Am I Just My Brain? with Sharon Dirckx

To hear the podcast (22 minutes), click here.

Am I Just My Brain? (2019) is a book by Sharon Dirckx dealing with an ancient and modern question.  Are we more than our brains? 

Are humans self-aware only because of neuro-chemical reactions or electrical activity or are we something more?

Dr. Dirckx lives in Oxford with her husband and two children.  She is a speaker, author, and adjunct lecturer for OCCA (The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics). 

She earned her PhD in brain imaging at Cambridge University and spent more than a decade researching brain function. 

She joins David Capes on “The Stone Chapel Podcasts” to talk about her book and to summarize her upcoming lecture.

To see and hear the lecture that took place in fall 2022, click here

The question of human identity is an ancient one, but it is one that fascinates modern minds as well. 

At the heart of it is a question: what exactly is a human being?  Are we advanced apes? Are we machines?  Are we brains on sticks?

In fact, we can address those questions without having to leave the realm of neuroscience.  But we are more than our brains.


We have a brain.  But we also have a mind.  We have thoughts, feelings, and memories and a sense of self that appears unique in the world. 

Human consciousness remains a mystery but there are aspects of it that neuroscience can address. 

Dr. Capes and Dr. Dirckx talk about human experience, functional MRIs, data analysis, the question of soul and consciousness among animals, and the data sets from near death experiences.  

If you want more information about Dr. Sharon Dirckx as a speaker and author follow her on Twitter @sharondirckx or you can email her at sharon@dirckx.org

In an earlier book, Why?, she addressed the question of evil and suffering.  Her next book, entitled Broken Planet, deals with  natural disasters and finding a way through them.

“Electric Jesus” with Chris White

To hear the podcast, click here.

“Electric Jesus” is a movie directed by Chris White, a filmmaker (screenwriter and director) who makes his home in sunny South Carolina. 

It is a funny, moving adventure, a nostalgic look at the place of contemporary Christian music in the 1980s (released Nov 2021). 

WHO IS CHRIS WHITE?

Chris is a Gen-Xer who earned a degree in theater from Furman University.  He has been creating stories and telling stories his entire life.

He is married to Emily, and they have three children who are in their 20s.  Chris and Emily work together to develop film projects, mostly in the genre of narrative feature. 

Art has a way of speaking into our lives.  It can communicate truth and worldview in unique ways.  Filmmakers are some of the story tellers of our time. 

Chris and Emily do not always make faith-based films, but their faith makes it into their films. 

The Movie Electric Jesus

“Electric Jesus” is a coming-of-age rock ‘n’ roll story of a Christian band known as “3:16” (after John 3:16).  The young men in the band are not sinister, stupid, or superheroes.  They are talented teenagers, goofy and weird, rough around the edges. Here’s more about the movie.

https://linktr.ee/electricjesus

Jesus Music

“Jesus music,” as it was known in the early days, was centralized in southern California.  Converted hippies had their guitars and drums. esusMusic was a natural outgrowth of that movement.  Often the music they created was edgy, but the gospel reshaped the lyrical content of their songs.  By the 1980s contemporary Christian music had become an industry in itself. 

Interestingly, rock ‘n’ roll is an outgrowth of blues, gospel, and jazz.  Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an African American guitarist and performer, was one of its pioneers.

Chris and Emily are on to their next project, a film about making peace with your past.  Something we all need to do. 

We’re grateful to Chris for stopping by to talk about his art and his films.  We look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Look for “Electric Jesus” on a variety of streaming services.  And share it with a friend. 

More about Chris

Stick around for a nugget of wisdom from Chris at the end of the podcast. 

Read about Chris and Electric Jesus on IMDb here.

Follow him on Twitter here.

For more Stone Chapel Podcasts, click here.

George Whitefield College with Mark Dickson

Mark Dickson, Principal of George Whitefield College

To hear the podcast click here.

George Whitefield College is ably led by its Principal, Mark Dickson.  It is set on the coast in a beautiful part of Africa, not far from Cape Town.  

I had the opportunity to teach a two week intensive, Honours-level course there in fall 2022.  While there, I found time to visit with the Principal.  

Mark Dickson describes George Whitefield as an evangelical Anglican college with a bit of Reformed theology for good measure.  Bottom line: they take the Bible seriously. Since its founding in 1989, it has served as a training ground for clergy members in one denomination.  But it has become clear that their reach must increase to train pastors and teachers from various denominations who want to take the Gospel all across Africa.

There are 1.2 billion people living on the African continent.  That is more than twice the population of North America (USA and Canada).  In addition, there are more Christians in Africa than there are people in the United States.  But few pastors and church leaders have any theological training.  

The biggest challenge now is to “grow their own wood,” that is, raise up from among their student ranks faculty members to perpetuate the mission of the college. 

