Dr. Carl E. Zylstra Presents First Reformation Day Lecture

October 9, 2017

“What do a beer truck, an ambulance, a garbage truck, and a monument to women’s liberation have to do with the Reformation?” Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, who served as Interim President of Kuyper College from January 1 through October 11, 2017, posed this question at the beginning of his lecture entitled “The Socio-Economic Impact of the Reformation”, given on October 5, 2017.

In his presentation, Dr. Zylstra detailed how the societally transformational way of thinking fueled by the Reformation still has a discernable impact 500 years later.

The presence of an ambulance in Dr. Zylstra’s imagery referenced the formation of The Red Cross, which came out of the reformation way of thinking arguing that there is a civic duty for mercy—both to those who are believers and those who are not. A communal perspective and care for one another regardless of socio-economic position make up the heart of Reformation thinking.

Using the image of a garbage truck, Dr. Zylstra described how reformed thinking on the sovereignty of God in every sphere compelled believers to begin to care about the sanitation of the commons, advocating that where the poor lived needed to be as clean and healthy as where the wealthy lived. Eventually, a Dutch man who immigrated to Chicago would begin what is now one of the world’s largest waste removal companies, driven by that same reformation philosophy.

The monument of Katharina von Bora, Martin Luther’s wife, depicts her as a role model of leadership, character, and faith, and gives a glimpse into Luther’s theology of the priesthood of all believers, in which he firmly advocated for the education of all believers, including women.

Dr. Zylstra closed with a story about a beer truck he happened upon while in Germany, which featured Calvin’s name and face as its logo. He noted how the reformation made the Bible an accessible tool for everyday purposes, not just a power tool for the elite, and concluded by emphasizing how a reformation mindset helps to transform everyday activities into acts of worship as guided by Scripture.

The remaining lectures in Kuyper College’s Reformation Series will be given by Dr. Jeff Fisher on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 and Dr. Lyle Bierma on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 7pm in the Vos Chapel.