Established in 2019 at John Brown University, the Center for Faith and Flourishing aims to express, defend, and promote the university’s historic mission of educating for head, heart, and hand through lectures, seminars, and individual funding for conferences. Our programs allow students and experts a means of addressing the pressing questions about human flourishing and personal faith.

Faculty & Staff

Dr. James Bruce

Director, Center for Faith and Flourishing

James Bruce is the inaugural director of the Center for Faith and Flourishing and a professor of philosophy at John Brown University.

Educated at Dartmouth, Oxford, and Baylor in Engineering Sciences and English, Theology, and Philosophy, Jay loves to follow ideas across academic disciplines. His book Rights in the Law considers the relationship between God and morality in the thought of Francis Turretin (1623–1687). Jay’s next book—in progress—explores the relationship between Christianity, justice, and equality.

In addition to his academic work, Jay has written opinion pieces for everything from Arkansas Business to The Wall Street Journal. Jay was elected to membership of the Philadelphia Society in 2012, and, in 2014, he received JBU’s Faculty Excellence Award. Ordained a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America in 2018, Jay serves as associate pastor of Covenant Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Jay occasionally blogs at JamesEBruce.com, and, though he does not own a television, he has succumbed to the lure of social media. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesEBruce.

Dr. Daniel Bennett

Assistant Director, Center for Faith and Flourishing

Dr. Daniel Bennett is an expert on the intersection of law, politics, and religion in the United States. He is the author of Defending Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement, and has written academic articles and book chapters on political behavior, legal advocacy, and the federal courts. He has been interviewed about his research in The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal,The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and Associated Press, among others. 

In addition to his academic writing, Dr. Bennett has also written for The Gospel CoalitionChristianity TodayReligion and PoliticsThe Monkey Cage, and Front Porch Republic. He is a founding contributor to the blog Religion in Public and also regularly blogs at Uneasy Citizenship. He is serving a two-year term as president of Christians in Political Science.

Dr. Matt Wilson

Center for Faith and Flourishing Faculty Fellow, Gateway Director

Dr. Matthew Wilson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Gateway Director, and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Faith and Flourishing. He also holds an appointment as an Associate and Faculty Affiliate of Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Program.

Dr. Wilson writes and lectures primarily on topics in virtue ethics and character, but he has philosophical interests that span from ancient and medieval philosophy to the writings of Soren Kierkegaard. He has published works in peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Value Inquiry, Southwest Philosophy Review, and Christian Business Review, and has presented at fourteen national and international conferences, including twice at the annual conference of the Jubilee Center for Character and Virtues in Oxford.

Prior to joining JBU, Dr. Wilson was the Associate Director of Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Program, where he oversaw program administration and helped grow the program from three to twelve associates and secure over $1.4 million in funding.

Dr. Wilson teaches several Gateway seminars every year along with a variety of classes within the philosophy curriculum. Some of his favorite classes to teach include Introduction to Philosophy, Ancient & Medieval Philosophy, and The Seven Deadly Sins. He also enjoys teaching Business Ethics and is able to relate many of his experiences from the eleven years he spent in corporate America. Dr. Wilson previously held positions in finance, marketing, and product management with Fortune 500 companies such as Volvo AB and Danaher Inc. He has an MBA from Indiana University and is passionate about coaching and equipping students who want to study philosophy in college yet who may wish to do something else (like business!) after graduation. He firmly agrees with Mark Cuban that a major or minor in philosophy equips one with the critical thinking and reasoning skills required to lead the organizations of the future.

Dr. Wilson and his wife, Angela, have two children: Evelina and Roy. They live in Siloam Springs and love to hike, camp, and are currently testing out their skills as beginning mountain bikers.

