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Public Lecture

Liberation as Communion: Rethinking Reformation Theologies

Monday, Jul 31, 2017 at 7:30pm - 9:00 pm

Liberation has a deep theological and experiential resonance within Judaism and Christianity. Ancient Israel's identity revolved around its experience of the liberating power of the Lord in the salvation event called the Exodus. Early Christians understood Jesus’s ministry as a recapitulation of the Exodus and experienced the life of the Church as the New Israel. In this lecture, Professor Lim draws on such disparate figures as Savonarola, Erasmus, Luther, Teresa of Avila, Calvin, and seventeenth-century Quaker prophetesses to demonstrate that the various trajectories of reform in both Catholic and Protestant traditions have prioritized the concept of liberation. Each of these figures thought of liberation from sin, self, and Satan as absolutely indispensable for the pilgrim’s progress toward the heavenly city. Furthermore, this liberation was not liberation unto one’s own autonomous and unfettered self: for the Christians of Europe’s longue durée Reformations, the ultimate goal of liberation was for communion with both God and with neighbor. While not clouding the distinctive elements of Protestantism and Catholicism—particularly differences in anthropology and the theologies of grace and sacraments—Professor Lim’s talk will highlight a new way to see the simultaneously overlapping and conflicting priorities and perspectives on “liberation as communion.”

This lecture is part of our 2017 Summer Evening Public Lecture series.  

Paul Lim teaches at Vanderbilt, both for the Divinity School and the College of Arts & Science. Lim is an award-winning historian of Reformation and post-Reformation England. His Mystery Unveiled: The Crisis of the Trinity in Early Modern England (Oxford, 2012) won the Roland H. Bainton Prize in 2013. He holds degrees from Yale (BA); Princeton Seminary (ThM); and Cambridge (PhD). He is currently writing a book dealing with various theologies of the Reformation period, as well as one dealing with recent surge of interest among evangelical Christians for social justice, especially human trafficking.

Dr. Lim will be teaching the class "Prison Writings & Subversive Spirituality" from July 31–August 4, 2017 as part of our 2017 Summer Programs. Learn more at

Regent College Chapel

Speaking at this Event


Paul Lim

Associate Professor of the History of Christianity, Associate Professor of History (Vanderbilt Divinity School, Department of History, Vanderbilt University)

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