Fall Semester Begins August 21!

The new academic year at ILT is quickly coming. The fall semester begins on August 21. There is still plenty of time to register for courses. If you are thinking about getting a degree or certificate from ILT, please contact us. We are offering about 60 courses to students this fall. There are plenty of opportunities for you to learn from our expert faculty. Even if you just want to take one class about a topic that interests you, there are many options from which to choose.

Students are also participating in doctoral level research, teaching assistants, practicums, and internships. There are many things going on for students at ILT this fall. Please join us and learn from the best in the field. Learn about things that you have always wondered about.

To Learn More: Contact Joel Williams

ILT’s Christ School of Theology is offering the following courses this fall:

  • Koine Greek
  • Lutheran Biblical Interpretation
  • Pentateuch and Histories (Genesis through 2 Kings)
  • Epistles and Formation of the New Testament
  • Isaiah
  • A Secular World
  • Proclamation in the 21st Century
  • History of Christian Thought II: The Reformation
  • Christology
  • Church, Spirit and the Two Kingdoms
  • Twentieth Century Theology
  • The Lutheran Confessions
  • The Christian Doctrine of Atonement
  • Luther’s Concept of Freedom
  • Pastoral Care I
  • The Teaching Shepherd
  • Theology and Practice of Worship
  • Homiletics I
  • Faith, Knowledge and Reason
  • Ethics in a Lutheran Perspective
  • Theological German
  • Methodology and Approaches to Graduate Study
  • Theological Methods

ILT’s Christ College is offering the following classes:

  • Biblical Hebrew I
  • Principles of Biblical Interpretation
  • New Testament Theology and History
  • Life and Theology of Moses
  • Life and Theology of David
  • Latin I
  • Academic Research and Writing
  • History of Western Civilization I
  • Systematic Theology I
  • History of the Post-Reformation Christian Church
  • Religious Movements in North America
  • The Age of Orthodoxy
  • Foundations of Mathematics
  • Introduction to Western Philosophy I
  • Pastoral Care
  • Lutheran Worship
  • Proclaiming God’s Word
  • Christian Education for the Parish

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost A

Jesus knows the truth about the soil—that is, he knows that soil cannot improve itself.  Soil cannot make itself good.  Only the work of another does that.  Jesus knows that, in the making of good soil out of the human heart, only the Word of God is the active agent.  He also would have known that the hearing of the Word of God and understanding it meant “standing under” the authority of the Word of God as a living and active Word of command and promise.  This Word works repentance and new life upon its hearers.  The authority of this Word orders sinners to a merciful death so that saints can be drawn forth in the newness of life.  This death-dealing/life-giving Word (1 Sam. 2:6) kills the Old Adam and the Old Eve and their works, making them fit only for compost (Is. 64:6 & Phil. 3:6-8).  Time and again, the Word of God repents you, making compost of your old life and its works.  Repeated application of such fertilizer eventually makes “good soil” of your heart and your life.  Your repeated return to repentance is the only progress available in your desire to be “good soil.”

Prayers from one who prefers a progress described as “onward and upward” over the progress known as “repeated return to repentance…”

Holy Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive.  Grant that your Son’s command, “Repent!” so work upon me that my entire life is one of repentance.  Lord, make it so!

Holy Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive.  Grant that as I am repented, I would confess my sins and receive the forgiveness of my sins such that I am brought into new life through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Lord, make it so!

Holy Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive.  Provide for this new life given to me by nourishing it through the means of grace—Your Word and Your sacraments—so that I progress by being repented again and again.  Lord, make it so!

Holy Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive.  As I know the life of humility by that repeated repentance, set my hands to useful work in my vocations and my callings.  Lord, make it so!

Holy Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive.  Through the usefulness of my work and the humility of standing under your Word, grant me contentment during these the days of my baptism.  Lord, make it so!

Holy Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology provide staff and faculty that raise up preachers of your death-dealing/life-giving Word.  Lord, make it so!

Holy Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive.  Hold me in the humility of walking by faith alone and not by sight as I await the coming of your Son in glory.  Lord, make it so!

