Reformation Heritage Lecture – Does Lutheranism Still Matter?

The Reformation Heritage Lecture for the fall semester of this year was given by the former Hebrew professor, Dr. Bartelt of Concordia Seminary in St. Lewis. He discussed if Lutheranism still mattered 500 years after the Reformation. He opened by discussing how the Reformation was an unintentional result of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses in 1517. Dr. Bartlet started by discussing how “Our religious life is always taking place within the context of history”. After making this point he discussed how the “Theology doesn’t change, social context changes”. He wanted to make the point that after 500 years we don’t need to change the theology just because the social context has changed. He also discussed how to link the past and the future together and the “Distinctive and needed role and niche of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod”. He ended by saying LCMS Lutherans are well adapted to hold tough problems in tension through our “understanding” of Paradox Theology.

Dr. Bartelt’s discussion of theology in an interconnected world speaks specifically to this year’s theme in Honors 210. The theme is “Being Christian in an Interconnected world”. Dr. Bartelt spoke about how the next generation of theologians and church workers will need to know how to interact with people who are different than themselves. He spoke about how people need training in being interconnected in a way that is not just superficial. He spoke about the “cross-cultural divide” that needs to be overcome inorder to do ministry.

I enjoyed Dr. Bartelt’s lecture. I enjoyed his section on Paradox Theology and how LCMS Lutherans are better equipped to deal with it because of how much is present in our theology. He talked about paradoxes relating to the Trinity, nature of Christ, Communion, Baptism, Law and Gospel, and many others that are central to our doctrine. He also made the comment “most stories are about a rise then a fall, Christianity is about a fall then a rise”. This really hit home with me, not only about how Christ’s death has saved us, but about our need to be counter cultural in was that stay true to Christ.

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