Distinguished Faculty Lecture 2020–2021


Dave Thomas
School of Theology


Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, 7 p.m.
The lecture will be streamed live here.

It is not a secret that today in the United States large numbers of people are abandoning the Christian faith. The fastest growing demographic are those who profess no connection or subscription to religion at all, and the largest growing segment within that demographic are young people who have come to believe they can live well without religion.

Dave Thomas, WWU professor of practical theology and apologetics, says there are many reasons for this development, some of which arise from the current prevailing ideas about belief and the evidence necessary to create or sustain that belief. “Since the days of René Descartes, the Western world has been traveling down a road that contends that unless something can be empirically proven it cannot be counted as knowledge. Religious belief is not subject to empirical proof, so it gets pushed to the side as about as credible as belief in unicorns,” says Thomas.

In his lecture, Thomas will discuss these ideas and their link to certain foundational assumptions that underlie the thought-systems that operate today, a subject area that has become known as “macro hermeneutics.” The area of macro hermeneutics has fascinated Thomas since he was introduced to it in 1993 by a seminary professor. During the last 25 years, Thomas has worked to make some of these highly abstract elements understandable for those who may have never heard of macro hermeneutics. Along the way, his recitations, especially to students, have fulfilled the task described by Elton Trueblood when he said: “The value of intellectual inquiry lies not in its ability to tell us what we ought to do, but rather in its ability to surmount the barriers that hinder our doing. The careful study of the philosophy of religion is helpful, not because in most instances it brings men to God, but because it fulfils the humbler role of removing barriers to requisite commitment.”

In his Distinguished Faculty Lecture, Thomas will address what constitutes Christian faith and what makes believing in the Christian way both viable and credible.


2019-2020
Debbie Muthersbaugh, Professor of Education

2018-2019
Kari Firestone, Professor of Nursing

2017-2018
Pedrito Maynard-Reid, Professor of Theology

2016-2017
Paul Dybdahl, Professor of Theology

2015-2016
Kellie Bond, Associate Professor of English

2014-2015
Linda Emmerson, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

2013-2014
David Bullock, Professor of Communication

2012-2013
Karen Tetz, Professor of Nursing

2011-2012
Joseph G. Galusha Jr., Professor of Biology

2010-2011
Pamela Keele Cress, Professor of Social Work and Sociology

2009-2010
Thomas M. Thompson, Professor of Mathematics

2008-2009
Gregory D. Dodds, Associate Professor of History

2007-2008
Bruce C. Johanson. Professor of Biblical Studies

2006-2007
Jon A. Cole, Professor of Engineering

2005-2006
Beverly G. Beem, Professor of English

2004-2005
James R. Nestler, Professor of Biology

2003-2004
Alden L. Thompson, Professor of Biblical Studies

2002-2003
Kraig S. M. Scott, Associate Professor of Music

2001-2002
Douglas R. Clark, Professor of OT and Archaeology

2000-2001
Rodney Heisler, Professor of Engineering

1999-2000
C. Loren Dickinson, Professor of Communication

1998-1999
Roland R. Blaich, Professor of History

1997-1998
 Verlie Y. F. Ward, Professor of Education

1996-1997
Thomas J. Emmerson, Professor of Art

1995-1996
Claude C. Barnett, Professor of Physics

1994-1995
Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Professor of English and History

1993-1994
Ernie J. Bursey, Professor of Biblical Studies

Event Details

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