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Over 600 Attend 14th Annual Theological Symposium

More than 600 participants attended the 14th Annual Theological Symposium, “Identifying Authorities: The Limits of Theological Diversity and Confessional Unity,” held Sept. 23-24 at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. This year marked the third time that Symposium attendance exceeded 600. Attendees included Seminary students, pastors from all parts of the United States and more than 40 pre-seminary students and faculty members from Concordia University System schools.

The Symposium analyzed the growing theological diversity in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), including the impact of current agreements and disagreements. It also presented concrete proposals for change. Audio files of the plenary presentations will be posted on Concordia Seminary’s Web site ( on Monday, Oct. 6.

“This Symposium is a perfect example of how Concordia Seminary provides theological leadership in our church,” commented Rev. Glen Thomas, the Seminary’s vice president for seminary relations. “Pastors, professors, future pastors and laity witnessed insightful, theological investigation and discussion concerning that which unites us and that which divides us. Absent were partisan politics, bitterness and accusations. In fact, constructive ways of engaging one another in discussion were presented. In this way, Concordia Seminary seeks to serve and be responsive to the needs of the church.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 23, Dr. Andrew H. Bartelt, professor of exegetical theology and vice president for academic affairs at Concordia Seminary, offered a plenary session address, “By Which Authority? Diversity in the Midst of Unity.” The next plenary session speaker, Dr. Patrick R. Keifert, associate professor of systematic theology at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., presented “Theological Eyes: The Authorities Between Us and the Scriptures/Confessions.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, a panel discussion titled, “When Authorities Collide: A Conversation,” was held. Participants included Dr. Glenn Nielsen, associate professor of practical theology and director of vicarage at Concordia Seminary; Dr. Ken R. Schurb, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Moberly, Mo.; and Dr. William C. Weinrich, academic dean and professor of historical theology, patristic studies, New Testament and systematic theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Symposium closed with an informal discussion which reflected on the event’s presentations. Participants included Keifert, Bartelt and Dr. Charles P. Arand, professor of systematic theology, associate vice president for academic affairs and occupant of The Waldemar A. and June Schuette Chair in Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Following the Symposium, Dr. Victor Raj, mission professor of exegetical theology and assistant director of the Institute for Mission Studies, presented a workshop titled, “In a World of Gods, Why Jesus?” A total of 18 Symposium participants attended. The Sept. 24-25 workshop highlighted Christian responses to inclusive religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and other forms of Eastern spirituality.

The Fifteenth Annual Theological Symposium is scheduled to take place Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 21-22, 2004.

For more information, contact Continuing Education, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105; 314.505.7123;