The publisher and editors of the Christian Scholar’s Review are both pleased and saddened to announce the nineteenth recipient of its annual award for best article. The winner of the Charles J. Miller Christian Scholar’s Award for volume 33 is Abdah Johnson (Chip) Conyers, who died July 18, 2004, after a long battle with cancer. His article, “Can Postmodernism Be Used as a Template for Christian Theology?”, which appeared in CSR 33:3 (Spring 2004), pages 293-309, was selected by a panel of jurors who carefully and thoughtfully read each article published in volume 33; in their estimation “Can Postmodernism Be Used as a Template for Christian Theology?” best achieved the goals of Christian scholarship set by CSR.
Before joining Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary as professor of theology in 1994, Conyers served as chairman of the department of religion and philosophy at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina. He held the A.B. degree from the University of Georgia and earned his Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His books include The Eclipse of Heaven: The Loss of Transcendence in Church and Society; A Basic Christian Theology; The End: What Jesus Really Said About the Last Things; God, Hope, and History: Jürgen Moltmann’s Christian Concept of History; The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe of Power and Profit; and Last Things: The Heart of New Testament Eschatology. His essays have appeared in Christian Century, Christianity Today, First Things, Touchstone, Modern Age, Books and Culture, as well as a number of academic journals. He was a member of First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, and is survived by his wife, Debbie; a daughter, Emily; a son, A.J. IV; and one grandson, Paul.
Mr. Conyers’ award-winning article maintains that Christian theology will not benefit from evangelical attempts to recast it in postmodern terms. While these attempts lay claim to a critique of modernity, they fail to distinguish themselves from that which lies at the core of post-Enlightenment or modern styles of thought; namely, their fundamental quarrel from the beginning with a “vocational” understanding of life, which lies at the heart of the Christian and theistic vision. A proper critique of modernity requires a radical rejection of modern presuppositions, and such rejection is not found among the contemporary philosophies that style themselves postmodern. The jurors praised the article on several levels. One juror writes it “was a thoroughly engaging essay with a strong cross-disciplinary interest.” Another juror notes: “Though the article focuses on theology, it actually engages a larger social issue (i.e., postmodernism) and how Christian thinkers can relate to it. It shows a depth of research and original thinking.”
We commend Mr. Conyers posthumously for an article that is a model of insightful, interdisciplinary Christian scholarship. CSR thanks this year’s jurors, Dennis Sansom (Samford University), Ed Higgins (George Fox College), and Charles Veenstra (Dordt College) as well as Larry Brumley (Baylor University) for information about Mr. Conyers.