Christian Legal Scholars' Symposium

Christian Legal Scholars' Symposium
at the CLS Conference

Friday, October 29, 2021
12:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Speaker: James K.A. Smith

Moderator: Stanley Carlson-Thies (Center for Public Justice and Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance)

We live in an age in which many Christians are increasingly skeptical of the institutions of a democratic republic. In the name of protection, they counsel withdrawal, disinvesting in those institutions that constitute the commonwealth. At the same time, a kind of secular puritanism counsels a sort of revolutionary mindset that also devalues the hard-won institutions forged over time. This lunch symposium, infused with both a Christian understanding of history and an eschatological understanding of the state, will consider what faithful presence in public life should look like today, drawing on the ancient but perennial wisdom of Augustine’s City of God.

The symposium will be an opportunity to gather over lunch and hear from James K.A. Smith as he introduces this topic and enters in dialogue with his audience for an extended period of discussion and debate. In preparation, please be familiar with his book, Awaiting the King (Introduction available here) and read this article

James K.A. Smith


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James K. A. Smith is a professor of philosophy at Calvin University, where he holds the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview. Trained as a philosopher with a focus on contemporary French thought, Smith has expanded on that scholarly platform to become an engaged, public intellectual and cultural critic. An award-winning author and a widely-traveled speaker, he has emerged as a thought leader with a unique gift of translation, building bridges between the academy, society, and the church.

The author of a number of influential books, Smith’s writing has also appeared in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today, as well as in magazines such as AmericaThe Christian CenturyChristianity TodayLos Angeles Review of Books, and LitHub. He serves as editor in chief of Image, a quarterly journal at the intersection of art, faith, and mystery.

He and his wife, Deanna, are elementary school (!) sweethearts with four adult children and (so far) three children-in-law. Natives of Stratford, Ontario, they lived in Philadelphia and Los Angeles before settling in the Heritage Hill neighborhood of Grand Rapids. They are committed urban dwellers who enjoy gardening, travel, wine with friends, and curling up on the couch with their Maltipoo, Kirby.


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