Participant, Acton University, June 20-23 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan (I)

Source: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=240138

This week I will be attending the 2017 Acton University Conference, at DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Acton University ‘is a unique, four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society. Guided by a distinguished, international faculty, Acton University is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and integrate philosophy, theology, business, development – with sound, market based, economics.’

It is organized by the Acton Institute, ‘a think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles’.

Topics dealt with include:

Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton

The Inspiration of the Declaration: What Calvin Coolidge’s Views on Government and Faith Tell Us Today

John Locke’s Philosophy of Liberalism

Edmund Burke and the Origins of Modern Conservatism

Alexis de Tocqueville: Does Liberty Follow from Democracy?

Democracy and Development

Natural Law and Human Flourishing

“Post-Consensus” Culture and Natural Law

Religious Liberty: The Dawn of the First Amendment

The Religious Problem with Religious Freedom

Marriage and Religious Liberty

How to Understand and Critique Secularism

Presenters will be, among others:

Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy, The Heritage Foundation

Hunter Baker, J.D., Ph.D., University Fellow and Associate Professor of Political Science, Union University

The Honorable Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

Lenore Ealy, Ph.D., President, The Philanthropic Enterprise, Inc.

Kenneth Grasso, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Political Science, Texas State University

Carrie Gress, Ph.D., Author and Public Intellectual

Robert Joustra, Ph.D., Director of the Centre for Christian Scholarship, Redeemer University College

Daniel Mark, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, Villanova University, and Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Svetlana Papazov, D.Min., Lead Pastor, Real Life Church; CEO & Founder, Real Life Center for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Excellence

John Pinheiro, Ph.D., Professor of History and Founding Director of Catholic Studies, Aquinas College

Amity Shlaes, Presidential Scholar, The King’s College.

Sources, and more informationActon UniversityActon Institute.

See alsoUpcoming Speaking Engagement: Symposium The Federalist Papers, Brussel, 20 april 2017

Acton University, June 20-23 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Looking forward to participating in this year’s Acton University.

‘What is Acton University?

  • Four days that integrate sound economics, business, philosophy, theology, and intellectual history
  • A customized learning plan that you create: featuring over 120 courses taught by over 80 experts: an international, world class faculty
  • An exploration of the intellectual foundations of freedom, and respect for the dignity and value of the human person
  • A place to learn about the classical foundations of economics, philosophy, theology, liberty and how they apply to our culture today
  • A unique educational experience enabling you to lead with a greater understanding of the intersection of liberty and morality
  • An international, ecumenical network of attendees helping you to apply your knowledge in shaping culture towards a free and virtuous society’

Source, and more information, and registration: http://university.acton.org/about-au.

Acton University is organized by the Acton Institute, ‘a think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles’. See https://acton.org.

Public Lecture by Professor Brett Scharffs on ‘Why Religious Freedom’, April 7, 15.00h, Free University, Amsterdam

UPDATE: For location, and registration, see here: http://centre-religion-law.org/nl/actueel/50-lezing-why-religous-freedom-7-april.

The full title of the paper which Professor Brett Scharffs will present, is: ‘Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care’.

The abstract of the paper reads as follows:

‘Religious freedom: Is it the grandparent of human rights, or the neglected stepchild? As with most false dichotomies, the answer is both. But it is also the underappreciated core, or tap root, of human rights. Why should we care about religious freedom? For the seeker of religious truth, the answer may be obvious: Religious freedom creates the conditions, the “constitutional space,” for investigation and the pursuit of truth. But what about those who fall into other groups? What about the religiously committed – who are confident they are in possession of religious truth. Or the religiously indifferent – who are not much interested in religion or spirituality. Or those who are affirmatively hostile to religion – those who believe religion does more harm than good. Should they – should we – care about religious freedom? There are three reasons why we should all care deeply about freedom of religion (and belief). First, is the role of religious freedom as a historical foundation for constitutional, political, civil and human rights. Without freedom of religion and belief (FORB), the entire human rights project may collapse from its own weight. Second, FORB is necessary if we are to resist statism and other monistic views of state power. And third, we may not have the intellectual, political or rhetorical resources to defend conscience if we do not respect and protect FORB.’

You can read the full paper here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2911086##.

Brett G. Scharffs is Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law at Brigham Young University Law School, and was appointed Director of the Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies effective May 1, 2016.

The lecture is organized by the Centre for Religion and Law, a collaboration between the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Theology of the VU University Amsterdam, and the newly formed Netherlands Law and Religion Scholars Network.

For more information (in Dutch) on the Centre for Religion and Law and the Netherlands Law and Religion Scholars Network, see http://centre-religion-law.org/nl/.

Article ‘Princeton Seminary Reforms Its Views on Honoring Tim Keller’

‘The most popular Reformed preacher and author in America today is not eligible to receive Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual award in Reformed theology and public witness.

The mainline seminary reversed its decision to honor Tim Keller with a prize named for neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper following outcry over the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) pastor’s conservative positions.

Princeton president Craig Barnes announced the news in a letter released Wednesday morning.’

Read the whole article in Christianity Today here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/march/princeton-rescinds-tim-keller-kuyper-prize-women-ordination.html.

