Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library

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So, There’s This Thing Called the Protestant Reformation…

When most people think of October 31, their vision turns orange and black and thoughts of pumpkins and candy corn dance through their minds. However, what lots of folks don’t know is that it also happens to be the anniversary of one of the most revolutionary events ever to occur in Church history. Four hundred and ninety-six years ago today, one man nailed a list of ninety-five theological statements on a door, and the world has never been the same.

The inside of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church), upon whose door Luther nailed his 95 Theses.

The inside of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church), upon whose door Luther nailed his 95 Theses.

Martin Luther, the fellow who kicked open this particular theological hornets’ nest, was born in 1483 in Eisleben, a mid-sized town in what today is central Germany. Hans, his father, originally intended for him to become a lawyer — but after a near-death experience in 1505, Martin drastically changed trajectory and took monastic vows. (Not surprisingly, his father was furious.) Over the course of the next decade and a half, Luther threw himself headfirst into trying to be the best monk he could be — but he could never quite shake the feeling that what he was doing wasn’t enough to purge the sin that constantly plagued him. The more stringent he made his personal discipline, the more feelings of despair at his own wretchedness threatened to undo him.

During this time he was ordained as a priest and began teaching theology at the University of Wittenberg and preaching at the City Church. As he studied and lectured on Psalms, Hebrews, Romans, and Galatians, Luther came to a startling conclusion: righteousness doesn’t come from what we humans do. He read Romans 1:17, “The righteous shall live by faith,” in a new light — rather than trying to earn our way to God by jumping through the right hoops, we are given the wonderful gift of God’s righteousness when we put our trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Martin Luther, this realization was nothing short of revolutionary: in the blink of an eye, God went from exacting tyrant to loving father.

An artistic rendering of Luther defending his theology at the Diet of Worms.

An artistic rendering of Luther defending his theology at the Diet of Worms.

Luther yearned to share the wonderful discovery he had made, but there was only one problem: it flew in the face of the commonly accepted doctrine of the time. Instead of Luther’s “righteousness through faith,” the Catholic Church held to the notion of purgatory, a “proving ground” where individuals went after they died in order to work through/off the sins they had committed during their lifetime. What was particularly dismaying to Luther, however, was the fact that certain authority figures within the Catholic hierarchy were abusing that doctrine in order to swindle the poor. Priests like Johann Tetzel traveled across the European countryside, guilting the already penniless peasants into spending outrageous sums of money on indulgences (in short, papal “Get out of Purgatory Free” cards) for themselves and their dead family members. So, for Luther, not only were these church leaders spouting incorrect doctrine, but they were doing so at the expense of the “least of these.”

Luther had enough — and so on October 31, 1517 he nailed 95 Theses (statements of belief) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, proclaiming that he’d be willing to discuss these ideas with anybody who’d be interested in doing so. And were the people interested! Luther gained such a following that he quickly found himself between the cross-hairs of the Catholic Church. Even though he was repeatedly threatened and persecuted, Luther stood by his views — and was eventually excommunicated (kicked out of the church, and basically theologically condemned) by Pope Leo X in 1521. But that wasn’t his only problem; after his trial at the Diet of Worms, Luther had a price put on his head. He was forced to hide out at Wartburg Castle for almost a year before it was safe for him to show his face in public again. (His time wasn’t wasted, though; during that time he translated the New Testament into German — the language of the common people around him — for the first time.)

The converted monastery that served as the Luther family's house in Wittenberg.

The converted monastery that served as the Luther family’s house in Wittenberg.

After Luther came out of hiding, he returned to his teaching post at the University of Wittenberg, where he was a beloved professor. In addition to his pastoral and professorial duties, he and his wife Katharina von Bora (an ex-nun) ran a boarding house and brewery out of their home, which ironically was a converted monastery. He wrote prolifically, and inspired countless students and fellow faculty members to grow in their faith and love of the God who gave them the free gift of righteousness.

