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


James Bruce is associate professor of philosophy and the inaugural director of the Center for Faith and Flourishing 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

Associate Director

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 Coordinator

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.

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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