Theological Symposium

31st Annual Theological Symposium

Sept. 21-22, 2021

Whatever is Lovely: The Role of Beauty in Theology and Ministry

The church has had a long and restless relationship with beauty and the arts. Sometimes the celebration of beauty has been eagerly embraced, and relics of this history surround us — soaring church arches, shining windows, carved figures, fugues, poetry of praise and piety. But beauty also has been deemed excessive, unnecessary and even idolatrous. How can we receive and encourage the place of beauty and the arts so that our preaching and piety more fully reflect the love and creativity of God?

The 2021 Theological Symposium will explore the possibilities of beauty for the life of the church and its witness in a world that still groans for redemption. Plenaries and sectionals will offer various ways that the arts can enrich ministry, inspire hope and surprise with joy.

Highlights include:

  • Plenaries presented by:

    • Dr. David Schmitt The Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature, Professor of Practical Theology and Chairman of the Department of Practical Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
    • Dr. James K. A. Smith Award-winning author, editor of Image journal and Professor of Philosophy and the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview at Calvin University
    • Dr. Mark Mattes  Professor of Theology and Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Grand View University
    • Dr. Dean Nadasdy President Emeritus of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Minnesota South District
  • Seminary Art Exhibit and Reception

  • Virtual New Stained Glass Windows tour

    • Presented by Dr. James W. Voelz, the Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Professor of New Testament Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
  • Golf outing sponsored by LCMS Foundation

 

Registration Fees (per person)

In-person (includes meals)

$160

Online

$120

Registration
 
If you have any questions, please contact Continuing Education at 314-505-7286 or ce@csl.edu.

Be sure and share photos and other symposium details with your friends and family on social media using the hashtags, #CSLBeauty and #CSLSymposium.

Reminder: Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even those who are vaccinated, should avoid coming to campus, and are encouraged to get tested as soon as possible. People who are vaccinated are not required to wear facial coverings while on campus.


Plenary Speakers

Dr. David Schmitt
Holy Wonder: Credal Contemplation and the Experience of Beauty

Beauty has a way of catching our attention. It surprises us and opens a world where aesthetic experience is central to the formation of meaning. In this plenary, we will consider a way to contemplate the experience of beauty. By joining the dynamics of art with the commonplaces of the creed, we will explore one way of integrating theology and the arts.


Dr. James K.A. Smith
The Art of Hope: Imagining Another World in a World That Breaks Our Hearts

There is something almost surreal about Christianity. At its heart is a string of incredible claims — a God who becomes human; a crucified God who is raised from the dead; and a cosmic Creator who knows everything about us and yet loves us, forgives us and promises to wipe away every tear. Is it any wonder, then, that the church has been an incubator of the imagination, a wellspring for the arts? If orthodoxy is generous because it has something to offer the world, one of those gifts is an ability to imagine the world otherwise. The Chalcedonian orthodoxy that dares to imagine the mystery of the God-man is the orthodoxy that underwrites an entire artistic tradition that speaks to human hungers. This lecture will consider how and why the Spirit speaks to us in songs and poems, painting portraits of a world we couldn’t otherwise imagine — and why the arts are a conduit of hope in a culture of despair.


Dr. Mark Mattes
Luther and Beauty

Who would think that Martin Luther has a theology of beauty? For a church that regularly sings “Beautiful Savior” and boasts musicians with the status of Bach, it should not be too surprising to find a theology of beauty in Luther. Paradoxically, there is beauty in the suffering Savior because nothing give us God’s love to the degree that Jesus does. Through this love, we see creation with new eyes and can join in creating beauty along with God.


Dr. Dean Nadasdy
The Beautiful Sermon: The Aesthetics of Preaching

The presentation makes a case for beauty being a central consideration for the preaching task today. The aesthetic elements of preaching will be identified, focusing on the question, "What makes a sermon beautiful?"

