Valpo President/Board Decide to Sell Art Masterpieces to Pay for Dorm Renovation

Started by Mbecker, February 24, 2023, 08:26:19 AM

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Dan Fienen

I remember my favorite philosophy prof at the Senior College (I majored in philosophy and later took a Masters in philosophy of religion) commenting that if he were to teach systematic theology at the seminary he would have two textbooks, the Bible, and Martin Heidegger's Being and Time.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Boris

Quote from: Mbecker on March 19, 2023, 08:30:21 PM
Quote from: Boris on March 19, 2023, 04:11:42 PM
Old St. Mary's Catholic Church, Downtown Milwaukee

If you like this style of nineteenth-century German-Catholic simplicity, it is understandable why you wouldn't like Stade's modernist designs.

M. Becker

It is ONE type of church architecture that I like. I don't think it is the only style of acceptable church architecture. Nor do I feel all churches must be built in that manner.

Here is an example of Modern Gothic I am talking about. This is Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, NC. It is a congregation of the United Church of Christ. Built in 1959, same year as Valpo's Chapel.

Boris

This is a picture of my Orthodox parish on Palm Sunday of last year. It is a simple Byzantine style built out of wood. My favorite part is all the natural light that comes in the building. It makes it a very bright and joyful space.

Mbecker

Quote from: Michael Speckhard on March 20, 2023, 04:01:58 PM
Quote from: Mbecker on March 20, 2023, 03:40:12 PM
Quote from: Dan Fienen on March 19, 2023, 10:49:35 PM
So, the Valpo chapel embodies the rejection of theology as practiced in the LCMS? Should we of the LCMS consider ourselves obligated to support and facilitate a schoole that rejects our theology? And especially encourage our young people to go and be educated to reject our theology?

I would hope that you would want to send your young people to a Lutheran university where the Christian theology that is taught there is biblically and liturgically grounded, confessionally focused, hermeneutically shaped by the proper distinction between law and gospel, yet historically critical, philosophically sharpened, and scientifically informed.

Which part(s) of that description are troublesome to you?

Matt Becker

I try not to speak up on this forum too often. I'm just a seminarian trying to learn a thing or two here. That being said, I recently graduated from Valparaiso University (with a major in theology) and unfortunately, your description does not match up well with my experiences. As a conservative Lutheran, I often felt woefully out of place in the theology department, and my conservative ideas and beliefs were often chalked up to lack of life-experience and poor understanding. I was assured, on multiple occasions, that I would eventually realize the harm that these types of beliefs caused and would come to realize that liberal theology was the answer.

Although to be perfectly fair to Valparaiso (and the theology faculty), I did enjoy my experience for the most part. It was good to be exposed to the type of theology taught there (by most professors) before heading to CTSFW. The faculty was also quite kind and caring, even when there were significant theological disagreements between us.

Edit: As a quick follow up, I should state that I never had a class with you, Dr. Becker, so I'm not speaking about your teaching specifically. I don't want you to think my response was a rebuke of you or your teaching.

Michael,
I don't know from whom you took your Valpo theology courses. As you say, you never took one from me.

Here's the breakdown of our theology department today: The department chair is a conservative LCMS laywoman (a medievalist), who regularly attends Immanuel Lutheran Church, where her husband is one of the pastors (responsible for spiritual formation; he too is a medievalist). As the other senior member of our department, I regularly teach courses in Lutheran confessional theology (e.g., Luther and Bach; 20th-c. German-Lutheran theologians; theology of the Lutheran Confessions; contemporary Christian theology,  which is aimed at various key Lutheran figures). My version of Theology 200: The Christian Tradition (a course that all Valpo students must fulfill) focuses a great deal upon the Lutheran-confessional understanding of the Scriptures and the key influences on the Lutheran theological tradition: the apostles Paul and John, Augustine, Bernard of C., Luther himself, Melanchthon, and subsequent Lutherans, e.g., Elert, Schlink, and Bonhoeffer. Our NT scholar is a confessionally oriented ELCA pastor whose mentors have been Pat Kiefert and Gary Simpson. (She became a Lutheran Christian after studying the Lutheran Confessions with Kiefert! She is also a popular preacher and Bible-study leader in the region.) The person who teaches southeast-Asian religions is a conservative Anglican Christian from south India. Our principal liturgical scholar is a deacon in the Orthodox Church of America. He's an expert on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and regularly writes about liturgical matters. As you can imagine, he's also been interviewed quite a bit in the past year, given Russia's war in Ukraine. Our Muslim scholar (who has been teaching online from Egypt since the start of Covid) is a conservative Islamic scholar who seeks responsible, respectful theological dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

