This Unit seeks to open up the traditions of Reformed Christianity for critical review and study, attending to their theological and historical patterns of belief, practice, and polity. Our aim is to present panels and paper sessions that balance theological and historical approaches, and that attend from diverse perspectives to single figures and larger cultural movements, with a particular interest in exploring emerging or forgotten elements of Reformed thought and practice. In all of these topics, we hope to demonstrate the vitality, originality, and diversity of Reformed Christianity in its worldwide expression.
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Reformed Theology and History Unit
Call for Proposals
The Reformed Theology and History Unit seeks paper proposals on the following topics:
- Paul, the Law, and Reformed Theology
Over the last four decades, biblical scholarship on the Pauline epistles have challenged dominant Reformation readings of Paul’s understanding of the law and its role in salvation. Longstanding Reformed and Lutheran theologies of the law and its three uses are critiqued by biblical scholars as being overly individualistic, too one sided in its focus on soteriology, and failing to account for the law’s communal formation in the context of second temple Judaism. Biblical scholarship on Paul, then, offers an invitation for theologians to return afresh to scripture to rethink traditional theological claims about the law.
We invite papers from biblical scholars and theologians alike that explore the relationship between Pauline accounts of the law and constructive and systematic theology. While theologians have engaged with some of the earlier major figures in the new perspective on Paul movement, other scholarship in Pauline studies have been understudied by theologians. In particular, we encourage paper proposals that engage biblical scholarship on Paul within Judaism and/ or the apocalyptic turn in Pauline studies and how Reformed theology might engage with this scholarship for theologies of the law, soteriology, and Jewish-Christian Relations. We especially encourage papers that move beyond description to offer constructive theological and/or biblical reflection on Paul and the law.
- The Confession of Belhar, past and present
In 1982, the Confession of Belhar insisted that theological commitment to reconciliation in Christ demanded opposition to apartheid, segregation, and racialized injustice. Drawing on Karl Barth’s Christocentric theology and the Barmen Declaration’s stance against nationalist socialism, it marked a decidedly Reformed emphasis on considering ethical issues and public life as inherent parts of the witness of the church to the gospel. As such, it became a watershed moment not only contextually but within the wider ecumenical church. The confession has since been adopted by many churches worldwide, as well as inspired other moments and processes of confession.
On the 40th anniversary of the Belhar confession, the Reformed Theology and History unit and the Karl Barth Society of North America invite contributions that reflect on the Confession of Belhar, its theology and history, its reception and its legacy, its local and global significance as well as its limitations, and relate it to needs for confessional processes today. We are particularly interested in constructive engagements that relate Belhar to contemporary discussions about racial and economic injustice, and questions of the church’s engagement in the public and political sphere.
- Calvinism, Secularity, and Political Theology
We are interested in papers that explore Reformed history and theology alongside discursive and institutional secularism. Possible areas of focus could include (but are not limited to): law and sovereignty; reassessing the sociology of predestination; socio-political-biblical narrative; and the influence of Calvinism on thinkers impacted by Calvinism, but who rejected or were not directly associated with Calvinism. (For a possible co-sponsored session with the Reformed Theology and History Unit, the Secularity and Secularism Unit and the Political Theology Unit.)
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
David Chao, Princeton Theological Seminary1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Arnold Huijgen, Theological University of Apeldoorn1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Hanna Reichel, Princeton Theological Seminary1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Michelle Sanchez, Harvard University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025