Years ago I participated in an intensive small group study about faith – faith practices, understanding self, experiencing God in the everyday. After the class was done, I felt energized and committed to the discovery of God at work in the world. But as time passed, the excitement began to fade and I found myself desperate for that same kind of commitment through intentional, deep study. (See: A Thirst for Deep Roots).
So one whole year ago I began an unexpected new journey: the pursuit of a Certificate of Theological Studies through Wartburg Seminary. This might sound like a fancy title; or like a grand career change is in my future. But really, this is simply an opportunity to learn more! It is an 8-course program with online classes covering Bible, church history, Theology and more. I have the opportunity to read, write and explore faith on my own time with other people equally as passionate (nerdy?) about faith and Christianity! There’s a schedule; I’m committed!
I have finished two courses. The first explored the use of Psalms in worship life, which made this rich book far more meaningful. (Helpful since we recite verses from the Psalms every single week!) The second class covered the potentially controversial correlation between Faith and Money. We considered how we might transcend the taboo of speaking about money in church, and explored the role of money and possessions in faith life.
A new class begins this fall, and I have been anxiously waiting for the start date!
Becoming a Theologian of the Cross in Context (CE093E)
This course looks at Martin Luther’s theology of the cross from the standpoint of a theologian engaged in the context of 21st-Century North America and specifically in urban and rural settings. It makes use of Luther’s description of what it means to be a “theologian” of the cross, his teaching about vocation, opportunity for reflection about the cross and the reign of God, and a cross-shaped model for theological reflection. Participants will emerge better prepared to help others become theologians of the cross as well.
My Lutheran friends are probably (hopefully!) familiar with this theological understanding from Martin Luther. Yet when I’ve been asked what my new class is about, I’ve struggled to explain it. (To be honest, finding words to speak is usually a struggle – so I write…)
In short… The punishment of sin is death, and we can not escape sin. God saw this and in God’s love for creation, God as Son became human, died and made salvation available to all. Knowing we are not slave to tracking our sin, we are free to live out God’s love in the world, honest about our flaws and open to how the Spirit works among us.
At the surface, I think we can understand this “Cliffs Notes” explanation of Theology of the Cross. But there is so much scripture and theological study behind these words! It is the ongoing pursuit of depth which makes this theology so richly applied in my life!
My class hasn’t started yet; I’ve learned nothing new on the subject recently. I am a beginner, taking baby steps into the deep theological perspective of Luther, a priest, monk and professor from the 1500’s. Why start to write about it now? I write today to promote! If you have any quiet desire in your heart to learn more, to dig deep and go wide, sign up for the class! It is open to all, completely online and for the most part fits within a schedule you create.
Maybe Lutheran teachings are not what you go for. So find something! If you have questions about Christianity or want to better understand how God works in the world, start somewhere! Don’t wait for someone else to provide resources. There are no wrong questions, no wrong place to start or re-enter your journey. Go deep, build roots!