That's Valpo's theology department today.

I know these people well. I can't imagine any of them telling a self-described "conservative" student "on multiple occasions" that that person's "conservative ideas" and "types of beliefs" are causing "harm," and that such a student would eventually "realize that liberal theology was the answer." Those of us who teach theology here would not want such propagandizing or belittling of students to take place in or outside of the classroom. As you can see from the above overview, our department does not have anyone who favors "liberal theology." If you had taken my course on twentieth-century theology, you would have learned the principal criticisms that are leveled against "liberal Protestant theology" by such figures as Elert, Schlink, Bonhoeffer, and yours truly. I'm disappointed that I never had you in one of my classes. Do you not appreciate Luther and Bach? (Or perhaps you don't like to take early morning classes, since I always teach that course at 8am on MWF.)

Nevertheless, I am glad that you state that you enjoyed your overall experience at Valpo.

Matt Becker

peter_speckhard

Quote from: Mbecker on March 21, 2023, 10:09:07 AM
Quote from: Michael Speckhard on March 20, 2023, 04:01:58 PM
Quote from: Mbecker on March 20, 2023, 03:40:12 PM
Quote from: Dan Fienen on March 19, 2023, 10:49:35 PM
So, the Valpo chapel embodies the rejection of theology as practiced in the LCMS? Should we of the LCMS consider ourselves obligated to support and facilitate a schoole that rejects our theology? And especially encourage our young people to go and be educated to reject our theology?

I would hope that you would want to send your young people to a Lutheran university where the Christian theology that is taught there is biblically and liturgically grounded, confessionally focused, hermeneutically shaped by the proper distinction between law and gospel, yet historically critical, philosophically sharpened, and scientifically informed.

Which part(s) of that description are troublesome to you?

Matt Becker

I try not to speak up on this forum too often. I'm just a seminarian trying to learn a thing or two here. That being said, I recently graduated from Valparaiso University (with a major in theology) and unfortunately, your description does not match up well with my experiences. As a conservative Lutheran, I often felt woefully out of place in the theology department, and my conservative ideas and beliefs were often chalked up to lack of life-experience and poor understanding. I was assured, on multiple occasions, that I would eventually realize the harm that these types of beliefs caused and would come to realize that liberal theology was the answer.

Although to be perfectly fair to Valparaiso (and the theology faculty), I did enjoy my experience for the most part. It was good to be exposed to the type of theology taught there (by most professors) before heading to CTSFW. The faculty was also quite kind and caring, even when there were significant theological disagreements between us.

Edit: As a quick follow up, I should state that I never had a class with you, Dr. Becker, so I'm not speaking about your teaching specifically. I don't want you to think my response was a rebuke of you or your teaching.

Michael,
I don't know from whom you took your Valpo theology courses. As you say, you never took one from me.

