Dr. Mary Jane Haemig serves as Director of the Thrivent Reformation Research Program. The Program makes available to researchers microforms of 16th and 17th century imprints that shed light on the European Reformation, especially in Germany. The collection, which includes over 42,000 titles, focuses on the Reformation as an intellectual, spiritual, and practical movement ó the ways that the Reformers' teachings were "translated" and used by the common people.
For Haemig the study of Reformation history
is deeply tied to the Gospel. She wants her students to understand that the
importance of the Reformation lies in the rediscovery of the basic Christian
truth: "God in Christ never ceases to reach out to humankind and give them all
that is His."
The reformers understood that "you donít have to spend your time trying to reach God because God has reached down to you. You should spend your time helping your neighbor," Haemig says. "Or to put it another way: God doesnít need your good works. Your neighbor does."
The study of history gives people a familiarity with the challenges faced by the church. "Similar problems, similar heresies, controversies and organizational issues keep popping up," Haemig says. "Those who have no of sense of history are like children without parents. Good parents give their children some sense of how to handle lifeís challenges. History does the same thing for the church."
Haemig joined the Luther Seminary faculty as Associate Professor of Church History in 1999 after serving as Assistant Professor of Religion at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where she had been since 1994. In 1991 and 1992 she served as a teaching fellow at Harvard Divinity School and Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges.