Hanover College will host a free symposium to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.” “The Lutheran Reformation: 500 Years Later,” scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 31, will explore the importance and consequences of the historic document.

Martin Luther statue in Wittenberg, Germany

Luther was an Augustinian monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg, Germany. On All Hallows Eve, Oct. 31, 1517, he posted a list of 95 criticisms of the Catholic Church and its penitential practices and teachings on the doors of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. He also sent the criticisms to his bishop, Albert of Brandenburg, who, believing them to be heretical, forwarded the document to the pope.

Although intended to start an academic discussion, Luther’s “Disputation on the Power of Indulgences,” commonly known as “95 Theses,” shook the foundation of medieval Catholicism and launched the Protestant Reformation.

Recognized by historians as one of the historic events to mark the beginning of the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity, Luther’s criticisms had a profound social and political effect on Europe, and later, the world.

In addition to reforming Catholic liturgical practices and theology, the ensuing Protestant and Catholic Reformations spawned religious wars for the next century and resulted in the political-religious division of Europe into absolute monarchies supported by state religions. The Reformation era also witnessed wide-ranging debates and transformations in married life, gender relations and political and economic theory, as well as the promotion of human rights and mass literacy.

“The Lutheran Reformation: 500 Years Later” will feature discussions and presentations from professors, independent scholars, clergy and students on topics related to the Lutheran Reformation and its impact. The symposium will be held from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Science Center, followed in the evening by the Cornelius and Anna Cook O’Brien Lecture.

Rev. Catherine Knott, Hanover’s chaplain, will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon. Knott will examine Luther’s influence on John Calvin, the famed French theologian and reformer who also heavily influenced Presbyterians.

John Roth, a professor of history and director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism at Goshen College, will present Hanover’s O’Brien Lecture. Roth’s address, “The Importance of Luther’s 95 Theses,” will begin at 7 p.m. in Fitzgibbon Recital Hall, Lynn Center for Fine Arts.

In addition to varied presentations, a collection of rare, 16th-century Luther-related publications will be on display in the Duggan Library’s Joseph Wood Evans Memorial Special Collections and Archives Center.

Through the support of donors, all events are free and open to the public. Lunch and dinner will be offered free of charge to all symposium registrants. Advance registration is requested. (Luther 500th Registration Form)

For information or to register, contact Michael Raley, assistant professor of history and chair of Hanover’s history department, at raleyjm@hanover.edu or (812) 866-7205.

Schedule of Events

  • 8:00-8:45 a.m.: Registration – Classic Hall
  • 9:00-9:30 a.m.: Science Center 137: Welcome by Professor Michael Raley and Address by President Lambert
  • 9:30-10:30: Science Center 137: Session I
  • 10:45-11:45 a.m.: Duggan Library Archives: Address by Professor Miriam Pittinger on the Luther Scholarship of Her Father, Professor Jaroslav Pelikan, and Viewing of the Remnant Trust Luther Rare Book Exhibit
  • 12:00 Noon: Posting of the Ninety-Five Theses, Hanover College Chapel
  • 12:15-1:30 p.m.: Brown Campus Center Faculty Dining Room: Luncheon, Rev. Catherine Knott, Keynote Speaker
  • 1:45-2:45 p.m.: Science Center 137: Session II
  • 3:00-4:45 p.m.: Science Center 136 & 137: Student Presentations
  • 5:00 p.m.: President’s Home: Symposium Dinner (Advance Registrants OnlyDeadline 10/27/2017)
  • 7:00 p.m.: Recital Hall: O’Brien Lecture: Professor John D. Roth, Goshen College, Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism