Compiled by Jalyn Bolyard, Online Editor
History instructor Sandra Czernek was selected to present her research for the National Council for History Education’s annual conference. The event was held in Atlanta, Ga. from March 30 to April 1. Her program was about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, titled “Faith Alone, Grace Alone: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.”
Q: How did you feel when you found out you were selected to present at the National Council for History Education’s annual conference?
A: I was absolutely thrilled when I received notification that my program had been selected. This will be my fourth NCHE conference, and I have always been impressed with the quality of the sessions and the dedication of the attendees. NCHE’s guiding principle is “more history, better taught” – who can argue with that? It was also nice to have something to obsess over during the holiday break!
Q: What first sparked your interest in major world religions?
A: I was raised in the church, and my mother was very devout. One of her favorite Biblical verses was III John 1: 4 – “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” I like to think that I am still trying to do that.
Q: Why did you choose to focus on Martin Luther and the 16th century Protestant Reformation for your research?
A: Historians attach significance to dates. Since 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, it seemed logical to me. When I read the theme for the conference “Histories Seen and Unseen,” I was convinced I was on the right track. Faith is unseen, but look at the consequences of it throughout world history.
Q: Religion constantly shapes history, so how do you think the Martin Luther and his “95 Theses” shaped the world we live in today?
A: The Roman Catholic Church provided the foundation for Western civilization for over a thousand years. Luther’s challenge to the institution that controlled life from cradle to grave took incredible courage. After posting his 95 Theses, Luther provided the modern world with an attitude that we probably take for granted today – that individuals should stand up to authority in matters of conscience. I doubt that any progress could have been made in the world without that attitude.
Q: If people could take away only one lesson from your presentation, what would you hope it would be?
A: One person can make a difference, and you don’t even need to nail anything to a door!