Sunday, June 7, 2009

Institute of Lutheran Theology

Steve on Old Adam blog has a post this weekend about Dr. James Nestigen discussing the need for an "Institute of Lutheran Theology". I can't say that I'm totally up on the issues involved with the ELCA, so don't ask me. I have heard Dr. Nestigen talk at the Edmonton Seminary for a whole weekend on Law and Gospel, however.

I find the idea of the Institute fascinating though, from the perspective of the use of the internet, different delivery models, and making it easier, and presumably cheaper, to become a pastor and the internet site is very much worth a visit.

There are sample lectures on this site with lecture notes. Wow. One on Galatians. One one the Confessions.

There is also a blog which contains a variety of reading material, including sermons, however, with not much discussion happening.

What surprised me was that our Edmonton Seminary has agreed to provide coursework for the Institute. Below a quote from the Institute site.

We have exciting news! This fall we will be starting our first academic year! We have a significant number of people that are considering becoming students in pastoral preparation programs. We have seven students studying Greek this spring. We have an agreement with Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, to supply accredited coursework for our students in addition to the courses taught by our own faculty. This assures the steady supply and variety of classes necessary to support a robust curriculum. We have what we need to start training pastors. We are ready to do the work for which the ILT came into being: to prepare effective pastoral leaders who will serve congregations where God is honored according to His Word in Scripture and according to the tradition of the Lutheran Confessions.

All very interesting. The distance delivery of faithful material combined with personal supervision, seems a promising approach in some ways, especially for far-flung and under-severed areas. What do you think?


Bror Erickson said...

I don't know what to think. I'm not in the ELCA. I am very glad to hear that Edmonton is providing them with material.
I see the ElCA crashing against rocks and soon. I see the same for the LCMS to tell you the truth. I really wonder if we are going to be able to survive much longer without a split. Our "leadership" seems hell bent on making that the reality.
I don't like that we are constantly starting new synods etc. I wish Missouri was doing more to reach out to the splinters. However, I think many of the splinter groups from the ELCA fail to see the problem for what it is. They want to retain the ordination of women, at the same time exclude the ordination of homosexuals (active ones anyway). The problem is the view of scripture that allows you to ignore it in the case of women, forces you to ignore it when it comes to the ordination of homosexuals. But that is another story.
As for seminary education, it is being maligned today more and more. I really don't like to see that. I also don't know that they were just the product of the 17th and 18th century. Seems to have been one in Wittenburg in the 16th. Well it was a university, that had a seminary also... John also trained pastors in Ephesus in what was somewhat a seminary. Origen would recommend people from his Catechetical school for the ministry. I don't know that training can maintain the same level under a pastor, and over the internet. Something about being there to ask prof. in person. Something about having a beer with them, they get to know you, you get to know them. A lot of education happens over beer at the seminary.
But perhaps we are coming on times where we can't afford that anymore. I don't know. Be a shame to lose it. Seminaries have produced a lot of good minds, and formed them well.

Brigitte said...

I don't know about the beer part. The Edmonton prof's don't seem the beer drinking type. But I what do I know.

There must be many instances where this approach is extraordinarily helpful.

For instance, in Vancouver last month, I met a Pastor and his wife from Mozambique. He went to the St. Catherine's seminary. I think he is the only confessional Lutheran pastor in Mozambique. He has developed 5 far flung preaching stations where he is training men in each place to lead the small congregations. His wife organizes Aids victim's home care.

Also, in Winnipeg, at the NAUBS we heard a presentation from Ken Steele, who heads up prestigious Academia group, who spoke about how traditional institutions are impacted by internet courses and degrees. People from all over the world can take courses for free (but maybe not a degree). There are all kinds of grey zones, now, and traditional institutions may suffer shrinkage.

Canada itself is rather large, and we don't graduate enough guys from our two seminaries to really make economic sense.

All kinds of interesting and quality chats are being had over the phone and internet, these days, too as people feel free to use these tools.

Splintering again is not good. If a ELCA congregation wanted to join LCMS would they be able to keep their property?

Steve Martin said...

This new online seminary will offer a far superior education to that which is now offered at the ELCA seminaries.

And it is not affiliated with the ELCA.

At this point in time, I believe any ELCA congregation that "officially" breaks away frpm ELCA is in danger of losing their property.

We (Lutheran Church of the Master, Corona del Mar, CA) are still officially in ELCA, but we virtually have nothing to do with them anymore.

Bror Erickson said...

If the seminary in Edmonton has problems I guarantee the root is the Sem. Profs. not being the beer drinking type :)
But yes, I understand the dilemmas. I'm also Lutheran and hesitate to change. Though as Steve says and is no doubt right, this program will offer a better education than is currently provided at the ELCA institutions. And academically I'm sure that is absolutely true.
However, Dr. Scaer used to talk about how the seminary worked Delto (LCMS distance Learning) worked. He said the Delto guys, many of them, were very bright and often end up confessional. He praised them for reading a lot more than most sem students. But they learned in a vacuum,without the benefit of other students to bounce things off of. There is something about learning together, being in class together, and drinking a few beers afterwords together, that helps you grow in perspective. Maybe it is that I just cherish my Seminary experience. It has proved to be invaluable. Currently there is a lot of badmouthing of seminary education circulating. Many are saying it isn't worth it. I disagree. You probably wouldn't want a guy working on your teeth, or your spleen if he got his degree over the internet. Why is the soul less of an issue?

Brigitte said...

Bror: you make good points, and maybe those of us who haven't been to seminary will never understand.

On the other hand, it probably should not be an either/or answer. Hm?

You also will be sad to hear that doctors also learn mostly when they get out into the field. Patients are not called patients for nothing and a practice is not called practice for nothing. :) In addition continuing education features very large, as well as journal reading and discussing with colleagues as you go.

Come to think of it, too, the application of law and gospel is learned in the "school of experience".