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A Living Theology

Mark Duerr ’13


My journey began first semester freshman year in the classroom adjoining the cafeteria. I was in Dr. Brighton's introduction to the New Testament class. I had grown up in a Christian home where I was taught the importance of my faith. But it wasn't until I was in that class that the scriptures came to life for me. Dr. Brighton opened my eyes to a whole new world in the scriptures. I can still remember him lecturing with his eyes shut as he painted the vivid picture of the prodigal son, the forgiving father, and the jealous brother. The detail and power of that story, as told by Dr. Brighton, catapulted me into a whole new world of theology.

Theology is a unique discipline. In the university it is the melding of challenging academics, and the gritty practical everyday challenges of the Christian life and the human experience. The academics are accomplished through the study of languages, history, archeology, sociology and philosophy. The practical is accomplished through personal reflection and building relationships with real people who have real pain. This dual focus is what makes theology as a discipline so fascinating to me. I can spend years of my life studying, learning and exploring but at the end of the day everything I learn can make an eternal difference in the life of someone I know.

Concordia prepared me to use my brain. The theology program challenged me to think, to explore and to understand. The program was not designed to give you "The Answers." It was designed to challenge you, to push you, and to encourage you to grow. The program prepares you to face the intellectual and spiritual trials of this world.

I went from Irvine directly to Concordia Seminary St. Louis. The focus of the seminary is to prepare and train pastors for the LCMS. The focus at the Sem is to hit the practical side of theology as squarely as possible. A pastor's job, after all, is to make theology as accessible as possible. This is done through the means of grace, and through right teaching and preaching. I found my education at Concordia Irvine absolutely invaluable at the seminary. I had been trained to think critically. I had been trained to engage with ideas and to think for myself. I had been equipped to study and learn to be a pastor. So I am thankful for my time at Concordia Irvine. It was one of the best times of my life.

Reverend Mark Duerr
Pastor at Sierra Lutheran High School
Concordia University Irvine alum 2013

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