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The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost A, July 16, 2023

The cheerleaders at my (long ago) high school had a chant they would use to encourage the players on the court: “V-I-C-T-0-R-Y, that’s the way we spell “success!” The team’s only way of knowing they’d been successful was when they had a victory over their opponents.

The prophet Isaiah was preaching to the Israelites whose opponents had had the victory. The Israelites had been defeated, herded off to exile in Babylon, and awaited the work of their God. Isaiah announced to them that their God was indeed working. Isaiah spoke promises from their Lord and delivered assurances of their certainty. The promise delivered to them was forgiveness from their God; they would receive the Lord’s mercy. It was promised to them by the Word of God—a most certain and true promise.

This Word of promise was so sure and certain that it could be compared to the certainty of rain and snow. It was as certain as the sprouting of the seeds. It was as certain as the nourishment which comes from bread. The Word of the Lord always accomplishes the purpose for which the Lord sends it. For faith’s sake, the accomplishment of that purpose hides behind whatever mask God uses at the time. This is most certainly true!

Today, you have heard the Word of the Lord. It has been delivered to you by your pastor, by those who read the scriptures, by those who served communion: “The body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you!” God gives his Word so that his purpose—your salvation–will be accomplished. For faith’s sake, only the eyes of faith “see” this salvation but nonetheless, it is your salvation. This is most certainly true!

Table Talk: Tell of a time you received a promise and how you waited for it to come about. How important is it to trust the one who makes the promise so that you can wait faithfully?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us such trust in you that we can wait faithfully for the victory you give us. Amen

Isaiah 55:10-13

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost A, July 9, 2023

You’ve seen them, haven’t you?  The men and women put behind bars, thrown in jail, imprisoned?  The ones the sheriff, the police, or the FBI have taken captive, placed in handcuffs and shackles, and hauled away?  You’ve seen them:  angry and defiant—raging at their jailor, or guilty and despairing—empty and hopeless.   They are the ones caught by the long arm of the law and exposed for what they are—lawbreakers, captive to sin; they are guilty.

The prophets like Zechariah delivered God’s word of law to the people of Israel.  It exposed them for what they were:  captives to sin, and guilty.  The consequences were such that they were taken prisoner and made slaves by other nations such as the Assyrians and Babylonians.

 But the prophets also spoke God’s word of gospel:  that the captives had hope of redemption—they did have a deliverer, and so, even though they were prisoners, they were given hope.  They were now prisoners of hope and not of despair.  We, who are guilty of our own sin and captive to it, know that deliverer as Jesus Christ.  He is God’s good news for us.  Jesus Christ is our hope of redemption so that in faith we are free.  In Christ we have hope.  “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts, through the Holy Spirit who has been given us” (Ro. 5:5).

Table Talk:  Talk about prisoners you have seen and how they appeared.  Tell about what you think it means to have hope even though you are still a prisoner.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for freedom in Jesus.  Amen

Zechariah 9:9-12

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost A

Jesus speaks plainly:  The Father hides things.  He hides himself, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself” (Is. 45:15); and he hides all things in Jesus Christ (vs.27).  Why is this so?  It is so that Jesus can be the sole revelation of the Father.  Jesus, the Son, chooses the ones to whom he reveals the Father (vs. 27).  Again, Jesus speaks an exclusionary statement:  Jesus, to the exclusion of every other source, is the only one who reveals the Father.  Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6) to the exclusion of any other claim to be a way, any other claim to be a truth, and any other claim to be a life.  Jesus possesses “all authority” (Mt. 28:18), excluding every other claim to authority.  Jesus possesses “all things” (Mt. 11: 27) to the exclusion of anyone or anything else asserting a claim to them.   You, know it or not, are possessed by Jesus.  He excludes your being possessed by anything else… even yourself.

