The Institute of Lutheran Theology is a Christian faith community, seminary and graduate school that rigorously equips faithful pastors, teachers, and lay people to effectively proclaim the Gospel and serve Christ's church throughout the world.
The Institute of Lutheran Theology will be a leading center for classical theological study in the Lutheran tradition that, consistent with the Great Commission, holds the scandal of the cross before the church and the world through (1) its students and graduates, (2) its participation in the ecumenical theological enterprise, and (3) its pioneering efforts in lay, undergraduate, seminary, and graduate education.
ILT students will love, know, and apply the Scriptures as the
Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of all their teaching.
ILT students will interpret the Scriptures as Law and
Gospel in light of the Lutheran Confessional writings.
ILT students will recognize both the full revelation of Jesus Christ
and the full reality of the world as essential for the theological task.
ILT students will exhibit a spirit of openness
in theological discussion and interaction.
ILT students will confess the Gospel of
Jesus Christ as the only hope for the world.
We are bold in asserting
the truth of the gospel.
ILT confesses with ultimate urgency the gospel of Jesus Christ once delivered to the saints, as it is proclaimed in the Holy Scripture and confessed in the Lutheran Symbolic Books, without compromise or abridgment.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith. . .” (Romans 1:16)
We are bound in our
submission to the
cross of Jesus.
ILT does not glory in possessing truths about Jesus Christ,
but is captured by the truth of Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ,
and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
We are open in listening to all who may contribute to the theological task.
ILT is committed to freedom of inquiry and expression in service to
understanding and proclaiming the truth of the gospel.
“We take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
We are critical in
our examination of
all truth claims.
ILT fosters the right use of reason and demands
intellectual honesty from all members of its community.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the
will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
ILT is not captive to any external restrictions but is free to serve
the whole church and the world at large with integrity and faithfulness.
We are independent in carrying out our mission.
“I have become all things to all people, that I might by
all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22b)
We are hospitable in serving our students.
ILT seeks to make an excellent theological education available
to students regardless of their location or circumstances.
“We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault
may be found with our ministry.” (2 Corinthians 6:3)
Letter From The President
Dennis Bielfeldt, Ph.D.
In 2018 the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) received initial institutional accreditation from the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Since ABHE-accredited institutions are recognized by both the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the US Department of Education (USDE), the ILT degree or certificate is a very significant academic achievement and credential.
ILT began with the hope of establishing a house of studies that would again presuppose the “hermeneutic of the Lutheran Reformation.” It began without funds, but with hope that God would find a way actually to accomplish the training of the next generations of faithful Lutheran preachers and teachers. Looking back, I can see now that we were very bold. We lived by the hope that ILT could grow and develop, and thus boldly created new programs and structures.
Our first academic program, defined in 2009, was the Pastoral Ministry Certificate (PMC). We subsequently developed a Master of Divinity, a Master of Sacred Theology, a Master of Arts in Religion, and a Doctor of Ministry degree. We were bold to think we could do this because of a hope that Christ had gifted to us.
In the 2019-2020 catalog there are many new programs, e.g., a Life in Christ
Certificate, a Master of Ministry, a Master of Military Chaplaincy, and, most significantly, a Ph.D. program. We have from the beginning believed that the development of competent and faithful pastors depends profoundly on having competent and faithful professors to teach them.
We are bold to think that we can train future, faithful professors here at ILT. Since we believed that we had the faculty, the library, and the technology to develop a first-class Ph.D. program -- see p. 79ff.—we were bold last year to ask ABHE for a substantive change in programming. They granted it. Stay tuned for more boldness to come!
Some believe that boldness is a type of edginess. We are OK with being called “edgy.” We do things in new ways, and teach profoundly the great Christian intellectual tradition to students who have not heard or can no longer remember. Our common past has become “edgy” because of the forgetfulness of our present. But the study of the past entices students to escape the tyranny of their present. We are humbled to have a bold calling in presenting students with common remembering. May all our students be bold in their studies!
Dennis Bielfeldt Ph.D.
Because the Institute of Lutheran Theology is established as a theological endeavor holding to the reality of God and the scandal of the cross, the authority of Scripture, the truth of Lutheran affirmations, and the notion that the church is hidden yet revealed, the Institute of Lutheran Theology says certain things about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity, the church, and the end times.
Is the God who hides
and the God who reveals himself.
God hides behind the mask of his attributes in order to reveal himself in his Word.
Is the finite human who
contains the infinite divinity.
Jesus Christ—true God from eternity & true man born of the Virgin Mary—is the Word of God, the Savior of the world, and our Lord; he was crucified for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
The Holy Spirit
Is the Spirit who
creates out of nothing.
Working through the Word and Sacraments alone— apart from reason and free will, the Holy Spirit creates faith in Christ where there had only been the nothingness of unbelief.
Are simultaneously and
totally saint and sinner.
During the days of their Baptism, believers are totally justified and sanctified, possessing already their eternal life, yet they are at one and the same time totally sinful and waiting upon their mortal end.
Is always in
need of reform.
Whenever the church seeks to be known outside of its concrete signs (Word, Baptism, Supper, Absolution, Ministry, Prayer, and Cross), it needs reformation; that is—the repentance delivered through the preached Word of God.
The End Time
Is in Jesus Christ,
who is the new creation.
