Public Lecture


Oswald Bayer

Oswald Bayer is a German Lutheran theologian and Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the Protestant Theological Faculty of the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. He is also an ordained pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg and academic leader of the Luther Academy in Ratzeburg. Professor Bayer was awarded the Hermann Sasse prize in 1998.

He is a Luther scholar of the highest rank and his numerous publications spanning over 40 years are testament to the depth and breadth of his scholarship. His theology draws deeply on Luther’s theology of word and promise which he deploys in his critical engagement with modernity. Oswald Bayer is also a prominent interpreter of the great eighteenth century Lutheran thinker Johann Georg Hamann, who not only delivered a stunning blow to Kant’s Enlightenment epistemology but also anticipated the best insights of postmodernist philosophy. One of the hallmarks of Bayer’s scholarship is that he allows Luther to speak into the twenty first century and to address the problems and struggles of our own day.

Although Oswald Bayer has published prolifically, only a relatively small number of his publications are available in English. Apart from thirty journal articles, the only five books that have been translated into English are Living by faith: justification and sanctification (2003), Freedom in response (2007), Theology the Lutheran way (2007), Martin Luther’s theology: a contemporary interpretation (2008) and A Contemporary in Dissent: Johann Georg Hamann as a Radical Enlightener (2012).

Professor Bayer’s topic for his public lecture at the Luther@500 conference is Luther ahead: from promise to fulfilment. 

Major Speakers


Franz Posset

Dr Franz Posset, German-American Ecumenist, is a distinguished independent researcher. His particular area of expertise is Luther’s life and theology from a Catholic perspective. Over his long career, he has published numerous books and articles on Luther and the Reformation, bringing new insights to light which have had a significant impact on the wider world of Luther scholarship. He was a major contributor to the Catholic Luther Symposium in Erfurt, Germany, in 2014; his two contributions are published in Luther: Katholizität und Reform. Wurzeln – Wege – Wirkungen (2016). His excellence as a researcher was recognised in 2003, when he was awarded the Natalie Zemon Prize (Canada) for superb scholarship. In 2014 he received the Davidias Prize (Croatia) and in 2015 the Franz Delitzsch Förder-Preis (Germany). His publications in the area of Luther and Reformation studies include Pater Bernhardus: Martin Luther and Bernard of Clairvaux (1999); The Front Runner of the Catholic Reformation: The Life and Works of Johann von Staupitz (2003); a new article on “The Staupitz Influence”, forthcoming in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther (2017);  The Real Luther: A Friar at Erfurt and Wittenberg (2011). His book in German, Unser Martin: Martin Luther aus der Sicht katholischer Sympathisanten (2015) deals with Luther’s early Catholic sympathisers. He twice was a speaker at the Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on “Lutheranism and the Classics”: (a) Luther and Athanasius (in 2012) and (b) on Luther’s Table Talk of 9 August 1532: “The Hebrew Drink from the Source, the Greeks from the Rills, and the Latin People from the Puddle” (in 2014). In spring 2017 he will be a speaker in Wraclaw/Breslau, Poland, on the Jews in the eyes of Christian Hebraists, a talk based upon his research for his new biography in English, Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522)  which was published in 2015.

For the Luther@500 conference, Dr Posset will present on the theme OUR Martin: Catholic sympathisers yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Kirsi Stjerna

Kirsi Stjerna

Kirsi Stjerna, a native of Finland, is the First Lutheran, Los Angeles/Southwest California Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (of California Lutheran University). Prior to that, she taught fifteen years at the Gettysburg Seminary, Gettysburg, where she also served as the director of the Institute for Luther Studies. She fosters international collaboration in the field, e.g., as the co-chair of the Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Traditions of the American Academy of Religion. Since 2012, Stjerna is a docent at Helsinki University.

She has contributed in numerous publications in the area of Reformation and Luther studies, including Women and the Reformation (2009) and Martin Luther, the Bible and the Jewish People: A Reader (2012, co-authored with Brooks Schramm). She translated Tuomo Mannermaa’s Christ Present in Faith (2005) and Two Kinds of Love: Martin Luther’s Religious World (2011). In anticipation of the 2017 Luther anniversary, Professor Stjerna serves as one of the General Editors, with Hans Hillerbrand and Timothy Wengert, for the Annotated Luther (6 volumes, Fortress Press), working with several contributors in the US and Europe.

Professor Stjerna will be presenting to the Luther@500 conference on Luther for the future.


James Nestingen

Professor Emeritus of Church History, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. USA, where he served between 1976 and 2006. He is a distinguished international teacher of Luther and Reformation studies and a respected Lutheran Theologian and churchman. In June, 2006 Professor Nestingen was a visiting scholar and lecturer at Australian Lutheran College, Adelaide, and guest of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Professor Nestingen has written and spoken prolifically on Luther’s catechisms and confessional Lutheran theology. His books include: Martin Luther: His Life and His Teachings (2004, 1982); Manger in the Mountains (2000); The Faith We Hold (1983); Roots of Our Faith (1978); and Free to Be (with Gerhard Forde, 1975).

Professor Nestingen will speak to the Luther@500 conference on the contemporary significance of Luther’s teaching on the ‘communicatio idiomatum’.  