 


Schedule

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

TIME EVENT DESCRIPTION
8-8:30 a.m. Registration Open Coffee and refreshments and vendor fair
Sieck Hall
8:30-9 a.m. Chapel Service of the Word
President Dr. Thomas J. Egger, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus
9-9:45 a.m. Registration Open Coffee and refreshments and vendor fair
Sieck Hall
9:45-10 a.m. Introduction Welcome and Introduction
President Dr. Thomas J. Egger, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and Erika Bennett, director of Continuing Education, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium
10-11 a.m. Plenary Holy Wonder: Credal Contemplation and the Experience of Beauty
Dr. David Schmitt, Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature, Professor of Practical Theology and Chairman of the Department of Practical Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium
11-11:45 a.m. Sectionals 1
11:45-1 p.m. Lunch (included with full registration)
Wartburg and Koburg Halls
1-2 p.m. Plenary The Art of Hope: Imagining Another World in a World That Breaks Our Hearts
Dr. James K. A. Smith, professor of Philosophy at Calvin University
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium
2-2:45 p.m. Sectionals 2
2:45-3 p.m. Coffee Break Sieck Hall Foyer or Wyneken 205, 206
3-3:45 p.m. Sectionals 3
4-4:45 p.m. Sectionals 4
5-6 p.m. Reception Reception and Seminary Art Exhibit (included with paid registration)
Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library
6-7 p.m. Discussion Time Discussion time with speakers (snacks included)
Fountain Area
7-8:30 p.m. Lecture Annual Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Lecture in New Testament Theology
Dr. James W. Voelz, the Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Professor of New Testament Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium
8:30 p.m. Light Wine Reception Wyneken Foyer
8-8:30 a.m.
Registration Open
Coffee and refreshments and vendor fair
Sieck Hall


8:30-9 a.m.
Chapel
Service of the Word
President Dr. Thomas J. Egger, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus


9-9:45 a.m.
Registration Open
Coffee and refreshments and vendor fair
Sieck Hall


9:45-10 a.m.
Introduction
Welcome and Introduction
President Dr. Thomas J. Egger, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and Erika Bennett, director of Continuing Education, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium


10-11 a.m.
Plenary
Holy Wonder: Credal Contemplation and the Experience of Beauty
Dr. David Schmitt, Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature, Professor of Practical Theology and Chairman of the Department of Practical Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium


11-11:45 a.m.
Sectionals 1


11:45-1 p.m.
Lunch
(included with full registration)
Wartburg and Koburg Halls


1-2 p.m.
Plenary
The Art of Hope: Imagining Another World in a World That Breaks Our Hearts
Dr. James K. A. Smith, professor of Philosophy at Calvin University
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium


2-2:45 p.m.
Sectionals 2


2:45-3 p.m.
Coffee Break
Sieck Hall Foyer or Wyneken 205, 206


3-3:45 p.m.
Sectionals 3


4-4:45 p.m.
Sectionals 4


5-6 p.m.
Reception
Reception and Seminary Art Exhibit (included with paid registration)
Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library


6-7 p.m.
Discussion Time
Discussion time with speakers (snacks included)
Fountain Area


7-8:30 p.m.
Lecture
Annual Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Lecture in New Testament Theology
Dr. James W. Voelz, the Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Professor of New Testament Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium


8:30 p.m.
Light Wine Reception
Wyneken Foyer


 

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

TIME EVENT DESCRIPTION
8-8:30 a.m. Refreshments Coffee and Refreshments
Chapel Plaza
8:30-9:30 a.m. Chapel Service of the Word and Holy Communion
Dr. Dean Nadasdy, President Emeritus, LCMS Minnesota South District
Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus
9:45-10:45 a.m. Plenary Luther and Beauty
Dr. Mark Mattes, adjunct professor of Theology, North American Lutheran Seminary, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Chair of Philosophy and Religion, Grand View University
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium
10:45-11:30a.m. Sectionals 5
11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch (included with full registration)
Wartburg and Koburg Halls
1-1:45 p.m. Sectionals 6
2-3 p.m. Plenary The Beautiful Sermon: The Aesthetics of Preaching
Dr. Dean Nadasdy, President Emeritus, LCMS Minnesota South District
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium
3 p.m. Closing Wrap Up and Itinerarium
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium
8-8:30 a.m.
Refreshments
Coffee and Refreshments
Chapel Plaza


8:30-9:30 a.m.
Chapel
Service of the Word and Holy Communion
Dr. Dean Nadasdy, President Emeritus, LCMS Minnesota South District
Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus


9:45-10:45 a.m.
Plenary
Luther and Beauty
Dr. Mark Mattes, adjunct professor of Theology, North American Lutheran Seminary, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Chair of Philosophy and Religion, Grand View University
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium

10:45-11:30 a.m.
Sectionals 5


11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.
Lunch
(included with full registration)
Wartburg and Koburg Halls


1-1:45 p.m.
Sectionals 6


2-3 p.m.
Plenary
The Beautiful Sermon: The Aesthetics of Preaching
Dr. Dean Nadasdy, President Emeritus, LCMS Minnesota South District
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium


