Students studying on Concordia's Lake Michigan bluff

Lutheran distinctives and identity

Lutherans have always been about education--we are passionate about our purpose. A Lutheran education not only prepares each of our students for vocations but also develops the whole person in mind, body, and spirit. Concordia University integrates the Christian faith into everything we do.

Lutheran beliefs and practices

This list was compiled by the faculty and staff of Concordia University Wisconsin. Need a question answered? Send us a message.

Statue of Martin Luther

Being Lutheran student perspectives on faith

Abigail Penhallegon

Abigail Penhallegon
Christ Alone

Anna Jorgensen

Anna Jorgensen
Faith Alone

Derek Carey

Derek Carey
Grace Alone

Benjamin Brenner

Benjamin Brenner
Scripture Alone

Lindsey Fuchsberger

Lindsey Fuchsberger
Vocation

Nygie Rhodes

Nygie Rhodes
Christian Community

On-campus opportunities

Participate in the Lutheran mission

Chapel of Christ Triumphant

Campus ministry and service

Each of our 50+ student leaders and co-leaders of a ministry are part of the Campus Ministry Leadership Team (CMLT). These dedicated students, guided by Rev. Steve Smith and Rev. Doug Bender, organize and lead a number of groups to ensure the needs of students are being met.

Learn more about campus ministry
Mission Trip

Chapel and worship opportunities

The Chapel of Christ Triumphant is the setting for our active and vibrant worship life. Gathering together daily, on Sundays, and for special events around God’s Word is one of the hallmarks of our campus spiritual life. Additional services of Evening Prayer, Vespers, and Compline, minor church festivals and Holy Week are also observed.

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Student Playing Organ

Church worker and theology degrees

With the largest pre-seminary program in the LCMS, the largest Lutheran undergraduate population, and a varied selection of local placement opportunities in congregations and K-12 schools, we take special care to prepare students for work in the church.

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Institutes & Centers

Our Institutes and Centers at Concordia are dedicated to moving our mission forward by providing educational resources, conferences, workshops and other opportunities to the greater community. These faith-building, Christ-centering and Lutheran-led organizations are vital to equipping the leaders of tomorrow for service in the church and to the world.

What is Lutheran Higher Education?

We are a university of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod—a school of the Church.

In its simplest form, it means that the Christian, Lutheran faith matters at Concordia University and informs every aspect of daily life. We believe, teach, and confess God’s Truth from the Bible, and we do it in the way that was given to us in our confession of faith. We cherish what has been passed down to us, and we incorporate it everywhere.

As a liberal arts university, Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor promotes the value of an interdisciplinary education grounded in God’s Truth to help you navigate a complex world. Below are some aspects of the education we provide that you can expect to experience as a student at Concordia University.

Christ-centered and mission-minded

As Christians, we seek to be faithful in our confession of Christian theology through instruction and in all we offer at CUW. Every Concordia student is equipped with a background in Lutheran Christian theology through their coursework. We are intentionally focused on our mission to ensure that students develop in mind, body, and spirit.

Faith integration

Faith is integrated into all aspects of the Concordia experience, whether in the classroom or on the athletic field. Our Christian faculty relate course content to faith and a Christian worldview. In every Concordia classroom, on the playing fields and performance stages, in the residence halls, and even in our online learning, we strive to develop within each student the ideals of a Christian life.

Liberal arts education

The Liberal Arts at Concordia represent a broad course of study directed at educating the whole person, preparing and encouraging students for a life-long pursuit of Truth. Students engage in critical inquiry and thinking grounded in the Scriptures and aimed at understanding humanity’s place in Creation. Students will explore the world and the human condition through studies in Theology, the Humanities, Fine Arts, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences. This interwoven tapestry of knowledge provides the foundation for a life of joyful service to Christ, the Church, and the world.

God’s Truth

In a world where everything is becoming increasingly relative, we celebrate God’s Truth. Instead of ignoring or shying away from the complexities of this world, we grapple with them in light of our academic disciplines and God’s Word. We use Biblical perspectives to help bring meaning and understanding as we navigate the crossroads of faith and culture. These Biblical perspectives can best be summarized by the teachings of Martin Luther during the reformation (also known as the Solas): Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone.

