Adult Summer Series 2017


Some historians argue that October 31, 1517, marks a boundary between the medieval world and the modern world with Martin Luther as its first citizen.

The accepted wisdom of the early sixteenth century was suddenly under attack by a rebellious monk, willing to challenge the authority of the Pope and ecclesiastical norms.  Luther intended to start an argument. Instead, ignited a conflagration.

This summer we take the opportunity to discover the Reformation as it was, as it lives in us and our traditions and the many Reformations that have altered our world.

The Adult Summer Series kicks off on June 4th with Dr. Jonathan Strom, Professor of Church History at Candler School of Theology, Emory University;  The Martin Luther Quincentenary, 500 Years of Reformations.

Classes begin at 9:45 a.m. in the Atrium of the Central Outreach & Advocacy Center.

June 4 | Dr. Jonathan Strom • Myth and Meaning of Luther and the Reformation: 500 Years of Reforming Traditions

There are myths and misperceptions of the Reformation along with an enduring impact that it has made.  Reflections about how Protestants should approach the Quincentenary.  Jonathan Strom is Professor of Church History at Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

June 11David Cozad • Biblical Authority: How Luther (and Calvin) either prevented you from being a fundamentalist, or unwittingly caused you to become one

One of the less obvious aspects of the Reformation was the opposition of Luther and Calvin to the medieval “scholasticism” that had dominated Western Christianity for several hundred years.  Their view of biblical authority, and the way that some of their followers subsequently misappropriated it, laid the groundwork for the debates over the Bible that persist even today.

June 18 | David S. Pacini • Sixteenth-Century Reforming Traditions:  Unravelling the Myth of the Reformation and Counter Reformation  

Although the intense polemics emerging in the unfolding of the Sixteenth Century Reforming Traditions have been popularly cast as “Reformation” and “Counter Reformation,” this construal is profoundly misleading, and reflects a “Protestant bias.”  In this lecture, we will view the dynamics  of the “Reforming traditions” in a different light:  diverse movements of Catholic reform that became skewed, owing to political power disputes between the much feared Hapsburg dynasty and those who opposed them.  David S. Pacini is Professor of Historical Theology at Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

June 25 | Beth Johnson • Luther and the New Testament

The Bible was at the center of the medieval university curriculum — the “Queen of the Sciences” —and Martin Luther was a product of that.  Among his influential works were his commentaries on Romans and Galatians.  We will look at how his study of the New Testament shaped his thought.  Beth Johnson is the J. Davison Philips Professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary.

July 2 | Gary Rowe • The Gutenberg Apotheosis

Is it possible that a new technology created the Reformation, that a localized event swiftly became an international phenomenon?  This session examines the new literacy of print culture and the historical effects on Europe and beyond.  Gary Rowe has a forty-seven year career in media production, both analog and digital, and was media advisor for the American Bible Society in the production of the world’s first multimedia translations.

July 9Jim Auchmutey • “I thought we were going to be crucified”

Jim Auchmutey, author of The Class of ’65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness, tells the story of Koinonia Farm, the religious community where Habitat for Humanity was born, and the persecution it endured when it enlisted in the civil rights movement. The narrative focuses on a Koinonia student at Americus High the year it was forced to desegregate and an unlikely reconciliation with his classmates decades later.  Jim Auchmutey started his career as an editor on the denominational magazine of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and went on to work as a reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years.

July 16 | Vernon Robbins • Ten Ways Martin Luther Changed the New Testament

Popular knowledge says that Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.  But do you know ten ways Luther changed the New Testament?  Come with your list and compare it with the list complied by a person who has spent much of his scholarly life exploring the deep, dark secrets of the New Testament.  Vernon Robbins is Winship Distinguished Research Professor of New Testament and Comparative Sacred Texts in the Humanities, Department and Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University.

July 23 | Ximena Leroux • Martin Luther Made Us Workaholics

Do you know anybody who lives to work instead of working to live? Do you have a friend, child, spouse or sibling who doesn’t believe that good enough is good enough?  In “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” the distinguished social theorist Max Weber claimed that our worrisome drive to always strive for more is an unintended consequence of Lutheran and other Reformed doctrines.  Ximena Leroux is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Emory University.

July 30Paul Zwier • Luther vs Calvin vs Zwingli: The Bible, Authority, and the Sacraments

We will explore the relationship between Luther and Zwingli and Calvin, and then the Scottish Presbyterian, John Knox. Do the differences on Sacraments and church governance matter anymore, or is it time for a Re-Unified Reformed Church?  Does and should the Church be and look different, depending on history, culture, and revelation?

August 6Martin Lehfeldt, Moderator • Desegregation in Atlanta, Georgia, and Elsewhere — Centralites Were There

This panel discussion features members of Central who were involved in some of the events that set in motion changing racial attitudes and behavior patterns.  Martin Lehfeldt, editor of Central’s 150th anniversary book, On Our Way Rejoicing, will moderate.

August 13 | Haruko Ward • Women Reformers

Women were active Reformers even though Luther thought that women were best suited to “sit at home.” Creating various venues, Argula von Grumbach, Marie Dentière, Katharina Schütz Zell and Elizabeth Dirks “preached” the Gospel in their Lutheran, Reformed and Anabaptist contexts while Teresa of Avila, Marie de l’Incarnation, Catarina of Ferão and Naitō Julia pursued diverse contemplative-active “ministries” in Catholic communities in and beyond Europe. Why have we forgotten their stories?

August 20 | Rodney Hunter • Why We Are Protestant: Some Affirmations, and Some      Questions, About Our Liberal Protestant Heritage

The Protestant Reformation changed the face of western Christianity forever.  But today, in modern and postmodern America, it is reasonable to ask whether the powerful religious protests and convictions that sparked the Reformation in late medieval Europe 500 years ago are still pertinent and important, and if so, how.  This session will attempt to sketch a few positive answers to these questions—and raise some deeper personal and pastoral concerns about our particular tradition of liberal Protestantism at Central.  Rod Hunter is retired from teaching pastoral theology at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, and a long time clergy affiliate at Central.  

August 27 | Dave VanderMeer • Music of the Reformation

Worship practices derived from the Reformation continue to point to our future.  Fresh from their return from the Presbyterian Heritage Choir Tour of Scotland celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, a panel of choir members will join Dave in this presentation.  Dave VanderMeer is Director of Music and Fine Arts Ministries at Central.