The Symposia Series in Lived Theology: On Billy Graham

Symposium-Header-13Introducing the Collaboration with Syndicate

The Project on Lived Theology and Syndicate have launched a lived theology series comprised of symposiums focusing on books that interpret the lived experience of a person, institution, or movement through the lens of its theological convictions and commitments. Each symposium features reviewers who offer unique perspectives on the subject and author to understand their contextual significance within the framework of lived theology.

The first book being studied is Grant Wacker’s America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation. Wacker highlights the rise of a mainstream, and political, evangelicalism in the second half of the twentieth century and the relation of evangelicalism and American culture through the influence of Billy Graham, arguably America’s most important religious figure. The reviewers in this symposium include Vincent Bacote, Randall Balmer, Kathryn Lofton, and PLT Contributor Nathan Walton. Each reflects on the influence of Graham, the intersection of Graham’s life and American culture, and Wacker’s interpretation of Graham’s impact.

PLT Contributor and symposium editor Kristopher Norris writes:

“Lived theology assumes that not only is it important to understand the context of our theological subjects, but that we theologians are also embodied and contextually embedded figures. This necessitates a degree of theological reflexivity and attention to the forces that have shaped our own approaches to an issue, theme, or person…

This story touches on themes of the rise of the evangelical mainstream—in contrast to its mainline Protestant and fundamentalist cousins—but more broadly, American politics, the popular media, commodity and celebrity culture, the civil rights movement, and the Cold War. Graham’s story engages all of these, and Wacker weaves these themes into a narrative interpretation of American religion viewed through the lens of this one encompassing life.”

Read the full article on Syndicate’s website here.

Kristopher Norris is an ordained Baptist minister focusing his studies on political ecclesiology, including such topics as church and democracy, just war and pacifism, Christian ethics and public life, and the work of theologians like John Howard Yoder and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A graduate fellow for the Project on Lived Theology and Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, he has also taught courses ranging from eco-theology to American religious history and is currently teaching Christian ethics courses at Wesley Theological Seminary. 

Nathan Walton is currently a PhD student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies and Culture. Walton was previously a graduate research assistant for The Project on Lived Theology.

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