ILT Offers True Diversity
We wish to share this testimonial from Rev. Andrew Christiansen to show other clergy that they are welcome at ILT, as well as indicate to our wider network of how our graduate school is regarded by its students:
As a first year Master of Sacred Theology (STM) student, I can say I absolutely love Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT). I am an ordained transitional-deacon in the Episcopal Church and doing a full-time curacy in Louisiana. I have been blessed with this great ministry that keeps me busy. When I spoke with Dr. Jonathan Sorum last fall as I started to entertain the idea of doing a STM, I remember strongly resonating with something he said about his own academic career, “After my MDiv, I was just thirsty for more, and I wanted to learn more.” He told me about how ILT is an excellent place for people in full-time ministry to study, especially for people who need it in a distance learning program. I have experienced ILT a great and rare to find mix of rigor and flexibility that allows balance and empowers me in my ministry while still “keeping me sharp.”
Many things attracted me to ILT. One thing is an incredible faculty. For instance, in the recent edition of Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions (Baker Academic, 2017), ILT faculty contributed nine entries. Also, few seminaries anymore can boast the curriculum ILT offers. I’m currently in a course “History of Christian Thought III: 1700-1900” which challenges us (the MDiv students as well, as this course is originally for them) to explore the great depths of the Enlightenment, 19th century German Idealism, French Ultramontanism, Catholic and Protestant Tubingen schools, and right and left-wing Hegelian critiques. These types of cultural forces are barely discussed in many core historical theology courses, and yet they are immensely important in seeing why Christianity is what it is today. Many seminaries today are shedding the kind of historical and systematic electives where one would even learn about these topics, under some kind of notion that this kind of theological education isn’t relevant. Nothing could be further from the truth.
ILT also offers true diversity. As an Episcopalian and only non-Lutheran in my class setting, the professor gave me the floor for a few minutes when we covered the Oxford Movement in class. I am welcomed and not shunned, even though I am not a Lutheran. Also, I can’t think of many seminary settings anymore where I can look at two faculty members in a room together, who I know take very fundamentally different positions on a typically hot-button theological and social issues (and both feel free to share their view), but yet are highly collegial with each other. Many institutional settings today are sadly torn apart when there isn’t like-mindedness. Not ILT. They value diversity, and they overcome differences to model a Biblical example of community, hearkening both to Pauline exhortation and to Jesus’ wish for us all to be one.
I look forward to more years of part-time study at ILT and to the future of this great school. I would highly recommend any clergy of any Christian tradition who has some scholarly aspirations, or who wants to find out if they do, to look into the Master of Sacred Theology program at ILT.