Rerum Novarum means “Revolutionary Change,” and while it first named a Roman Catholic document in 1891, it is also the name of an innovative theological conference established by The Bavinck Institute to engage both Neo-Calvinists and Roman Catholic scholars. This year, they convened in Rome at the beginning of September to “focus on the theological, ecclesial, philosophical, political, social and cultural interactions between the two traditions.”
Dr. Richard Mouw gathered a group of Fuller scholars to the conference so that they could present papers and consider together how these two traditions differ and the common ground they share. Our own students spoke on topics as varied as consumerism and the Eucharist, Catholic theologies of public space, Flannery O’Connor’s approach to virtue, and many other topics.
Cory Wilson, a PhD candidate and editor of our Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue, said the conference provided “resources from Roman Catholicism and Calvinism that can help shape the embodied witness of Christians in the world in light of Scripture.”
Dr. Matthew Kaemingk, the executive director of our Institute for Theology and Northwest Culture, said “engaging with European scholars on the historical and theological relationship between Catholicism and Calvinism was invaluable. These traditions have much to learn from one another."
PhD Candidate Brant Himes said that the conference reminded him of the “focused insight that Fuller continues to provide to questions of theological development, historical perspective, and ethical framework so needed in issues of Christian discipleship and public life."
Our participation in the conference grew out of our developing friendships with scholars at both the Free University Amsterdam and the Theological University Kampen, and when they weren’t in the classroom they were touring Rome beginning a few blocks away at the Colosseum.
We’re proud of our scholars, and we look forward to the shared wisdom that will grow out of these theological efforts.