civil Rights Movement and its commemoration. He is active in community and campus efforts to facilitate discussion about race and has published a chapter in the 2015 book, “Black Scholars in White Space: New Vistas in African American Studies from the Christian Academy”.
Dr. Gundlach spoke on “Religion and the Evolution Question: a Historian’s Perspective.” Gundlach teaches at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, where he specializes in American intellectual, cultural and religious history. He also enjoys teaching world civilization, church history, and the philosophy and methods of history. Gundlach is the author of "Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845-1929", and is currently at work on a biography of Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield.
This lecture commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. Our speaker was Dr. Devin Brown, a Lilly Scholar and professor of English at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. Brown, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina and specializes in the literature of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, has published numerous books and scholarly articles on Lewis and Tolkien. These include "Inside Narnia: A Guide to Exploring The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (2005), "Inside Prince Caspian" (2008), and "Inside the Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (2010). His latest book is "The Christian World of The Hobbit" (Abingdon Press, 2012).
Gordon Nickel presented “Peace and Proclamation: A Christian Response to Global Islam.” Nickel researches the interplay between Islam and the Gospel, especially between the Qur'an and the New Testament. He began his study of Islam at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he completed a master's degree in South Asian Islam and wrote a thesis on Shah Wali Allah's principles of Qur'anic exegesis. In 2011, Brill Academic published Gordon's monograph, "Narratives of Tampering in the Earliest Commentaries on the Qur'an". He continues his research and writing on the origins of Islam and the earliest commentaries on the Qur'an while teaching university courses on the Qur'an and Islam in the Modern World.
The role of religion in American society remains a topic of much discussion and debate. For many Americans, personal views on current religious and political issues are shaped by what they believe about America’s foundations. Was America founded as a Christian nation? Is it a secular nation? Or was it established with both secular and religious influences? Historian and author Dr. John Fea spoke on these important questions in a public lecture at Grace College in commemoration of Constitution Day on Friday, September 16, 2011. John Fea, chair of the Department of History at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, is a respected historian of colonial and revolutionary America and has a long list of publications on Christian faith and its role in American life. He speaks to numerous audiences and has been spotlighted on talk radio and C-SPAN’s "Book TV".