Dr. Trisha Posey

Center for Faith and Flourishing Faculty Fellow

Dr. Trisha Posey is the director of the Honors Scholars Program at John Brown University.  Her primary academic interest is in the relationship between religion and reform in the 19th-century United States.  She has also studied the history of slavery in the United States as well as the enduring legacy of racism left by slavery.  Her other areas of academic interest include African history, the history of poverty and welfare, and genocide.  She is currently working on an edited volume of essays on the relationship between lament and history. Dr. Posey earned her Ph.D. in American History at the University of Maryland. Before that, she lived in Canterbury, England, where she finished her M.Phil. She received a B.A. in History from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Dr. Posey lives in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, with her husband, Jake, her three children, Eliot, Oliver and Beatrice. She enjoys cooking and eating good food, reading, running, knitting, gardening, and thinking and writing about the intersections of history and modern justice movements.

Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson

Center for Faith and Flourishing Affiliated Fellow

Jessica Hooten Wilson is Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas in the Classical Education and Humanities Graduate Program. She is the author of three books: Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and The Brothers Karamazov, which received a 2018 Christianity Today book of the year award in arts and culture. In 2019 she received the Hiett Prize for Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She is co-editor of the volume Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West, a collection of essays on the legacy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In 2022, she will publish The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints (Brazos Press) and Learning the Good Life: From the Great Hearts and Minds that Came Before (Zondervan).

Dr. Preston Jones

Center for Faith and Flourishing, Affiliated Fellow

Preston Jones seeks to connect the insights of great religious and philosophical texts to questions of ordinary life.  The teachings of Aristotle, Jesus, Marcus Aurelius, and the Buddha differ greatly, but they have themes in common. In his Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis referred to these common teachings as The Tao. Lives cannot be good without wisdom, and wisdom cannot be acquired without reflection on, and a persevering response to, the requirements of The Tao. 

After four years in the U.S. Navy, Preston finished graduate school at the University of Ottawa in Canada. In 2000–2003, he helped start a still-going preparatory high school in Dallas. Since then he has taught at the university level. He has published eight books, dozens of scholarly articles, and more than a hundred op-eds, essays, and reviews. Each day he reads in Spanish, French, and Vietnamese. 

Preston has interviewed hundreds of combat veterans, and he has an ongoing collborative relationship with the Jonestown Institute based at San Diego State University. He has also done interviewing on behalf ofthe U.S. Department of Defense.

Preston has run 55 marathons and his favorite album in 1981, when he was in the 8th grade, is still his favorite album: Seconds Out by Genesis.

Dr. Andrew Kaufmann

Center for Faith and Flourishing, Affiliated Fellow

Educated at Covenant College and Catholic University of America, Dr. Kaufmann has a special interest in Christian political thought and how Christians should engage the public square. His academic background is in the history of political theory, and he loves speaking on how the ideas in the Western political tradition shape current controversies and debates. His expertise is in contemporary political theory, specifically the political and religious thought of French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

More recently, Dr. Kaufmann has developed an interest in the importance of citizenship and civic education, especially in the American tradition. Sharing the sense of crisis that many Americans feel about American democracy, he believes that this may be an opportune moment to educate Americans not just in the issues of the day but in the roots of those issues found in the past. He comes most recently from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, where he served as professor of political science for seven years. He’s married to Andrea and has three children: Imogen, Adeline, and Malachi.

Advisory Board

The Center for Faith and Flourishing gratefully acknowledges the support and encouragement of its inaugural advisory board.

John E. Brown III

John E. Brown, III, executive director of the Windgate Charitable Foundation from 1993 to 2018, served as president of John Brown University from 1979–1993 and a trustee from 2004–2017.

Gary Oliver

Gary Oliver serves as the executive director of the Center for Healthy Relationships at John Brown University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Joe Walenciak

Joe Walenciak is Distinguished Professor of Business and the Joe F. Walenciak Endowed Chair of Business at John Brown University.

“The Center has challenged my perspective, deepened my understanding, and equipped me to engage in dialogue about several critical topics in today’s society.”

Owen T. | Class of ’21

“The Center’s work challenges students across disciplines to become  more inquisitive and more integrated in their academic approach.”

Maddie M. | Class of ’20

“Faith and flourishing is a mysterious combination, but the synthesis of these ideals is needed in our current society and campus.”

Caitlyn A. | Class of ’21

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