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Over 700 Attend Theological Symposium

More than 700 participants attended the 15th Annual Theological Symposium, “The Challenge of Homosexuality—The Church Responds,” held Sept. 21-22 on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Attendees included Seminary students, pastors from all parts of the United States and almost 20 pre-seminary students and faculty members from Concordia University System schools. The Symposium explored the changing use of Scripture and its interpretation in light of behavior and attitudes concerning sexuality in the contemporary world.

“For too long, the confessional church has progressively retreated from many contemporary social and moral issues of our day,” commented Dr. Bruce Hartung, associate professor of practical theology and director of continuing education and parish services at Concordia Seminary. “We condemn, at times, but we fail to study and engage deeply these issues utilizing our biblical and confessional perspectives. This Symposium was one of what we hope to be a number of others that will tackle some of these controversial issues.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, Dr. David L. Adams, associate professor of exegetical theology and director of educational technology at Concordia Seminary, began the presentations with “Setting the Stage for the Theological Symposium—What Are the Issues and the Stakes?”

The next plenary session speaker, Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, offered the address “The Use of Scripture Concerning Homosexuality,” which was followed by a moderated conversation of the same title.

Dr. Robert W. Weise, professor of practical theology and occupant of the Lutheran Charities Foundation Chair of Pastoral Ministry and Life Sciences at Concordia Seminary, presented “Christian Responses to the Culture’s Normalization of Homosexuality,” which was also followed by a moderated conversation.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Dr. Joel D. Biermann, assistant professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, offered the address “The Local Congregation Approaches the Issues: Lutheran Responses.” Another moderated conversation was followed by sectional presentations.

Following the symposium, Dr. A.R. Victor Raj, mission professor of exegetical theology and assistant director of the Institute for Mission Studies, presented a workshop titled, “Christ in Context.” A total of 14 Symposium participants attended. The Sept. 22-23 workshop highlighted changes in the world that have shifted the traditional view of Christianity, as well as effective witnessing in spite of these challenges. Topics included how Christ is in, among, before, ahead and for Christians.

The 16th Annual Theological Symposium is tentatively scheduled to take place Sept. 20-21, 2005. For more information, contact Continuing Education and Parish Services, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105; (314) 505-7123;