Meet the Faculty

Gary M. Simpson

Gary M. Simpson

Professor of Systematic Theology and Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary Chair in Theology

  • Ordained (ELCA)
  • M.Div., Th.D. (Christ Seminary-Seminex)

Biography

Gary Simpson was named associate professor of systematic theology at Luther Seminary in 1990 and professor of systematic theology in 1998. Earlier, he served as a Lutheran pastor for 14 years. Simpson was pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Alameda, Calif., (1976-1983) and Protestant chaplain of Highland-Alameda County Hospital in Oakland, Calif., (1976 to 1978). Subsequently, he was minister of education and youth at St. Charles (Mo.) Christian Church (1981-83) and pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Portland, Ore. (1983-90).

During his years in Portland, he was adjunct teacher for Warner Pacific College as well as Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., and the Lutheran Institute for Theological Education in Tacoma, Wash.

Simpson also served Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon as a member of its board and chaired its witness and life commission. He chaired the Jewish-Christian Association of Oregon, was vice president of the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, and was on the board of directors of the Oregon chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Simpson also served as the moderator of the board of Snowcap Church-Community Action Program (Portland, Ore.) and chaired the Oregon Governor's Task Force on Hunger.  

He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and on the Society of Christian Ethics. He serves on the editorial board of dialog: A Journal of Theology. 

He received the B.A. degree from Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1972. He earned both the M.Div. and the Th.D. degrees at Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Mo. (1976 and 1983).

Simpson's essays on theology and public life have appeared in both English and German language collections. His most recent research and writing have been in the areas of Lutheran confessional theology, congregational mission, the doctrine of the trinity and the theology of the cross. His essay, "Towards a Lutheran 'Delight in the Law of the Lord': Church and State in the Context of Civil Society" will appear in a forthcoming book from Fortress Press. He authored Critical Social Theory: Prophetic Reasoning, and Christian Imagination (Fortress Press, 1998). He is presently working on a book with New Testament scholar David Fredrickson, Confessing Christ: Christology, Trinity, and Ecclesial Leadership.

Courses

ST 1486 01MARTIN LUTHER AS PUBLIC THEOLOGIAN Summer Session 2015-2016

This course explores the theology and Scriptural interpretation of Martin Luther from the perspective of public theology. Students will read both well-known and less-well-known texts of Luther that deal with questions of God’s two hands of ruling and human participation, faith active in love, political authority and justice, poverty, social welfare, and economic justice, war and peace, inter-faith relations, and natural disasters. FULFILLS CCME

CL 0535 50GODS MISSION-BIBLICAL AND THEOL EXPSpring Semester 2015-2016

This course examines biblical, theological and theoretical frameworks for congregational mission and leadership. Students explore the Bible's rich witness to God's mission from Genesis to Revelation. They critically engage major paradigms in Christian mission over history and across traditions with an eye toward developing their own capacity to lead Christian communities in mission.

SG 0405 50LEADING CHRISTIAN COMM IN MISSION Spring Semester 2015-2016

This course introduces students to the complex realities of forming and leading Christian communities in a pluralist era. Students engage biblical and theological traditions for understanding the triune God's mission in the world and how this shapes the church's missional identity and leadership. Insights from sociology help students interpret persons and communities similar to and different from them for the sake of witness and service. Through attending carefully to specific Christian communities and their contexts, students develop imagination, practices, habits, and skills for faithful and innovative public leadership.

SY 1602 50SERVING IN CONTEXT - ONLINE Spring Semester 2015-2016

This course equips students to reflect more deeply on the contexts in which they are serving. Throughout the year, students develop practices for intentional listening, observation, and discernment of the sociological and religious factors that shape their contexts. They identify resources from their own faith traditions that help them articulate an understanding of service that can fruitfully inform their work. There will be regular meetings through an online cohort, required readings, and a final writing project that focuses on a particular aspect of their experience during the year. Full course for full year participation.

SG 0405 01LEADING CHRISTIAN COMM IN MISSION January Term 2015-2016

This course introduces students to the complex realities of forming and leading Christian communities in a pluralist era. Students engage biblical and theological traditions for understanding the triune God's mission in the world and how this shapes the church's missional identity and leadership. Insights from sociology help students interpret persons and communities similar to and different from them for the sake of witness and service. Through attending carefully to specific Christian communities and their contexts, students develop imagination, practices, habits, and skills for faithful and innovative public leadership.

ST 1482 01D BONHOEFFER-E ROOSEVELT AND MLK JRFall Semester 2015-2016

This course focuses on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in dialogue with public theology today. Students will explore these persons' critical reflective insights within the contexts of their bold prophetic lives. Students will also have opportunity to make connections with current situations that call for theological-ethical insight and prophetic community life.

SY 1602 50SERVING IN CONTEXT - ONLINE Fall Semester 2015-2016

This course equips students to reflect more deeply on the contexts in which they are serving. Throughout the year, students develop practices for intentional listening, observation, and discernment of the sociological and religious factors that shape their contexts. They identify resources from their own faith traditions that help them articulate an understanding of service that can fruitfully inform their work. There will be regular meetings through an online cohort, required readings, and a final writing project that focuses on a particular aspect of their experience during the year. Full course for full year participation.

HT 0801 50LUTHERAN CONFESSIONAL WRITINGS Spring Semester 2014-2015

A study of the confessions of the Lutheran Church as set forth in the Book of Concord. The documents of the reforming movement, viewed in the historical settings, are explicated in the light of their witness to the centrality of the gospel of justification by faith. Consideration is given to the contemporary importance of this witness for the life and mission of the Lutheran Church in a post-secular age. A central question of the course focuses on what it means to confess today in ecumenical engagement, in culturally diverse situations and interfaith contexts, and how that confession is shaped by those contexts.

SG 0405 50 F6LEADING CHRISTIAN COMM IN MISSION Spring Semester 2014-2015

This course introduces students to the complex realities of forming and leading Christian communities in a pluralist era. Students engage biblical and theological traditions for understanding the triune God's mission in the world and how this shapes the church's missional identity and leadership. Insights from sociology help students interpret persons and communities similar to and different from them for the sake of witness and service. Through attending carefully to specific Christian communities and their contexts, students develop imagination, practices, habits, and skills for faithful and innovative public leadership. MUST HAVE REGISTERED FOR J-TERM SG0405-01 IN ORDER TO REGISTER FOR THIS COURSE.

ST 2446 01POSTCOLONIAL THEOL FROM UNDERSIDES Spring Semester 2014-2015

This course explores the emerging field of postcolonial theologies as they have arisen within global Christianity, both in the majority world and in various locations within Western societies. Students will come to understand the meaning and scope of postcolonial theologies and their interest in attending to minority and subjugated theological voices which have been lost, overlooked, or suppressed. Attention will be given to the role of Scriptural interpretation and theological formulation as it undergirds colonial and postcolonial dynamics and realities. Students will also explore how postcolonial theologies might shape their own practices as evangelical public leaders who forming Christian communities of faith, hope, and love seeking justice, reconciliation, and peace.

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Faculty Publications