You don’t have to be a trained theologian to understand how theology interacts with education and informs the way professors teach and students learn. But the effective application of theology in the learning process distinguishes one educational experience from another. That is important in the maturing life of college/university students. They will live what they learn!
Our Concordia colleges/universities (10 across the country) are not Lutheran by accident but by choice. Before our forefathers built churches, they built school houses to provide for the ongoing education of their family members who would be the pastors, teachers, bakers, butchers, judges, council members, and leaders of their communities. They left us with a legacy that was built on the theology of the cross, which starts at the foot of the cross where Christ died for the sins of mankind; where Law and Gospel are appropriately applied; where the forgiveness of sins comes through the Word and Sacraments; where all Christians are called by God to a profession or vocation; and where faith and life intersect in our daily walk as disciples of our Savior.
The mission of the colleges and universities of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is marked by transformation of people and communities. It is built on the foundation of the biblical message of salvation and footnoted by the highest levels of ethical conduct and a deep sense of building a better world. At our Concordias, faculty and students are engaged in a daily faith-life conversation and experience. Concordia students develop a strong set of values, leadership skills, Christian faith, commitment to community service, and a sense of purpose in life. Their daily experiences in a Lutheran college/university shape and imprint their perspective on teaching the faith and impacting lives in their communities.
Lutheran theology emphasizes three important aspects of Christian beliefs. They are summarized from the Reformation as sola fide, sola gratia, and sola Scriptura. Lutherans believe, teach and confess that we are saved by faith in God’s gift of salvation and not by good works or activity on our part; that we receive salvation as a free gift from a loving and gracious God and not because of any merit in us; and that the Scriptures are the sole rule and norm for Christian theology. Education within this framework builds moral and spiritual qualities in the character of students who will serve in our churches and communities. Faith-life experiences within a Lutheran environment connect individuals to a life of faithful commitment to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Lord of Life!
A supporter of Lutheran higher education shared an insight of the value of a Christian, Lutheran institution: “The Concordia University System is one of the most powerful and far-reaching tools the Lord of the Church has given the LCMS to take the Good News of life in Jesus Christ to a world desperately in need of hearing and believing in Him, through professional church workers and those trained for other services in our communities.”
A teaching church is, indeed, a church in mission!
Friends in Christ,
I pray you are well, and just about ready for Christmas! I enjoyed my first official visit to the Ft. Wayne Seminary this week past, at the invitation of President Wenthe. Flew up on Tuesday morning, and back to St. Louis on Wednesday afternoon. Meeting the faculty was a great pleasure. We discussed many issues. I particularly enjoyed hearing from each of them about what they have been working on as of late.
I preached Wednesday at Kramer Chapel, a place and pulpit that hold for me many fond memories. You can listen to the sermon by clicking HERE: Harrison Sermon at CTS Chapel. After chapel the entire student body met for a convocation. I could have spoken interminably (as a Synod official I have that particular ability), but I decided simply to take questions for the entire hour. It was marvelous. Great questions. Good theology. Wonderful humor. We spoke about preaching, pastoral practice, the importance of residential theological education, Luther, and many other topics.
The highlight of the visit was a walk into, through and around the new Ft. Wayne Seminary Library facility, still under construction. Unbelievable. President Wenthe, the faculty and the Board of Regents deserve the Synod’s deepest appreciation and gratitude for their stewardship of this great institution.
Blessed final days of Advent!