The Authority of the Church

One of my classes this semester is Lutheran Confessions with Dr. Wengert. He is one of the academic heavy weights at the seminary and was one of the editors of the most recent edition of the “Book of Concord.” He’s been teaching at the seminary for over twenty years, has been involved in quite a few agreements between different church bodies, is currently working on a Lutheran-Catholic commentary on the 95 thesis to be published before 2017 (500th anniversary), and has gotten quite a bit of flack recently for the “bound conscience” idea that is in the 2009 church wide human sexuality statement. He also really enjoys what he teaches, has great stories, and answers every question with “Why do you ask that question?” I sit in the very front row, right next to where he stands to lecture, and I’m usually involved in all of his lecture illustrations. Last week, I drowned in wine. It was very sad.

Anyways, part of the class requirements is to write five short essays. Each essay is two to three pages in length. We are given eight topics and are to chose five. I’ve so far done three out of the four assigned so far. Another one is due on Thursday. Dr. Wengert does not care what we think about the topic but is asking us to break through early Lutheran documents in the Book of Concord and explain what Luther, Melanchthon, and other early Lutheran reformers thought. I will admit that I was nervous when I first entered the class. I wrote a paper for him last year that was pretty embarrassing and so I didn’t know what to expect. My first paper was okay but my second paper (the one I felt very weak on), I did really well. I am use to Dr. Wengert to write complete essays in the margins of my essay or at the very end. He is very good at telling a person what he disagrees with, what they should focus more on, and what problems the person could run into. So that’s what I was looking for but I didn’t get that. Instead, I received a half a dozen one word margin notes and a one line response at the very end. Sometimes, less is more.

I have yet to receive back my third paper on “Why does the Lord appear in the Lord’s Supper?” I found it ridiculously hard to expand that answer into two pages without resorting to size 13 font or 1.25 inch margins. I was able to but it was a stretch. And it’s possible that the 2nd paper made me a little cocky – let’s see if the third paper brings me back down to earth.

2 thoughts on “The Authority of the Church”

  1. I looking forward to taking classes with Dr. Wengert. I hear he’s quite the legend in academic Lutheran circles and your several posts on him only validate that claim.

    When can I expect to have him? What year are you in?

  2. I’m a junior in my second semester. He teaches Lutheran Confessions (necessary for all Lutheran students) and he also is involved in first semester Christian history courses. His courses are mostly geared towards second and third year students.

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