“After 500 Years, Does Lutheranism still matter?” 8-29-17

The Reformation Heritage lecture’s keynote speaker was Dr. Bartelt of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Dr. Bartelt’s main point was to discuss if Lutheranism still matters after 500 years after the Reformation. Bartelt stated, “religious life is always in context of our place in history.” The world is constantly changing and progressing, but theology stays the same. What was applicable to Luther is applicable for people today. His argument was very compelling and included many key points that helped guide the audience to realize that, as a Lutheran community, we are subject to change (no matter how hard it is), and through the ever-present chaos, God’s Word remains constant.

In Honors last semester, the class read a section of a book called “God of the Oppressed,” by James Cone. From this portion, the Honors class learned that the message of God remains constant across cultural lines, but the way a community approaches and connects with theology is different. The same goes for how someone like Martin Luther would approach theology differently from Dr. Bartelt and from a millennial. This semester, Honors 210 is talking about living in an interconnected world. This can be tricky, but Bartelt reminds his audience that the next generation needs to recognize the tensions and be serious about theology, rather than accepting theology with a shrug, and build a bridge to cross the cultural divide in our ever-changing, technological, and secular world.

I enjoyed Dr. Bartelt’s lecture. I think that his message was long and there were times when my attention was no longer drawn, but when it seemed like my attention was focused on other things, he brought me back with more insight. I thought his two most impactful statements were, “theology does not change, social context does,” and “social context and chaos are changing today.” These statements helped me realize that the progress of society can get messy and be difficult, like Dr. Bartelt mentioned the sixties were, but God’s Word remains consistent and applicable to all generations.

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