Liberty celebrates 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

  • Multiple schools at Liberty come together for a coordinated anniversary celebration of the Protestant Reformation in September.
  • Speakers discuss the Reformation’s impact and lessons it has for modern-day Christians.

Liberty University welcomed some of the country’s most well-known Christian historians and teachers to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this September.

Oct. 31 marks the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther posting the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, which began what would be known as the Protestant Reformation.

Liberty hosted the Legacy of the Reformation Conference Sept. 28-29 where the Reformation was celebrated and studied with students and guest lecturers.

Theology and apologetics major Kristian Tonnesen said the reformation teaches Protestant Christians a valuable lesson about the truth of scripture.

“I think Luther is an inspiration for Christians to stand up for what the Bible says rather than common beliefs of the day or what the church itself may say,” Tonnesen said.

The celebration started in the school of music concert hall Thursday afternoon where music students sang Reformation-themed hymns including “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” which was written by Martin Luther.

Some of the events included breakout sessions in the Jerry Falwell Library and DeMoss Hall where Liberty students would present academic papers on the Reformation as well as four sessions in the Science Hall with guest speakers presenting lectures about the Reformation.

Guest speakers included Paige Patterson, Carl Trueman, John Woodbrige and Timothy George.

Tonnesen said he attended the lecture led by Timothy George, the dean of divinity history and doctrine at Beeson Divinity School, where he spoke on “Luther and the Theological Conviction of the Reformation.”

“I enjoyed the session that I attended because Mr. George offered a lot of great points about the Reformation and also offered ways to apply it to our generation today,” Tonnesen said.

Tonnesen said he is thankful for having the opportunity to hear from such quality speakers and learn about church and doctrinal history.

“I think it is important for people to become familiar with the Reformation and how important it is, and I think I would summarize the importance of the Reformation as giving Protestants a sincere devotion to following what the Bible says,” Tonnesen said.

Ben Forrest, associate dean of the college of general studies, helped organize the conference.

Forrest said the conference has been in the works for over a year and involved collaboration with faculty and staff from multiple schools at Liberty.  The schools include the Rawlings School of Divinity, the Department of History, the School of Music and the College of General Studies.

According to Forrest, one of the main goals of the conference was to bring in speakers who would inform and empower students.

“We wanted to bring in faithful and reliable speakers who could teach the students well, who then can teach their peers,” Forrest said.  “I think it is important for students to hear from people who have committed their lives to studying the Word of God.”

Tonnesen said the conference was accessible for all students and not just Bible and divinity students.

“I think the event might even be more important for those who don’t have an understanding or background on the Reformation because they will be able to better understand where we are now after learning where we come from,” Tonnesen said.

He added that just because the celebration has ended, it does not mean students should stop learning about this monumental moment in the Protestant faith.

“I would want to encourage people to not stop reading and learning about these types of things once the celebration is over, but to try to continue to develop a strong understanding of the history of our faith,” Tonnesen said.






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