Ruth Padilla DeBorst, who serves with Resonate Global Mission leading the Comunidad de Estudios Teológicos Interdisciplinarios, a learning community of Latin American theological students, is the recipient of the 2022 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life. The prize was presented April 6 during the Kuyper Conference, hosted by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary.
The April 5-7 gathering, themed “Tribes, Tongues, and Nations: Global Christianity and Reformed Public Theology,” marks the first in-person Kuyper Conference since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Calvin last hosted the conference in April 2019, taking over the tradition from Princeton Theological Seminary, which founded The Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology in 1998. In 2018 Calvin reimagined that center as The Kuyper Institute for Global Faculty Development (since renamed de Vries Institute for Global Faculty Development).
Padilla DeBorst was part of a panel, “Reformed Public Theology and the Global Church: Challenges and Opportunities,” moderated by Fuller Theological Seminary’s Matthew Kaemingk during the conference. She also delivered the 2022 Kuyper prize lecture Wednesday evening.
“For decades, Ruth’s been working essentially on a theology of integral mission, an idea of evangelicalism that’s holistic with discipleship and formed by a Kuyperian understanding of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in response to that sovereignty,” said Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary, in the prize announcement.
Padilla DeBorst represents the Latin America Evangelical church on the current Global Christian Forum committee, a coming together of global Christian churches “to nurture unity by fostering mutual respect and understanding.” At the Forum’s expanded leadership meeting Feb. 6-8 in Rome, Padilla DeBorst presented “on the call toward equality found in 2 Corinthians 8:14 where Paul is inviting the Christians in Corinth to give what they have in support of the Christians who are in need in Jerusalem,” the forum reported in its April newsletter.
“The offering that Paul had received caused some controversy in Jerusalem, as the believers in Judea viewed themselves as the ‘mother church;’ they were the ones to give, not the ones to receive from others. It is through the equal sharing of gifts that community is created,” the newsletter said, noting the parallels to the current global church “where believers in the global South largely outnumber believers in the global North, yet resources remain concentrated in and controlled by the church in the global North.” Padilla DeBorst encouraged Forum members “to consider whether true unity is possible without equality,” inviting the team, especially in relation to the Forum’s next Global Gathering in April 2024, “to consider how we can center the voices that are usually marginalized, including refugees, women, and young people.”
This fall, Padilla DeBorst joins the faculty of Western Theological Seminary as the Richard C. Oudersluys Associate Professor of World Christianity.