Back in the 1970s, my 6th grade teacher asked a new type of question that changed my world of learning. Instead of asking questions I could figure out quickly by using a set formula or strategy or by pestering teachers for the “right” answer, Mr. Yoshikawa read moral vignettes to our class and asked what we would do. Our class debates often ended in a split decision. It was liberating and scary. We had to find our own thinking and voice. I started reading for myself, getting better grades, and reading the Bible more intensely even though Mr. Yoshikawa was a public school teacher with Buddhist sympathies. I would later be baptized and become an Adventist teacher with a 30+ year career in ethics, thanks in part to Mr. Yoshikawa helping me find my voice and search for truth.
What Mr. Yoshikawa did for me, Martin Luther did for the whole world of spirituality. He challenged us to find better sources of authority, and to speak out against abuse. His focus on conscience and the Scriptures encouraged the growth of religious liberty.
As Adventist educators we can become involved in the 500 years celebration of Luther’s Protest (1517-2017) and use it to get our students passionate about reforming, and to get ourselves deeper in our own spirituality.
Ways to Get Involved
Connect with the context
Consider taking a study tour or making your own trip to the sites of the Reformation, or taking some of your students to Europe for a fall study tour. For local options, consider tours or events at nearby Protestant colleges.
Prepare your school/community
Talk to colleagues and pastors about a shared Reformation theme. Come up with a slogan related to Protest, and blend sermon themes with curricular goals. Take up a local community issue—defending a marginalized group, articulating a truth buried by tradition or practice, or just helping people find their own voices.
Prepare your classroom
Online or local Christian bookstores have posters, materials, or ideas for creative decorations. How about an old church door housed in the back where students can nail up protests or “truths” they discover this year about God?
Scan available curriculum, such as the Concordia web page to figure out ways to integrate the Reformation into your subject or grade level. For example, the lower grades could do simple art projects, while older students could focus on changes in art and music during the 15-16th century because of the Reformation.
Expand Your Understanding Through Readings
- Ellen White’s classic The Great Controversy still provides the best single place for a spiritual history of the reformation.
- Nick Miller’s two books apply Reformation themes to our lives as Adventists. The Reformation and the Remnant connects current Adventist issues to themes of the Reformation. 500 Years of Protest and Liberty shows the progression of religious liberty from Reformation and to today.
- The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction tends toward cynicism, but provides a fast introduction.
- For a broader view, Ryrie’s Protestants is a very helpful overview of Protestantism.
Note: Article written and posted in English