Wartburg Theological Seminary

The “Science, Technology, and Being Human” project is providing Wartburg the opportunity to explore the role of scientific authority through select academic courses and in our community life through a series of special events.

The project supports the integration of the sciences into two required courses: (1) Lutheran Ethics (Prof. Nessan) and Reading and Leading in Context (Prof. Stache). In the first course, students explore how relevant insights from the sciences shape moral deliberation and ethical action. The second course teaches students not only how to read scientific data, but how to create it by taking up the tools of social scientists to better understand the social context of ministry. With these courses, we hope to raise up a new generation of pastoral leaders who see the sciences as a profound resource for understanding the world around us and being responsible stewards of the knowledge our scientific community produces.

A hallmark of this grant project is that it is seeking to impact not only our academic programs but also our community’s life together – itself a key part of our institutional ethos. This grant project is engaging the entire Wartburg  community in a yearlong exploration of the theme through three initiatives. The first is in a yearlong course on Spiritual Practices. All students enroll in Spiritual Practices and nearly all the teaching faculty serve as small group leaders for this course. This first initiative is rethinking this practice-based course by posing the question: What can the sciences teach us about spiritual practices? A second initiative brings this yearlong theme to a monthly practice shared by our students, faculty, and staff, where we gather as a community to take up a contemporary topic relevant to our community’s life together. At these “convocation” conversations, we are led by a facilitator into significant table conversation and into the practice of deep listening by inviting outside facilitators to take our entire community into convocations related to our yearlong theme.

While the first two initiatives guide the Seminary community itself into deep engagement with insights from the sciences, the third initiative is shifting the project’s focus to taking this theme public with a conference on the theme: “Creation in Crisis: Science and Theology Respond.” The conference will be livestreamed to increase the event participation beyond those who can attend on site in Dubuque, Iowa.

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Lutheran Ethics

This course, taught by Craig Nessan at Wartburg Theological Seminary, examines the field of Christian ethics, paying attention to distinctively Lutheran themes. Presentations and readings examine how Lutheran theology shapes ethical reflection for the church in mission. How do the Word of God, law and gospel, sacraments, liturgy, reason, science, theology of the cross, Christian…
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