Risto Saarinen

Risto Saarinen

Finnish theologian, Risto Saarinen is professor of Ecumenics in the faculty of theology at the University of Helsinki. He has held a number of prestigious posts, including Professor, Institute for Ecumenical Research, Strasbourg (1994-1999), where he also served as Visiting Adjunct Professor (2003-2007); Guest Professor, University of Aarhus (2005-2010), Fellow, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2006-2008) and Guest Professor, Catholic University of Leuven (2011-2014).

His expertise is in the area of historical and contemporary religious studies from philosophical and systematic perspectives. His research explores the interactions between religious and social conduct (recognition, peace and conflict, will, action, emotions). He has contributed to international Luther scholarship in many ways, most recently producing significant research in the area of Luther’s teaching on justification as ‘gift-exchange’.

His publications include a host of articles for international encyclopedias, journals and other works, including God and the Gift: An Ecumenical Theology of Giving (2005) and Weakness of Will in the Renaissance and Reformation Thought (2011).

The topic of his presentation at the Luther@500 conference is Luther’s theology of giving and the gift.

Theodor Dieter

Theodor Dieter

Professor Theodor Dieter is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg and a distinguished international ecumenical theologian and teacher. Following his service as a lecturer in theology and social ethics in the Protestant Theology faculty at the University of Tübingen, he was appointed a research professor at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Stassbourg, where he has also served as director since 1997. He also serves as a consultant to the International Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and to the Lutheran-Mennonite-Roman Catholic trialogue on baptism.

Professor Dieter’s publications include Der junge Luther und Aristoteles (2001) and a long list of articles on Luther’s theology, social ethics and Lutheran ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholic Church.  He played a leading role in the work done by the Institute for Ecumenical Research on the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran churches all around the world in 1999. He is at present working on a joint project of the Institute for Ecumenical Research and the Johann-Adam-Möhler-Institut in Paderborn, Germany: a multi-volume commentary on Luther’s ninety five theses, to be published in 2017, marking their 500th anniversary.  He also contributed to the Lutheran-Roman Catholic document From Conflict to Communion, a resource for the ecumenical celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

A notable international ecumenical speaker and lecturer, Professor Dieter was the guest of Pope Benedict XVI at the annual theological gathering at Castelgandolfo in 2012, where he presented on Luther’s theology and on Lutheran-Catholic relations over the last fifty years. He is also a regular lecturer for the international ‘Studying Luther in Wittenberg’ seminars hosted each year of the Luther-decade by LWF.

The title of Professor Dieter’s presentation at the Luther@500 conference is Martin Luther’s ninety five theses: reconstructing a ‘debate which did not take place’.

Other Speakers

Thomas Kothmann

Luther the Educator: Luther’s Vision of Learning and Teaching and Its Global Realisation Today

Professor Thomas Kothmann is adjunct professor in the Department of Religious Education and Religious Pedagogy at the University of Regensburg, Germany, and has published several books and articles on Christian education, life and spirituality.

Peter Matheson

Luther beyond Lutheranism: The Reception of Luther in Recent Non-Lutheran Historiography

Dr Peter Matheson is emeritus professor of Knox Theological College and fellow of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He has written and edited numerous books and articles on Reformation history and theology, including that of Luther.

Andrew Pfeiffer

Faith into Context: Luther’s Small Catechism as a Cross-Cultural Mission Resource

Dr Andrew Pfeiffer is head of the School of Pastoral Theology and lecturer in pastoral theology and missiology at Australian Lutheran College, Adelaide, SA. He has contributed to periodicals in the areas of Lutheran pastoral practice, missiology, and catechetics. He currently serves as Assistant Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Stephen Pietsch

On Weariness of Life: Luther’s Letter to Jonas von Stockhausen as Pastoral Care for the Suicidal

Dr Stephen Pietsch is a lecturer in pastoral theology and homiletics at Australian Lutheran College, Adelaide, SA, and is a member of the Lutheran-Anglican ecumenical dialogue in Australia. He has authored papers and articles on Luther’s theology and pastoral practice, and has just published his first book, on pastoral care in Luther’s letters.

Maurice Schild

Luther’s Bible Prefaces and their Contemporary Significance

Dr Maurice Schild is emeritus lecturer in church history and Lutheran confessions at Australian Lutheran College, Adelaide, SA, and is author of many and varied articles on Lutheran and ecumenical theology and ethics, both here in Australia and in Europe.

Jeff Silcock

A Fresh Look at the Theology of the Cross: What it Meant for Luther and its Significance for Us Today

Dr Jeffrey Silcock is a lecturer in systematic theology and Associate Dean for Research at Australian Lutheran College, Adelaide, SA. He is co-chair of the Lutheran-Uniting Church ecumenical dialogue in Australia, and is a member of the Lutheran-Orthodox International Joint Commission. He is the author of a host of books and articles on Lutheran theology and ethics and a translator of works by other theologians into English, including those of Martin Luther and Oswald Bayer.

Mark Thompson

Revisiting the Leipzig Disputation: Clarifying our Appeal to Scripture Alone

Dr Mark Thompson is principal of Moore Theological College, Sydney NSW, a lecturer in Christian doctrine and author of several books and articles including works on the theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Dean Zweck

Communion with Christ and All Saints: Reclaiming Luther’s Early Eucharistic Theology

Dr Dean Zweck is lecturer in church history at Australian Lutheran College, Adelaide SA. He is the co-chair of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue in Australia, and consultant to the LCA board for mission. He has published several papers and articles on church history, missions and apologetics.