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Meet the Speaker
Pastor Preus earned his Masters of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana and his PhD in Historical Theology from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He lives with his wife, Jenny, and their eight children in Brasov, Romania, where he serves on the theological faculty of the Livonia Lutheran Project, based in Riga, Latvia. You may read about it here. He also serves as assistant pastor and church planter in Brasov, as well as recruiter and mentor to new and upcoming pastors in the lower Balkan and Mediterranean subregion. Before going to Romania, he was pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Billings, Montana (2011–2015) and missionary, church planter, and professor at Seminario Concordia, “el Reformador,” in Santiago, Dominican Republic (2015–2021).
“Fear not!” Thus says the Lord, in various contexts, several hundred times throughout Scripture. What does this mean? We are accustomed to answering this question in the form of Luther’s Small Catechism: “We should fear and love God…” But this approach appears to complicate the problem. Which is it? Should we fear (and love), or should we fear not? And then we have the words of St. John: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
The plenaries will help us resolve this apparent contradiction, first, by asking some personal questions. What are you afraid of, and why? Second, we will compare “fear” as it relates to psychological definitions and categories and as it is used in the Bible. Finally, we will explore some key biblical texts that help us deal with the real fear we experience every day. In each case, the distinction between “fear” and “fear not” has to do with our relationship with God and how we worship him. Are you a son or a slave? That is the question. For the sake of God’s Son and by virtue of your baptism, God has made you a son. “Fear not.” Jesus’ words bring us peace, forgiveness, and clarity. And that is what makes all the practical difference.
Truth and Love Plenary Sessions
Meet the Speaker
Pastor Wolfmueller is author of all things Lutheran. Our speaker is very active in several Lutheran podcasts and has his own YouTube channel with – among other things – a weekly Bible study. He and his wife Keri live with their four children in Aurora, Colorado, USA, where he serves as pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. Having received his Masters of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft Wayne, IN, he now travels the web and the world and we are happy to welcome him to Gothenburg, as well. Check out his blog (https://wolfmueller.co/) if you want to get to know him and his multifaceted work in advance.
Future and Hope Plenary Sessions
Meet the Speaker
Rev. Kurt Reinhardt was born and baptized in Ottawa, Canada. As a child he often thought of being a pastor. But it wasn’t until after University that he finally decided to go to Seminary. He said, “At the seminary my mind and heart were more fully opened up to the truth of the Gospel and all that it meant for me. Here I also came to appreciate the sacramental life of the Church as the high point of God’s gracious working out of salvation in my life.”
Rev. Reinhardt has a wife and 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls) ranging in age from 9 to 19. They tend a large garden behind the parsonage and keep laying hens in the garage beside the house. In March 2017 Rev. Reinhardt suffered a stroke and although he has faced many challenges, he says “God in His mercy through the prayers of His people has restored my body and mind while working great wonders in my soul through this time of loving Fatherly discipline.”
In Christ Alone Plenary Sessions
Meet the Speaker
Rev. Esko Murto is a graduate of Helsinki University (Master of Theology) and of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft Wayne (STM). After being in different positions of church leadership in Finland, especially as senior pastor of St Mark Lutheran Church in Helsinki (2010-2015), he now is Professor for Systematic Theology at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catherines, Canada. As his newly-wed wife is from Germany, it is deemed appropriate to call him a globetrotter.
Who is Jesus Christ? In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 16, Jesus asks his disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The answers were different and varied back then. And so they are today. The character of Jesus at the same time interests and confuses people. Some are inspired by him and others reject him – but even in their rejection, they can’t help being somehow fascinated by him. The world may ask, but it will never truly comprehend who Jesus Christ is.
Then the Lord asks: “But who do you say I am?” In the plenary sessions we will pursue the answer to that question. Who do we say that the Son of Man is? The answer to this is not revealed by “flesh and blood” but by the Father in heaven. To find the answer, we will look into the promises God has given to his people through the ages concerning the coming messiah. We will study what Jesus says about himself. We will ask: where is Christ today and what is his will and purpose for us? Through these questions we are also led to rediscover the message of the Lutheran reformation, now celebrating its 500th anniversary, with the same central question: Who is Jesus and what is his will concerning us? Who do we say that he is?
Scripture Alone – Jesus Christ comes to us in His word, in the word of the prophets and of the apostles (Rev. Torkild Masvie)
Questions that will be treated: If the Bible, and only the Bible, is the inspired word of God, infallible and inerrant – How do I know it is? What is the purpose? What about the difficult passages, and the tension with what is taught in secular science and history?
Grace Alone – The salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ is solely dependent on Him and not on us (Rev. Tapani Simojoki)
Questions that will be treated: What role does grace play in our salvation and what role does it play in our Christian lives? Everyone agrees on the necessity of God’s grace, but what for? How do you make passive (recipients of God’s grace) Lutherans active?
Faith Alone – Living justified apart from the works of the law (Rev. Daniel Brandt)
Questions that will be treated: Where does the Bible teach that we are saved through faith alone in Christ, and what does this mean? Doesn’t it matter how we live? Is faith the one good work WE must do? Also: The teaching about justification through faith alone was opposed during the time of the reformation – what about today?
Session for Theologians – (Various Theologians)
The fourth and final in-depth session is aimed at theology students and young theologians. There will be an introduction to the various topics with a discussion afterwards. The discussions will emphasize how the topics can relate to our life in faith and service.
Thus Says the Lord! Plenary Sessions
Meet the Speaker
Pastor Jonathan Fisk from the U.S. will be our plenary-speaker. He is the host of Worldview Everlasting, author of the book BROKEN: 7 “Christian” Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible. Here is a review from Amazon.com: Best book I have ever read (after the Bible, of course)! It is wordy, but well worth it. A must read.
Life in Christ Plenary Sessions
Rev. Kurt Reinhardt is the plenary speaker. Our mortal lives on earth calls us to convictions, to decisions, to actions! And yet, life becomes fundamentally different when given by Christ – an eternal life to be lived out in a dying world. In what way gives the life in Christ meaning to our ordinary lives?