In the past five years, Christ College’s theology faculty has written a significant number of books contributing to world- wide biblical scholarship and serving broad Christian audiences in Bible study and devotion. They have done it while pursuing excellence in the classroom and maintaining a vibrant devotional and congregational life.
“We have one of the premier theology faculties in the entire Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS),” says CUI president Kurt Krueger. “That is borne out by the fact that they are continually asked to write book reviews, commentaries and entries in various religious encyclopedias. Our theology faculty is noted for taking the biblical texts seriously.
We attract students who want to study Scripture from people who actually believe that Scripture is the Word of God.”
Christ College, CUI’s School of Theology, Philosophy and Professional Church Work, has created a unique culture where faculty esteem the Bible highly, enjoy teaching undergraduates and graduates, and engage in local church work.
“It’s a fantastic collection of people we have gathered together at this college,” says Steve Mueller ’86, dean of Christ College and professor of theology. “Our mission is first and foremost to students, but we are also here to serve the broader church and society.”
One way they do that is by writing and editing significant books. Mueller was an associate editor of the Lutheran Study Bible and is now expanding the study notes in that Bible into stand-alone volumes on the New Testament for the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary series (RHBC), aimed at laypeople. He serves as general editor of that series, and he, Mark Brighton ’81 and CJ Armstrong, fellow members of the Christ College faculty, wrote commentaries for it. Mueller says,
“When you get a culture where multiple people are writing, you spur each other on.”
“I was finishing my book as another colleague was finishing his. It was really encouraging to go in and ask how he was doing. He’d ask about mine. It’s hard work to publish a book and takes a lot of solitary time. When you’re seeing people reach the finish line, that motivates you to keep going.” The other thing that kept Mueller going: woodworking.
Whenever he needed a break while writing at home, he went into the garage and made wooden pens.
“Every writer gets stuck on things,” Mueller says. “I find that when you distract yourself, ideas come. You’ve got to do something to clear your head.”
Woodworking helped Mueller finish his commentary on Hebrews which is aimed at Sunday school learners with no Greek knowledge. It comes out this spring.
“I hadn’t done anything of this scope,” Mueller says. “The closest was when I edited the Lutheran Study Bible, which was in some ways intimidating. When someone opens their Bible here’s something you wrote. That’s an awesome responsibility.”
Maintaining a vibrant devotional life and experience of worship is key to doing valuable work, he says.
“It’s about the need to interact with the word as a child of God,” Mueller says. “While writing has lots of benefits spiritually, I didn’t let it take the place of going to church, going to Bible class myself, attending chapel, staying in prayer and studying the Word. There’s a time to feed and a time to be fed. The successful Christian writer has to do both, and being fed comes first.”
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