Here's the breakdown of our theology department today: The department chair is a conservative LCMS laywoman (a medievalist), who regularly attends Immanuel Lutheran Church, where her husband is one of the pastors (responsible for spiritual formation; he too is a medievalist). As the other senior member of our department, I regularly teach courses in Lutheran confessional theology (e.g., Luther and Bach; 20th-c. German-Lutheran theologians; theology of the Lutheran Confessions; contemporary Christian theology,  which is aimed at various key Lutheran figures). My version of Theology 200: The Christian Tradition (a course that all Valpo students must fulfill) focuses a great deal upon the Lutheran-confessional understanding of the Scriptures and the key influences on the Lutheran theological tradition: the apostles Paul and John, Augustine, Bernard of C., Luther himself, Melanchthon, and subsequent Lutherans, e.g., Elert, Schlink, and Bonhoeffer. Our NT scholar is a confessionally oriented ELCA pastor whose mentors have been Pat Kiefert and Gary Simpson. (She became a Lutheran Christian after studying the Lutheran Confessions with Kiefert! She is also a popular preacher and Bible-study leader in the region.) The person who teaches southeast-Asian religions is a conservative Anglican Christian from south India. Our principal liturgical scholar is a deacon in the Orthodox Church of America. He's an expert on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and regularly writes about liturgical matters. As you can imagine, he's also been interviewed quite a bit in the past year, given Russia's war in Ukraine. Our Muslim scholar (who has been teaching online from Egypt since the start of Covid) is a conservative Islamic scholar who seeks responsible, respectful theological dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

That's Valpo's theology department today.

I know these people well. I can't imagine any of them telling a self-described "conservative" student "on multiple occasions" that that person's "conservative ideas" and "types of beliefs" are causing "harm," and that such a student would eventually "realize that liberal theology was the answer." Those of us who teach theology here would not want such propagandizing or belittling of students to take place in or outside of the classroom. As you can see from the above overview, our department does not have anyone who favors "liberal theology." If you had taken my course on twentieth-century theology, you would have learned the principal criticisms that are leveled against "liberal Protestant theology" by such figures as Elert, Schlink, Bonhoeffer, and yours truly. I'm disappointed that I never had you in one of my classes. Do you not appreciate Luther and Bach? (Or perhaps you don't like to take early morning classes, since I always teach that course at 8am on MWF.)

Nevertheless, I am glad that you state that you enjoyed your overall experience at Valpo.

Matt Becker
I've bolded the sentence that shows you're just going to be talking past each other. If you are in today's ELCA without registering protest, you favor liberal theology. You just don't mean the same thing by that phrase as Michael means. If I adopt your view of the Scriptures, I am adopting the liberal view, not the conservative view.

Michael Speckhard

Quote from: Mbecker on March 21, 2023, 10:09:07 AM
Quote from: Michael Speckhard on March 20, 2023, 04:01:58 PM
Quote from: Mbecker on March 20, 2023, 03:40:12 PM
Quote from: Dan Fienen on March 19, 2023, 10:49:35 PM
So, the Valpo chapel embodies the rejection of theology as practiced in the LCMS? Should we of the LCMS consider ourselves obligated to support and facilitate a schoole that rejects our theology? And especially encourage our young people to go and be educated to reject our theology?

I would hope that you would want to send your young people to a Lutheran university where the Christian theology that is taught there is biblically and liturgically grounded, confessionally focused, hermeneutically shaped by the proper distinction between law and gospel, yet historically critical, philosophically sharpened, and scientifically informed.

Which part(s) of that description are troublesome to you?

Matt Becker

I try not to speak up on this forum too often. I'm just a seminarian trying to learn a thing or two here. That being said, I recently graduated from Valparaiso University (with a major in theology) and unfortunately, your description does not match up well with my experiences. As a conservative Lutheran, I often felt woefully out of place in the theology department, and my conservative ideas and beliefs were often chalked up to lack of life-experience and poor understanding. I was assured, on multiple occasions, that I would eventually realize the harm that these types of beliefs caused and would come to realize that liberal theology was the answer.

Although to be perfectly fair to Valparaiso (and the theology faculty), I did enjoy my experience for the most part. It was good to be exposed to the type of theology taught there (by most professors) before heading to CTSFW. The faculty was also quite kind and caring, even when there were significant theological disagreements between us.

