Neo-Calvinism: Good News for Communities in Despair?

James Eglinton

Meldrum Lectureship in Reformed Theology

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Prince Conference Center Oak Room

 In 1892, Herman Bavinck's efforts to advance the neo-Calvinist cause amongst Reformed Christians in North America ended on a bleak note: Americans would be unperceptive to neo-Calvinism because American culture was hopeful of its future, and purposefully united in the present. Neo-Calvinism, he thought, was particularly good news for cultures that despaired of themselves and their futures - and for that reason, it did not meed an obvious American need. This paper will explore Bavinck's late 19th century assessments of Europe and America, respectively, as communities of despair and optimism, before reconsidering his assessment of neo-Calvinism's prospects there from a 21st century perspective. 

Watch the Lecture 

James Eglinton

James Eglinton was appointed to the Meldrum Lectureship in Reformed Theology in 2013, and was formerly a postdoctoral research fellow and senior researcher in systematic and historical theology at the Theologische Universiteit Kampen. Eglinton’s research and writing focuses on neo-Calvinism, a form of Reformed Christianity that developed between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the Netherlands. He is the author of Herman Bavinck on Preaching and Preachers (Hendrickson, 2017) and Trinity and Organism (Bloomsbury, 2012), and co-editor of Neo-Calvinism and the French Revolution (Bloomsbury). Eglinton serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of Reformed Theology (Brill) and has written for The Times, The Herald, The Scotsman, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Nederlands Dagblad, as well as taking part in broadcasts on BBC Alba and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

Expanding our Gospel Imagination: The Great Commission Call to Seek God's Kingdom and Justice in Our Communities and Institutions

Kristen Deede Johnson

Western Theological Seminary   

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.
Prince Conference Center Willow Room

What is involved in Jesus' call to be and make disciples?  Within some strands of American Christianity, this question has been answered in terms of the Great Commission, with the Great Commission understood primarily as sharing the gospel with individuals. In recent years, scholars such as Amos Yong, Anthony Bradley, and James Davison Hunter have suggested we need to expand our understandings of the Great Commission to include seeking justice, shalom, and reconciliation within our communities and their institutional structures.  Ministry practitioners like John Perkins and Ruth Padilla DeBorst have embodied and articulated similar convictions in their ministries and writings.  Drawing these different theological voices together and placing them in conversation with Abraham Kuyper, this lecture will explore ways to expand our gospel imagination by reconsidering how to faithfully interpret and embody the Great Commission. 

Watch the Lecture


Kristin Deede Johnson is Professor of Theology and Christian Formation at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. In partnership with International Justice Mission, she and co-author Bethany Hanke Hoang recently wrote the award-winning The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance (Brazos Press, 2016).  Kristen's scholarship focuses on theology, culture, formation, and political theory and her other publications include Theology, Political Theory, and Pluralism: Beyond Tolerance and Difference (Cambridge University Press, 2007). In 2018, Kristen was named as one of "10 New or Lesser-Known Female Theologians Worth Knowing" by Christianity Today

Stay in the City

Mark Gornik and Maria Liu-Wong

City Seminary of New York

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 3:30 p.m.
Prince Conference Center Willow Room

What does it mean that we now live in a century of cities?  Where is the church growing in cities, and how can we become more attentive to God’s work?  Why is this important?  What are the living and breathing stories of Christian faith Monday through Saturday at work in the city?  How might this be understood as a new grassroots public faith?  Based on their recent book Stay in the City: How Christian Faith is Flourishing in an Urban World (Eerdmans), these are some of questions that Maria Liu Wong and Mark Gornik will engage during their presentation.

Watch the Session

Mark Gornik

Mark Gornik (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the director of City Seminary of New York. He is the author of To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City and Word Made Global: Stories of African Christianity in New York and is completing a book about his friendship and ministry with Allan Tibbels. He and his wife, Dr. Rita Aszalos, live in New York with their sons, Peter and Daniel.

Maria Liu Wong

Maria Liu-Wong is an educator and researcher in adult learning, leadership, and theological education and holds graduate degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, and Westminster Theological Seminary. As the Dean of City Seminary of New York, she is involved with faculty development, program planning, and gallery exhibition coordination. Maria is also a Research Scholar with LearnLong Institute, a think tank with a focus on innovation and continuous improvement in adult learning, higher education, and lifelong learning through research and practice. Her research interests include lifelong and transformative learning, learning cities, mentoring, action research, women and leadership, diversity, arts, youth, and urban theological education. She is co-author of Stay in the City: How Christian Faith is Flourishing in an Urban World (Eerdmans) and forthcoming Sense the City.

Neo-Calvinism and the Beatific Vision: Eschatology in the Reformed Tradition

Hans Boersma

St. Benedict Servants of Christ Endowed Professorship in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House

Wednesday, April 24; 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Prince Conference Center Willow Room

Increasingly, Reformed eschatology emphasizes the continuity between this world and the next.  The concomitant effect, particularly within neo-Calvinism (e.g., Herman Bavinck, Anthony Hoekema, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and Richard Middleton), is a focus on the use and enjoyment of this-worldly goods in the eschaton.  These recent trends within the Reformed tradition are closely linked to a rejection of Christian Platonism, which its emphases on participation in the divine life and on the beatific vision as the final end of human desire.  The loss of the doctrine of the beatific vision within neo-Calvinism runs counter, not only to the broad history of the Christian tradition, but also to classical Reformed thought.  Even the progenitor of neo-Calvinism, Abraham Kuyper, took the beatific vision to be the ultimate aim of the Christian pilgrimage.  In short, contemporary neo-Calvinists depart from the broader Christian tradition and their own Reformed background in their rejection of the beatific vision.

Watch the Lecture


boersmaHans Boersma (PhD University of Utrecht) has recently been appointed to the St. Benedict Servants of Christ Endowed Professorship in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House in Wisconsin. His books include Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition (Eerdmans, 2018); Scripture as Real Presence (Baker Academic, 2017); and Heavenly Participation (Eerdmans, 2011). Among Boersma’s theological interests are Catholic thought, the church fathers, and spiritual interpretation of Scripture. Hans and his wife Linda attend Saint Matthew’s Anglican Church (ACNA) in Abbotsford, BC.

The 2019 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life

John M. Perkins, 2019 Prize WinnerJohn Perkins

Christian Community Development Association

Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 11:00 a p.m.
Prince Conference Center Willow Room

Watch the Prize Presentation

Dr. John M. Perkins, one of the leading evangelical voices to come out of the Civil Rights Movement, is the recipient of the 2019 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life. Perkins will receive the honor, which comes with a $10,000 award, on April 25, 2019, during the Kuyper Conference hosted by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary. Perkins is an internationally known speaker, author, and teacher on issues related to racial reconciliation and Christian community development. He’s also the founder of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)—a network of Christians committed to living in underserved neighborhoods with the goal of building relationships and seeing communities and people holistically restored.

The Kuyper Prize, established in 1996 and named after Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper, is awarded each year to a scholar or community leader whose outstanding contribution to their chosen sphere reflects the ideas and values characteristic of the Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political, and cultural significance in one or more of the ‘spheres’ of society.