Prize For Cluefulness

Top honors go to Concordia Seminary, for getting there first with the most. When Apple announced iTunes University, Micah tipped me off that Concordia already had copious course material ready to offer online for prospective students and anyone else who wants to learn about systematic theology, Greek, the weekly Bible readings, and various other topics. It’s great to see institutions putting the Disseminary model into practice, even if it turns out that I couldn’t be part of it.

But there’s still room to go. First, the Missouri Synod Lutherans leave a wide swath of the theological landscape open for technological evangelism. And although Concordia has hit some valuable, highly pertinent high points, it’s not as though their whole curriculum is online. I would advise an institution to keep their clips shorter; five to ten minutes will produce more digestible units without locking viewers into a time slot that demands more continuous attention. And of course, I’m not on the whole Missouri Synod Lutheran wavelength theologically. But a very impressive showing overall, Concordia — well done!

[Later: Also checking out Thomas Sheehan’s course at Stanford on the Historical Jesus. Sheehan’s not someone I would think to rely on for such a course; his syllabus notes Paula Fredriksen’s book From Jesus to Christ, but not her more a propos Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews; the other authors I would not have drawn on for such a course.]

Chris says:

Dear Fr Adam,

I was delighted to see you award the cluefulness prize to one of our seminaries. On the other hand, I was crushed that you wrote “of course, I’m not on the whole Missouri Synod Lutheran wavelength theologically.”

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by that, and I’m certainly on the high-Church fringe of the LCMS myself. All the same, I have to ask: what part of the Book of Concord do you object to?

Chris Jones

[Thanks for your kind words, and for the patience with which you inquire (rather than denouncing). Actually, I wrote imprecisely; I disagree over women’s ordination and lgb sexuality, but I doubt these are covered by the Book of Concord. I’m not aware of a particular topic on which I dissent from the Book of Concord; I probably read the analysis of justification with different emphasis, but it could well be within the bounds of warranted LCMS assent. I support monastic life; I don’t know if confessional Lutherans are still bound to resist monasticism. I’m not anti-Roman, so the most vigorous denunciations of the papacy go beyond my dissent from Roman Catholic teaching. I’m against the gnesio-Lutherans.

So I guess I’m much closer to a high-church LCMS theology than I sounded when I incautiously wrote that. I’ll put the accent on “whole wavelength” now — but the technical terms and the histories of these arguments make me cautious about expansive claims of personal concord with the Book of Concord.]

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