It is hard to imagine that something that happened 500 years ago could still influence world events today, but that is exactly what many historians, political scientists and religious studies scholars argue when it comes to the Protestant Reformation.
And that is the question at the heart of a panel discussion that Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict will host from to 6 p.m.
It helps us to see how technology can change our ideas of what it means to be human: for example, the shift in the locus of religious authority from the church to the Bible and from there to the inner drama of the reading subject would never have happened without the invention of the printing press.
That one could presumably know the divine will without recourse to institutions, that one could decide on the nature and intensity of one’s own religious life — these were answers that were supplied over centuries of fighting over the questions and sorting through other possible answers. Over the two days of the Quiz Bowl, the squad competed in eight matches, answering wildlife science trivia that ran the gamut from statistics, current events, and conservation policies to the biology, taxonomy and ecology of mammals, fish, birds, herps, invertebrates, and plants.
A momentous consequence of shifting the locus of religious authority from the church to the Bible was that it empowered the reading subject, the individual, to discern the divine will and the answers to the big questions — and to do so with or against institutional guidance.
The legacy of the Reformation is massive, complicated and mixed — not all good or all bad, but very powerfully formative.That made one’s experience of reading of the Bible the path to knowing the divine will.The hope of the original reformers was that this would put an end to religious corruption and disputes over authority by settling the question of where truth resides: sola scriptura, only in the word of God.But the idea that we have an interior life that matters that much is very much a Reformation product.Q: What can we understand about religion and conflict in the world today from studying the Protestant Reformation?A: As Americans, the Protestant understanding that religion is primarily a matter of belief, and that we are free to believe or not as we wish, is something a majority agree on and take for granted. Most of us, if we thought about it, might say that leaving religious belief up to the individual acknowledges the equality of individuals and protects us equally in our choice of whether and how to practice religion.But not all religions center on belief, and not all religious practice involves solitary reading and reflection.But the Muslim woman would argue that she doesn’t wear a headscarf at home but only in public. Q: How can the Reformation help us think about peace? I think the Reformation is an essential part of our history, and understanding it helps us understand our history.It helps us to see how some things we simply take for granted were bitterly contested and fought over.It has affected all parts of our society, religious or not.Q: What did a religious revolution have to do with political and social change?