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Story Magazine

First Quarter 2009

Meet Luther Seminary's Newest Faculty Members

by Kari Aanestad, M.Div. junior

Christian Scharen, Assistant Professor of Worship

Christian Scharen
Assistant Professor of Worship
Prior to joining the Luther Seminary faculty, Christian Scharen spent four years as director of the Faith as a Way of Life program at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and assistant professor of congregational studies and practical theology (adjunct) at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.

What are you most excited about as you begin your time at Luther Seminary?
Luther has a clear identity focused on God's mission of reconciliation through the church for the sake of the world. It has clarity of purpose in preparing leaders for participation in God's mission. It has a long tradition of outstanding faculty who seek to further this identity and purpose. That clarity and the challenge of living it out in our teaching, learning and living excite me most.

What do you see your role as in respect to the mission of the church?
There are many ways to deepen our awareness and understanding of the world and God's work within it. I will try to see the big picture, both in terms of my own courses in relation to other faculty at Luther but also in relation to a whole learning trajectory over student lives that began with their families and home churches, schools and friends, colleges, and life experience of very many sorts. One key, I believe, is making sure our questions are big enough to catch us up into the work of God in Christ. That when we gather to learn together, the stakes are as high as God would set for us.

Dwight Zscheile
Assistant Professor of Congregational Mission and Leadership
Dwight Zscheile, '08, served as executive pastor of a relatively new, larger congregation outside Washington, D.C., in what was at the time America's fastest-growing and second-most unchurched county. He completed his Ph.D. in Congregational Mission and Leadership at Luther in 2008.

Why do you think what CML does is important for the mission of the church in North America?
The church in North America is facing an epochal change in relationship to its surrounding culture. Preparing leaders to start new congregations or shepherd existing congregations in faithfulness to the gospel amidst such changes is vital to the church's survival and flourishing.

What drew you to Luther Seminary?
Luther Seminary is taking seriously the challenges of what it means to be church in a rapidly changing world. I value the depth of Luther's theological and confessional commitments along with its serious attention to leadership and mission.

Dirk Lange
Associate Professor of Worship
Dirk Lange's lifelong concern has been the church and its witness to the gospel. As a young man, this concern took him to live as a monk in the community of Taizच, France. Besides being responsible for the prayer and music at Taizच for almost 10 years, he was also deeply involved in the "lived" liturgies of Christians in Communist Europe.

What are you most excited about as you begin your time at Luther?
The great Lutheran and ecumenical diversity excites me. Here is a school committed to understanding the Lutheran Confessions in a multi-cultural context and, at the same time, redefining what mission means for the church and the world. The challenge is not only "translating" the Confessions for today's world, it is also the challenge of the Sermon on the Mount: living (and then of course teaching) a spirituality in a world that is both deeply countercultural and yet continually tuned into the longing of culture, society, and world.

What are your particular interests?
My interest in the Confessions is paralleled with a deep interest in Luther's own liturgical theology. My dissertation, "In,With, and Under: A Liturgical Disruption of Theology" explores Luther's eucharistic hermeneutic. Luther, in order to reform the church in his day, turned first to the liturgy. My writing focuses on liturgy through the lens of a post-structuralist understanding of "event" and engages a deconstruction of classic liturgical theology, applying this deconstruction to the contemporary North American scene. I hope it will foster creative and gospel-founded discussions within the ELCA (and the broader church) on the meaning of worship, mission and ethics, as well as open the door to a methodology for theological study itself.

For more in-depth interviews with these faculty members, go to

Dirk Lange, Associate Professor of Worship

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