Strategic Plan: A Bold and Faithful Witness

Part 1: Vocation & Vision

1.2 Identity and Convictions

Identity

Luther Seminary is a community that understands itself called by God to prepare public evangelical leaders to respond to the challenges of the day and witness boldly to the gospel and the work of God in the world.

Public Evangelical Leaders

A public evangelical leader is one who is called by the church to provide leadership for Christian communities by giving voice to the gospel of Jesus Christ (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.

Among the institutions of the church, a seminary--this seminary--is called to think theologically about gospel and church, witness and mission, God and world, and to teach students to do the same. Three adjectives in particular define and describe our theological identity as a seminary in the evangelical Lutheran church:

Biblical:

First and foremost, we recognize that we are called to listen carefully and attentively to God's word of law and gospel in the Scriptures. We are, at heart, a community created and sustained by the word, and we believe that our hopes will be realized and fidelity measured to the extent that we attend to that word. We acknowledge the canonical Scriptures to be the written word of God, the source and norm of our faith and life; most important, the Scriptures point to God's living Word, Jesus Christ, the center of our proclamation, teaching, and life together. We commit ourselves to diligent reading and careful study of the Bible as we plan the work of Luther Seminary, and we affirm our call to teach students to do the same in order that they might lead communities in discerning who God is calling them to be and what God is calling them to do in this day and age.

Confessional:

Our reading of Scripture and practice of ministry is shaped by the Lutheran confessional writings and the ecumenical creeds and faith they affirm. At the heart of this theological heritage is the good news that in and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been justified by grace through faith and set free to love and serve our neighbor and the world. Because of the centrality of this confession to our mission, we attend carefully to the insights of the evangelical Reformers so that our current confession in word and service may be informed and guided by their witness. Toward this end we commit ourselves to teaching, learning, and scholarship that harvest the riches of the past in service to the future to which God is calling us. We commit ourselves further to interpreting and confessing the work of God in the world today and to teaching our students to do the same, as the Spirit gives us the ability.

Missional:

The biblical and confessional heritage we receive and confess leads us, under God, to participate in the mission of the triune God in and to the world: to preach and teach, to heal and serve, to create and sustain, to love the neighbor and confront evil, to promote peace and justice, to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to announce the forgiveness of sins and the possibility of abundant life in Jesus' name. To prepare students for this work, we attend carefully to the heritage that forms us, to the multiple contexts in which we find ourselves, and to the needs and conditions of the world, always with the intent to discern the means by which to bear witness to Christ and the work of God in a manner that is both relevant and persuasive. Faithful responsiveness to the current context for the sake of proclamation is the evangelical impulse that informs our teaching and drives all reform. Toward this end, we commit ourselves to sensitive and thorough engagement with our contemporary settings and cultural contexts, to ongoing dialogue with partners from around the globe who can best teach us about the needs of the world, and to a willingness to assess and adapt our efforts in service to greater fidelity to the gospel of God.

Convictions

Our shared sense of call and theological identity have helped Luther Seminary faculty, staff, and students to discern six core convictions that we hold to be normative for our life together as a seminary community. We desire and endeavor that the following convictions, and the biblical and theological beliefs they profess, increasingly mark our lives together as a particular community of faith in Jesus Christ. We also pray for the courage of these convictions so that our life together may serve as a witness to God's ongoing work in the world through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Ethos of Excellence:

We cultivate an ethos among faculty, staff, and students that pursues excellence, integrity, truth, and authenticity in everything we do for the sake of effective teaching and honest proclamation of the gospel.

Transformative Learning:

We value a rigorous and stimulating teaching and learning environment, the lifelong pursuit of intellectual and faith-filled inquiry and innovation, and the imaginative ideas that arise from crossdisciplinary theological dialogue, all making us better equipped to respond to God's call in service to neighbor and world.

Fellowship and Communion:

We strive to nurture a community that is grounded in and modeled on Christian fellowship, forgiveness, and reconciliation; a community made possible through our gathering around word and sacrament and nurtured through regular worship, prayer, and the breaking of bread together. Experiencing the joys and strengths, as well as the strife and conflict, of any human community, we seek opportunities for mutual encouragement, support, and appreciation, as well as other means to live more fully into the way of Christian discipleship.

Hospitality and Friendship:

We regard the gift of intentional hospitality as a mark of a compassionate community grounded in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who revealed God's mercy and grace for the world. With generosity and mutual love, we strive to welcome all as Christ would welcome them. We embrace all brothers and sisters in Christ as full participants in our shared community of faith and as true friends in the body of Christ.

Diversity and Openness:

Recognizing the diversity of God's world and church, we celebrate the gifts, perspectives, and experiences of all God's children. We are committed to encouraging an environment that rejoices in a vibrant and diverse community of faith, where different voices are recognized and respected as strengthening this seminary's response to God's call. We seek diversity in the seminary community that reflects God's church, strengthens Christian fellowship, and equips graduates to serve in the diverse communities to which they are called.

Thanksgiving and Stewardship:

We give thanks to the God of grace and love--made manifest in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ--for all we have been given and for all that has been entrusted to us. We embody this gratitude in benevolent response by being faithful stewards of God's mysteries. We seek to mirror God's abundant gifts of love, life, salvation, time, talent, and treasure by caring for God's creation, for ourselves and our resources, and for one another.

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