Richard Mouw.jpgThe annual Paul B. Henry Lecture brings a prominent Christian political practitioner to Calvin to speak about the interplay of religion and politics. The event is intended to inspire the college and the community to actively seek to integrate a Christian worldview with practical politics and public life. Over the past eighteen years, the lecture has featured individuals from both political parties, speakers from liberal and conservative viewpoints, scholars who have examined current political issues and questions, and prominent leaders of non-profit organizations actively working in the public policy arena.

The 24th annual Paul B. Henry Lecture featured Dr. Richard Mouw speaking on "The Christian Use of Political Power."  Mouw noted that Paul Henry wrote numerous years ago that when things go wrong in politics, it isn't just the fault of those who have substituted faith in politics for faith in God. Some of the blame also rests on the shoulders of Christians who "have denied the full legitimacy of politics." According to Mouw, we rightly honor God's purposes for political life when we make loving use of coercive power to aim at justice, while also learning significant lessons—unique to political engagement—about our shared humanity.

Introductory remarks at the lecture were made by Peter Mouw, Dr. Mouw’s grandson who is a senior at Calvin University majoring in Philosophy and History. See the lecture by using the link included at the close of Peter's remarks below. 

Today’s Henry Lecture will be given by Richard Mouw: philosopher, theologian, and my grandfather. He received his BA in English from Houghton College, studied for several years at Western Seminary, received his MA in philosophy from the University of Alberta, and his PhD at the University of Chicago--writing his dissertation on the metaphysics of mind and soul.

He went on to teach at Calvin from 1968 to 1985, taking part in the explosion of Christian philosophical and political thought, and becoming to be a defining figure in the Kuyperian renaissance that’s taken place in the last sixty years. It’s also been pointed out recently how much he looks like Kuyper--albeit without the scowl, most of the time…

In 1985, Mouw moved to Fuller Seminary, where he served as professor of Christian philosophy and ethics. In 1993 he became seminary president, retiring from the post two decades later. He continues to advise and closely mentor a number of PhD students.

In addition to his teaching, his large body of work has shown us what it means to embody Christian civility in the public square, to appreciate the depth of God's common grace, and to serve, first and foremost, a God who commands--and yet is truly the font of every blessing. Mouw calls us all to open ourselves in loving dialogue with people whom we disagree with, while maintaining a solid backbone of orthodox belief.

Having the name Mouw myself, I’ve often had the opportunity to hear stories of how my grandfather has touched the lives of people I meet--who know him through his work (translated into a host of languages), or who have had meaningful personal interactions with him. Indeed, there are few people as open or insightful.

He is a skilled maker of waffles, the person you want to have around if you've forgotten the words to the third verse of just about any hymn, a great teller of stories and a wonderful person to talk with about matters mundane or profound, from the merits of a particular glazed donut to the deep mysteries of philosophy or theology, or, in this case, "The Christian Use of Political Power."

Please join me in welcoming Richard Mouw.

Watch the lecture

Richard Mouw is a senior research fellow at the Henry Institute for the Study of Religion and Politics at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI), joining the Institute founded in honor of Paul Henry, a long-time friend and colleague whom Dr. Mouw helped recruit to Calvin in 1970. Mouw is continuing his research in Christian political thought, as well as working with faculty and students on special projects and helping to organize conferences and symposia. He regularly consults with the Henry Institute each academic year while he continues to live in California.

Prior to his return to Calvin and the Institute in 2020, Mouw served as the President of Fuller Theological Seminary (1993-2013) and directed their Institute of Faith and Public Life (2013-2020).  His initial career in academia began at Calvin College, where he taught philosophy from 1968 to 1985.

A philosopher and scholar, Dr. Mouw is the author of more than 20 books, has been an editor of the Reformed Journal, and served for many years as a panelist for the Washington Post’s online forum “On Faith.” He received the Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology in 2007. Mouw has participated on many councils and editorial boards, served as president of the Association of Theological Schools and as co-chair of the official Reformed-Catholic Dialogue, and is a leader in interfaith theological conversations, particularly with Mormons and Jewish groups.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Prince Conference Center Oak Room

Past lectures