In my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human, I write that there is an increasing academic fascination with cities, both in theology and law and political science, and rightly so. The reason for this lies without doubt in part in the prognosis that during the 21st century globally ever more people will be living in cities. As a result, the urge is felt to develop a theology for the city, with the help of which urban populations can be reached.

An example is provided by the ministry of Tim Keller in New York City. His Redeemer Presbyterian Church, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014 and can already in many ways be regarded as a success story, recently adopted an even more ambitious plan to reach a still larger part of the population of Manhattan. Also more in general, New York City can, contrary to what many people would expect, best be characterised as a religiously vibrant place.

This is the eleventh post in a new series introducing my new book.

For the first ten posts, please see:

Yale Law Professor: ‘American courts are tackling Islamophobia – why won’t Europeans?’

Waarom de PVV niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017)

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order.

Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Journal of Law, Religion & State International Conference: Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives, Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel

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‘The encounter of religion with the rule of law may generate tension but also mutual inspiration. The rule of law implies law’s supremacy over other normative systems and personal commitments. It also implies that law applies to everyone equally. Religion represents a normative system that may in some areas be different from – and stand in opposition to – state law. Religion may deny the supremacy of state law and pose divine law as supreme instead. It may, alternatively, seek exemptions from state law in those matters where the two conflict.

TOPICS: In this conference we seek to study this tension and discuss the following questions:
– Does religion (in general or a specific religion) accept the rule of state law?
– What are the boundaries (if any) of such acceptance?
– In what cases would religion challenge state law and in what cases would it seek exemptions?
– Can a policy of multiculturalism and of legal pluralism, which give more room to religious freedom, be reconciled with the rule of law or does it undermine it?
– What other policies should states follow in response to these tensions?

Religion may not only compete with state law but also inspire it, which leads us to investigate religion’s various understandings of the rule of law. Here is just one example. The concept of law in the context of the rule of law is ambiguous and open to different interpretations. Some (positivists) understand law as a set of rules fixed by social institutions, and others (natural law advocates) understand law as if it includes fundamental principles of justice and morality. Religions may take a position in that debate and contribute not only to the abstract understanding of law, but also to the identification of those moral principles that are part of law. We therefore also plan to explore the following:
– What is the position of religion with regard to the concept of law and the rule of law?
– Many religions developed partial or comprehensive legal systems of their own. Did religions also develop a concept of rule of law? What is its scope and meaning?
– The concept of rule of law also may be used in theological context as a metaphor to understand the boundaries of divine actions and intervention in the world. Is God constrained by law – and by what kind of law: law of nature, morality?

These and similar questions will be discussed in an international conference that will be held at Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel, on November 20-22, 2016.’

Source: http://www.ssrn.com/update/lsn/lsnann/ann16021.html. More information will follow.

Presentation during Cardiff Festival for Law and Religion

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‘The Cardiff Festival of Law and Religion on May 5th and 6th at Cardiff University celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the LLM in Canon Law at Cardiff University, the first degree of its type in a British University since the Reformation.

A number of events are being held to reflect upon how the study of Law and Religion has developed over the last twenty-five years and the likely future trajectory. This includes the 2016 Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) Conference, a keynote address by Professor David Little, a celebratory dinner and the launch of F Cranmer, M Hill, C Kenny and R Sandberg (ed) The Confluence of Law and Religion: Interdisciplinary Reflections on the Work of Norman Doe (Cambridge University Press, 2016).’

My own presentation was entitled: ‘The “New Critics of Religious Freedom” and the Inspiration they Unintentionally Provide’.

The summary of the paper reads as follows:

The ‘New Critics of Religious Freedom’ have become increasingly vocal of late. The first part of the paper will summarise their main criticisms, some of which contain a considerable amount of truth, such as that the right to freedom of religion or belief has historically been heavily influenced by Christianity in general and Protestantism in particular.

The second part of the paper will argue that at first sight there also appears to be one major downside to the criticisms. As it turns out to be hardly possible to isolate the right to freedom of religion or belief from the general idea of a democratic constitutional state, what the critics are really questioning is the current state of Western liberal democracy as a whole.

The third part of the paper will propose that the reason for this close connection between religious freedom and the democratic constitutional state lies in the fact that the latter has clearly been influenced by Christianity as well. Still, the new critics of religious freedom may on closer inspection also serve as a source of inspiration for a necessary, theologically driven reform of some of the central tenets of liberal democracy as it has developed in recent decades.

For more information, see: http://www.law.cf.ac.uk/clr/networks/The%20Cardiff%20Festival%20for%20Law%20and%20Religion%20Full%20Programme.pdf.

Secretary, Board of Trustees, Stichting De Honderd Gulden Reis (George Puchinger Foundation) (1999 – Present)

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‘Introduction
Stichting De Honderd Gulden Reis was founded by the Reformed historian dr. G. Puchinger on 23 September 1996. Since his death in 1999, this Foundation has been governed by a board of trustees.

