“ A lot of people don’t like history, and there are all sorts of reasons for that, so you’ve got to sort of give them some sort of an indication that this is worthwhile stuff,” says Granquist, visiting associate professor of Church History. “ Many of the issues that we have now in the church are issues that go back several thousand years.”
In his teaching, Mark Granquist finds that many people suffer from what he calls "history phobia." But in Granquist's eyes, church history is nothing to be afraid of—in fact, it's not all that far off from the church today.
"A lot of people don't like history, and there are all sorts of reasons for that, so you've got to sort of give them some sort of an indication that this is worthwhile stuff," says Granquist, visiting associate professor of Church History. "Many of the issues that we have now in the church are issues that go back several thousand years."
Granquist seeks to show students that events in history provide the roots of what's happening today. For example, he points to the emergence of Christianity in today's Hmong community even as many Hmong people have carried on their traditional religion from Laos and Thailand. Hmong Christians face the question of whether they can participate in feasts that include sacrificed animals—a question that Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians. Likewise, Granquist says, much of today's New Age religion is tied to the Gnosticism that flourished in the early days of Christianity.
"These things—they never go away. They just get repackaged," he says. "There are things that students are going to be facing in their ministry which have roots that go way back."
A pastor's son who grew up largely around the Chicago area, Granquist holds an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He specializes in American religious history, especially Lutheranism in America and Scandinavian-American religion. Granquist joined the Luther Seminary faculty in 2007 after 15 years of teaching church history at colleges of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He taught at his undergraduate alma mater of St. Olaf College from 1992 to 2000 and at Gustavus Adolphus College from 2000 to 2007.
"When I started out teaching, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to fill an hour's worth of time, and now it's hard to get me to shut up," says Granquist, noting an emphasis on relational teaching to which tools such as technology are secondary. "I think the primary focus needs to be on that teacher-student relationship, and technology is important only insofar as it enhances that."