About Rethink Reformation 2017

2017 is the official 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. It is also the year in which Aarhus is to be the European Capital of Culture (EcoC), under the general theme of Rethink. What is more, the years leading into 2017 have seen significant global and regional challenges and, not least, a growing distrust in the European project and the very ideas of a unified Europe and international conventions and obligations. Religious conflicts, migration, economic crises and climate change are all issues that have posed with renewed urgency questions of the future of our shared life on this earth.

These historical constellations provide a unique opportunity not only to celebrate and commemorate, but also to critically review the legacy of the Reformation, retool the vision of the European past and future, and reconsider in this light the basic conditions of human existence. On this occasion Aarhus University organizes an international conference that reflects on 500 years of European history raising the questions of what the historical event of the reformation means for European societies today and what new reformations the continent requires now.

The engagement with the Reformation is purposefully broadly conceived. Clearly, the reformation did not die with Luther, but is still alive and kicking. The conference thus reflects the ongoing theological, philosophical, sociological and political repercussions of the Lutheran Reformation and, more specifically, it seeks to problematize and rethink its strikingly two-sided legacy: Historically situated at the divide between the Middle Ages and Modernity, the Reformation both sacralized and secularized Europe. Likewise, it both preserved the hierarchical structures of society and propagated ideas of freedom and equality that had, and still have, a decisive impact on how Europeans relate to themselves, to God, and the world at large.

The conference explores these issues throughout three days in three thematic blocks; the first day is devoted to theological and philosophical questions concerning the statuses of human, God and world, the second day focusses on sociological and political theoretical questions concerning Reformation and Modernity and the relationships between values and community. The third day reconsiders in light of current exigencies the history of European identities with special attention to the roles of Europe’s Others.

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