Gordon in the News: last updated 11/12/2013

Gordon Awarded Templeton Grant to Prepare for 500th Anniversary of Protestant Reformation

June 1, 2012

Media Contact
Jo Kadlecek, Senior Writer

WENHAM, MA—With the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation approaching in 2017, the Center for Faith and Inquiry (CFI) at Gordon College has been awarded a generous grant in preparation through the John Templeton Foundation’s Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs (RIHA) Program, administered by The Historical Society.

Among various initiatives and publications, the project entitled, “Protestantism? Reflections in Advance of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: 1517–2017,” will bring a conference of international scope to the Gordon campus in the fall of 2013.

“The upcoming anniversary of the Reformation focuses the mind to think about the broader historical significance of Protestantism,” said Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard, director of the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College and one of the project’s directors. “Whether one counts oneself Protestant or not, religious or not, all can agree that the Reformation has had an extraordinary impact on the shaping of modern history. We are very pleased to have received this grant, which allows us to explore that impact in important ways.”

Howard, who is also the Stephen Phillips Chair of History at Gordon and author most recently of God and The Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide, joins Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, as co-directors of the project.

“I am eagerly anticipating work on this project. The conference planned for Gordon College will be the highlight of this enterprise,” said Noll, who recently authored Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction. “The College’s robust commitments to faith and academic excellence as well as its proximity to Boston—the cradle of American Protestantism—make it a fitting host for the conference as well as the project itself.”

The grant will allow Howard and Noll to edit a book with the same title: Protestantism? Reflections in Advance of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Other new publications will also include a book by Howard entitled The Pope and the Scholar, and a book by Noll on the Western and global “career” of one of the Reformation’s most consequential ideas, sola scriptura, entitled Protestantism’s Revolutionary Idea: Sola Scriptura and the Chaotic Coherence of Protestant History.

The quincentennial of the Protestant Reformation in 2017 will bring into public view longstanding scholarly debates, interpretations and their revisions, as well as lingering confessional animosities and more recent ecumenical overtures. For Western Christianity, a moment of historical recollection of this scale has not occurred in recent memory.

“With an eye on the approaching milestone, this project aims to undertake a fundamental inquiry into the historical significance of Protestantism,” Howard said. “It’ll allow us to explore its trajectories of influence and their relationship to forces of social innovation, political development and religious change in the modern West and across the globe."

For more information on the conference or the project, please contact, Debbie Drost at the Center for Christian Studies ccs@gordon.edu

Located on Boston’s North Shore, Gordon is one of the nation’s premier Christian colleges, offering majors in 38 fields with graduate programs in education and music education. Gordon is strategically located on the Eastern Seaboard—just 20 miles from Boston, and a few hours away from the financial and political capitals of the Western world (New York and Washington, D.C.)—providing students with extraordinary access to leading-edge learning and professional opportunities. We set ourselves apart from the many outstanding institutions of higher learning in New England by combining first-rate training in the liberal arts and sciences with an informed Christian faith.