The kingdom has come and already comes in the person of Jesus Christ. It comes to faith now and will come in visible glory on the last day.
In addition to our commitment to
Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions,
five foundational principles shape
our curriculum and thinking:
God is real and exists
beyond human awareness,
conception, and language.
Accordingly, when we pray, we do not pray to ourselves, but to a God whose existence does not depend upon us.
God’s gift of language
enables us to make
truth claims about God.
Human emotion, thought, and language do not ultimately determine what is true or false about God, but rather our language reflects the determinate contour of the divine.
God can and does
act in the world.
Divine action must not be
construed only metaphorically.
A Lutheran Theology of Nature
God expresses Himself
in the natural order.
Conversation with science and technology furthers our recognition that God expresses Himself in the natural order in ways that inform our understanding of the divine.
The Internal Clarity of Scripture
God’s Word is
clear, not obscure.
God’s revelation is expressed clearly in Holy Scripture, whose words can be understood by the reader as the Holy Spirit interprets their meaning.
Kip Tyler, Chair
Senior Pastor, Lutheran Church of the Master, Omaha, NE
Phil Wold, Vice Chair
Retired Physician, Mankato, MN
Fred Schickedanz, Treasurer
Real Estate Developer, Calgary, AB, Canada
Becky Hand, Secretary
Pastor, Life in Grace Ministries, Odessa, TX
Retired RN, Afton, IA
Dr. Douglas Bahr
Physician, New Braunfels, TX
Dr. John Miller
Emeritus Professor of History, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
President of the Canadian Association
of Lutheran Congregations, Pastor, Grace Lutheran, Kalowna, BC, Canada
Retired Pastor, Belgrade, MT
Head Football Coach of South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Institute of Lutheran Theology accredited?
The Institute of Lutheran Theology has fully-credentialed faculty members and a complete staff to serve students and faculty. The Institute provides a quality theological education equal or superior to that of any graduate seminary. The Institute of Lutheran Theology has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education
(5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Ste. 130, Orlando, FL 32822, Telephone: 407-207-0808) to grant degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral levels.
How early do I need to apply?
It is best to complete the admissions process at least one month prior to your desired start date. This allows time to work out any technological issues and to register for classes. The typical application takes four to six weeks to complete fully. We accept applications at any time, though applicants may be asked to wait until the next term to register for classes.
What is live-time video conferencing education?
Live-time video conferencing education has changed over the years from “correspondence” courses to “canned” (previously filmed) lectures to the current model. ILT’s education is in live-time with interactive classrooms that replicate everything in a traditional classroom. A vast majority of ILT’s resources are online. You will receive access to classrooms, the campus, the library, and even the chapel.
Can I transfer credits to ILT?
ILT accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions for courses matching ILT’s degree requirements. No more than half of the credits toward a degree or certificate can be transferred from another institution.
Is there financial aid available?
Yes, ILT has financial aid. It is provided by congregations in two ways and by some supporting individuals. Congregations provide financial aid to students who are their members. Students are encouraged to connect their pastor and congregational leadership with ILT to begin this process. Congregations also provide financial aid to students through ILT's Embedded Ministry program. In this program, congregations employ ILT students while they are receiving their theological education. The students learn to do ministry from the beginning of their classes and are pastorally formed while doing so. Supporting individuals have provided some scholarship money that requires a financial aid application. For the 2019/2020 school year, ILT will be providing tuition credits equal to fourteen classes for students with the most financial need. Students must enroll in at least two courses to qualify. At this time, ILT does not qualify for federally subsidized financial aid.
What denominations recognize ILT’s degrees?
As an accredited school, ILT's degrees are widely recognized by both denominations and other schools of higher learning. However, ILT does not endorse or approve candidates for call. Various church bodies have their own standards and criteria for service. Our graduates are accepted by LCMC, NALC, CALC and the Augsburg Lutheran Churches as suitably prepared for ministry.. We are the seminary for Canadian Association of Lutheran Churches (CALC), Augustana District of the LCMC, Augsburg Lutheran Churches and endorsed by the Lutheran Church of South Sudan. As an independent Lutheran seminary, ILT welcomes students of all denominations. All students enrolling in ILT's M. Div. program should be in conversation with the appropriate persons in their denominations regarding their preparation for ministry. Candidates for the ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America should consult their synod's Candidacy Committee. Candidates for ordained ministry in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod must complete an approved program offered by one of the LCMS seminaries. However, our Master of Religion, Master of Sacred Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees are applicable for any church body.
Do I have to move to Brookings?
All of ILT's courses are taught on-line in real time. Students attend courses from wherever they happen to be. All they need is a computer, webcam, microphone, and high speed internet connection. It is not necessary to uproot family or leave jobs in order to enroll at ILT.
Do I need to enroll full-time?
ILT's academic programs have completion plans available for both full-time and part-time students. Our students work out their course load in consultation with their academic advisor prior to registering for classes.
Do you have a place for me to stay if I visit the area?
Call (605) 692-9337 for information on availability.
The Institute of Lutheran Theology is committed to institutional transparency. In an effort to be transparent and to share important information with potential students and donors, ILT makes institutional information available to the public on its website. The Consumer Info page gives information concerning student retention, graduation, and debt rates as well as other information relevant to learning about how ILT operates.