What can you apply for?
Grants for studies abroad (travel, study and/or accomodation expenses) by students or graduates of (art) history, the arts, law, theology or philosophy at one of the Dutch universities, hogeschool or similar institution. The grants are intended for those who have an affinity with the Protestant-Christian tradition or with studies that relate to Protestant Christianity.

Conditions

The Stichting only deals with a request if it satisfies each of the following four conditions:
1. The applicant receives an education at a Dutch university, or has done so and wants to broaden his/her horizon.
2. The applicant is a student or a graduate in (art) history, the arts, law, theology or philosophy.
3. The applicant and/or study deals with Protestant Christianity.
4. The study in question is offered outside the regular Bachelor or Master curriculum.

Who can apply?
Students or graduates in (art) history, the arts, law, theology or philosophy at a Dutch university or similar institution, in particular they who have an affinity with the Protestant-Christian tradition.

How to submit a request.
We would like to receive your application through email. In addition to your email and this request form, please enclose a budget estimate and a curriculum vitae. The extent to which you want to study Protestant Christianity and/or have affinity with the Protestant-Christian tradition must appear from the written motivation as submitted in the application form.’

See for more information, and to download the application form, here:

http://www.hdc.vu.nl/nl/over-het-hdc/stichtingen/honderdgulden/Honderguldenengels.aspx.

Participant, event ‘Research on Religion, crucial for Europe’s societies’, Brussels, 17 March 2016

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‘The LERU Deans of Theology and Religious Studies have written a statement on the importance of research on religion for Europe’s societies. The event aims at translating this statement into practice by showcasing excellent examples. The event is also meant to discuss the statement with a wider public. Policy makers, research funders or anyone with an interest in SSH research in general or religion research in particular, is very welcome to participate.

Programme

10.30 am Registration

11.00

Welcome by Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General of LERU

11.10

Introduction by Johannes Zachhuber, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, University of Oxford

11.30

Religious recognition, presentation by Risto Saarinen, Professor of Ecumenics, University of Helsinki

12.00

Religion in crisis and Roman Catholic self-definition, presentation by Joris Geldhof, Professor Pastoral and Empirical Theology, Mathijs Lamberigts, Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies and Terrence Merrigan, Professor Systematic Theology and the Study of Religions, KU Leuven

12.30

Lunch

1.00 pm

Healthcare Values Partnership, presentation by Andrew Papanikitas, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in General Practice, University of Oxford

1.30

Muslim-Christian dialogue, presentation by Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Inter-religious Studies and Assistant Principal Religion and Society, University of Edinburgh

2.00

Q&A followed by discussion

3.00

End’

Source: http://www.leru.org/index.php/public/calendar/research-on-religion-crucial-for-europes-societies/.

For the stement by the LERU Deans of Theology and Religious Studies, see: http://www.leru.org/files/general/Research%20on%20Religion%20crucial%20for%20Europe’s%20societies_statement_February%202016_docx1.pdf.

About LERU:

‘Since its founding in 2002, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) has emerged as a prominent advocate for the promotion of basic research at European universities. LERU strongly believes that basic research plays an essential role in the innovation process and significantly contributes to the progress of society.

LERU aims at furthering the understanding and knowledge of politicians, policy makers and opinion leaders about the role and activities of research-intensive universities. Drawing on the impressive academic potential and expertise of its network, LERU has a strong and significant impact on research policy in Europe.’

Participant, Kuyper Center Annual Conference 2015 Pre-conference symposium ‘Faith in the Work Place’

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‘Does Christian faith have any impact in the workplace? Does it show in the way that people do their jobs? Should it be given more emphasis, or less? These are some of the questions to be addressed in the third Abraham Kuyper pre-conference symposium on April 15th and 16th 2015. This year, the Abraham Kuyper Center for Theology and Public Life is collaborating with two other organizations whose expertise in this area brings theory and practice into fruitful conversation. The ‘Faith and Work Initiative’ at Princeton University, led by Princeton Seminary graduate David Miller, investigates the ways in which the resources of various religious traditions and spiritual identities shape and inform engagement with diverse workplace issues. The Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church New York, headed by David Kim (also a Princeton Seminary graduate, who worked on Abraham Kuyper) seeks to equip individuals of all backgrounds to develop and apply a worldview for work that better serves their profession and industry. Staff from both organizations will make presentations aimed at opening up a wide-ranging discussion of an increasingly important theme for both church and industry.
The ‘Faith in the Workplace’ symposium is open, free of charge, both to participants in the annual Kuyper Conference that follows, and to all interested clergy and laity in the wider Princeton area, as well as students and faculty at Princeton Seminary. (…)
Wednesday 15th April
2pm Welcome and introduction
Dr Gordon Graham, Kuyper Center, PTS

2.15 – 4.45pm

Kuyper returns to NYC: Appropriating Kuyperian Theology to Empower the Scattered Church

Rev. David H. Kim and Bethany Jenkins
Center for Faith & Work
Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York

Thursday 16th April
9.30am – 12noon

Faith & Work: Augustine, Maslow, Nixon, King, and Beyond

Dr David Miller, with Michael Thate and Dennis LoRusso
Faith and Work Initiative,
Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University’

Source: http://www.ptsem.edu/library/kuyper/default.aspx?id=25769808845.