October 31, 2017. No, candy was not the priority for me (though I did enjoy 50% off on Snickers the next week, which is the best part of Halloween). The importance of that date was that 500 years had drifted by since Martin Luther stood against the tradition of millions. Yet, I felt like I was the only one who noticed.
Thousands died for what he taught. Schools, hospitals, churches and movements were raised and torn down because of his teachings. In many ways, the church I would preach in only days later was bathed in the thoughts that sprang from that fateful day. But my friends and family were unaware…undisturbed…uninterested.
I’m thankful that some people did notice and were moved by the Holy Spirit. Other pastors and elders in the Iowa-Missouri conference felt an urge to revive the powerful teachings of the Protestant Reformation. A discussion at a pastor’s meeting over this topic led to debates, study, insight and prayer. There were two outcomes from our discussion:
- Our church is built on the principles that Luther, Hus, Wesley and others found in Scripture centuries ago.
- Our church has, at times, forgotten these principles and has also, in some cases, lost the confidence in Christ these truths provide.
“What can we do?” some pastors asked. “We could write a book.”
“No, we need something more practical,” others said. One pastor suggested we write songs about the teachings, and another wrote a poem on one of the subjects. Although many ideas were shared, we realized we needed something accessible to church members. It needed to be modern, useful and within our initial budget of zero dollars. Not an easy goal, but through prayer, research and determination, a powerful tool for any local church was created: Protestant University.
Protestant University seeks to remind Seventh-day Adventists of the biblical Protestant foundation of their beliefs and discusses real-life application of those concepts in the modern world. The first stage of this school consists of five videos which cover the central pillars of the Reformation. The lecture-style videos are designed to be deeply informative and a guide to discussion. With an average length of 30 minutes, each video has built-in discussion times, which are supplemented by the accompanying handouts—all of which are available for free on the conference website (see below). Elders, pastors or any church member can use the Pillars of The Protest to lead a small group discussion, whether at home or at the church.
Concurrently, the Protestant University team is also developing two additional forms of media. The first is a Table Talk series that deals directly with very practical matters of church life. In these videos, church leaders and members discuss different topics using Protestant principles as a guide on how to function in the home and the church. The second involves a series of podcasts encompassing an array of topics including music, history and unique Adventist teachings such as the sanctuary beliefs. Easily accessible on podcast forums and YouTube, the Protestant University Podcast guests share their specialized insight into topics important to the Adventist listener.
Protestant University is designed to bring us back to the basics of biblical truth as they are in Christ. Its goal is to teach us how to apply Protestant principles in a Seventh-day Adventist context. Let me only suggest that you start by experiencing these resources with your church family and friends and experience the blessing of learning, sharing and living Protestant values.
To access these free resources, go to: https://imsda.org/protestant-university/
If you have any questions or comments, please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Hester pastors the Waterloo and Hawkeye (Iowa) churches and is a team member of Protestant University.