Speaker Biographies


"The Gospel and Social Justice

James S. Spiegel, Ph.D (Michigan State University) is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University, where he has taught since 1993. He has published 10 books and over 80 articles and book chapters. His publications primarily explore issues in ethics and philosophy of religion, and they have appeared in scholarly journals such as Sophia, Faith and Philosophy, Toronto Journal of Theology, Theory and Research in Education, and the International Journal of Philosophy and Theology as well as popular periodicals such as Christianity Today, Books and Culture, Salvo, and Touchstone. Dr. Spiegel’s books include Hypocrisy: Moral Fraud and Other Vices (Baker, 1999), The Benefits of Providence (Crossway, 2005), Faith, Film, and Philosophy (InterVarsity, 2007), The Love of Wisdom (co-authored with Steven Cowan, B&H Academic, 2009), The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief (Moody, 2010), and the two-volume Idealism and Christianity series (Bloomsbury Press, 2017). Dr. Spiegel and his wife, Amy, blog together at Wisdom and Folly, wisdomandfollyblog.com. They have four children and live in Upland, Indiana.

"The Gospel and Economics"

Craig Vincent Mitchell, Ph.D (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a Christian ethicist, economist, and engineer.  Currently, he serves as a Senior Fellow for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. In addition, he is a board member for the Institute of Religion and  Democracy. He is an author and frequent speaker on Christian ethics and public policy. Dr. Mitchell publishedCharts of Christian Ethics and Charts of Philosophy and Philosophers in 2006 and 2007, respectively (Zondervan). He has served as a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2002-2014) and at Criswell College (2014-2017). In addition, Dr. Mitchell has also served as a research fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2005-2014. Prior to pursuing his calling to academic ministry, he served as an officer in the US Air Force, where his engineering background helped him test aircraft and spacecraft (active duty October 1980 - December 1992).

"Christianity and Critical Theory"

Neil Shenvi, Ph.D (University of California, Berkeley) is an academic scientist turned Christian apologist. After completing his undergraduate studies at Princeton University, he did a Ph.D in theoretical chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Shenvi went on to do post-doctoral research at both Yale and Duke, but in 2015 he left his job at Duke to focus on homeschooling his children. He is an advocate for classical education, and he frequently speaks in defense of the Christian faith at apologetics conferences. He and his wife live in Durham, NC with their four children.

"The Gospel and Human Sexuality"

Robert A.J. Gagnon, Ph.D (Princeton Theological Seminary) is a theological author and former associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Before completing his Ph.D, he earned a B.A. at Dartmouth and a M.T.S from Harvard Divinity School. Dr. Gagnon's primary research interests are Pauline Theology and biblical sexual ethics. He is the author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon Press, 2001); and co-author (with Dan O. Via) of Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (Fortress Press, 2003). Additionally, he has published scholarly articles on biblical studies in Journal of Biblical Literature, New Testament Studies, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Novum Testamentum, and Horizons in Biblical Theology; and more popular treatments in The Christian Century and First Things. In addition, he has been quoted in, or has written for, the New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, U.S. News and World Report, Christianity Today, Christian Century, and other news outlets and popular magazines.


"The Gospel, Transgenderism, and the Doctrine of Humanity"

Benjamin H. Arbour, Ph.D (University of Bristol) is the Vice President of Operations and Research Fellow for the Ethics and Political Economy Center. Dr. Arbour earned his BS in political science at Texas A&M University, and he went on to earn a M.Div and Th.M from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has authored nearly 20 academic articles and book chapters, which have appeared in notable journals such as Bibliotheca Sacra, the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophia Christi. His philosophical and theological research was funded by a generous grant from The John Templeton Foundation. Dr. Arbour has also edited three books: Evil and a Selection of its Theological Problems (with J.R. Gilhooly, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2016), Philosophical Essays Against Open Theism (Routledge, 2018), and Christian Theology and the Modern Philosophers (with Greg Ganssle, Zondervan, forthcoming). He and his wife, Meg, live with their four children in Fort Worth, TX.

"The Need for Justice in Education"

Meg Arbour & Amy Borland are both homeschooling moms who are passionate about ensuring that education is as much about character development as it is about imparting information to students. They each promote classical approaches to Christian education. Both have academic and professional backgrounds in education. Each of them received Bachelors degrees in education, Meg from Texas A&M University and Amy from Mount Vernon Nazarene University, before going on to teach in public schools. Meg resides in Fort Worth, TX with her husband and their four children. Amy resides in Arkadelphia, AR with her husband and their five children.

"Mocking Like Jesus: Christ-Likeness and Political Speech"

Tully Borland, Ph.D (Purdue University) is assistant professor of philosophy at Ouchita Baptist University. Prior to completing his Ph.D, Dr. Borland earned a M.A. in philosophy from Marquette University, and a B.A. from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He has published several articles on philosophical topics in journals such as American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, the Journal for the Liberal Arts and SciencesPhilosophy and Theology, and South African Journal of Philosophy. Some of his popular editorials have appeared in publications such as The Federalist and American Thinker. Dr. Borland lives with his wife, Amy, and their five children in Arkadelphia, AR.

"Ministering to Sexual Sinners in our Post-Christian Culture"

Dale Braswell serves as the lead pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX. He earned his bachelors degree from Dallas Baptist University, and he went on to complete a M.Div from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. He came to Wedgwood after spending 8 years ministering in Seattle, WA, where he planted a church. Prior to his ministry in the Northwest, Mr. Braswell served on staff at Vineland Park Baptist Church in Hueytown, AL and First Baptist Church of Gardendale, AL. He and his wife, Tina, have two daughters, and they all live in Fort Worth, TX.

