Come enjoy Baptist Theological Seminary of Richmond professor of ethics and theology Beth Newman’s personal stories. They are interwoven with a theme of ‘unity in the Church’ because today is the 499th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. As a Baptist professor at St. Mary’s Catholic College in Indiana Dr. Newman truly lived a 12 year struggle embodied in a special participation in The Lord’s Supper during her last baccalaureate mass. How would this Protestant be received by her Catholic students and the Bishop when she went forward during communion? Is this her biggest blunder story or her happiest ministry moment story? We’ll let her tell her own stories on the podcast.
I imagine that when people spent time with Jesus they often didn’t realize the extent of the wisdom he had shared with them until afterwards. They may not have realized the themes that kept coming up, the number of ways he kept driving something home. How many different times do we need to hear something before we get it? How many different ways does it need to be delivered? How many messengers must be sent? I had the luxury of hearing this episode several times in my editing. I recommend listening to Dr. Newman’s episode multiple times; it does not need to be back to back listening but there is a depth in the theme that recurs that takes time to get into our brains and bones.
There is a lot about truth and unity in this episode, not necessarily in the number of times each word was used but in the bones of all the stories shared and the history referenced. There is also a great deal to consider about the Church and how it reflects humanity and humanity’s relationships, with one another and with the Divine. The Church of Jesus Christ is divided. Whether you are a Christian or not, it seems true on the surface. And yet how can Jesus be divided from Himself? But the Trinity is a division of self, is it not? No, it is not. Perplexed yet? It’s okay to live with questions and the “living with” need not be too painful or too quickly moved from.
Indulgences are positively harmful to the recipient because they impede salvation by diverting charity and inducing a false sense of security. Christians should be taught that he who gives to the poor is better than he who receives a pardon. he who spends money on indulgences instead of relieving want receives not the indulgence of the pope but the indignation of God. – Martin Luther
As you consider the Church divided/united in this podcast episode there are some next stops I suggest for the ongoing conversation. There was great havoc that raged throughout Europe and the world related to how Christianity should be manifest on Earth. In 499 years we only began to see peace and reconciliation as late as the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s (when my brother was born)! Every kind of change has taken courageous, even rebellious, leaders. Dr. Newman provided a link below to The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Luther World Federation and the Catholic Church. There is also an NPR report about Pope Francis traveling to Sweden to commemorate this occasion embedded here and linked below.
You can see a full list of Dr. Newman’s publications through the BTSR link below. She is currently working on a book titled Divine Abundance: Leisure, the Basis of Academic Culture. Another book, Attending the Wounds on Christ’s Body: Teresa’s Scriptural Vision (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2012) is especially relevant to the Reformation since Teresa live in the 16th century. Teresa was Catholic and remained so, but was also a reformer for the whole church. Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God and Other Strangers (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007) is Dr. Newman’s popular first book which is always relevant.
The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Luther World Federation and the Catholic Church
Attending the Wounds on Christ’s Body: Teresa’s Scriptural Vision by Elizabeth Newman
Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God & Other Strangers by Elizabeth Newman
Divine Abundance: Leisure, the Basis of Academic Culture by Elizabeth Newman (forthcoming)