In preparation for the upcoming five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, Concordia University is hosting a series of lectures by well-known Lutheran speakers. On Tuesday, August 29, 2017 Rev. Dr. Andrew Bartelt gave a lecture titled “After 500 Years, Does Lutheranism Still Matter?” Dr. Bartelt’s first section focused on how Lutherans’ religious lives are always in the context of their place in history. No matter how the culture changes, the Reformation truth does not change. Lutherans can embrace change with a faith that is “steady and sturdy.” Lutheran theology will not change, even as the social context changes. The second section of the lecture described the need to link the past to the future. Dr. Bartelt addressed the importance of remembering Lutheran history, while involving the next and future generations. The third and final section of the lecture circled around to the title of the lecture and described how being a Lutheran still matters in today’s world. Lutherans have a distinctive niche and role within religious categories, because they are not Catholic, but often do not fit into categories with other Protestant or Evangelical denominations. One of the big differences between Lutherans and other denominations is Lutherans’ “paradoxical theology.” For example, Lutherans do not just focus on law or gospel, but on law and gospel. This “paradoxical theology” brings a tension, and must be kept perfectly balanced. Most importantly, Lutherans need to live out their vocation to all the world.
This semester in Honors is titled “Being Human and Christian in an Interconnected World.” Dr. Bartelt’s last point of living out vocation into all the world ties in with this. Although Dr. Bartelt focused on living out Lutheran theology and beliefs, all Christians should share their faith and Jesus’ love through everything they do. Whether this is through church work or accounting, through science or dance, Jesus should be evident in everything we do.
Because I am training to be a leader in the Lutheran church, Dr. Bartelt’s lecture was both challenging and encouraging. It was challenging to see the changes the Lutheran church is facing as society changes and the arguments that has created amongst the church. The lecture was encouraging because Dr. Bartelt described the amazing legacy and uniqueness I have as a Lutheran to share with the rest of the world. While filled with history and information about the Lutheran church, Dr. Bartelt’s lecture was also amusing and often had the audience laughing. His lecture was very well organized which made it easy to follow along and keep track of his main topics and points. As Concordia prepares for the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, Dr. Bartelt’s lecture provided a reminder of why the Reformation, and Lutherans, are still important and needed in our world today.