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Luther Seminary is a community that understands itself as called by God to prepare, as our strategic plan states, "public evangelical leaders to respond to the challenges of the day." Even as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, some people are surprised that we use the "evangelical" title so boldly and unapologetically. I often hear the question, "What do you mean by embracing your identity as 'evangelical?'"
Here is the response I give: A public evangelical leader is one who is called by the church to provide leadership by giving voice to the gospel of Jesus Christ (in Greek, the evangel), by teaching and confessing faith in the triune God, by entering into God's mission and service in the world and leading others in that work, and by demonstrating the skills needed to gather a community around this mission.
Now, this is a good answer, but a technical one. Let me give a better answer. It comes from one of Luther Seminary's supporters, Hilvie Ostrow. She is 90. Years ago, in her 50s, she was a student at Luther Seminary. Her letter to the editor in the Jan. 14 edition of the Star Tribune caught my eye and my attention as a person who understands her evangelical identity and is willing to stand up for it publicly. She wrote:
"God Talk: Not all evangelicals are alike or conservative.
The media needs to be more precise when using the word 'evangelical.' ... The word 'evangelical' means 'pertaining to the gospel.' The word is not the exclusive property of one Christian group. I know. I'm a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."
Disciples of Jesus put the gospel at the center of their lives.
It's the kind of leadership we are dedicated to, and to which we have been called as a school.
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