What will I learn in SMP?

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First Year
Confessing Christ in Today's World

As the first course in the SMP curriculum, the student learns how the pastor brings people into communion with Jesus Christ. The mission of the Triune God, how God transmitted his mission to humanity in many diverse ways, is a persistent theme in the Old and New Testaments. This course will lay out biblical and theological principles for pursuing the task of bringing the Gospel to the world in varying contexts, especially emerging mission challenges and opportunities for parishes and their pastors.

Exploring the work of pastors through the centuries as stewards of the mysteries of God and physicians of the soul, the student learns how the center of the mission of the Church is Christ with his gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation, and how Christ cares for souls through the pastor in teaching the faith, pastoral counsel, individual confession and absolution, prayer and blessing for the unique circumstances of contemporary Christians.

Pastoral and Missional Theology in Luke and Acts

The Church is founded on Jesus Christ, so the study of the centrality of Jesus Christ in the revelation of God in the Gospel of Luke and the significance of the mission of the apostles in the Book of Acts is a foundational course for the entire theological curriculum of SMP. Significant teachings from Luke-Acts such as the Nature of the Scriptures, Interpretation of the Old Testament, the Identity of Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Trinity and Baptism, the Apostolic Mission and Ministry, the Return of Christ, the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ Death as Atonement and the Resurrection will be examined.

This course will closely examine the teaching and preaching of Jesus in the Gospel, the sermons of the apostles in Acts, the sacramental theology in Luke-Acts, and the missional and diakonal ministry of the early Christians. Since Luke is the only Gospel with a companion work describing the life of the Church, themes unique to Luke will be emphasized. A number of pastoral models from Luke-Acts will be analyzed in view of pastoral care today. Faithful interpretation of the Gospel of Luke for preaching and teaching will be modeled in lectures and mentored in exegetical groups.

The Lutheran Confessions: Introduction and Overview

The study of the Book of Concord will examine the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, the Small and Large Catechisms, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise, and the Formula of Concord. Emphasis will be on the basic teachings and issues which define the theology of the Lutheran Church in its historic context and in today’s world.

Students will read the entire Book of Concord during the first two years.

Preaching the Faith

The identity of the pastor is defined by his proclamation of Word of God, the living voice of Jesus. This course engages the student in the basic principles of sermon construction and writing. Special attention is given to missional sermons from the Gospels in the context of the lectionary and liturgy of the day.

Second Year
Heaven on Earth: The Worship of Lutherans Today
The pastor serves his people with the gifts that come from Christ’s presence. This course introduces the student to the theology and practice of Lutheran liturgy. This course will acquaint the student with the biblical and confessional foundations of the Lutheran liturgy, the structure and components of the Divine Service and the daily office in Lutheran Service Book, and provide him with opportunity to develop skills as a servant of the liturgy. Time will be spent in helping the student plan creative worship with special attention to the central motifs of the Christian calendar and the Church’s hymnody. Attention will be given to the history and theology of the Church year and Christian hymnody from biblical times, as well as the great treasury of contemporary hymnody.
The Books of Moses-The Beginning and the New Beginning

After an introduction to the first five books of the Old Testament, major portions of Genesis will be studied because of its foundational role in all theology and the mission of the Church. Creation, Marriage, the Fall into Sin, the Promise of Salvation, the Presence of the Son with the Patriarchs, and other biblical themes in Genesis will be examined. Commentaries, sermons, liturgies and hymnody from the history of the Church that deals with Genesis will also be considered.

Portions of Exodus through Deuteronomy will be studied because of their foundational role for the history of Israel and all theology. The Exodus, the Law, the Presence of the Son, the Tabernacle, Worship, Sacrifices, Purity, Forgiveness and other biblical themes in Exodus-Deuteronomy will be examined. Commentaries, sermons, liturgies and hymnody from the history of the Church that addresses Exodus through Deuteronomy will also be considered. Integration of the narratives of Genesis through Deuteronomy and teachings in the missional life of the Church today will be accented.

Baptism: LIfe in Christ

Baptism is the constituting sacrament of the Church’s life that joins us to to Christ and his endless life as well as to Christians of every time and place. Using the Scriptures, historic baptismal liturgies, sermons and teachings on baptism, this course uses the Church’s own ways of speaking and ways of baptismal administration as paradigms for theological thinking and pastoral practice. This course will examine the radical and essential nature and role of baptism in the mission of the Church. The course encourages thoughtful and vigorous Christ-centered missions built on an integrated and lively implementation of thorough teaching of the faith that leads to or flows from Baptism in the Lutheran expression of the catechumenate.