Prayers from one who would rather be self-possessed than Jesus-possessed…

Heavenly Father, you have hidden yourself so that you would be revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Provide me with this revelation through the means of grace so that I would not seek you where you do not want to be found; through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you have hidden yourself so that you would be revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Provide me with singular reliance on your being revealed through Jesus Christ so that as I come to know him, I come to know you as well; through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you have hidden yourself so that you would be revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Provide me with the faith worked by the Holy Spirit as both you and your Son are revealed to me; through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you have hidden yourself so that you would be revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.  As I am held in the faith worked by the Holy Spirit, provide me with confidence such that I can pour myself out in usefulness to my neighbors; through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you have hidden yourself so that you would be revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.  As I am poured out in usefulness, provide me with such encouragement and building up that I do not grow weary in my service; through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you have hidden yourself so that you would be revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology be held as a place where you are made known through the preaching of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone; through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you have hidden yourself so that you would be revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.   As I am encouraged and built up in my usefulness, keep me content in your work as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so that I patiently await your Son’s manifestation in glory; through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord.  Amen

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Title Change & Introducing New Scholar

Here at ILT’s Christ School of Theology, we have had the privilege and pleasure of working with three professors and scholars that have each heretofore had the title of “Ph.D. Fellow.” They are Dr. Paul Hinlicky, Dr. Mark Mattes and Dr. Dennis Ngien. All three are frequently published scholars in their particular areas and have worked extensively with our Doctoral students and candidates through teaching and mentoring. Their excellent work has been a critical factor in the expansion and development of our Doctoral programs.

A hearty welcome to Dr. Andrea Vestrucci! We are adding one new scholar and researcher to this illustrious team starting on July 1, 2023. His name is Dr. Andrea Vestrucci and he hails from northern Italy. Not only is he one of a very small number of ordained Lutheran pastors in Italy, but he holds two Ph.D. degrees and is a renowned scholar in Luther’s theology, computational metaphysics, and AI and Ethics. He has a current appointment at the University of Bamberg, Germany and will be teaching PTE 842, “Luther’s Concept of Freedom for the Christ School of Theology” in the Fall of 2023.

But in our board and faculty meetings during the week of June 12-17, we identified one detail about our work with these professors that we have decided to change. We noted that the title “Ph.D. Fellow” was not well understood regarding the role and qualifications of these important faculty members. Thus, after various suggestions as well as feedback from those involved, we decided to create a new title for these colleagues. As of July 1, 2023, all four of these colleagues will be officially appointed as “Distinguished Professor and Research Fellow” at the Christ School of Theology. This title represents in at least two ways their qualifications as well as what they will be undertaking with our students and faculty. “Distinguished Professor” because they have shown real excellence in their respective fields, both in teaching and mentoring. “Research Fellow” because they will be continuing to engage in research and publication in community and fellowship with the Christ School of Theology. We are more than grateful for their willingness to serve with us and wish them God’s blessings in our work together!

By Daniel Hackmann, Ph.D.
Professor and Academic Dean

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost A

Jesus himself tells us there are criteria of worthiness.  To be “worthy” of Jesus means being a cross-bearer.  Luther speaks of this when describes the marks of the church.  The seventh of the seven marks is, as Luther tells us, the Holy Cross—that is, suffering.  Whoever does not bear this suffering is not “worthy” of Jesus.  In the text before us, Jesus speaks to his disciples… he speaks to all those who are called out of the world into Jesus’ presence in order to receive his gifts which are the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.  The ones who are called out of the world are then sent back into to world where they must suffer the hiddenness of Jesus’ gifts.  The forgiveness of sins is hidden beneath the sins they continue to commit.  The eternal life of Jesus is hidden beneath the mortality of their own flesh.  Their salvation is hidden beneath the condemnation and accusation of the law.  This is the mark of the cross to be suffered by those called out of the world to be the church of Jesus Christ.  Without bearing this mark of hiddenness, the church and its members are not worthy of their Lord.