George Whitefield College offers various degrees accredited in the South African context.  They are also developing more and more online course work so they can reach further north into Africa. 

The president has big designs on a library for a college.  He would like to see a library suitable for the school to offer a PhD.  This means developing their print collection but also their digital collection.  One of the impressive features of the library is that it houses the books of Leon Morris, one of the best known and prolific New Testament scholars in the world.  

If you’d like to know more about George Whitefield College, their website is https://www.gwc.ac.za

Two of their faculty members, Drs. Vuyani Sindo and Nathan Lovell, came to deliver a lecture in the Stone Chapel in November 2021.  To hear that lecture click here

For information on upcoming lectures at the library, click here.

The Rewards of Learning Greek and Hebrew with McDowell & Towner

To hear the podcast click here.

Both Cathy McDowell and Phil Towner join David Capes on “The Stone Chapel Podcast” to talk about their new book: The Rewards of Learning Greek and Hebrew: Discovering the Richness of the bible in its Original Languages (Tyndale House Publishers). So much of the richness of the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament is hidden in translation or not translatable. 

They wrote their book to promote the study of the Biblical languages.  These days it has become less common for seminarians to study Biblical languages. Many seminaries and graduate schools do not require the languages any longer. Also, they do not offer enough courses so people can actually use the language after graduation.  Forty to fifty years ago that was not the case.

Why the change?  McDowell thinks the root is money.  Enrollment is down, and schools are making their degrees shorter and easier. To be honest, the language courses are some of the most difficult. 

Many popular ministers today do not focus on expository preaching.  When they did, they talked about the Greek and the Hebrew in their sermons. So younger people are not being exposed to these insights in sermons. Another factor. The advances in computer technology cause Bible students to imagine they can avoid the hard work of language learning.  

At the Lanier Theological Library we are interested in teaching people Greek and Hebrew.  That is why we regularly offer Greek classes at the library. 

Keep watching the Library website because soon we are going to teach Hebrew too. 

Catherine McDowell is associate professor of Old Testament at Gordon Conwell Seminary in Charlotte, NC.

The Rev’d Dr. Philip H. Towner is a professor at Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, where he teaches translation studies. He is also a visiting professor of New Testament exegesis and translation at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome.

Stick around for a nugget of wisdom!

To hear the podcast click here.

If you are interested in Biblical languages, you may enjoy this previous lecture at the library. Click on the title.

“Between the Chairs” New Testament Evidence for the Hebrew Jesus Spoke

Spurgeon’s College with Helen Stokley

Spurgeon’s College in London

To hear the podcast click here.

Spurgeon’s College was established 175 years ago in London by young Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  At first it was known as Pastor’s College, but its name was later changed to Spurgeon’s College.

David Capes was traveling to London and met with Rev. Helen Stokley, Deputy Head of Institute, Spurgeon’s College, London.  She agreed to sit down and talk about the college on “The Stone Chapel Podcast.”

Helen had a meeting with God earlier in life and felt God wanted her to step further into church leadership so she trained at Spurgeon’s College.  Her husband is a Baptist minister.  She has been in her current post for 8 ½ years.

C. H. Spurgeon was born in 1834 and grew up around Essex, UK.  He was brought up in a Christian family.  At the age of 15 he had a personal encounter with God and came to Christ.  Not long afterward, someone suggested to him, “you might be able to preach.”

Young Spurgeon accepted that challenge and in a short time he became one of the greatest preachers in the 1800s.  He had an incredible impact upon the UK and the world. 

He had a passion preach, and preach he did to up to 10,000 without any means to amplify his voice. 

In his 20s he started the college and since then Spurgeon’s College has trained thousands who are  serving the church all over the world.

The mission today is the same as it was when Spurgeon started it: to train people to know the Bible, preach, and be ministers and leaders. 

Today they train men and women to gospel ministry.  Courses are offered in London, of course, but also digitally across the world. 

Though it is a Baptist school historically, many evangelically-minded people attend and train there. 

Today there is a rich diversity of students in the college.  And the college even trains some who don’t have a call to ministry; these students want to develop their knowledge and think more deeply about theology. 

Spurgeon’s College now offers an interesting new Master of Arts in Digital Theology (thanks to the Covid pandemic).  They also have a new undergraduate theology degree that a person can finish in three  years full time..  Because of the mental health disorders that have developed due to the isolation in the pandemic, they are offering more course offerings in counseling.

Soon they will begin a large-scale renovation of their campus. 

One famous graduate of Spurgeon’s College was Thomas Johnson, author of Twenty Eight Years a Slave.  Listen to the podcast to learn more of Spurgeon’s stance and actions on slavery. 

Learn more about Spurgeon’s College at www.spurgeons.ac.uk

For more Stone Chapel Podcasts, click here.

To hear the Spurgeon’s College podcast click here.