2019 Schaff Memorial Lectures to Highlight the Discerning of Spirit(s) of Formation

Dr. James K.A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, will present the annual Schaff Lectures April 30-May 1, 2019. He will speak on the topic of "Discerning the Spirit(s) of Formation: On the Centrality—and Risk—of Christian Practices" during this two-day event (April 30 in Youngstown, Ohio, and May 1 in Pittsburgh). All sessions are free and open to the public. You are also invited to join us for dinner by providing an advance reservations and payment (see registration link below).


Tues., April 30, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, Youngstown, Ohio

Call 330-744-4307 for dinner reservations.

4:00 p.m. Seminar 

7:00 p.m. Public Lecture

Wed., May 1, 2019 at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pa.

11:30 a.m. Chapel "A Spirituality for Realists"  Scripture: Psalm 73

4:30 p.m. Public Lecture (Hicks Chapel Auditorium), "Love Takes Practice: Christian Formation and the Power of Habit"

Only when we recognize the power of habit in our spiritual lives will we then appreciate why disciplines and practices are integral to the Christian life and why worship is the heart of discipleship.

6:00 p.m. Dinner by reservation only (Kadel Dining Room, McNaugher Hall); $15/person. REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Friday, April 26, 2019 at NOON

7:30 p.m. Public Lecture (Hicks Chapel Auditorium), "Our 'Godfather Problem': When Christian Practices Deform"

Christian practices and spiritual disciplines are not magic. Nor are they always “pure” or insulated from the effects of sin. This talk will explore what goes wrong when Christian practices become deformative and why reform and renewal are crucial for our worship and witness.

Speaker Bio

Dr. James K.A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College, where he holds the Gary and 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 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.

He is the award-winning author of a number of influential books including Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?, Desiring the Kingdom How (Not) To Be Secular, and You Are What You Love. His new book, On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real World Spirituality for Restless Hearts, will be published by Brazos in fall 2019. Smith also regularly writes for magazines and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York TimesSlateFirst Things, Christianity TodayBooks & Culture, and The Hedgehog Review. He served as editor in chief of Comment magazine from 2013-2018 and has recently been appointed as editor in chief of Image journal. 

He and his wife, Deanna, are elementary school(!) sweethearts with four children in college. 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 two maltipoos, Daisy and Kirby.

Registration / Location / CEUs

Registration for dinner is $15/person. Dinner reservation deadline: Noon on April 26, 2010. Chapel and lectures are free.

All lectures and chapel will be held at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 616 N. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. Directions to the Seminary. Free parking is available on campus behind the Chapel and Library. The lectures will be held in the Hicks Chapel Auditorium, and dinner will be served in Kadel Dining Room, McNaugher Hall.

0.1 CEU per lecture will be provided following the event to those who request them by e-mailing ConEd@pts.edu.

Notice of Photography and Filming: When you enter a Pittsburgh Theological Seminary event or program, you enter an area where photography, audio, and video recording may occur.


For additional details, e-mail ConEd@pts.edu or call 412-924-1345.

About the Schaff Lectures

For 23 years, Professor David Schaff (1852-1941) taught church history at Western Theological Seminary on the north side of Pittsburgh, one of the antecedents of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Before beginning his teaching duties in 1903, he held two pastorates. He wrote extensively in the area of church history and co-edited the well-known and often consulted Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia. He completed the unfinished work of his father, Philip, who had begun the History of the Christian Church before his death. Dr. Schaff also wrote two additional books on the life of John Hus.