Published October 24, 2017
Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. From October 31 through November 2, 2017, Clarks Summit University will celebrate the 500th anniversary of this act with a Reformation Week chapel series, focusing on the significance and impact of the Protestant Reformation.
“Martin Luther’s willingness to speak the truth—salvation is in Christ alone, by God’s grace alone, through faith alone—shaped much of the last 500 years of history,” explains Dr. Jim Lytle, CSU president. “This anniversary is significant theologically and historically, and we want to bring attention to that.”
This three-part series will feature special speakers during chapel on the South Abington Twp. campus of CSU, which will also be streamed live via the university’s Facebook page, beginning at 10:05 a.m. each day. Each session brings a different perspective on the anniversary. Lytle explains, “As an exceptionally articulate theologian, Dr. Gardoski will develop the theology of Luther’s assertions. Miss Cagley’s historical expertise will reveal Luther as a truth speaker and theologian at an intriguing intersection of historical events. Pastor David Cunningham will open the Word to demonstrate how Luther’s understanding of Biblical truth is a timeless gift to the church.”
Session 1: Significance and Solas, October 31, 2017
Dr. Ken Gardoski opens the series by covering the significance of Martin Luther’s thesis and the Five Solas, which are Latin phrases that pinpoint the Reformers’ theological stance: Sola Fide (by faith alone), Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Solus Christus (through Christ alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory).
Gardoski is assistant director of Ph.D. studies and associate professor of systematic theology at Baptist Bible Seminary. He is passionate about the Reformation and its outcomes. “The Reformation dealt with the most important topic there is,” he notes, “the very nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ itself.” Through his opening session, he hopes to give the audience, “a clear understanding of the gospel and a passion to embrace it and make it known.”
Session 2: History of Martin Luther, November 1, 2017
Susan Cagley is associate professor and Social Studies Education advisor whose fascination with Martin Luther deepened when she memorized his defense before the Diet of Worms for a college speech assignment. Her favorite time period to study is the Renaissance and Reformation, and some of her favorite master’s degree research was related to the wives and families of the Reformers.
She explains, “Many of the things I enjoy today as a woman came as a result of the Protestant Reformation. As a group of Protestants, we exist because of Luther’s stand against the established church.” As a musician and educator, she especially appreciates Luther’s emphasis on education for everyone, especially the study of the Word of God in a person’s own language, as well as his decision to bring congregational singing back to the church.
She explains her goals for the session, “I hope they’re encouraged to study other heroes of the faith, to face courageously God’s path for them, to study God’s word for themselves and allow it to transform their lives.”
Session 3: The Reformation & the Church Today, November 2, 2017
Pastor Dave Cunningham (’85) will present the final session, covering the impact of the Reformation on the Church today. He is lead pastor at GraceLife Church in Annville, Pennsylvania, and founder, president and CEO of Sports4Him, a sports ministry that assists local churches in reaching athletes and lovers of sport with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Cunningham is looking forward to sharing “why our theology matters as we live out our lives each and every day for Christ.” He continues, “The Word of God is alive and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. It is our source book for life. It is the only book inspired by God. When I was at CSU as a student, I never wanted to look at my Bible as just another textbook. With all of that in mind, my hope is to challenge and inspire the students to know more of Christ and to live out what we believe.”
Lytle hopes listeners gain “an appreciation for the clarity of the Bible’s teaching, the depth of God’s grace in Christ and the power of one person’s assertion that Biblical truth must prevail over religion, opinion or tradition.” The chapel sessions will stream live at Facebook.com/ClarksSummitU beginning at 10:05 a.m. daily.