Prayers from one who is continually tempted to throw off the mark of suffering and force Jesus’ gifts into visibility…

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have sent your Son into the world to call his church out of the world.   So open my ears that I would hear his call, gather in his presence, and receive his gifts.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have sent your Son into the world to call his church out of the world.   Grant that, as I bear the cross of Jesus’ gifts being hidden, I would trust in their reality because your Word has promised them to me.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have sent your Son into the world to call his church out of the world.   As I am brought to trust and faith in your Word despite the gifts’ hiddenness, grant that my only worthiness consists of believing the words “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have sent your Son into the world to call his church out of the world.   As I am gathered with others out of the world and into the church… into the body of Christ, grant that when I am sent out into the world once more, these fellow members of the body receive the benefits of the labor of my hands.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have sent your Son into the world to call his church out of the world.   As the work of my hands proves useful to those in the world around me, hold me in the humility of walking by faith and not by sight.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have sent your Son into the world to call his church out of the world.   Provide the Institute of Lutheran Theology with the means to equip and support those who are called out of the world.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have sent your Son into the world to call his church out of the world.   As I anticipate that day when faith shall become sight, grant to me the patience to await that day suffering the cross of hiddenness during these days of my baptism.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

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The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost A, July 2, 2023

Chapter 28 in the book of Jeremiah tells the story of two prophets—one a true prophet of the Lord, the other a false prophet.  Jeremiah is the true prophet.  He has met the criteria set forth in the Book of Deuteronomy: “If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the LORD has not spoken.” (18:21) His prophecy concerning the Babylonian conquest of Judah was true; it came to pass.  Like the prophets before him, Jeremiah prophesied both God’s wrath and God’s love.

Hananiah was prophesying peace and a beneficial outcome for Jerusalem in its conflict with Babylon.  It was a prophecy that would prove false.  Hananiah was not a prophet of the Lord and would die an untimely death. (Vs. 16-17).

Preachers today must be careful to speak the truth as well so that they deliver the Word of the Lord.  Preachers—who are the prophets of this day and age—must deliver the Word of the Lord as both God’s wrath and God’s love—that is, both Law and Gospel must be preached.  God’s judgment on sin and God’s promise of life in Jesus Christ are inseparable.  God’s mercy and love given in Jesus Christ has the last word (Ro. 8:37-39).

Table Talk:  What does it mean to you when you can be confident that your preacher’s words are the Word of God?  Can you think of people who’ve been false prophets?

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you have given us your Word as Jesus Christ Incarnate; and as the Holy Scriptures; and as the proclamation of Law and Gospel.  Hold us in your Word of truth that we might believe.  Amen

Jeremiah 28:5-9

5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord, 6 and the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7 Yet hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.

Create Moments Like These With Your Support

Dear Friend,

Many of you have walked with us for the past ten years. Thank you for all your prayers and financial gifts. You have made the Institute of Lutheran Theology possible! There has never been an independent Lutheran seminary and graduate school in North America, and certainly not a school as large as your Institute of Lutheran Theology. Your generosity birthed us!

I won’t sugarcoat the present situation: It is grave. There are not nearly enough Lutheran pastors to fill Lutheran pulpits, and the situation is getting worse. Moreover, many now serving Lutheran churches seem to believe Niebuhr’s trenchant phrase: A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

But at ILT we believe that humans are sinful, that God is both wrath and love, that God’s kingdom is other than our utopias, and that salvation is through the Cross of Christ. We teach these things to our students and instruct them how to proclaim passionately and clearly the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. We believe that being called to be a preacher and teacher of Christ Jesus is very serious business indeed, and that to serve God profoundly is the highest calling any of us could have.

ILT is growing. We should have over 105 students studying in our graduate programs this fall, with total enrollments of 135 or more. We have been accredited by the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) already for five years, and recently were awarded our first ten-year accreditation. Our seminary and graduate school – the Christ School of Theology – will submit its first comprehensive self-study for the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) accreditation this fall.

While our students flock to us from mostly Lutheran church bodies, we are getting increasing numbers coming from other traditions as well. What unites our students is a conviction that God exists, that God causes creation and redemption to be, that our world is losing its transcendent moorings and moral compass, and that God in Christ can reconcile even this very fallen world unto Himself. There is no more exciting time to be a preacher and teacher of the Risen Lord! God continues to do great things today!

