Do you at times wonder if God has abandoned the church of our time and place?
Church attendance is declining
Polls show the rise of the “nones”
Traditional Christian assertions are labeled as “hate speech”
Churches are either closing or congregational giving is down
It’s increasingly difficult to find a pastor, especially faithful, caring pastors
What has happened? Do people no longer care about the afterlife? Do people no longer believe the Bible? The poet Yeats gives voice to this sense of things:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
In the book influential The Secular Age philosopher Charles Taylor asks, “Why was it virtually impossible to not believe in God in 1500 in our western society, while now many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable.” We at the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) care about these questions, and we care about you. Many reading this know us and are supporters, but we are also sending this today to some who do not have firsthand knowledge and perhaps have misheard about us. We understand if you are surprised that we contacted you. After all, you might be LCMS, ELCA, LCC, NALC, LCMC, CALC, WELS, AFLC, AALC, or another church body.
Why would we contact you? It is because we have something in common. We also care very much that congregational attendance and offerings are declining, that city streets on Sunday morning are deserted, that fewer people believe in God, and that it is increasingly difficult to find faithful, competent pastors to lead Christian congregations.
Because we believe that pastors must be better trained in post-Christian North America than they were in Christian North America, an ILT education is unlike others. We start with a rigorous analysis of the current intellectual and cultural horizon so that our students know what is likely being heard when they preach and teach the Gospel. Then we teach Bible and the tradition deeply, so that our students know what to say to a culture that has largely lost the capacity to hear.
Interested? We hope that you are and that you will allow us to contact you occasionally and tell you about some of our challenges and successes. The future does not have to be hopeless. The same God who was incarnate in Jesus the Christ is still at work in the world. We, like you, want to tell folk about it. Our job is to teach people how best to tell folks of our time about the God who is still in the business of redeeming His world.
The Institute of Lutheran Theology is an autonomous, independent, and accredited graduate school that offers an M.A., M.Div., STM, D.Min, and Ph.D. as well as various certificate programs. Our faculty is solid, balanced, and known. We aim to give the next generations of Lutheran pastors and teachers the tools to preach and teach effectively to this world, the world which has increasingly forgotten their need of God. Visit us at www.ilt.edu and help us in the mission.