LSU conference to look at Protestant Reformation

On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, beginning the Protestant Reformation and effectively changing the religious world forever.

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation just a few years away, a conference looking back at the difference it has made will kickoff with a dinner Thursday and conference session on Friday LSU’s Business Education Complex in Baton Rouge.

The event organizers are R500, Loyola’s Center for Spiritual Capital and the Institute for Faith and the Public Square.

R500 is a group of leaders from industry, faith and academia who are uniting to plan for the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation.

“The Protestant Reformation is recognized as one of the most transformational events in world history,” R500 Director Charles Davis said. “It forever altered the structure of society and directly impacted the founding of the United States of American.”

The speakers at the conference include Dave Wardell, co-founder of Promise Keepers; Ellis Sandoz, professor of Political Science at LSU and director of the Eric Voegelin Institute for American Renaissance Studies; Nick Capaldi, director of Loyola’s Center for Spiritual Capital and author of “American’s Spiritual Capital”; Lloyd Harsch, director of the Institute for Faith and the Public Square; and Joyce Burges, the founder of National Black Home Educators.

“They are each important for different reasons,” Davis said. “Dr. Wardell co-founded one of the largest Christian ministries in the country. Ellis Sandoz is an expert in history of church and the effects of the Reformation.”

The conference held as part of the planning process for the 2017 celebration and commemoration of the Reformation anniversary.

Davis said he hopes other organizations around the country will plan their own events.

“Five hundred years later, a lot of people have forgotten what it’s about,” he said. “It’s radically changed man’s relationship with God and with the state. This is an opportunity for busy Americans to pause and reflect on serious matters of liberty and faith … It was 500 years ago, so no one is really mad or emotionally upset anymore.”

This is a good opportunity for many denominations to get together, talk and realize that “there is more that unites them than divides them,” Davis said, adding it is also an opportunity to pause and reflect on fundamental questions about faith, philosophy and liberty.

There will be panel conversations, brief lectures and round tables at the conference. Participants will include Catholics and Protestants, he said.

“The main purpose is to get a lot of smart people in the room together and get them to know each other and talk about how to move this forward in the next four years,” Davis said. “South Louisiana is a good place to kick this off because we have such a strong faith here.