By Catherine Eubanks
A thoughtful and dedicated Christian was frustrated by corruption, by the abuse of power, and by policies that favored the rich at the expense of the poor. Sound familiar? The challenges Martin Luther faced 500 years ago bear a striking relevance for Christians today. In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Adult Education Committee is presenting a three-part series on Reformations: Past and Present. The series will examine not only the Protestant Reformers, but also other critical moments in religious history that led to splits and divisions, as well as the growth of new movements.
The series will begin on Sunday October 15 with a focus on the Great Schism of 1054, which resulted in the final separation between the Eastern Christian churches (led by the patriarch of Constantinople) and the Western church (led by Pope Leo IX). We are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about this important moment in Christian history from the Eastern Christian perspective: The Very Reverend Dr. John Behr, distinguished Professor of Patristics at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, will speak on The Eastern Orthodox View of the Great Schism.
Christianity is certainly not the only religion that has experienced internal tensions over religious faith and practice that have helped give rise to a diversity of denominations. On Sunday October 22, Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Dean of the Rabbinical School at The Jewish Theological Seminary, will present on The Varieties of American Judaism. Rabbi Nevins will provide an overview of the religious landscape of American Judaism—the various denominations and sects, their history, beliefs and practices. His presentation will be interactive, allowing for audience questions to guide the second half of the presentation.
The series will culminate on Sunday October 29, Reformation Sunday, with a presentation by The Reverend Dr. Euan Cameron, Henry Luce III Professor of Reformation Church History at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Cameron’s talk is entitled, The Reformers Imagine Their Own Story: Why the 95 Theses Mattered in Christian History. Dr. Cameron will speak about how Martin Luther did not set out to found a separate tradition or traditions within Western Christianity. But even before the dust of the Reformation debates began to settle, the reformers were aware that something momentous had happened in the history of the Church. Dr. Cameron will explore how they understood the tumultuous times through which they lived.