Conference 2019: The calling of the Church in times of polarisation
The thirteenth biennial international IRTI conference was held from Thursday 4 to Sunday 7 July 2019 in Amsterdam (the Netherlands). The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Protestant Theological University were the hosts of this conference.

About the theme

In many societies all over the world an increasing polarization between various groups can be observed. Tendencies of polarization extend from the political to the economic and from the religious to the social sphere. Polarisation is often motivated by prejudices about differences in ethnicity, race, religion, culture, gender, sexuality, economic or social background. Driven by fear about losing what is regarded as valuable, particular groups become to demonise other groups as cause of imagined or real threats. On the political level polarization becomes manifest in populist movements with the explicit aim to polarize against and distance themselves entirely from any political establishment, as for instance in new political parties in many European countries. All these instances of polarisation affect the church as well. Given this increasing (or at least ongoing) polarization of various groups within societies as well as within the churches, what may be the calling of the church?

More about the theme

Keynote speakers

The following theologians offered a keynote lecture at the conference.

  • Nadine Bowers Du Toit, PhD
    Associate Professor in Theology and Development and Director of the Unit for Development and Religion Research at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University
  • David D. Daniels, PhD
    Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity at McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago
  • David Fergusson, PhD
    Professor of Divinity and Principal of New College, University of Edinburgh
  • Rev. Andreas Yewangoe, PhD
    Senior Fellow of Leimena Institute, Jakarta, and former Chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI)

© All portraits are property of the speakers.

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