So, if you’re not one who particularly cares to celebrate that other holiday, I highly recommend this as an alternate. (To be honest, I like this one even better.) Happy Reformation Day!

(All the pictures in this post are mine; I took them during my trip to Wittenberg in the summer of 2011.)


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Book Displays: Latino Heritage Festival Week

This week is Latino Heritage Festival Week here at TIU! We are celebrating with events, guest speakers and many other celebratory and educational experiences.

The featured chapel speaker for Latino Heritage Festival Week is Pastor Orlando Crespo, the national director of InterVarsity Latino Fellowship and the author of Being Latino in Christ: Finding Wholeness in Your Ethnic Identity.

Check out our display here at Rolfing highlighting resources in honor of Latino Heritage Festival Week! Here are just a few of the many books and media items we have available:

Being Latino in Christ: finding wholeness in your ethnic identity Building bridges, doing justice : constructing a Latino/a ecumenical theology In our own voices : Latino/a renditions of theology Los evangélicos : portraits of Latino Protestantism in the United States


How will you celebrate Latino Heritage Festival Week?

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October is Theological Libraries Month!

The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) annually promotes Theological Libraries Month (TLM) in October. The goal is to highlight and advance the importance and value of theological libraries, the services they provide, and the library staff’s behind-the-scenes work to ensure that you have all the resources you need to do incredible research. In honor of the annual event, here are some important highlights about Rolfing Memorial Library.

2013-TLM-LogoThere are more than 166,000 volumes in circulation at our library! That’s a lot of books! But even if you can’t find what you need, fear not. Through I-Share, you have access to 82 other libraries in Illinois. Did you check to see if the book you need is available as an e-book? Rolfing Library has three e-book collections. Another important resource for all the aspiring scholars here on campus is access to scholarly journals. You can access more than 70 article databases which include more than 30,000 online journals at the Article Databases tab on the library website. Did you know that you can also find Dissertations, Theses, and DMin Projects that have been completed here at Trinity? You can search them online or find them on the back wall shelf behind the Main Collection A-BS on the main level.

Such a vast array of resources can be daunting or confusing to navigate. This is where the library staff here can really help you. When it comes to locating books in TrinCat (or the shelf where those books live), searching online article databases, or any number of other questions that I’ve had myself, seek guidance at the library’s Reference Desk or the library website (which boasts resources like Library Tutorials and Citation Help). And if you weren’t able to take advantage of the Research Workshops this Fall, be sure to attend one when they come around next!

Rolfing Library brings a wealth of research tools and resources directly to you, and the library staff is always working hard to ensure that never changes. On your next visit to the library, or if you’re like me and camp out here several times a week, perhaps take a minute to thank the library staff for all that they do to bring these resources to the Trinity community. Leave a comment below, or on the library’s Facebook. You can even Tweet it @TIUlibrary!

Happy Theological Libraries Month!

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Book Displays: Liturgical Worship


Liturgy. Even the word can cause fear and disapproval in some evangelical circles. Visions of rote readings, unenthusiastic congregants, and inhibition of the Spirit come to many minds when the topic of liturgy in worship is brought up.

I grew up in a traditional church where liturgy was a staple of our Sunday morning diet. There was something so powerful about publicly declaring what we believed as a community. Even as a child, it was clear to me that church was not only for watching, but for participating. Liturgy has the power to join us with Christians all over the world and throughout history. It gives us all a chance to participate in worshiping God as a community.

Liturgy has played a significant role in lives of Christians for centuries. Throughout history Christ’s followers have incorporated historical prayers, creeds, and songs into their worship experiences. But, the temptation to give into stale recitation without allowing the Spirit to saturate one’s heart will always be present.

This month, TIU had the privilege of hosting the Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology, featuring
Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff of Yale University. His series of seven lectures was entitled “The God We Worship: A Liturgical Theology.” Throughout the month of October, Rolfing is featuring a book display on the same topic.

Did you attend the Kantzer Lectures? What were your reactions to the material?

What do you believe is the role of liturgy in the church today?