Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology
Many of you who are reading this will know of the work of Rutherford House. It was founded by the Rev William Still and others in the early 1980s. Perhaps you stayed there at some time, or used its library. Perhaps you attended one of the bi-annual Dogmatics Conferences, or attended a Study Group. After a period of reflection by the Board, Rutherford House is moving in a new direction, both literally and figuratively!
From January 2019, the work of Rutherford House will be taken forward by a new centre, to be called the Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology (RCRT). Rutherford House has been based in Edinburgh since its inception over thirty years ago but it is now moving north. The RCRT will be based in the Highlands of Scotland. The Director of the new centre will be Professor A.T.B. McGowan, the vice chairman of the World Reformed Fellowship and the chairman of its Theological Commission.
The work of the RCRT will have three core strands. First, research and writing; second, education and training; and third, the promotion and development of Reformed Theology.
Strand One: Research & Writing:
The RCRT will engage in academic research in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands. This will involve drawing together a group of researchers, some full-time and others part-time, to work in the general area of Reformed Theology. The RCRT will also continue the tradition of academic conferences, which have taken place every two years since Rutherford House was formed. These conferences have drawn scholars from all over the world. In addition, the RCRT will seek to build relationships with institutions in different parts of the world to work together on conferences and writing projects and also to encourage scholars to visit Scotland.
Strand Two: Education & Training
One of the most enduring aspects of the work of Rutherford House over many years has been the engagement with church members, elders and ministers. The mission statement was ‘To help people to think biblically and theologically’. Most recently, this led to a DVD for elders’ training being produced. Another ministry is ‘Under the Rainbow’ which is a web-based resource for those who have experienced infant loss, miscarriage and infertility. The RCRT will continue to engage with churches, providing education and training for members, elders and ministers. Perhaps the most significant aspect will be in the training of elders to assist during a time when many churches in Scotland are without ministers.
Strand Three: Promotion & Development
Reformed Theology, which arose out of the Calvinistic strand of the 16th century Reformation, provides the theological roots of the Church of Scotland, where RH began. Despite this rich theological heritage, many people in our churches are unaware of our history and tradition. Part of the work of RCRT will be to promote and develop Reformed Theology, to remind people of our biblical and theological roots. At the same time, we must move forward. The issues we face today are not the same as those faced by our forebears in the 16th and 17th centuries. For that reason, we must develop our Reformed Theology to make it fit for purpose in our day and generation. In this area we hope to work with the WRF Theological Commission, which is already embarked on a project to define Reformed Theology for today.
I hope that you will pray for the Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology as we begin to establish this new Centre.