The Rev. Dr. Ted A Smith to Present Mount Union Carr Lecture
October 12, 2016
ALLIANCE, Ohio – Rev. Dr. Ted A. Smith, associate professor of preaching and ethics at Emory University, will present the Carr Lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 20 in the Myers Sanctuary of the University of Mount Union’s Dewald Chapel.
The lecture is titled “The Work of a Christian University during a Crisis of Legitimation” and is free and open to the public.
Smith’s lecture acknowledges that powerful voices from across the spectrum are questioning the basic legitimacy of political order in the United States. Some charge that elections are rigged, either at the ballot box or by infusions of money from sources that do not have to disclose themselves. Others argue that there is no difference between the police and a street gang – it’s just about who has the most firepower. Still others dispute federal control of land, or even the power of the courts to interpret law. While these movements might have very different diagnoses of what has gone wrong and even more different plans for how to make things right, they share a readiness to challenge the legitimacy of government. Such challenges have always been present in American history. But their particular intensity now is a sign of the times. In times like these, Christian universities have a distinct vocation in a democratic society: not to reestablish the legitimacy of the present order, but to renew the possibility of legitimacy for one that is more just.
Smith works at the intersections of practical and political theology, tracing connections between everyday church life and basic questions of politics and culture. He is the author of two books, The New Measures: A Theological History of Democratic Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Weird John Brown: Divine Violence and the Limits of Ethics (Stanford University Press, 2014), and the editor of two more. He has published more than 70 essays, chapters, articles and sermons. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisville Institute and on the editorial boards of Political Theology and Practical Matters. Prior to coming to Candler, Smith taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he served as Director of the Program in Theology and Practice. At Emory, Smith also teaches in the Graduate Division of Religion and is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.
A Rhodes Scholar, Smith has been recognized for both academic achievements and ministerial excellence. He currently directs a major project funded by the Lilly Endowment, Theological Education Between the Times, which brings together scholars from a diverse array of institutions to consider the purposes of theological education in a time of great change. Ordained to ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Smith served two rural congregations before he began his doctoral studies. He continues to preach and teach widely.
The Joseph M. Carr Lectureship was established in 1916 by the terms of the will of Reverend Joseph M. Carr, D.D. a close associate of President Hartshorn in the early days of Mount Union. The conditions under which the lectureship was given state that the lecture shall always be upon the subject, "The Mission of the Christian College to the World."