Edit: As a quick follow up, I should state that I never had a class with you, Dr. Becker, so I'm not speaking about your teaching specifically. I don't want you to think my response was a rebuke of you or your teaching.

Michael,
I don't know from whom you took your Valpo theology courses. As you say, you never took one from me.

Here's the breakdown of our theology department today: The department chair is a conservative LCMS laywoman (a medievalist), who regularly attends Immanuel Lutheran Church, where her husband is one of the pastors (responsible for spiritual formation; he too is a medievalist). As the other senior member of our department, I regularly teach courses in Lutheran confessional theology (e.g., Luther and Bach; 20th-c. German-Lutheran theologians; theology of the Lutheran Confessions; contemporary Christian theology,  which is aimed at various key Lutheran figures). My version of Theology 200: The Christian Tradition (a course that all Valpo students must fulfill) focuses a great deal upon the Lutheran-confessional understanding of the Scriptures and the key influences on the Lutheran theological tradition: the apostles Paul and John, Augustine, Bernard of C., Luther himself, Melanchthon, and subsequent Lutherans, e.g., Elert, Schlink, and Bonhoeffer. Our NT scholar is a confessionally oriented ELCA pastor whose mentors have been Pat Kiefert and Gary Simpson. (She became a Lutheran Christian after studying the Lutheran Confessions with Kiefert! She is also a popular preacher and Bible-study leader in the region.) The person who teaches southeast-Asian religions is a conservative Anglican Christian from south India. Our principal liturgical scholar is a deacon in the Orthodox Church of America. He's an expert on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and regularly writes about liturgical matters. As you can imagine, he's also been interviewed quite a bit in the past year, given Russia's war in Ukraine. Our Muslim scholar (who has been teaching online from Egypt since the start of Covid) is a conservative Islamic scholar who seeks responsible, respectful theological dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

That's Valpo's theology department today.

I know these people well. I can't imagine any of them telling a self-described "conservative" student "on multiple occasions" that that person's "conservative ideas" and "types of beliefs" are causing "harm," and that such a student would eventually "realize that liberal theology was the answer." Those of us who teach theology here would not want such propagandizing or belittling of students to take place in or outside of the classroom. As you can see from the above overview, our department does not have anyone who favors "liberal theology." If you had taken my course on twentieth-century theology, you would have learned the principal criticisms that are leveled against "liberal Protestant theology" by such figures as Elert, Schlink, Bonhoeffer, and yours truly. I'm disappointed that I never had you in one of my classes. Do you not appreciate Luther and Bach? (Or perhaps you don't like to take early morning classes, since I always teach that course at 8am on MWF.)

Nevertheless, I am glad that you state that you enjoyed your overall experience at Valpo.

Matt Becker

Dr. Becker,

I appreciate you taking the time to respond in detail. My MWF 8am was always taken up with Hebrew, taught by Dr. Bartusch, so I never had the time to take your class. I'm sure it would have been a good one.

To the main issue, though, I think my uncle's comment is correct. What you feel is conservative/liberal, or where the line ought to be drawn between the two, is not what I feel. While I certainly won't name any names, I assure you that my experience was as I described. The theology of the LCMS (and others like it) was often treated as a dying Christianity in need of saving, rather than a legitimate view of scripture and church. For that reason I found myself alienated quite often in the classroom.

Hopefully that is no longer the case and my experience was not the norm.

In Christ,
Michael Speckhard


Michael Slusser

Quote from: D. Engebretson on March 20, 2023, 08:56:14 AM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on March 19, 2023, 09:39:33 PM
This article is required reading for this thread.

https://rlo.acton.org/archives/124300-a-catholic-college-guts-its-curriculum.html

It reads as though the author has been reading this thread. Marymount seems to be in the same mess as VU, only they're not selling paintings, they're eliminating theology and philosophy.