Faith in Action

Our faith community reflects the Lutheran tradition, while remaining welcoming to students of other faiths. Opportunities for worship, Bible study, Christian service, and mission experiences abound on our residential campuses and in our online/virtual learning contexts.

How is the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms reflected at Concordia?

The Two Kingdoms is a key theme of the New Testament and one of the Lutheran Reformation’s central insights on the Gospel. For these reasons, it remains extremely relevant and applicable today. The two kingdoms demonstrate how God is ruling in the world. There are two because He rules both through societal structures (left) in a natural way and through His Word (right) in a spiritual or supernatural way.

Martin Luther identified the kingdoms as left and right as if referencing two hands of the one true King, God himself. Satan does not rule the world. God most certainly does, yet God’s goal of salvation is accomplished through the deft “right hand” work of proclaiming the Gospel. While Martin Luther’s teaching of the two kingdoms is a substantial element in his work, he was not the only theologian to examine the “doctrine of the two.” Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and John Calvin each considered this construct at length. In contrast to the others, however, Luther’s explanation of the two kingdoms is based fully in Scripture, with both kingdoms belonging to God and illustrating both law and gospel.

Dr. Russ Moulds, in his essay “The Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms” (2010, Teachers Interaction), unpacks the two strategies used by God to free humanity from its captivity to the devil. God’s Kingdom of the Left sustains our present world with opportunities for the Gospel while God’s Kingdom of the Right advances the Gospel in the world.

The Kingdom of the Left helps to keep our sinful world in check, promotes common good and justice to the degree that is possible within the devil’s grip on the world, and provides opportunities through which any person—Christian or not—can contribute to the common good of society through any number of vocations. Here Luther cited marriage, civil government, and the church as examples confirmed in God’s Word. Even though these temporal elements are human activities, “they are actually all God’s short-term good works that he does in his own hidden way. He does these things to sustain the present age so he can employ his other strategy to defeat the devil, make us righteous, and redeem creation” (Moulds, 2010).

While the Kingdom of the Left illustrates what God “is doing with this world through His word of providence” (Moulds, 2010), the Kingdom of the Right reveals what He is doing toward this world through salvation and the advancement of the Gospel. In the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus, true God and true man, all of humanity is released from the captivity of the devil, returned to God’s favor, and the chasm between heaven and earth is bridged and the harmony between them restored. If one used the Luke 10 account of Mary and Martha to personify the Kingdoms and their distinctions, there is Martha, focused on the Kingdom of the Left vocation of host and Mary, sitting at the Savior’s feet and concerned only with matters of the Kingdom of the Right. Both Kingdoms are God’s and are used for His single purpose of our salvation. “God inducts us very actively into the first, like workers given vocations, and absolutely passively into the second, like babies being born or dead men being raised” (Moulds, 2010).

Luther’s clear distinction between the two kingdoms ensures that the Gospel remains gospel and that the law remains law. In truth, God indeed has the whole world in His hands, “both” of the Kingdoms. We are called to be God’s masks in the world, as Luther often expressed, and to “put on” our neighbors as Christ has “put on” us. Referencing Psalm 82, Luther implores Christians to “give justice to the weak and fatherless…rescue the weak and the needy” (v. 3, 4).

The teaching of the Two Kingdoms has many useful applications, specifically in Lutheran higher education, including the relationship between church and state, science and religion, media and morals, and all the gifts of the creative human intellect and the revelation of sacred Scripture. “The Lutheran tradition enables us to avoid oversimplified responses to concerns about these issues and recognize that non-Christians as well as Christian voices have contributions to make to disputation and response” (Moulds, 2010). Religious freedom for all people, then, becomes a foundation for a civil society and a fundamental right which ensures that God’s Word may have its free course in informing the morals of society. The Two Kingdom distinction as espoused by Luther not only provides a framework for religious liberty but also engenders an appreciation of all “secular education.”