Teaching the Faith

The pastor hands down the faith to people of all ages and circumstances through his teaching. This course will examine the biblical and confessional foundations for teaching the faith in the Lutheran congregation and seek to assist students in acquiring skills and developing practices that are consistent with these foundations. Special attention will be given to the content and pattern of teaching reflected in the catechism of Martin Luther.

Third Year
The Holy Trinity: The Misison of God in Today's World

This course centers in the work of the Holy Trinity in creation, redemption, and sanctification. It will include a study of Creation and anthropology, the nature of theology, the Word of God as a Trinitarian event centering in Christ, the person of Christ as the incarnate God-Man, His offices and states, the salvation accomplished by Him and its distribution to man in justification, His resurrection and His return as foundation for eschatology, the Church as the body of Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Word and Sacraments. The student will be able to articulate the relationships with the persons of the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, and the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ.

The Person of Jesus in John's Gospel

As a continuation of the focus on the centrality of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ begun in Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts, major portions of the Gospel of John and the First Epistle of John will be studied. Special attention will be given to teaching that is unique to John and from the Synoptic Gospels, such as the Pre-existence and Incarnation of the Son, Christ as the Lamb of God, the Father-Son Relationship, the Divine Name of Jesus, the “I Am” Sayings, the Holy Spirit/Paraclete, the Sacraments and the Office of the Keys. This will serve as the capstone course in the formation of faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospels for the life of the Church.

The Lutheran Confessions in Today's World

Teaching the Lutheran Confessions today requires an emphasis on the rich heritage of mature Lutheran theology in its historical context and its application to our contemporary world. This course will show the connection between the Confessions and catechesis, providing an appreciation of Luther’s contribution to the Book of Concord. It will also examine a selection of themes in the Lutheran Confessions such as predestination, Christology, justification by faith, Church and ministry, infant baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Church and state.

The Epistles of Paul-Planting the Gentile Mission

After an introduction to the life of the Apostle Paul, major portions of the Galatians and Romans will be studied. Important central teachings from Paul’s other Epistles will also be examined, such as the Person and Work of Christ, Justification by Faith, the Church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the End Times, and Pastoral Ministry. The importance of the Apostle Paul’s teaching for the life and mission of the Church will be highlighted, especially the issues involved with the planting of the Gentile mission throughout the Roman world.

Fourth Year
Ministry and Mission in Today's Pluralistic Context

This course is designed to help the students understand and address the challenges of ministering in a context of religious and world-view pluralism. It deals with the roots of the current multiplicity of religious views and world religions becoming increasingly predominant in the western world; the implications of ethnic, cultural and linguistic plurality; and the rise of universalism in the post-modern mind. The student will learn ways of presenting and defending the faith “with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

The Prophets-Christ and His Mission Foretold

After an introduction to Old Testament prophetic literature, portions of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel will be studied with attention to how these prophets bear witness of the Messiah and His kingdom. The relationship of this prophetic literature to Christ and the Church as expressed in the New Testament will be highlighted. Commentaries, sermons, liturgies and hymnody from the history of the Church that engage these prophets will also be considered. Integration of prophetic literature into the life and mission of the Church today will be accented.

The Lord's Supper: Life in Christ Nourished and Sustained

As the sacrament through which the life of the Church is sustained, the Lord’s Supper centers on Christ’s presence among his people with the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Using the Scriptures, liturgies and sermons from the Church’s history, this course uses the Church’s own ways of speaking and administrating the sacrament of the altar as paradigms for theological thinking and pastoral practice.

The Church in Missiological Perspective

Beginning with a description of the Church in the 21st century, especially from the perspective of trends and challenges for world-wide missions, this course looks for historical connections with contemporary Christianity from the Reformation to the present day. Students will learn about the Reformation origins of major Protestant denominations as well as of modern Roman Catholicism, but also will consider the impact on the mission of the Church from broad historical developments like pietism, liberalism, and ecumenism. Special attention will be paid to the modern missions movement that has seen the planting of Christianity around the globe and what this has meant for the Church in America as well as abroad.

Academic Programs