Interesting article, and very realistic.  He notes the coming "demographic cliff" of 2025 to 2029, with the dire prediction that "50% of colleges are poised to fail by 2032".  He also astutely observes how many colleges and universities have essentially shot themselves in the foot by gutting not only the uniqueness of their identities (such as a Catholic institution removing theology from the curriculum), but also in watering down the core nature of the fundamentals, where the basics become niche subjects driven by the whims of the professors and the prevailing trends of the culture.  While it is not necessarily encouraging to hear the predictions he offers, we are probably facing an inevitable corrective in a bloated educational system.  The LCMS has felt this and too often some have lashed out at the synod in anger while missing the realities that could not be ignored.  During the pandemic the church where I was married and did my vicarage in Denver closed and sold the building to someone else.  It was sad to see a part of my past and my wife's past disappear.  But I could see the demographic shifts from before I came there in the mid-80s to the present.  The days of growth had come and gone.  The two high schools of my hometown are now reported to be in plans to merge.  Populations change and so do the needs.  We saw several of our regional rural grade schools in my current community close in the last few years and merge with the city's schools.  The Baby Boom was done a long time ago.  The needs are not there.  The schools are just an economic liability.
Other Catholic colleges besides Marymount have stopped offering majors in traditional liberal arts fields, including two in Minnesota: St. Mary's in Winona and College of St. Benedict/St. John's University in Collegeville.

St. Francis College in Brooklyn, a NCAA Division I school, has chosen a different economy: they are pulling out of intercollegiate athletics.  No art galleries will be affected, as far as I know. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/21/st-francis-college-brooklyn-shut-down-division-i-a/

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Dan Fienen

If the current civil rights movement, CRT, and the rest have taught us anything it is that the view of the situation from those in the majority and those in the minority are often radically different. What those in the majority take as normal and expected may well seem to those in the minority oppressive. Little habits of speech, in jokes, hardly spoken assumptions, gentle teasing and chiding that seem natural and inoffensive by the majority can be taken as harassment by the minority. And what is more, the majority has a tendency to dismiss complaints by the minority as over sensitivity, an unwillingness to be a part of the community or team, and their experience dismissed as a misperception. We have become more sensitive to this in cases of racial, gender, and sexual orientation minorities sometimes perhaps overly sensitivity although that possibility is generally dismissed.


What is often overlooked and dismissed is that the same dynamic may be at work with ideological minorities. At Valpo, I think it fair to say, conservative Lutheranism is an ideological minority. I have no direct experience of Valpo. But what Michael reports is familiar to me from my years at Concordia Senior College in the mid-70s.


Perhaps Matt, you simply have no idea what life for a conservative is like in the Valpo theology department. You have not walked in their shoes.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

John_Hannah

What is the confessional (or Biblical) basis for the rejection of what might be called, "Valpo theology?"

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

peter_speckhard

Quote from: John_Hannah on March 21, 2023, 11:30:11 AM
What is the confessional (or Biblical) basis for the rejection of what might be called, "Valpo theology?"

Peace, JOHN
The fact that it is any way associated with Valpo or known as a discernible school, sufficiently distinguishable from others that "Valpo theology" as a term can refer to anything, is enough to show that is different. Whether it is good theology or not has been the argument for decades.

Mbecker

A further editorial about the Valpo sale. This piece is one of the best I have read. It amplifies a few points I made in the letter to the Valpo faculty senate.

https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2023/03/88166/

Matt Becker

Mbecker

Quote from: peter_speckhard on March 21, 2023, 10:24:14 AM
If you are in today's ELCA without registering protest, you favor liberal theology. You just don't mean the same thing by that phrase as Michael means. If I adopt your view of the Scriptures, I am adopting the liberal view, not the conservative view.

One can be a faithful member of the ELCA without favoring "liberal theology." Peter, it seems as if a "liberal" is anyone with whom you disagree.

