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Reformation Day Lectures 2018, A Summary

Story by Suzannah Guthmann '20 and Sarah Dreher '21


On October 29th and 30th, Jemar Tisby came to Covenant’s campus to present the annual Reformation Day lectures. Tisby is currently a PhD student of history at the University of Mississippi. His book, The Color of Compromise, will be released in January 2019. For this year’s Reformation Day lectures, Tisby centered his talks on the history of the Presbyterian Church, specifically on the difficult history of the church’s interaction with slavery, the civil rights movement, and racial injustice.


During his Monday morning chapel, Tisby dove into the history of the denomination, including the owning of African persons by Jonathan Edwards (of the Reformed tradition) and the staunch support of the Confederate States by Robert Lewis Dabney. Tisby urged students to grieve the past injustices of the Presbyterian church in order to create a better future. He said, “I would argue that apathy is an injustice.”


Tisby spoke on Monday afternoon about the reality of what racism is, saying, “Racism is a denial that all have been made in the image of God.” He made clear that all of humanity is together in the image of God and together reflects God’s diversity. As image bearers, all are responsible to carry the burden to fight for justice.


To close the series, Tisby spoke on Tuesday morning about the “What next?” of the lecture series. Tisby said, “When you signed up to follow Jesus, you signed up to fight for justice.” He refused to allay the uncomfortable feelings that were aroused by the talk, saying that as a culture, we too quickly move away from pain, which sabotages an effort to bring real justice.


Quoting Tisby, “We need not a word of comfort, but a word of woe. [...] Being comfortable and fighting for justice are mutually exclusive.”


It was a privilege to have Jemar Tisby on campus, as he truly represented through his Reformation Day series what it means to have a heart for Christ and love those made in His image.