"The Gospel and Economic Justice"

Jacob Brunton is a writer for For the New Christian Intellectual, which exists to promote Christian defenses of reason, individualism, and capitalism. After completing a bachelors degree in theology from Bethlehem College in Minneapolis, MN, Mr. Brunton completed a MA in philosopher at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife live in Fort Worth, TX, and they attend Redeemer Church.

"The Gospel, The Church, and the New Anthropos"

Dusty Deevers serves as one of the preaching elders at Grace Community Church in Elgin, OK. Mr. Deevers earned a M.Div from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and served on the staff of Redeemer Church in Fort Worth, TX before moving back home to Oklahoma. He is passionate about helping train future ministers and speaks regularly about the centrality of Christ, the primary importance of the Gospel, and healthy church life. Mr. Deevers has extensive business experience in both the healthcare and real estate industries, having worked for five years as a pharmacy manager, as well as in property management and real estate development. He and his wife, Christina, have six children.

"Social Justice: A Concern of Baptist History"

Madison Grace, Ph.D (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Baptist history and theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. He is editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology and director of the Oxford study program. After completing his undergraduate studies at Mississippi college, Dr. Grace went on to complete both a M.Div and Ph.D from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation focuses on the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His published work has appeared in books such as Being Saved and Baptists and the Greater Tradition (forthcoming), as well as the Southwestern Journal of Theology. He and his wife, Shareen, have three sons, and they live in Burleson, TX.

"Homosexuality, Humanity, and the Image of God"

Joshua Farris, Ph.D (University of Bristol) is assistant professor of theology at Houston Baptist University. He has published more than 20 articles and book chapters in notable journals such as Religious StudiesPhilosophia ChristiThe Heythrop Journal, and Philosophy and Theology. He has edited several books, including Idealism and Christian Theology (with Mark Hamilton, Bloomsbury, 2016), Christian Physicalism? (with Keith Loftin, Lexington, 2017), and The Ashgate Research Companion to Theological Anthropology (with Charles Taliaferro, Ashgate, 2016). He is the author of The Soul of Theological Anthropology (Routledge, 2016) and the forthcoming A Brief Introduction to Theological Anthropology (Baker Academic). He and his wife, Jenna, are expecting their first child.

"Social Justice and the Problem of Forgiveness"

John "Jay" B. Howell III, Ph.D (Baylor University) is dean of students at The Cambridge School of Dallas. After completing his undergraduate studies at Baylor, Dr. Howell went on to complete both a M.Div and a Th.M from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He returned to Baylor to complete a M.A. and Ph.D in philosophy, where he wrote on the nature of forgiveness, as understood by Christianity. His published work has appeared in journals such as Philosophia Christi, and the Southwestern Journal of Theology. He and his wife, Jessica, have three sons, and they live in Arlington, TX.

"The Gospel at the Border: Christianity and the US Immigration Crisis"

Timothy Hsiao is an instructor in Philosophy and Humanities at Grantham University. His research focuses on applied ethics, social philosophy, and environmental ethics. He is working to complete a Ph.D at the University of Reading, where he is writing a dissertation on a natural law approach to environmental ethics. His academic work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Think, Philosophia Christi, Ethics and Medicine, Philosophia, The Heythrop Journal, and Public Affairs Quarterly. Mr. Hsaio's popular editorials have also appeared in various online venues such as Arc Digital, The Federalist, and Public Discourse.

"Christian Contentment and Social Justice"

David Jacks serves as an elder of Church of Christ the King in Fort Worth, TX. He earned a B.S. from Lamar University before completing his M.Div from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. For more than a decade, he served the DFW area by operating the largest theological bookstore in the metroplex. Mr. Jacks currently serves on the board of directors for the Bible and Beer Consortium, and enjoys life with his wife, Milli, and their two children.

"Economic Equality and Biblical Justice"

Chad McIntosh, Ph.D (Cornell University) writes extensively on numerous topics, including politics, political philosophy, metaphysics, and Christian theology. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from Calvin College before moving to New York to work on his doctorate. He has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Religious StudiesPhilosophy in Review, and the European Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Some of his more popular editorials have appeared in notable conservative publications such as The Federalist and American Thinker. Dr. McIntosh and his wife, Lizzy, live in Columbus, OH, and they are expecting their first child.

"Moral Heresy"

Dr. Spiegel will also be speaking during one of the breakout session on the topic of "Moral Heresy"

"Social Justice, Christianity, and the Media"

Marilyn Stewart serves as the assistant director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is an award winning journalist who contributed an editorial column for a New Orleans newspaper for over eight years. Marilyn's experience with media relations has shaped the way she believes the Gospel needs to be communicated to the masses.  She has three grown children, and she lives in New Orleans, LA with her husband. 

"Justice, Social Justice, and Abortion"

Rebekah Valerius is an author at Mama Bear Apologetics. She earned a bachelors in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Arlington, and worked for several years as a research scientist in the protein crystallography lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Rebekah is currently studying for her masters in apologetics from Houston Baptist University. She specializes in incorporating apologetics into culture and literature. Rebekah lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and their two daughters.

© 2018. The Institute for Philosophical and Theological Research

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