3 p.m.
Closing
Wrap Up and Itinerarium
Wyneken Hall, Clara and Spencer Werner Auditorium


Sectionals: Track 1

Personal Enrichment

Dr. Travis Scholl

 
Managing Editor, Seminary Publications, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

Poetry is the art of language, the artwork we make of words. Yet, poems often feel unapproachable, esoteric, or obscure ... or best left to that high-school English class on the Romantics. In this sectional, we will rediscover the joys and mysteries of poetic language, not by exalting its obscurity, but by getting our hands dirty in its clay, finding fertile ground for all the other ways we use words to do things.

Heather Choate Davis

Author, Speaker, Songwriter, Creator of The Renaissance Service™ and Co-Creator of Concordia Seminary’s Faith and Film Festival

In the year 2000, just six years after coming to faith — and with no background in art, music, poetry or liturgy — Davis created an original arts-based compline called The Renaissance Service™. Davis will discuss the creation and impact of this compline and share how the service attracted worshipers from near and far, including many who were not church goers, and explain how it edified all those in attendance. She also will share how the experience planted seeds that would lead, 20 years later, to her own late-season musical gifts. Participants will learn how local churches can create their own simple moments of divine silence using art, music and poetry. Davis hopes that attendees will grow in their awareness of how the arts invite all people "to gaze on the beauty of the Lord" (Psalm 27:4) and draw them closer to God.

Dr. David Maxwell

 
Louis A. Fincke and Anna B. Shine Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

This section will be a lecture/organ recital exploring the theological significance of the fugues that J.S. Bach composed on the basis of Luther's catechism hymns.

Sectionals: Track 2

Witness to the World

John Hendrix

 
Professor of Art and Chair of Undergraduate Design in the Sam Fox School of Art and Design, Washington University, St. Louis

The pairing of pictures and text is as old as literature itself. Working in concert, words and images create a new space, a third language that neither can replicate on its own. Illustrator and author John Hendrix will talk about his work and the rich potential of visual storytelling, spiritually and aesthetically. How can beauty be a doorway to expanding our imagination? John Hendrix is known for his 'drawing-in-church' sketchbooks, his web-comic, The Adventures of The Holy Ghost, and his numerous children's books, including, Miracle Man, The Story of Jesus and his graphic novel The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, from Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Holly Schenk

 
Art teacher, former Art Director at Hallmark Cards

Having been created in God’s image, it is inherent in us to want to create. God gave us senses and intelligence with which to observe and interpret the world around us, and that world offers us an endless source of colors, textures, shapes, sounds, fragrances, and light, to name just a few. When our ability to appreciate the world around us is heightened, so, too, is our ability to give glory to God. I will guide participants in an exploration of artistic creativity both current and historical, with the hope that their appreciation for God’s magnificent work and their ability to celebrate it are both elevated.

Dr. Leopoldo A. Sánchez M.

Werner R.H. Krause and Elizabeth Ringger Krause Professor of Hispanic Ministries, Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Center for Hispanic Studies, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

In addition to supporting the voice in worship, are there other ways of thinking about the use of instruments in worship? In this session, we will explore Martin Luther's contributions toward a Christological and soteriological understanding of the use of instruments in church. We will do so in conversation with U.S. Hispanic reflections on the Christological understanding of beauty, which stress the link between discipleship and ethics. Some reflections on the role of instrumentalists in worship will follow, including the idea that instrumentalists have challenging roles to play as both theologians and interpreters of culture in today's society. A musical setting on a Hispanic hymn composed by the presenter for devotional purposes will be used to illustrate some of the concepts discussed in the sectional.

Dr. Erik Herrmann

 
Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Chairman of the Department of Historical Theology, Director of Concordia Theology and Director of the Center for Reformation Research, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

C.S. Lewis rarely wrote about beauty, but his writings are often extremely beautiful. For Lewis, the beautiful was an ongoing witness to the truth of Christianity, evoking a longing that only God can fulfill. In this sectional, we will look at examples from his writings — his poetry, essays, and his fiction — in order to set forth Lewis' vision of the beautiful and how it can shape our proclamation and witness today.

