IRTI was founded in 1995 by a group of Hungarian, South African and Dutch theologians. Representatives of the Reformed world in North America and Australia were also involved in the founding event. The fall of the Iron Curtain between East- and West-Europe and the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa offered new opportunities for academic exchange. From the outset quite a number of Korean and Indonesian scholars were involved as well, later on joined by theologians from all parts of the world.
Living Reformed Theology
IRTI’s main focus has always been upon ‘Living Reformed Theology’. This meant that IRTI never neglected the historical roots of its own confessional tradition, but this confessional tradition was always studied with an eye towards the future of Reformed theology and with the new contexts and questions of today's Reformed world in mind. This approach turned out to be attractive for Reformed theologians with either a historical, systematic or contextual interest. It explains why the themes of the IRTI conferences (‘Freedom’, ‘Faith and Ethnicity’, ‘Christian Faith and Violence’, ‘Unity of the Church’, ‘Calvinism and Law’, 'Liturgy and Ethics') had always a historical, systematic and contextual component.
The Dutch theologian Prof. Abraham van de Beek (VU University) was the director during the first ten years of existence. In 2005 he was followed up by Prof. Martien Brinkman, (former) holder of the chair of intercultural theology at VU University. In 2011 the Protestant Theological University (PThU) became co-owner of IRTI, which made it a joint VU-PThU initiative. Since 2015 Dr. Pieter Vos, assistant professor of ethics at PThU, has been the director of IRTI. Belgian theologian Prof. Eddy van der Borght, holder of the Desmond Tutu chair at VU University, is its vice-director. The management team is completed by Prof. Kees van der Kooi, chairholder of systematic theology at VU University and Prof. Heleen Zorgdrager, chairholder of systematic theology and gender studies at PThU. Albert Nijboer (PThU) is the part time secretary.
IRTI has organised biannual international conferences in Visegrad/Hungary 1995, Stellenbosch/South Africa 1997, Doorn/The Netherlands 1999, Princeton/USA 2001, Bogor/Indonesia 2003, Seoul/South Korea 2005, Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca)/Romania 2007, Aix-en-Provence/France 2009, Potchefstroom/South Africa 2011, Sárospatak/Hungary 2013, New Brunswick/USA 2015, and Hong Kong/China 2017.