Renowned Scholars to Join New ‘Biola University Center for Christian Thought’

The center, launching in February, will produce scholarship on contemporary issues facing Christianity

Nov. 17, 2011 By Jason Newell

Two of the world’s most influential Christian philosophers will be spending time in residence on Biola’s campus next semester as part of the new “Biola University Center for Christian Thought,” an ambitious academic initiative that will launch in February 2012.

Renowned philosophers Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff — both recognized among the world’s leading Christian minds — have agreed to be the first two “presidential visiting scholars” at the new center, which is being established to encourage first-rate scholarship on some of the most important questions of human existence.

“We’re thrilled to have two scholars of this caliber join us during the inaugural semester of the Biola University Center for Christian Thought,” said Gregg Ten Elshof, the center’s director. “This center is an exciting opportunity for Biola — one that we hope will make valuable contributions to the academy, the church and the broader culture for many years to come.”

At the heart of the Center for Christian Thought is a residential fellowship program that will bring together eight research fellows (four Biola faculty members and four external scholars) each semester to do work on a selected theme, said Biola philosophy professor Thomas Crisp, one of the center’s associate directors. Throughout each semester, well-known figures — such as Plantinga and Wolterstorff — will also come to the center for several days or weeks at a time to help facilitate the dialogue as “visiting scholars” and “presidential visiting scholars.”

Over the course of each year, the research fellows will produce books, articles, videos, lectures, podcasts and other resources to help address some of the questions that matter most to the church and the academy, Crisp said.

The ultimate goal is to “raise the game of evangelical scholarship” and to give academic and non-academic audiences alike a thoughtful evangelical perspective on significant issues of our day, he said.

“Our hope is to give an opportunity to evangelical scholars to do first-rate, distinctively evangelical scholarship in a way that has heretofore been difficult because of limited resources in the academy,” Crisp said. “We think we’ll be uniquely positioned to disseminate these ideas into the broader culture — and the evangelical culture, more specifically — in a way that will increase our thoughtfulness as believers.”

For the center’s inaugural semester, which runs from February through May, the theme will be “Christian Scholarship in the 21st Century: Prospects and Perils.” Participants will examine the role of Christian scholarship in today’s world and seek to determine which issues are most deserving of Christian scholars’ time in the years ahead.

The center recently selected eight research fellowsto participate in its first semester — four from Biola and four from universities across the nation — with backgrounds in art, literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology and theology. Plantinga and Wolterstorff will join the group during the first two weeks of February. Each of them will also deliver a free public lecture at Biola — Plantinga on Feb. 2 and Wolterstorff on Feb. 13. They will return for a two-day public conference on May 18–19. Further details will be available at

Future research themes are still in the planning stages, though the center has announced that the theme of the 2012–13 year will be “Neuroscience and the Soul,” focusing on recent developments in neuroscience and how they relate to the nature and existence of the soul.

For additional information about the Biola University Center for Christian Thought, visit the center’s website at Audio of a recent radio interview with the center’s director, Gregg Ten Elshof, is available at the Frank Pastore Show. (The interview begins at 15:36).

Written by Jason Newell, Associate Director of Communications and Publications. For more information, please contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at or via phone at 562.777.4061.


  • James Lopez Dec. 7, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    Wow, this is really cool!:)

  • George Ouma Dec. 24, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Biola University is taking the lead. Let other Christian universities and colleges follow. Human cultures must be won back to the kingdom of God. George Ouma, M.A. philosophy and Ethics, 2008

  • Lawrence Wee Mar. 2, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Well done, for a worthy endeavour in bridging the often neglected gaps between the Chuch and the unchurched. Keep up the good works. My prayers are with you all. Shall grateful if I could get an extract on the articles,speeches from those brilliant minds. God blessings.

  • George Ouma Jan. 17, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Who says it is by coincidence that Biola University harbors the planet's most intellectual christian philosopher?

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