Paul J. Lokken
Assoc Dean, Grad. Theol. Ed.; Chair, Institutional Review Board; Chair, History/Theology Division

“ I've always had a deep and profound interest in theology. But the call to seminary was not logical at all. It’s something that happened to me. I had to respond.”

Paul Lokken's goal is to make Luther's graduate programs as effective as possible. "We don't want a church without a mind," he says. "The church needs scholars in its seminaries and colleges who can help us think through theological issues in the changing contexts of today's world. They provide the intellectual leadership that is leaven for the church."

After a 20-year career in law, Lokken entered the graduate program at Luther. "It's difficult to explain a call," he says. "I've always had a deep and profound interest in theology. But the call to seminary was not logical at all. It's something that happened to me. I had to respond."

Lokken, who received the doctorate in 2001, believes that it's important for lay people like himself to participate in theological education. As someone who has lived out his faith as a committed professional and businessperson, he has a unique perspective to share with students and seminary colleagues.

In addition, Lokken points out that the laity are beginning to take on more responsibility for the church's proclamation. "In the future, we will be forging a partnership between the ordained and the non-ordained servants of the church," he says. "In that sense, the presence of laypersons here at Luther is a reaffirmation of the servanthood of all believers."

Lokken also teaches courses in systematic theology and ethics. He seeks to help students understand that theology is the underpinning of everything they do in ministry. In his ethics course, Lokken does not present answers.  Instead he tries to help students fashion for themselves a process for ethical decision-making.

"I really enjoy teaching," Lokken says. "It's a great privilege to teach people who feel called to become servants of the church."