Context

Calvin University has always been strongly committed to a Reformed Christian view of academic practice and community life. The university expects each member of its faculty to affirm and live out this Reformed perspective in every area of personal and professional endeavor.

Broadly speaking, Calvin holds faculty to two related expressions of Reformed commitment. First, members of the faculty are expected to demonstrate the Reformed character of their professional work, especially the way their Christian faith shapes their teaching and scholarship. This demonstration may occur informally, through discussions and peer review, but it also occurs formally at the time of appointment through interviews, candidates’ written statements of their religious faith, and required pastor’s letters; and at the time of reappointment and tenure through student evaluations of teaching, department reviews of teaching and scholarship, and written statements on faith and learning. These formal and informal means of promoting the integration of faith and learning have helped to create a faculty and an institution which have earned high distinction in both the wider Christian community and the broader academy.

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Requirements

1. Calvin University faculty members are required to affirm the three historic Reformed forms of unity—the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort—and pledge to teach, speak, and write in harmony with the confessions.

While affirming the final authority of the Scriptures for faith and life, the Reformed tradition shares with other confessional traditions within Christianity the conviction that the doctrines contained in Scripture must be structured in a way that assures adherence to orthodox Christian belief. The university uses a Covenant for Faculty Members that is itself based on a historic document dating from the 17th century, rather than substituting a statement of faith specific to this institution and these times. This historic document and these confessions identify Calvin University with the Christian faith as it finds concrete expression in the Reformed tradition and in a particular denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, whose pastors and officers are required to sign the same Covenant.

To sign the Covenant for Faculty Members is to indicate sincere acceptance of the doctrines articulated in the confessional statements listed above. The signatory does not thereby declare that these doctrines are all stated in the best possible manner or that they are an exhaustive or definitive summary of what the Scriptures teach. While signing represents a sincere pledge to teach, write, and speak in harmony with these confessions, it does not prevent a person from engaging in continuing study, research, or personal reflection on the Scriptures, the creation, or the confessions and the doctrines addressed in them. Signing the Covenant does represent an acknowledgment that no person is free to decide for himself or herself, or for the church, what is and what is not a doctrine asserted in these confessions.

2. Calvin University faculty members are required to be active members in good standing of a congregation in the Christian Reformed Church or a denomination in “ecclesiastical fellowship” with the CRC as defined by the CRC Synod.

The theological tradition of the Christian Reformed Church not only has shaped the university’s history, but it continues to define the university’s mission. The close relationship between the church and university has been the primary source of the university’s identity—the moral, spiritual, confessional, cultural, educational, theological, and historical identity that is indispensable for institutional cohesion and unity of purpose. At the same time, both Calvin University and the Christian Reformed Church are part of a broader Reformed confessional tradition, in recognition of which the church membership requirement can be satisfied by affiliation with other denominations with which the CRC enjoys official ties, such as the Reformed Church in America.

3. Calvin University faculty members are expected to support and promote Christian education at all levels and are normally required to provide their children with Christian schooling for grades K–12. Schools affiliated with Christian Schools International (an association of parent-run schools with traditional ties to the CRC community) are expected to be the primary schools of choice, though exceptions are usually granted for home schooling or enrollment in non-CSI Christian schools.

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Not all Reformed communities have developed Christian day schools, yet the particular CRC community that gave birth to Calvin University did choose long ago to develop such schools as an important means of fulfilling the communal vows, made at baptism, to help parents in rearing their children in the Christian faith. This university is an integral part of a widespread network of schools established in the Reformed tradition, a community from which a substantial portion of our support and enrollment comes and one in which Calvin University has a long history of leadership. Thus, the requirement for Christian schooling is also an important element in maintaining fidelity to a loyal supporting community.


Applicability

The requirements for membership on the university faculty described above apply to all persons on regular appointment (full-time and reduced-load). Unless an exception is granted, the Covenant for Faculty Members must be signed at the time of the first appointment. In order to provide sufficient time to make an informed decision regarding church membership and schooling, faculty on regular appointment will normally be expected to be in compliance with the church membership and Christian schooling requirements by the beginning of their second year of service on the faculty.

Term appointees are expected to affirm the Reformed confessions and are required to sign the Covenant for Faculty Members at the time of first appointment. While they are strongly encouraged to join a Reformed church and provide Christian schooling for their children, this is not a requirement in the first two years of such appointments. At the time of any subsequent appointments, whether term or regular, all of the requirements for faculty membership apply, unless an exception is granted.

Visiting professors and part-time instructors must support the mission of the university and are encouraged to abide by the requirements; however, their compliance with the requirements is not mandatory.


This summary of requirements is based on sections 3.6.1 and 6.13 of the Handbook for Teaching Faculty.

Complete texts of the confessional texts cited above are available via the following links:

A list of churches in ecclesiastical fellowship with the Christian Reformed Church of North America is available here.