Briefly Considered: Books for Faculty Formation

Briefly Considered: Books for Faculty Formation


Included in this selection of books related to the Lutheran faculty are a few new publications, some books often recommended in recent years, and a couple of classics, all of which can inform and form both the faculty member and the faculty. We hope many of these books are already familiar to you but that you also find a title or two for your reading list—or some to revisit.                                                     — the editors


Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity, Alvin Schmidt (Concordia Publishing House, 2017), 336 pages. A key factor in faculty formation is identity: do we know whose we are, who we are, what precisely grounds this identity, and how to articulate and explain it to others? Among recent books on the Lutheran distinctives is this contribution from Alvin Schmidt, emeritus professor of sociology at Illinois Universit. The book sets forth more than 20 important practices, doctrines, and beliefs that characterize the Lutheran tradition. Here is a helpful source to consult when designing or revising courses and curriculum.

The Idea and Practice of a Christian University: A Lutheran Approach, Scott A. Ashmon, ed. (Concordia Publishing House, 2015), 336 pages. This project of the faculty at Concordia University Irvine offers us 16 chapters in four parts: Foundations for Lutheran Higher Education, University Vocations, The Interaction of Faith and Learning, and University Life in a Lutheran Context. Perry Glazer, co-author of The Idea of a Christian College (Cascade Books, 2013)—also well worth reading—found that “the creative insights from the authors spanning multiple disciplines, and even the co-curricular arena, adds fresh and engaging new ideas regarding how Lutheranism can nourish the university.”

Learning at the Foot of the Cross: A Lutheran Vision for Education, Joel D. Heck and Angus J.L. Menuge, eds. (Concordia Publishing House, 2012), 199 pages. This collection of readable essays prompts us to reflect theologically, philosophically, and practically about what we do as a faculty and as teachers of the Christian faith when delivering the curriculum. Robert Benne, who previewed the manuscripts, remarks, “This book covers many aspects of the educational process from a Lutheran point of view. The historical, theological, epistemological, curricular and practical are all covered in this excellent volume.”

Luther on Education, F.V.N. Painter (Concordia Publishing House, 1889, and Leopold Classic Library, 2015), 289 pages. Available in several formats, this old standard still serves as an overview of Luther on education and why Luther remains a pivotal figure in the history of education. Painter includes Luther’s Letter to the Mayors and Aldermen of the Cities of Germany in Behalf of Christian Schools and Luther’s Sermon on the Duty of Sending Children to School. The book is available in print as well as free online, https://openlibrary.org/search?q=Luther+on+Education.

Lutheran Education from Wittenberg to the Future, Thomas Korcok (Concordia Publishing House, 2011), 328 pages. Using a history framework, this book delivers a thorough discussion about curriculum and faculty. The ten chapters demonstrate how the Wittenberg theologians developed a liberal arts education as the preferred model for evangelical Christian schools even today. Reviewer Angus Menuge comments, “Korcok shows that a theologically driven liberal arts curriculum remains the only credible means of upholding the Lutheran confessions and of producing faithful disciples and worthy citizens for church and state.”

Lutheran Higher Education: An Introduction, Ernest L. Simmons (Augsburg Fortress, 2001), 104 pages. Among several books on Christian and Lutheran higher education over the past 20 years, this slim volume remains a helpful introduction to many of the key themes in what should be Christian and Lutheran in education. Simmons writes clearly and concisely, making his content helpful not just for those in the colleges but also in high schools and elementary schools. While he maintains a positive tone, Simmons acknowledges on page 2 that, “For me the greatest challenge for the future of higher education is to keep the questions of faith and learning alive on our campuses.”

Martin Luther: Learning for Life, Marilyn Harran (Concordia Publishing House, 1997), 284 pages. Read this book—an excellent single volume on Luther the educator—to understand the origin and aims of the Reformation’s teaching ministry. Says Robert Kolb about the book: “Her careful, detailed presentation of the fundamental orientation of Luther toward the interplay of faith and learning makes this book important reading for all who wrestle with similar questions amid the contemporary crises in both society and church.”

The Pedagogy of Faith: Essays on Lutheran Education, Bernard Bull, ed. (Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 240 pages. Perhaps the most attractive feature of this book is the editor’s wise strategy to keep each chapter brief and to-the-point. The table of contents is populated with clear chapter titles, and the reader can easily decide where to start and what to read next. Or be conventional and read, start-to-finish, the three sections on Foundations, Teaching and Learning, and Context and Culture. Dr. Ron Bork, himself a veteran Lutheran teacher and professor, says, “The essays provide an opportunity to get into the lives of veteran teachers and leaders in the church, and then reflect on their journeys and how that can impact your journey.”

The Quest for Holiness: a Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Investigation, Adolph Koeberle (Wipf & Stock, 2004), 288 pages. First published in English in 1936, this study of justification and sanctification is included here as a standard reference for Luther’s approach to discipleship and faith formation. Koeberle aims to avoid a double danger to Christian formation and sanctification: the peril of fanaticism and the complacency of the here-and-now. For a thorough understanding about our own formation and the formation of students, the book has much to offer.

A Teacher of the Church: Theology, Formation, and Practice for the Ministry of Teaching, Russ Moulds, ed. (Wipf & Stock, 2007), 172 pages. Many pre-service and in-service teachers have used this book to better understand the Reformation themes that shape a teaching ministry. The seven authors will deepen your regard for the church’s task of didache, the act of teaching Christians. Reviewer Mark Blanke notes that the book “poses questions and critiques of present practices, assesses the impact that societal pressures have on our concepts of ministry, and serves to connect our actions with a firm biblical understanding of the role of the teacher.”

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