Westmont’s Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation will give its 2020 Book Award to Angela Carpenter, assistant professor of religion at Hope College in Michigan, on Wednesday, March 10, at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom at westmont.edu/lectures. Carpenter will lecture about “Dependent Creatures: How Human Evolution Can Help Us Understand God’s Grace” followed by questions from Mark Nelson, Westmont’s Monroe professor of philosophy and director of the Dallas Willard Research Center.
Carpenter, who earned a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame, won the award for her book, “Responsive Becoming: Moral Formation in Theological, Evolutionary, and Developmental Perspective.”
“In the book, she retrieves a distinctive, experientially informed account of the human spiritual and moral formation that Christians call sanctification,” Nelson says. “She provides the foundation for a constructive account of formation that is attentive both to divine grace and to the significance of natural, embodied processes.”
She describes her approach as having two prongs: first, an excavation of reformed thinkers Calvin, Owen, and Bushnell; and second, a consideration of human nature through interdisciplinary dialogue with the human sciences.
“The final result is an account according to which sanctification is ‘a loving response to God, which is always enabled by God’s love in Christ and the Spirit’ and ‘which is fundamentally about our restoration to the image of God,’” Nelson says.
Adam C. Pelser, professor of philosophy at the United States Air Force Academy, won the Willard center’s 2020 Research Award for his paper “Temptation, Virtue, and the Character of Christ,” which was published in Faith and Philosophy Vol. 36, No. 1, 2019.
A panel of judges praised his paper for demonstrating the relevance of sophisticated philosophical thought to a matter of great interest and import to all Christians. “It’s an excellent example of how careful philosophical reflection on virtue can shed light on Christian theology and scripture interpretation in ways that have potential to build up individual believers,” Nelson says.
The judges praised Pelser, who earned a doctorate from Baylor University, for the paper’s clear exposition of different perspectives, combination of scholarly depth and accessibility and for breaking new ground in crossing over between the often hostile fields of theology, psychology and human development. “The conclusions are pioneering and compelling and admirably explore the complexity of the human person, consistent with the main concerns of the Dallas Willard Book Award,” Nelson says.