The door, the church and the Reformation

Joshua Meribole–Staff Writer

In 1517, Martin Luther attached his issues with the Catholic Church on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. He was 34 at the time. What he nailed, referred to as the 95 Theses, tore a rift in the Church and lay the foundation for the Protestant Reformation. The 31st of October is the 500th anniversary of the event.

“One of the things that Martin Luther was doing when he posted those 95 Theses was identifying something that was happening in the Church,” says professor Rebekah Earnshaw, “—the sale of indulgences and the corruption of the Church’s theology—and how this was impacting the people that he was pastoring and teaching in Wittenberg. He cared for his people, he saw that the church was not teaching and practicing the truth. So, he set out the 95 Theses to basically invite an academic discussion.”

Dordt’s Theology 222 (Core 318) class is remembering the 500th anniversary by inviting students this week to put forth discussions points regarding the church. As Professor Earnshaw says, “issues where the reformation legacy can continue.”

“To be reformed is to be always reforming. So, the door is there for our class, to consider… what would we want to nail to the door, what would we want to take a stand for, what are the issues today that matter,” says Earnshaw.

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While she did plan to have a door for students in her class to post discussion points about issues in the church, Professor Earnshaw did not expect to have an event. However, when she asked her students if they would like to do something more for Reformation Day, they said yes.

“This is a great opportunity to try raise awareness in our community, not just for the 13 people [in the class] having this kind of conversation,” says Earnshaw.

Last week, she posted Luther’s 95 Theses, Calvin’s letter to King Francis, a letter to King Philip the second of Spain by Guido De Bres, and the Canons of Dort. The purpose of these postings, Earnshaw says, is to get people to begin making a “historic connection” with the reformers who played important roles in the Reformation.

Students can meet Earnshaw in-between classes to nail discussion points regarding issues as well as raise questions they might have regarding the church. They are also welcome discuss these points on Friday, Nov. 3.

“Let’s meet face-to-face. These things matter, let’s talk about [issues with the church], let’s learn from our heritage,” says Earnshaw.

Sophomore Joshua Dorsett is one student who has already posted his issues with the church, in a work titled “A Call To Repentance, And Reformation.”

“Those are things that I believe we need to really think about,” Dorsett said. “And I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to express that in a way that inspires a discussion. And that what the project is about. Inspiring discussion among students at Dordt.”

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