My understanding of the authority and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures in no way accords with "liberal theology." I reject all historicist views of the Scriptures, e.g., the liberal Protestant history-of-religions approach, as I have made clear in my writings.

Matt Becker


Dave Benke

Quote from: Michael Slusser on March 21, 2023, 11:06:25 AM
Quote from: D. Engebretson on March 20, 2023, 08:56:14 AM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on March 19, 2023, 09:39:33 PM
This article is required reading for this thread.

https://rlo.acton.org/archives/124300-a-catholic-college-guts-its-curriculum.html

It reads as though the author has been reading this thread. Marymount seems to be in the same mess as VU, only they're not selling paintings, they're eliminating theology and philosophy.

Interesting article, and very realistic.  He notes the coming "demographic cliff" of 2025 to 2029, with the dire prediction that "50% of colleges are poised to fail by 2032".  He also astutely observes how many colleges and universities have essentially shot themselves in the foot by gutting not only the uniqueness of their identities (such as a Catholic institution removing theology from the curriculum), but also in watering down the core nature of the fundamentals, where the basics become niche subjects driven by the whims of the professors and the prevailing trends of the culture.  While it is not necessarily encouraging to hear the predictions he offers, we are probably facing an inevitable corrective in a bloated educational system.  The LCMS has felt this and too often some have lashed out at the synod in anger while missing the realities that could not be ignored.  During the pandemic the church where I was married and did my vicarage in Denver closed and sold the building to someone else.  It was sad to see a part of my past and my wife's past disappear.  But I could see the demographic shifts from before I came there in the mid-80s to the present.  The days of growth had come and gone.  The two high schools of my hometown are now reported to be in plans to merge.  Populations change and so do the needs.  We saw several of our regional rural grade schools in my current community close in the last few years and merge with the city's schools.  The Baby Boom was done a long time ago.  The needs are not there.  The schools are just an economic liability.
Other Catholic colleges besides Marymount have stopped offering majors in traditional liberal arts fields, including two in Minnesota: St. Mary's in Winona and College of St. Benedict/St. John's University in Collegeville.

St. Francis College in Brooklyn, a NCAA Division I school, has chosen a different economy: they are pulling out of intercollegiate athletics.  No art galleries will be affected, as far as I know. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/21/st-francis-college-brooklyn-shut-down-division-i-a/

Peace,
Michael

Breaking Lenten fast from posting to say that St. Francis has been a great landing spot for lots of people whom I know, some of whom went there on partial athletic scholarships.  It doesn't have the level of heft of some of the other Catholic universities in the area like Fordham, St. John's, Iona, but has been a real Godsend in Brooklyn in the past several decades because it represents, as might be imagined, a thoroughly multi-cultural/racial/immigrant student body.  Athletic scholarships will be honored, according to their press release.  However, this is in my opinion a calculated risk which must be based on how many students utilize the sports programs.  I would guess the answer is quite a bunch.  So either it's a continued paring down of enrollment while remaining sustainable, or a move toward another direction in the delivery of the school's educational offerings.  (For those outside the NYC loop, they play in the conference with Fairleigh Dickinson in hoops of upset notoriety this year, and almost beat them, and used to regularly take that conference title - and they have had some great men's baseball teams too.)

Mercy College has adapted to and adopted some of the students who went to either Concordia or College of New Rochelle - the one of course Lutheran and the other a private school run by the Ursuline order until closure - and Touro College, a Jewish institution has joined them in growing while others have declined.  Additionally the CUNY (City of  New York) system with 220,000 students and the SUNY (State of New York) system with 320000 students have gone through 20% plus enrollment decline in the past five to ten years.  CUNY for stay at home students only runs about $12000 per year all-inclusive, and SUNY about the same for those living in NY, and those are scattered all over the state.  Included in CUNY are community college (2 year) schools which cost New Yorkers even less.  So there are very affordable options.  A lot of kids will take the community college route, live at home, and then transfer to one of the four year CUNY's or SUNY's. 

