Since 1974, the International Calvin Congress has been meeting in forums around the globe to further the academic and theological study of John Calvin’s work. The Congress has been held at academic institutions in South Africa, Germany, Japan, Scotland, Switzerland and the United States. Westminster Theological Seminary is proud to be the selected institution for the 12th meeting of the Congress, which will be held August 26–31, 2018.
Dr. Lillback has attended two of the previous Congress meetings, in Zurich, Switzerland and Bloemfontein, South Africa. When he was approached by the president of the Congress about hosting the 2018 meeting at WTS, he thought it seemed like a perfect fit.
“Westminster is unique because it offers a Ph.D. in Reformation studies. That fact, combined with our great appreciation for Reformed and Calvinistic theology and our adherence to a Reformed confession of faith, made this event seem like a great fit for our community,” Lillback said.
Through our Craig Center for the Study of the Westminster Standards, Westminster has been able to accumulate special grants for a scholarly conference held on a topic of Reformed theology. Hosting the Calvin Congress seemed, to Dr. Lillback and Dr. Van Dixhoorn, who presides over the Craig Center, to present an excellent use for these funds.
The purpose of the International Calvin Congress is to bring together scholars from around the world, both from university and seminary settings, who focus their work on the history and doctrines of John Calvin. The scholars who participate are not necessarily in ministry or church work, but they are scholars who universally recognize the importance of Calvin and the Reformation.
During the Congress meetings there are typically two plenary keynote addresses, along with several smaller sessions where scholars are invited to present papers on various topics. The main theme of the 2018 Congress is “John Calvin: the Bible’s Impact on Politics and Freedom.” The papers are typically presented in English, German or French, and many of them are formally published after the Congress.
In hosting the 2018 International Calvin Congress, Westminster will be welcoming many renowned Reformation scholars from across the globe. “We hope that our students will not only join us in welcoming the scholars onto our campus but will also participate in the conference by attending the lectures and, if appropriate, perhaps even share in presenting a short paper,” Lillback commented. Rules for paper submissions can be found on the Calvin Congress website.
John Calvin will be honored in a number of ways at Westminster in 2018. Not only will the Congress be held on campus, but Dr. Carl Trueman and Dr. Bruce Gordon will be publishing their book, The Oxford Handbook of Calvin and Calvinism. This significant volume will contain 20–30 essays, each of which will be devoted to a unique aspect of Calvinism. Some of the topics include Calvinism in Brazil, Calvinism and Scottish literature, and Calvinism and secularism.
“This is not your typical book on Calvinism and predestination. We wanted to focus on out-of-the-box topics,” said Trueman. “One of the things I’ve learned through working on this book is the pervasive influence that Calvinism has had on a wide variety of cultures. Its impact is extraordinary.”
As we finish out the year, Westminster will be continuing preparations for the publication of this book as well as hosting the 2018 International Calvin Congress. Please visit the Calvin Congress website for information on event registration, paper submission and other important details.