Yet within this intersection, we experience dynamic and real tension between the temporal and eternal on many levels. Kingdom of the Left activities of learning and education of this world can be used to highlight the Kingdom of the Right inaugurated by Jesus. “Sinners notice the difference between these two realms or perspectives. They find this sort of teaching peculiar and become puzzled and perhaps a little uncomfortable” (Moulds, 2010). Luther termed this type of spiritual anxiety “anfechtung” (challenging, contesting) and saw it as an appropriate initial response to the Law and Gospel. “What’s more, such matters may or may not always be resolved—they may remain in a working and virtuous tension, or they may coexist with some degree of conflict. The Lutheran tradition sustains and articulates such various conditions” (Moulds, 2010).

For more information and analysis, read Heck, J., and Menuge, A. (Eds.) Learning at the foot of the cross: a Lutheran vision for education. (2012). Concordia University Press.

What is a Concordia liberal arts education?

The concept of a liberal arts education originated with the Greeks and Romans and was re-conceptualized by Christians of the medieval period, re-imagined during the Renaissance and Reformation, and remained the core of higher education well into the 20th century. At its heart, an education in the liberal arts (artes liberales, i.e., arts befitting a free person) was designed to prepare citizens for an active life of public service, still an invaluable goal in a modern democratic society. The liberal arts comprise a variety of disciplines: the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics and theology. The liberal arts have often been regarded as a set of independent and isolated disciplines rather than as a coherent program of study. The fragmentation of a liberal arts curriculum has largely resulted from the removal of any unifying force or ultimate goal.

The Liberal Arts at Concordia

The Liberal Arts at Concordia represent a broad course of study directed at educating the whole person, preparing and encouraging students for a life-long pursuit of Truth. Students engage in critical inquiry and thinking grounded in the Scriptures and aimed at understanding humanity’s place in Creation. Students will explore the world and the human condition through studies in Theology, the Humanities, Fine Arts, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences. This interwoven tapestry of knowledge provides the foundation for a life of joyful service to Christ, the Church, and the world.

Timor Domini principium sapientiae

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum lays the foundations for study in a wide variety of programs, employment in a frequently-changing global society, and fulfillment in a meaningful Christian life. Students both study content and engage in ways of thinking that represent the full range of human knowledge and expression. Students explore different approaches and disparate concepts that combine to yield new insights and develop discernment. Through exposure to these disciplines and ideas, students begin a life-long pursuit of Truth, understanding, citizenship and service, which they carry through into their major programs of study. In this way, a Concordia education helps graduates become fully alive and able to carry out the university’s mission in their many professional and personal vocations in life.

Theology

The study of Holy Scripture and Christian principles forms the foundation of all of our learning. We begin by studying God’s word to understand his plan for his entire creation, and we consider the paradox of humans as eternal souls in a mortal world. This recognition shapes our engagement with historical and contemporary issues in the world around us.

Humanities

The Humanities represent a study of the human condition throughout time and place. We explore the many and various ways in which people have grappled with what it means to live in a fallen world. Through the study of Literature, Language, History, and Philosophy, we learn how to move beyond merely enduring in order to live a life of meaning and purpose.

Fine Arts

Human creative endeavors mirror God’s own acts of creation, and best demonstrate what it means that we are made in his image. Through the fine arts, we explore how to express the complex aspects of our human experience through a variety of media, and we learn to understand, appreciate, and comprehend the aesthetic expression of others throughout time. Students have the opportunity to take part in the visual arts, theater, and musical performance.

Mathematics

Mathematics is the languages of nature; it expresses the underlying patterns in creation through number, quantity, shape, and space. It explores the interrelationships between these characteristics through formal, symbolic expression. In mathematics, students think systematically and logically, and learn to describe and analyze the physical world.

Social Sciences

In the Social Sciences, we study the human interactions that form the basis of daily life, and engagement with these areas of inquiry fosters habits of critical thinking and problem solving through social analysis. The examination of human behavior, political processes, social institutions, and global phenomena enhances students’ analytical, and ethical awareness, and develops their spiritual talents for service in many areas of life.

Natural Sciences

We approach the natural world as God’s intentional creation, and thus an integrative whole that functions according to an ordered set of laws. Through the study of the Natural Sciences we seek to understand the order and beauty of the many systems at work and how they function together. Students are encouraged to understand the complexity of the natural world and take on the responsibility of its stewardship.