Lutheran Studies Conference Thursday, September 26, 2013

Breaking rules, honoring the ordinary, opening up God: Lutheran perspectives on Jesus of Nazareth

Dr. Gail Ramshaw
Dr. Gail Ramshaw

A wandering sage and tax resister; a promoter of justice and mystical lover of the soul; the “king of kings” and liberator from kingly rule; a friend of sinners and the awesome judge of the living and the dead: it would seem that no single image can capture the meaning of Jesus of Nazareth for the 2.2 billion persons who claim the name Christian. And yet each image holds considerable power to shape relationships, ethical commitments, and political sensibilities. Is it possible, then, that the ongoing attraction to Jesus of Nazareth, an attraction frequently found outside the institution that bears his name, is the diversity of images that open up, rather than restrict, the experience of the mystery of God?

We welcome Dr. Gail Ramshaw, distinguished Lutheran scholar of religious and ritual language, who will give the evening keynote lecture entitled “Jesus as Champion, Sacrifice, Lover, and Tree of Life: The Christian meeting of history and metaphor.” Dr. Ramshaw’s scholarly research on religious language continues to open up the meaning of Jesus Christ for those who live in a pluralistic and increasingly secular culture.

Through presentations, conversation, artwork, new publications, and the open exchange of ideas, participants in this third Lutheran Studies Conference will be inspired to consider the question: How does a poor Jewish artisan from a backwater colony of the Roman Empire continue to inspire people to break rules, honor the ordinary, and open up the experience of God? Be welcome, then, to this important conversation about Lutheran perspectives on Jesus of Nazareth.

Afternoon Presentations Schedule

Dr. Brenda Ihssen

Byzantine conceptions of Jesus: the Christ of council, court, and monk

Byzantine perspectives offer westerners a contrast to their cherished assumptions about Jesus. This presentation will reflect on how Eastern Christians opened their understanding of God through the theological work of bishops, the Byzantine court’s care for the welfare of imperial identity, and the Byzantine monk’s care for the welfare of the individual. Dr. Ihssen teaches religious history in the Department of Religion at PLU

Dr. Samuel Torvend

Luther’s cosmic Christ and care for our wounded earth

While he was taught as a child that Christianity helps one escape the earth for a “better life” elsewhere, the adult Luther promoted an earth-embracing view, one that embarrassed his followers and led to his condemnation, a view that gained prominence only in the late 20th century. We ask: Why did he get in trouble and how might his insights sustain human care for this wounded earth? Dr. Torvend holds the University Chair in Lutheran Studies and teaches church history at PLU

Dr. Daniel Peterson

Jesus Christ as the site of God’s demise:
A radical Lutheran Christology for the None Zone

The None Zone is not a place without religion; it is a place where religion has been transfigured. “Spiritual but not religious” is typically its creed; individual “harmony and happiness” its goal. The most radical strain of Lutheran Christology, one in which God gives Godself away totally and completely to the “other” by becoming incarnate and truly dying on the cross, provides an essential corrective to this narcissistic tendency of None Zone spirituality, a corrective that might more effectively inform Christian discipleship in the None Zone than its more orthodox alternatives. Dr. Peterson teaches humanities in Matteo Ricci College at Seattle University

Cost: $30 per person for a (3 course meal with wine and beer service)

There is limited seating. In order to guarantee your dinner reservation, please make out a check to “PLU”.  Your check must be received no later than Thursday, September 19, 2013.

Please send this check to Cynthia Givens, Division of Humanities, Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Avenue South, Tacoma, WA 98447.

We are sorry that we are unable to receive credit cards at this time.

Evening Keynote Lecture - Dr. Gail Ramshaw

Professor of Religion Emerita, La Salle University, Philadelphia

Jesus as Champion, Sacrifice, Lover, and Tree of Life:
The Christian meeting of history and metaphor

Christians have always sought for the Jesus of history. In our time, both biblical critical studies and popular literalism ask the question, “Who was Jesus?” There is, however, a different question to consider: “Why is Christ?” This presentation will focus on four Christological images embedded in ancient texts and contemporary hymns that open up, rather than narrow, the Christian understanding of God.

Dr. Ramshaw is a graduate of Valparaiso University (B.A.), Sarah Lawrence College (M.A.), Union Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Ph.D.). Her doctoral dissertation was a study of the poetry of Thomas Merton. Dr. Ramshaw is much published, her works ranging from Reviving Sacred Speech (1999) to Under the Tree of Life: The Religion of a Feminist Christian (2003) and her most recent work: What is Christianity? (2013). A Lutheran scholar of international repute, she is considered one of the world’s leading experts on religious language and its liberating capacities. Dr. Ramshaw has lectured and offered courses in many countries, including Australia, China, Denmark, England, Italy, Japan, and Norway

For more information, contact Dr. Samuel Torvend, University Chair in Lutheran Studies

Promoting the intellectual gifts of the Lutheran tradition