The Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship was founded in 1976 to be a place where committed Christian thinkers from across the academic disciplines could reflect and write about pressing issues of public concern. Over the years its support has enabled scholars to produce some eighty-nine books, several of which have gone into second editions, as well as numerous articles, lectures, conferences, and public presentations. The vision of its founders and the efforts of its participants have made the CCCS a recognized leader in the growing international project of intentional, self-critical Christian scholarship.
The Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship exists to coordinate and provide leadership for the project of advancing and improving intentional Christian scholarship at Calvin College. "Intentional Christian scholarship" means research and reflection that deliberately bring the resources of the Christian faith to bear upon a subject, whether by scrutinizing the fundamental premises of a theory or a field; by elaborating the ethical consequences of social structures, research methods, or ways of thought; by creating imaginative or artistic works; or by helping Christians understand their world better through the critical appropriation of new work being done in the academy.
Some Calvin Center projects contribute to the common good by increasing society's store of knowledge. Many Calvin Center projects have aimed to bridge the gap between first-order thinking and ordinary-world perceptions and behavior. They have especially tried to bring academic expertise to a generally educated audience by addressing issues of lively concern in the church and society as well as in the academy. This commitment in itself is a Christian responsibility, reflecting the church’s ancient dictum that theologians—and by extension all Christian thinkers—work in service of the laity.
A similar commitment lies behind the CCCS’s encouragement of collaborative projects. By virtue of their common convictions, Christian scholars have a rare chance to overcome the fragmentation of the modern academy and to demonstrate the church’s familiar self-image of many parts working together as one body. Past Calvin Center teams have produced books beyond the capacity of their several members, and this pattern continues to provide a model for present and future projects.
The Calvin Center’s most important resource remains individual Christian scholars who are committed to making their research and reflection advance the cause of biblical wisdom, reformation, and human flourishing. At the same time, the CCCS encourages individual scholars to seek out colleagues from diverse traditions with whom they can work together to pursue first-rate thinking for the benefit of experts and laity alike. To this end, the Center supports the work of Calvin College faculty as well as cooperative projects that engage the resources of scholars and agencies from many traditions within global Christianity.
In its first decade, the Calvin Center funded teams of five to six scholars to produce individual books, each on a single theme designated by the college faculty. Some of these were pathbreaking volumes that went into multiple printings and helped define Christian thinking or practice in a field: Earthkeeping: Christian Stewardship of Natural Resources; Dancing in the Dark: Youth, Popular Culture and the Electronic Media; After Eden: Facing the Challenge of Gender Reconciliation. In its second decade, the diverse interests of the Calvin faculty led the Center to fund several smaller-scale projects per year, with stronger participation from the social sciences. These were still interdisciplinary team projects. Now that requirement has been lifted, and the Center is free to support single scholars and work within a single discipline as well as the traditional interdisciplinary teams.
With this greater flexibility the CCCS is now seeking partners in funding and research expertise to help harvest the great potential that Calvin scholars offer via their networks around the country and around the world, as well as in their own right. While CCCS projects must have a Calvin faculty member as principal investigator, the Center has the liberty, the experience, and the commitment to bring together believers from many institutions to work on issues of common concern from a shared body of Christian insight.
The Calvin Center is the sole beneficiary of an endowment which is used to fund research by Calvin College faculty and their collaborators. With a capable support staff that is experienced at running conferences and consultations, the CCCS has a very high rate of successfully completed projects. The list of Publications demonstrates the range of publishers as well as subjects.
The Governing Board of the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship is appointed by the Committee on Governance at Calvin College and makes all descisions relating to Major Grants, Small Grants, and Working Groups.