There are so many ILT students that I could tell you about. They are extraordinarily committed! As our students become effective teachers and preachers of the Word through their studies with us, so many lives are being changed. When you invest financially in ILT, you change lives not only now, but in generations to come, for teachers teach and preachers preach to one generation who teach and preach to the next. How many future people will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be grasped by the Holy Spirit because of what we do today? How many lives will be saved? This is serious business indeed. But our students cannot possibly pay for the quality education they are receiving. Whether it be through financial aid, student scholarships, or supporting general operations, your financial gifts make it possible for faithful, courageous, and competent students to become pastors, teachers and professors of Christ and Him crucified. You are our partners and are therefore as important as ILT faculty and staff in producing the next generations of faithful Lutheran pastors and teachers.

We have secured a fiscal year-end gift of $25,000 if we can raise $75,000 by the end of June. Can you help us achieve this $100,000 June goal? All we can do is announce to you our need and wait for the Spirit to do the rest. He (and you) has always given us what is needed. If three of you gave $10,000, five gave $5,000, and twenty gave $1,000, we would have the $75,000! Know, however, that we appreciate any gift of any size! Maybe we can do better than $100,000, for our God is a God of surplus.

Blessings!
Dr. Dennis Bielfeldt, President

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The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost A, June 25, 2023

Jeremiah, known as the prophet of doom and gloom, prophesied the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army that had laid siege to it.  His fellow city dwellers weren’t pleased with his prophecies and regularly persecuted him, even to the point of stripping him down to the ancient equivalent of underwear and dropping him into a cistern (cf. Jer. 38:6 & 11).  Jeremiah, though, was not left to his own devices in dealing with these persecutors.  He had the Lord on his side… the Lord as a “dread warrior” (vs. 11).

Jeremiah did not take up the struggle to deal with his persecutors.  He already had a calling:  that of prophet.  He committed his cause to the Lord (vs. 12).  That commitment did not prove to be in vain.  Jeremiah has cause to sing to and praise the Lord.  The Lord did not disappoint; he delivered the needy person’s life… that needy prophet’s life… from the hands of those evildoers (vs. 13).

There are many avenues of persecution that beset you, some conscious and intentional and others not so much.  The conscious and intentional persecution comes from a world that does not want to hear the words you deliver in what could be called your “prophecy.”  Those words become fighting words in the ears of the world… words like the exclusiveness of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life… words like the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name.  The other sort of persecution comes from the seemingly mindless and random afflictions of illness, accident, etc.  No matter the persecution, your cause is already committed to the Lord.  He is your “dread warrior.”  He will bring you to sing of and praise him for he will deliver your needy life… deliver it right out of the hands of both evil and evildoers.

Table Talk:  Discuss the words and ways of Christians that put them at odds with the world.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, as I bring my cause to you and commit it to your hand, give me the trust and confidence that you will not disappoint me.  Amen

Jeremiah 20:7-13

7 O Lord, you have deceived me,

and I was deceived;

you are stronger than I,

and you have prevailed.

I have become a laughingstock all the day;

everyone mocks me.

8 For whenever I speak, I cry out,

I shout, Violence and destruction!

For the word of the Lord has become for me

a reproach and derision all day long.

9 If I say, I will not mention him,

or speak any more in his name,

there is in my heart as it were a burning fire

shut up in my bones,

and I am weary with holding it in,

and I cannot.

10 For I hear many whispering.

Terror is on every side!

Denounce him! Let us denounce him!

say all my close friends,

watching for my fall.

Perhaps he will be deceived;

then we can overcome him

and take our revenge on him.

11 But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;

therefore my persecutors will stumble;

they will not overcome me.

They will be greatly shamed,

for they will not succeed.

Their eternal dishonor

will never be forgotten.

12 O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous,

who sees the heart and the mind,

let me see your vengeance upon them,

for to you have I committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord;

praise the Lord!

For he has delivered the life of the needy

from the hand of evildoers.

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