What will it mean to be a confessional Lutheran in a “post-denominational” age? This topic will be addressed by the Eleventh Annual Theological Symposium to be held Sept. 19-20 on the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, campus. The changing theological and denominational landscape raises questions about confessional identity. This symposium will provide answers. Through cultural analysis, confessional study and theological leadership, speakers and participants will work toward a definition of Lutheran confessional identity in the 21st century.
The symposium will begin with cultural analysis defining post-denominational America. Dr. Patrick R. Keifert from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., will help participants form a common definition of the cultural landscape surrounding the Lutheran church today.
Participants also will engage in confessional study. Dr. Charles Arand, chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, will define what it means for the church to be confessional under the title, “The Role of a Confessional Church in a Post-Confessional Era.”
On Sept. 20, Dr. John F. Johnson, president of Concordia Seminary, will provide directions for the Lutheran church’s future in response to the symposium’s theme.
Dr. Robert Kolb, director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary, will be the closing respondent, summarizing and guiding participants into the next set of questions raised by the practice of confessional identity in the 21st century.
On Sept. 19, participants will witness the broader spectrum of Lutheran confessional practice as representatives from various Lutheran churches gather to discuss how their church maintains its confessional identity in the post-denominational scene. The panel will include representatives from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), International Lutheran Church (ILC) and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). Leonard Klein, parish pastor and former editor of Lutheran Forum will comment on the ELCA. Paul Kelm, pastor, synodical administrator, educator and church consultant, will provide background from WELS. Werner Klön, professor at Lutherische Theologische Hochschule in Oberursal, Germany, will inform attendees on the direction of the ILC.
On Sept. 20, symposium sectionals will address confessional identity with a more narrow focus upon practice in the LCMS. Morning sectionals will address confessional identity at the synodical level and afternoon sectionals at the congregational level. These sectionals are designed to contextualize the themes and questions of the conference by examining specific situations in synodical and pastoral practice. As always, these sectionals provide an opportunity for greater discussion among participants as well as for the presentation of open/academic sectionals from symposium attendees.
A post-symposium workshop on evangelism, “Witnessing in the Third Wave,” will be offered Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, September 20 and 21, with Dr. Victor Raj, assistant director of the Institute for Mission Studies, as presenter. The workshop explores the challenge of the “third wave” of spirituality that is “a blending of spiritual principles from the east and the west that will govern businesses and the work place” in the near future.
Parish pastors, district and synodical officials, Seminary and Concordia College/University students and faculty, and interested laypersons are all welcome to attend. For information and/or registration, e-mail or call the Office of Continuing Education and Parish Services at (314) 505-7105.