So in the overall decline, there are still over a million college/university students in metro NY, with the economics dictating choices for the majority of young people.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Mbecker

Quote from: Michael Speckhard on March 21, 2023, 11:01:55 AM
To the main issue, though, I think my uncle's comment is correct. What you feel is conservative/liberal, or where the line ought to be drawn between the two, is not what I feel. While I certainly won't name any names, I assure you that my experience was as I described. The theology of the LCMS (and others like it) was often treated as a dying Christianity in need of saving, rather than a legitimate view of scripture and church. For that reason I found myself alienated quite often in the classroom.

Hopefully that is no longer the case and my experience was not the norm.

In Christ,
Michael Speckhard

Again, I have no idea in which theology classes you felt alienated, even apparently "quite often alienated," but your further comment here helps to shed some light on what you are stating. If you had taken me for Theology 200, you would have been exposed to criticism of what is often called "biblicism," the view that the Bible is free of every type of error. In that class session, I use Francis Pieper's writings and the LCMS' Brief Statement as examples of this view. (I also quote from Johann Gerhard, as well as Augustine and Athenagoras, who thought the biblical writers were like flutes that the Holy Spirit played. I also run through about a dozen "errors" in the Scriptures.) So you would have likely felt some discomfort on that class day, when I level pretty strong criticism against the LCMS' view of "inerrancy," which I do think is an illegitimate understanding of Scripture. (Many other LCMS-raised pastors and professors have made the same point in their instruction at Valpo over the decades, going back as far as the '40s.)

BUT, in that same section of Theo 200 you would have also been exposed to criticism of historicism, the view that the biblical writings are merely a disparate collection of human, historical documents, as well as to criticism of aestheticism (which treats the Bible merely as great literature) and subjectivism (which downplays the role that the history of the church's interpretation of the Scriptures ought to play in our understanding of them). I direct students to the "BS" section of the library to find resources that can help them to avoid these various  "isms."

I freely share with my students that I view the Scriptures of the OT and NT as the inspired, normative word of God, but I also stress that we cannot theorize about how this inspiration took place/takes place (since the Scriptures themselves do not do so), nor should we try to speculate about where to draw the line with respect to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures and their human conditioning (whereby errors of history, geography, and of other non-theological matters have entered into the Bible). I stress to my students that Christian faith does not submit to the authority of the Bible because its divine authority has first been demonstrated, but because the power of the divine words, particularly the law and the gospel, authenticate themselves again and again in the present through the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit, which nevertheless remains always conditioned through the human biblical witnesses who spoke and wrote in different settings over the course of many centuries and who used many differing types of speaking and writing to convey the various words of the LORD. We can thus trust the Scriptures to be the infallible norm with respect to what they teach about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the other essential articles of the faith (as these are identified for us in Apostles' Creed, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and the other Lutheran Confessions).

But, again, I'm glad your experience at Valpo was generally positive. Spread that word.

Matt Becker

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: peter_speckhard on March 21, 2023, 10:24:14 AM
I've bolded the sentence that shows you're just going to be talking past each other. If you are in today's ELCA without registering protest, you favor liberal theology. You just don't mean the same thing by that phrase as Michael means. If I adopt your view of the Scriptures, I am adopting the liberal view, not the conservative view.


It's all relative. I believe that within the whole spectrum of Christian ideologies, the ELCA is perhaps in the middle. We are not at the liberal end, e.g., U.U. As I posted elsewhere about our confession of faith. It is the traditional Christian doctrines: the Trinity, Jesus Christ, human and divine; the savior; the Bible is the Word of God.


We are more liberal than you; but on a 6 inch line from ultra conservative to extreme liberalism, we might be 1/2 to an inch apart. From your perspective, I am liberal. From the perspective of the Jesus Seminar, I have been called conservative.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

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