Sectionals: Track 3

Life in the Church

Dr. Benjamin Haupt

 
Associate Provost and Professor of Practical Theology

Lutherans have often thought of preaching primarily as speaking scriptural words of convicting Law and comforting Gospel to individual consciences. While this remains vitally important, a possibly neglected aspect of preaching deserves further attention: its communal nature in speaking words of Law and Gospel to the congregation corporately. How might preachers carry out the servant leadership of pastoral ministry specifically from the pulpit? After exploring corporate aspects of preaching as portrayed in the Scriptures, William Willimon's new book Leading with the Sermon: Preaching as Leadership will be engaged as well as the foundational text on leadership, Reframing Organizations, by Bolman and Deal. One of the frames considered in this leadership text is the symbolic frame which attends to the corporate and often aesthetic dimension of leading a group of people. Finally, some concrete examples of corporate preaching as pastoral leadership from practitioners in the field will be considered. This session will help preachers as well as hearers of sermons to explore the corporate and aesthetic dimensions of preaching as vital to congregational leadership.

Rich Buswell

Senior Artist and Designer

Rich Buswell will give a brief history of stained glass from his designer's perspective. He will also talk about the ongoing stained glass project for the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus and will leave ample time for questions and interaction with participants.

Dr. David Schmitt

 
Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature, Professor of Practical Theology and Chairman of the Department of Practical Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

This sectional will explore the value of integrating the visual arts into Bible study. Art can offer members a way of conversing about a biblical text and exploring how the text has significance for their lives. Through theory and a case study, this sectional will explore how art can act as a servant of interpretation.

Rev. James Wetzstein

 
University Pastor, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind.

On October 5, 1544, Martin Luther preached at the dedication service of the newly completed Castle Church at Torgau’s Hartenfels Castle. The room is a jewel, beautifully appointed and carefully ordered for preaching, prayer, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The design was by architect. Specially commissioned art had been conceived by Wittenberg artist, Lucas Cranach and Luther himself had consulted on the design. Time, money and a great deal of thoughtful care had been expended on the design and execution. Yet, as he preached, Luther is recorded as saying, “If the occasion should arise that people did not want to or could not assemble [in the church], one could just as well preach outside by the fountain or somewhere else. "For Luther, the church building was little more than a convenience. It was a place set aside where one could count on hearing the Gospel and receiving the Sacraments at an appointed time. Since the Church had to meet somewhere, it had been agreed that it would meet here, and a room was created to make that possible.  What are we to make of the crossed purposes evidenced between the care of design and execution and Luther’s pragmatic and dismissive tone? Using the categories proposed by Rudolph Otto in his seminal work of phenomenology, The Idea of the Holy, a connection will be drawn between our experience of beauty and that of holiness. Further, I will argue that beauty in the context of liturgical space is an expression of the vocations of the designer, artist and craftsperson as service to the neighbor.

Dr. Kent Burreson

 
Louis A. Fincke and Anna B. Shine Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

Iconography, especially emanating from Eastern Christianity, has a certain allurement for Western Christians. It's foreign, exotic and unique. Yet, the perception of beauty in iconography is more than surface deep. It is manifested in the theological rationale for its creation, its focal, theological center, the ecclesiology expressed in it, and the role that it can play in the believer's liturgy of life. Through the examination of some key icons in the ecclesiological tradition and how to engage them, we will glimpse the beauty of iconography from these theological perspectives, thus evoking the beauty of the Triune God.


Additional Continuing Education Opportunities

Faith and Film Festival

The annual Faith and Film Festival provides an opportunity for those interested in film and theology to ponder Christian themes in contemporary cinema and develop eyes to see film in new ways.

Learn More

Faith and Writing Workshop

Concordia Seminary’s “Faith and Writing” workshop explores various forms of creative writing — starting a blog, creating a sermon or devotion, “traditional” forms of creative writing (story, nonfiction, drama, poetry) — and everything in between.

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Lay Bible Institute

Calling lay people, students involved in homiletical education, pastors and others interested in the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world: the Lay Bible Institute is for you!

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Multiethnic Symposium

The Seminary’s annual Multiethnic Symposium brings together Lutherans and mission leaders of various ethnicities from across the country for workshops, discussions and worship.

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Pre-Lenten Workshop

The Pre-Lenten Workshop includes sermon manuscripts, textual notes, orders of service for midweek services and also suggestions for the Sundays of Lent to help pastors in developing their own worship resources.

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Workshop Series

Hosted by congregations across the country May through August, and led by Seminary faculty, these workshops offer an opportunity to delve deeply into topics ranging from the teachings of Martin Luther to pastoral tools, such as preaching, responding to conflict and teaching confirmation.

Learn More