You probably know that Friday 10 July 2009 is the 500th birthday of the Swiss reformer John Calvin. Calvin’s known for his systematic theology, the Institutes of Christian Religion. It was published in the 1550s, and is probably still, across the world, the best known Protestant systematic theology. He’s also known for his work in reforming the city of Geneva, trying to make it a “Godly state”. These two things gave birth to the third thing he’s known for: Calvinism, the style of theology and churchmanship and general approach to the world that follows in his footsteps.
Calvin heavily influenced Presbyterianism. John Knox, the main Scottish reformer [the Presbyterian church originates from Scotland], spent time in Geneva, learning from Calvin and observing how he went about reforming the church and the city. Hence, Presbyterianism has historically been heavily Calvinistic.
From 7-9 April, the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Burwood is hosting a conference on Calvin. I’ll be delivering a paper – my first academic presentation. It’s on Calvin’s sexual anthropology and ethic. Well, it’s titled “Kinsey meets Calvin: a dialogue between John Calvin and modern academic sexology on sexual anthropology and sexual ethics”. I’m co-presenting it with my mum. We’re gonna look at two questions:
1. What does it mean for humans to be sexual beings?
2. How can we express our sexuality in a healthy manner?
We’re going to put these two questions to two sources:
1. John Calvin, through his Institutes, sermons, commentaries, liturgical reform and law reform;
2. Modern academic sexology, represented by Alfred Kinsey, but not limited to him.
Hence the title: Kinsey meets Calvin. We want to bring the two into dialogue, and see what they think of each other. Will it be a big fight? A polite but distant chat? Or a surprisingly pleasant and mutually edifying conversation? Shall report in a coupla days…