You are here

Reformed Theology and History Unit

Call for Proposals

The Reformed Theology and History Unit seeks paper proposals on the following topics:

(1) The Reformed Tradition and Ecclesial Life in Asia
With the explosive growth of Presbyterianism in parts of Asia, the center of gravity of Reformed thought and ecclesial life is increasingly shifting outside of Europe and North America. For the first in a planned multi-year series of explorations of the global dimensions and dynamics of the Reformed tradition, we invite proposals for papers that examine the Reformed tradition and ecclesial life in Asia. Papers engaging with current or historical issues in theology, World Christianity, missions, reverse missions, Bible translation, theological formation of church leaders, transnational relations with diasporic communities, and tensions with and receptions of Western theologians and models of Reformed faith would all be suitable topics for inquiry. Historical, theological, intercultural, missiological, sociological, ethnographic, postcolonial, and other methodological approaches are welcome.

(2) Total Depravity
The belief that under conditions of fallenness, the human being is utterly unable to turn to God, refrain from doing evil, or even accept the gift of salvation is often cited as one of the central teachings of the Reformed tradition. It has been widely criticized as an overly negative view of the human person that downplays freedom and agency and that leaves little room for ethics. Recently, however, more optimistic accounts of the human person are also coming under increasing pressure from a spectrum of perspectives ranging from neuroscience to critical theory. In this context, we invite proposals for papers that investigate what theological, political, and ecumenical work a conception of total depravity may or may not do and how it may or may not have relevance for contemporary analysis. Submissions may be historical or theological in nature. The best contributions will be not only descriptive but also constructive, seeking to relate the Reformed notion of total depravity to contemporary theological, cultural, social, and political issues.

(3) Critical or Constructive Accounts of the Meaning of “Reformed and Always in Need of Reform” in Theologies Past and Present
“Reformed and always in need of reform” (reformata semper reformanda) is a recurring refrain in many strands of Protestantism, and particularly in the Reformed tradition, but the meaning of the phrase is far from agreed upon. It can be used to encourage readings of Scripture and tradition that either criticize or support the formulation of liberal theologies for new contexts. Are these two tendencies necessarily in tension or in contradiction? How do we envision the relationship between reform and revolution, continuity and change, tradition and innovation in theology? What is the relationship between the defenders and the despisers of liberal theology in the Reformed tradition? We invite proposals for papers that explore these and related questions.

Statement of Purpose

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members

Review Process Comments

Allowing the chairs to see the proposer names helps us do a better job of working toward gender and racial/ethnic/geographic balance among the presenters.