This evening Dr. Andrew Bartelt gave a lecture addressing the relevance of the Lutheran faith in today’s culture. We are now in the 500th year since Martin Luther composed his 95 Theses and it raises the question, “Does Lutheranism Still Matter?” After all these years, is there still a place for the Lutheran faith in today’s world? Bartelt argues that though the times have changed much since Luther nailed the Theses to the door of the church, and though the social contexts have changed, the theology on which the Lutheran faith was built has not changed. “Theology doesn’t change, even if social context does” — which is precisely what makes the faith intrinsically relevant to humanity. Lutheranism is always applicable because it gives us tools to deal with a diverse, complex world. Dr. Bartelt asserts that we can fearlessly face the changes to come, embracing the human condition, because the Lutheran ideals remain independent of any new sociological differences that come with new generations. It is a faith with a rich past that still informs future generations because it encourages engagement with the culture at hand for the purpose of growing and enhancing the body of Christ.
This is exactly what we are unpacking in class — how to bring our Lutheran traditions into all aspects of our lives so that what we do is reflective of what beliefs we profess. We live in an interconnected world; we cannot separate our faith from the life that we live in the world because they are so deeply intertwined. It is paramount that we allow “our religious life [to always be] in the context of our place in history” because it informs how we interact with the world around us. It allows us to be sensitive to the needs of our communities so that we can step into the unique role we have and minister to the broken world around us.
Overall, I found that Dr. Bartelt’s lecture brought to light some significant aspects of our faith that are not often focused on. For many people, trying to balance faith with modern culture is difficult because the two seemingly conflict. However, Dr. Bartelt put importance in allowing the tension of differing viewpoints to hang in the balance, which moves people away from feeling the need to defend their position and gives the opportunity to enter into dialogue with others about any points of discord. I appreciated this because recognizing our differences with those around us, while coexisting in a respectful environment, provides the chance to can converse freely about contrasting views. It keeps the door to religion open and informs us how to adapt accordingly as the social contexts continue to change.