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The Martin Galstad Institute for Lutheran Philosophy

Rev. Dr. Gregory P. Schulz, D.Min., Ph.D., Director


We find ourselves in a time of intellectual crisis. Although this is a claim that is likely to generate disagreement, it is at least plausible to argue that intellectual movements, such as the New Atheism, as it is being promoted both in popular media and in academia by thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, are exposing a profound vulnerability in the theological and academic wherewithal of Lutheran leaders, namely, pastors, professors and educated laity.

That is to say, Lutherans today find themselves unable to give an apologian (1 Peter 3:15) suitable to our intellectual climate. We find ourselves unable to defend against – or even to analyze logically – these twenty-first century attacks on Christian faith and Western tradition. Surely this is due, at least in part, to our failure to remain literate and capable in philosophy. Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon and Martin Chemnitz were philosophically literate, whereas contemporary Lutherans, by and large, are not.

We also find that we have a growing number of Lutheran thinkers, namely, philosophy professors and researchers, graduate students in university philosophy programs, and a growing number of professional laity, who recognize the need to respond in an authentic Lutheran manner to what Roger Scruton calls “the culture of repudiation,” that is, the academic repudiation of Christian truth and Western rationality. In other words, to respond to this crisis with philosophical acumen and Lutheran integrity.

And so, it is time for an Institute of Lutheran Philosophy, an institute that will provide Lutheran thinkers an academic venue in which to cultivate a Lutheran mode of doing philosophy in order to equip intellectually engaged and intellectually minded persons for the apologetic task at hand.

Goals and Objectives

            The Martin Galstad Institute for Lutheran Philosophy shall, sub conditione Jacobi or “under the James 4:15 condition”, as Bonhoeffer puts it, 

  1. fund and maintain a website for the purpose of publicizing the project and cultivating academic exchange and support among Lutheran and Lutheran-minded philosophy professors, researchers and graduate students at colleges and universities world-wide,
  2. initiate and support regular academic conferences which convene for the purpose of developing and supporting philosophical inquiry that seeks to further such disciplined inquiry in a Lutheran mode, and further
  3. establish and fund via its website and conferences the electronic, print and professional personnel resources required (a) to assist in the development of philosophy curricula and philosophy lectures at Lutheran institutions of higher learning, as well as (b) to involve undergraduates, particularly philosophy majors, philosophy minors and philosophically-minded students in the conferences of the Institute,
  4. as an institute of Wisconsin Lutheran College, seek to become fully funded either by the college, as an endowed institute of the college, or as an independently-funded institute affiliated with the college.   

Note: As proposed, the Institute is an academic endeavor, not a theological or evangelistic undertaking per se. By doing philosophy “in a Lutheran mode” I do not intend to suggest that the Institute is working toward the ideal of a single, orthodox Lutheran philosophy, but rather that there can be an academically disciplined and recognizably Lutheran manner of philosophizing that continues the tradition of philosophical acumen evident in the promulgation of biblical, Christian truth in the ecumenical creeds, the Lutheran Confessions and the writings of Lutheran orthodoxy such as Chemnitz’s Two Natures in Christ. In a word, that the ministerial use of reason insisted upon by the Wittenberg reformers is the use of reason.

Institute Name

The sainted Martin Galstad (d. 1999) was a Lutheran professor and pastor whose commitment to philosophical inquiry has quietly but profoundly affected the thinking, writing, and teaching of his students from Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, and readers of his book, Findings. His example, both in terms of the substance and manner of his teaching, and in respect to his willingness to pursue and speak the truth even at personal cost, is a philosophical heritage that this institute seeks first to emulate, then to develop further and, in so doing, to share with another generation of Lutheran professors, students, and other thoughtful persons. In 1999 Prof. Galstad was awarded an honorary doctorate from WLC.


The Institute Thanks Our Contributors

Dr. Paul Boehlke, Gary Joers, Kyle O'Connor, Matt Baker, Bob and Sue Stumpner of The Camera Case, Anonymous Donors