Concordia Seminary receives “Science for Seminaries” grant

Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer

Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer

Concordia Seminary is one of 10 Christian seminaries in the United States recently selected to participate in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) “Science for Seminaries” program, and has been awarded $93,600 to help prepare pastors and other church leaders for well-informed thinking and conversations about science.

With this funding, the Seminary will launch a two-year initiative to integrate science into the curricula for two core theological courses and support ongoing learning so future pastors are better prepared to counsel and guide congregants and the community when questions arise. AAAS will provide resources such as science-education videos and access to scientist-advisors and faculty mentors to support these efforts.

Bringing science into the core of theological education will influence current students, the Seminary, and the congregations where future pastors will serve. “Pastors are very important for overcoming false impressions and misunderstandings about both the Christian faith and modern science,” says Dr. Joel Okamoto, professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary and project contact. “This program gives Concordia Seminary a very fine opportunity to help pastors present and future to do this faithfully and fairly.”

The grant will cover the cost of faculty, science resources, guest speakers, campus events and more to promote the relevance of science to seminary training for two years.

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  1. Becky Filipek on Facebook October 29, 2014

    Just as long as we stick to what God’s Word says about how and when He created the world and don’t start making declarations like the pope has recently. Look for people like Dr. David Menton to teach science from a biblical Creationist perspective, please.

  2. Rev. Warren Woerth October 29, 2014

    Please see what Dr. David Menton wrote about the AAAS meeting a few years ago. Go to and in the search field type in AAAS. You will find very informative commentary about the AAAS and the Battle for Men’s Souls. If it is true that AAAS will provide the resources, then perhaps we have reason to be concerned?

  3. Becky Filipek on Facebook October 30, 2014

    Thank you, Rev. Woerth. Part 2 is especially relevant here. Is Concordia Seminary opening the door for another “battle for the Bible” by accepting this grant and should we biblical Lutherans be concerned?

  4. Rev. Warren Woerth October 31, 2014

    “Those who forget the past . . .”
    “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” (Trojan Horse).
    “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
    Perhaps we should avail ourselves of the opportunity to discuss our concerns with the appropriate leaders in an appropriate way and in a timely fashion.
    If Planned Parenthood were to give a grant and provided resources to teach our sem students about women’s health issues, we would be more than a little concerned. We know where they stand and what they teach.
    If I am not mistaken, this is (or has the potential to be) a similar situation.

  5. Becky Filipek on Facebook October 31, 2014

    Agreed, sir.

  6. George November 4, 2014

    I agree with Rev. Woerth. I have personal experience with AAAS trying to disrupt the activities of scientists studying and teaching intelligent design. This is NOT a pro-science organization that happens to support evolution. They ARE a virulently pro-evolution group to the exclusion of everything else. The comparison to planned parenthood is appropriate.

    I believe that scientific knowledge and some familiarity with scientific thought and issues would be great. I still can’t get over the connection to avowed enemies of making any significant connection between the Creator and His creation.

    To say it another way, I have no doubt whatsoever that the goal of the AAAS is to “help” clergy see the truth of science and bow to it as the papacy has. Whether they will be disappointed in the implementation that Concordia Seminary puts forward is to be seen (and prayed for).

    • George November 4, 2014

      The AAAS has an approved statement regarding evolution education. (Actually they have since 1922, but that’s another story).
      This document outlines their view of the connection between science and religion, specifically with regard to creation.

      If the jargon is unfamiliar, you should note the definition of science “Science is a process of seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena.” While this may seem rational, what is hidden is that they think everything is a “natural phenomenon.” They go on to assume that the creation of the world, and specifically man are “natural phenomena,” which is the usual bait-and-switch. Once you agree that the creation is a natural phenomenon then you have excluded God. That is the goal. They are explicitly against “critical analysis” of evolution!

      Please be careful!

  7. Erik Herrmann November 5, 2014

    The LCMS Reporter is preparing an article on this story, and in the process interviewed Prof. Joel Okamoto about it. Here is his answer to a question that relates directly to some of the concerns registered here:

    “As in all of our instruction and programs, we are committed fully to teaching and witness that is faithful to Jesus Christ the Lord, and to honor the Synod’s positions in doctrine and practice.

    “Be assured that this program does not require the seminary to reconsider or compromise our church body’s theological position. The purpose of the program is to better prepare pastors to help their congregations understand science and its relationship to the Christian faith. There are a number of topics, like evolution, about which Concordia Seminary disagrees with the AAAS. However, we can agree that it is good to help pastors and other church leaders deal with these questions fairly and carefully. And we’re confident that this is something that many people in LCMS congregations want: pastors who speak thoughtfully about science and technology and give informed guidance for our lives, just as they would want pastors to speak thoughtfully and give informed guidance about families, politics, economics, education, and the arts.

    “The AAAS grant offsets the cost of this program, which includes expenses relative to course development, campus events, and consultations. The organization also is offering assistance and support for advisors. But it is not asking the participating seminaries to advance any particular position, nor are they requiring any of their own materials be used for the curriculum.”

    • George November 7, 2014

      Thank you Prof. Herrmann,

      It’s good to know that the Seminary faculty are aware of the potential problems.

      I wonder, though, what assurances does the seminary have to give the AAAS that they are teaching “science” at all?

      Again, thank you for your reply and I hope that the program helps pastors engage this very important topic.

  8. Rev. Warren Woerth November 7, 2014

    Dear brothers in Christ, whom I love and respect,
    Thank you for your assurances regarding the commitment of Concordia Seminary to our Lord and to the teaching and practice of the LCMS. I am glad to hear that the AAAS is not requiring that their materials be used and not requiring that the seminary compromise its theological position.
    Nevertheless, it is clear that the worldview, mission, goals, and position-statements of the AAAS are antithetical to the worldview, mission, goals, and position-statements of the LCMS in certain critical areas. We do not even agree with them on the very definition of “science.” (They include molecule-to-man evolution as proven scientific fact which must be believed by all who are scientifically literate.) It is also clear that they are not giving money to Concordia Seminary primarily to advance our interests, but theirs. It is no secret that their hope is that our seminary, faculty, students, future pastors, and congregations will be won over (or at least more open) to their worldview, etc.
    The original news article says: “AAAS will provide resources such as science-education videos and access to scientist-advisors and faculty mentors to support these efforts.” Surely, no one doubts that these resources, videos, advisors, and mentors will be promoting the worldview and positions that AAAS holds dear and which undermine our own. Only if these are clearly, consistently, and effectively countered with accurate Biblical and scientific teaching from “our side” (e.g.—with the excellent works of Dr. David Menton and others) will our future pastors be strengthened and equipped to help their people when they are faced with questions of Christian faith and modern science.
    An additional note, the “Science for Seminaries” project is funded by a grant to AAAS by the John Templeton Foundation. Once again, the worldview, mission, and goals of the Templeton Foundation are clearly antithetical to ours.
    I truly believe that the faithful members of the LCMS could easily raise $100,000 to fund the curriculum improvements that you desire without the Trojan Horse of the AAAS being allowed inside the gates.

    • North P. Sherrill, Jr. December 10, 2014

      I wholeheartedly agree with Pastor Woerth’s comments.

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