Call for Papers

Kuyper and Kintsugi: Public Theology for Repair, Reconciliation, and Restoration

May 9-11, 2023
Redeemer University
Hamilton (Ontario, Canada)

Redeemer University is delighted to host the 2023 Kuyper Conference at the Charis Centre on the Redeemer University campus in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). The general theme for the conference and plenary sessions is: “Kuyper and Kintsugi: Public Theology for Repair, Reconciliation, and Restoration.”

This conference is part of a multi-year series of events underwritten by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary that promote a broad exploration, engagement, and development of the legacy of the Dutch Reformed theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) and the tradition he helped form (commonly known as “neocalvinism”) for theology and public life today across the globe. At this meeting we will focus particularly on the relevance of Kuyper’s thinking, and neocalvinism generally, for repair, repentance, and reconciliation amidst past wrongs and injustice.

Putting Kuyper in dialogue with the art of kintsugi is a special challenge. Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery (often with precious metals), aims to take what is shattered and make it whole again; not to imagine a repristination of the object, but an even more beautiful restoration of wholeness. Not unlike the work of grace—common or special—in our culture and societies, in Kintsugi, the breakage and repair are not accidental and disguised, but intrinsic and glorious to the art.

The theme of this conference focuses on this intersection: how to dwell in places that are broken—significantly and even perniciously so—while being people on the mend, catching glimpses of repair and reconciliation, and celebrating them where they are found. How, in other words, are we to encounter past injustice without either sweeping it aside as so-much ancient history or seeing in our cultures and our politics only what remains wrong, unrepaired, unreconciled? This is a special challenge, but also a special opportunity, for those who follow in the line of Abraham Kuyper, in whose work so much beauty has shone through onto culture and society, but also for whom much remains in need of repair and reconciliation. The conference theme invites us into this dissonance, insisting that such dissonance is hardly original to Kuyper, and one we badly need to face. This is a cosmic redemptive perspective, for as Kuyper put it, “The final outcome of the future…is not the merely spiritual existence of saved souls, but the restoration of the entire cosmos, when God will be all in all under the renewed heaven on the renewed earth.”

In addition to the advancement of scholarship, this conference aims to foster personal and professional networks of scholars, pastors, ministry professionals, civic leaders, and practitioners with interests in Kuyper and neocalvinism as well as Reformed theology and public life. While papers and sessions related to the general conference theme are encouraged, proposals for concurrent sessions are also welcome on topics that engage with aspects of the life and work of Abraham Kuyper, neocalvinism more broadly, and public theology and public life. Papers from historical as well as interdisciplinary, ecumenical, critical, practical, missional, pastoral, and constructive perspectives are welcome. Proposals for short paper sessions (3-4 presenters), roundtables (3-5 discussants), and from graduate students are especially encouraged.

One-page proposals should include a proposed paper title or roundtable theme, a brief description of the focus of the presentation (one to three paragraphs), and the presenter’s institutional affiliation and contact information, including email address. Proposals received after the January 15, 2023 deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.

More information about the Kuyper Conference is available at the Kuyper Conference website.

Individual paper and/or complete session proposals, as well as questions about the conference, may be sent to:

Dr. Jordan J. Ballor
Kuyper Conference Coordinator