11th Comenius Conference 2018
Theology in a World of Ideologies: Authorization or Critique?'
The 11th COMENIUS conference took place from 18-21 April 2018 at the Theological University of Kampen, the Netherlands. The topic was 'Theology in a World of Ideologies: Authorization or Critique'.
There were 45 participants from different countries (the Netherlands, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Philippines and South Korea). The programme consisted of 18 lectures and various activities in and around the city of Kampen, including a visit to the mayor, a tour of the city centre of Kampen and a boat trip on the IJssel to Zwolle.
The broad, thematic approach and the presence of theologians from various theological disciplines and contexts made the COMENIUS conference unique and topical.
Prof. D. Nagy (PThU Amsterdam) opened the conference with a lecture titled 'Ideologizing Migration: Theological-Missiological Reflections on Human Mobility in Contemporary Europe'. In this lecture she linked the theme of ideology to missiology and current migration issues. "When we speak about migration, we can say that knowledge about migration is always couloured and fragmented. There are a lot of 'right and left wing myths' or ideological fragments of pro- and anti-migration. A migrant becomes into being by virtue of a border crossing. Migration is always a territorial act/process and an act/process of connecting, what kind of migrant one becomes is part of the ideological question. 'God’s plan to bring the good news to all' or 'loving the stranger' (Leviticus) is an ideological component. In this approach Europe becomes also a land of mission." Her conclusion: Each and every theological discipline needs to set migration on the theological agenda.
A rather philosophical perspective on the issue was provided by R. van Riessen (PThU Amsterdam). She discussed the connection between theology and ideology on the basis of iconoclasm and philosophy. T. Tops (PThU Groningen) talked about 'The possibility of criticizing ideologies in a 'Post-Truth Era''. E. Hodossy-Takács (Debreceni Református Hittudományi Egyptetem) represented the discipline of the Old Testament and spoke about ideologies in archaeology. A systematic approach came from H. Burger (Theological University of Kampen), who spoke about the authority of Scripture, and P.D. Dekker (Free University of Amsterdam), who posed the question as to whether the Protestant dogmatic ideologies can (to a certain extent) be appreciated positively.
Due to the international character of the conference, some other lectures focused on a specific context of a country or ethnicity. H. Sadje (Evangelical Theological Faculty of Leuven) gave a look at his own Filipino background, G. van Klinken (PThU Amsterdam) gave a look at the history of Tiberias between 1948-1960, L. Gonda (Debreceni Református Hittudományi Egyetem) and A. Korányi (Evangélikus Hittudományi Egyetem Budapest) focused on their country of origin, Hungary, E. Lee (PThU Groningen) reflected on 'Anti-Communism and political participation of the South Korean conservative churches after 1945' and K. Tolstaya (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) concluded the conference with a lecture on ideologies in Russia, the power of satire and a study on visiting Lenin's Mausoleum.
The conference was greatly enriched by the diversity of speakers and conference attendees, which deepened the discussion during the question rounds and the panel.
The COMENIUS Committee expects to be able to publish a selection of the contributions in: Beiheft zur Ökumenischen Rundschau (Leipzig: EVA 2019).
Nele Chiara Neidiger, PThU Groningen