Dr. Robert Duke and other speakers explore the major moment of religious history

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the historic Reformation religious movement. Initiated by Martin Luther, the Reformation is considered to be one of the most important aspects of not only Christian history, but of history in general.

This moment of history was the main focus of the Darling Library event Oct. 14. The event, organized by University Libraries’ Educational Programming and Special Collections, gave visitors an opportunity to look at Reformation-themed artifacts and hear from a college professor about the impact that the Reformation has had on different time periods.

While some of the visitors were teachers searching for ways to interest their students in the Reformation, others were there looking for a new way to look at this famous moment of history. The first part of the event was devoted to the teachers.

David Landers, director of Education and Community Outreach, Special Collections, spent this time explaining how difficult it can be to get students invested in historic events.

“It makes it hard to make that connection,” Landers said, when addressing how students can be bored by the condensed history of the Reformation.

According to Landers, even though this historic event is addressed in textbooks, there are so many more hidden layers within the time period that can be explored further. Landers also suggested that students should be shown primary documents when given the opportunity.

The second part of the event involved exploring the ancient Reformation artifacts that Azusa Pacific University has to offer. This includes the artifacts that are currently on display at the Darling Library Rotunda and the artifacts next to the Ahmanson Technology center. During the event, people were allowed to touch and turn the pages of some of the artifacts, some remained in their glass cases.

Dr. Robert Duke, an APU professor from the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, concluded the event by discussing the significance of Jewish literature in the discussion of the Reformation.

Duke argued that when discussing the Reformation, the Jewish viewpoint is often ignored even though it should be an important part of understanding the nature of this historical moment. He stated that it is necessary to explore every aspect of a noteworthy moment in order to better understand it.

Duke connected this mindset to how many religious people today handle their own spirituality. According to Duke, some Christians today do not actively seek out religion farther than what they find to be necessary. He addressed how young Christians are especially tempted to take a safe and easy route, seeking the bare minimum of exploring spiritual truths and Biblical stories.

“They have this perspective of how far can they go until it gets bad,” Duke said.

Duke said it in reference to young adults, but clarified that it can apply to Christians of all ages. Some Christians only learn from religious history as much as they need to, a mindset that Duke finds to be quite problematic.

He wants to challenge these Christians to learn more, not just about Christianity, but about other religions as well. Instead of exploring the superficial, Duke hoped to encourage people to dig deeper into historic moments like the Reformation.

“In the end, we are told not to worship humans,” Duke said. “What Luther did was great, but there was a lot more going on at the time.”

While this was the major theme of the event, this was not the only topic that Duke discussed. He also addressed the value of Judaism in how it incorporates the Sabbath into a weekly routine.

Duke noted how the religion used the Sabbath as “a celebration of life,” a view that immediately intrigued him. This outlook on the Sabbath greatly opposed how he used to see the Sabbath. Through this viewpoint, he continues to view the Sabbath with a much more positive mindset.

The event encouraged two key elements in spiritual growth: exploration and discussion. This was especially encouraging for Frank Dubisz, the Darling Library systems analyst, who views the Reformation as a single step toward a larger, greater spiritual movement.

“It’s good to challenge some of our doctrines,” Dubisz said. “It’s good to have conversations on the table.”

The next religious discussion event in the Darling Library is scheduled for the Spring 2018 semester.