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Words I had to look up at the Christian Scholars’ Conference


HOUSTON — What better cure is there for jet lag than a trip to an academic conference?

That, evidently, was my thinking as I made plans to travel to Belgium and then Angola before arriving at this year’s Christian Scholars’ Conference.


Related: Scholars ask, ‘What will be our future?’


So, after an eight-hour flight to Frankfurt (during which I turned 50 at some point), a 10-hour flight to Houston and an overnight crash in a hotel, I found myself on the gorgeous campus of the Lanier Theological Library.

The food was exquisite, and the fellowship was divine. I loved seeing old friends and my favorite professors from my days at Lipscomb University.

Erik Tryggestad, right, catches up with two professors from his days at Lipscomb — Jon Lowrance (left, Intro to Biology, B+) and Paul Prill (Intro to Speech, A-).

Erik Tryggestad, right, catches up with two professors from his days at Lipscomb — Jon Lowrance (left, Intro to Biology, B+) and Paul Prill (Intro to Speech, A-).

I did, however, find myself secretly Googling more than a few words as I listened to the thought-provoking presentations. So, lest all that clandestine research go to waste, here are a few terms I learned (or relearned) at the conference:

A priori (adj.)

Pertaining to knowledge based on deduction rather than observation.

Example: The sheer thrill of learning will be enough to keep me awake through this conference. That’s an a priori assumption.

Dialectic (n.)

A discourse between people who hold differing points of view but wish to establish truth through discussion without emotional appeals or rhetoric.

Example: No idea. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t exist anymore.

Eschatological (adj.)

Relating to death, judgment and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.

Example: I’m not trying to get all eschatological on you, but if we really are living in the end times maybe you could give me another piece of salmon?

Fecundity (n.)

The ability to produce many new ideas.

Example: The statement “If you girls are bored you can go clean your rooms” inevitably results in a fecundity of imaginative pastimes, none of which involve cleaning.

Lectio Divina (n.)

Latin for “Divine Reading.” This is a process of reading a particular Scripture, meditating on it, praying about it and then deciding how you’re going to respond to it. (This sounds a bit like the Discovery Bible Study I learned about in Angola.)

Example: I’m thankful that Lectio Divina doesn’t require fluency in Latin.

Nascent (adj.)

Just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential.

Example: When someone watches “Star Wars Episode IX” and says, “Meh, that wasn’t so bad,” I try to be patient with their nascent complacence.

Pneumatological (adj.)

Relating to a branch of Christian theology concerned with the Holy Spirit.

Example: I’m not trying to get all pneumatological on you, but I feel like the Holy Spirit is telling you to give me more salmon.

Praxis (n.)

A moon of the Klingon homeworld that was used as an energy production facility until it was destroyed by over-mining, as seen in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.” Or, something to do with customs.

Example: By praxis, I quote Captain Sulu yelling, “Shields! Shields!” after Praxis blows up.

Profundity (n.)

Deep insight, great depth of knowledge or thought.

Example: People praise me for my profundity when I successfully use words like fecundity.

Propaedeutic (adj.)

Providing introductory instruction.

Example: After one week in Philosophy of Religion with Bill Collins it was my duty to find a more propaedeutic class.

Rehabituate (v.)

To make accustomed to again.

Example: After eating all that salmon at the conference I’ll have to rehabituate myself to Bumble Bee tuna.

Vicissitude (n.)

A change in circumstances of fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.

Example: During dinner, a professor from Abilene Christian University said he was curious to get my take on “navigating the vicissitudes of the newspaper business.”

“Well,” I said, “one thing you should never do is use ‘vicissitude’ in a news story.”

ERIK TRYGGESTAD is president and CEO of The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @eriktryggestad.

Filed under: academia Christian Scholars Christian Scholars Conference Definitions Insight Lipscomb University Opinion Top Stories

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