Sunday, October 13, 2013

Performatives, Illocutions and Felicity Conditions for Preaching

Many point out that preaching is a performative act.  Instead of a mere conveyance of said information, good preaching is a doing.  In the sermon, Jesus Christ Himself is handed over to the hearers of the Word. 

The Tuebingen systematician Owald Bayer (b. 1939) uses the notion of a performative utterance, connects it with the promissio, and contrasts it with a mere constative.  Accordingly, Bayer quotes a statement from Luther’s Tishreden as stating a general principle in Luther’s semantics: "Signum philosophicum est nota absentis rei, signum theologicum est nota praesentis rei"  (“The philosophical sign is a mark of an absent thing; the theological sign is a mark of a present thing"), and “the signum itself is already the res; the linguistic sign is already the matter itself" (Martin Luther’s Theology, 52).

The promissio Bayer locates at the center of Luther's theology is unpacked by equating the word in language with the reality itself. Bayer suggests that in promises, words are not to be interpreted extensionally or intensionally, but are themselves their own reality.  (I have elsewhere called this the "donational model.")  Bayer regards this to be the deepest presupposition of Luther's theological semantics, a position he claims is akin to the views on performative language advanced by Austin. 

Over and against the constative, Bayer regards the promissio as a performative utterance: "In contrast to every metaphysical set of statements that teach about the deity, this assertion [e.g. "To you is born this day a Savior"] declares that God's truth and will are not abstract entities, but are directed verbally and publicly as a concrete promise to a particular hearer in a specific situation. 'God' is apprehended as the one who makes a promise to a human being in such a way that the person who hears it can have full confidence in it" (53).  Bayer has many more things to say about promise-talk:  

  •  " . . . one cannot take the promise, which is not a descriptive statement, and transform it into a descriptive statement.” 
  • “Secondly, one cannot take the promise, which is not in the form of a statement that shows how something ought to be done, and transform it into an imperative. . . .” 
  •  "The truth of the promise . . . is to be determined only at the very place that the promise was . . . constituted. This means it is located within the relationship of the one who is speaking . . . and the one who hears. . . .”
Unfortunately, regardless of his authorial intent, Bayer’s formulations suggest a possible confusion.  One might hold that the sermon is a set of performative utterances - - promises being one type of performative - - that do something rather than say something, and then go on to claim that since performative utterances are not true or false, preaching expressions have no truth-conditions.  While this might seem a very bad thing, it is actually has some theological advantages.   How is this view possibly fruitful?  

Since the time of Kant there has been a tendency to claim that religious and theological language do not talk about the same reality as that talked about by historical, scientific, and even philosophical language.  This happened because the Kantian criticisms of natural theology succeeded in adding to the previous Enlightenment distrust that theological statements could be straightforwardly true.  If they weren't true, but still useful, then what were they?  The view that whatever religion and theology talk about, they don't talk about the same reality as discussed in the other disciplines is called the independence thesis in the theology and science discussion.  The question is then to locate the domain of theology with respect to other domains.  What domain is theology about?   

Here is where performative utterance-talk can come to the rescue.   The promise of performative utterances is that Lutheran theology can thus avoid metaphysical statements about God, God’s causal relationship with the universe, and God’s relationship to the realm of being generally. Instead one merely says that theology is all about doing, and doing cannot conflict with what is, with the saying of  metaphysics!   One can thus both be an academic, post-Kantian and a Lutheran theologian all at the same time!  
Accordingly, proclamations become first-order doing expressions without truth conditions, and they produce what they say.  Preaching is constituted by performative utterances declaring one’s freedom from sin, death, and devil through Christ.   Explicitly theological formulations then become second-order saying expressions which are merely regulative in that they order the performative utterances, and govern the occasions and context of their use.  One detects a fleeting ghost of Schleiermacher who held:  

  • First-order religious language is expressive and poetic;
  • First-order rhetorical language is rhetorical and persuasive;
  • Second-order theological language is didatic and dogmatic.  
Clearly, a great deal of weight must be carried by the notion of a performative utterance, if it is to ground the very questionable discipline of theology in our time.  Unfortunately, many theologians do not realize that the status of a performative utterance is itself a matter of considerable philosophical controversy, and that Austin was already attacking his own performative-constative distinction almost 60 years ago.  

In sections IV and VII of How to Do Things with Words, Austin accumulates a number of doubts about the performative-constative distinction.   It seems that certain "felicity conditions" must be met in order for a declaration or promise to occur, and that these conditions rest both on social convention and speaker intentionality.  A performative is null and void if issued by a person not in position to perform the act, e.g., the pastor can marry the couple only in the appropriate social context, not by himself in the shower.  An unelected plumber cannot declare war on behalf of the United States.   One cannot promise with the intention to break it or without any means to fulfill the promise.   It seems that, for Austin, there is an element of the constative in each performative, and an element of the performative in the constative.   For these reasons Austin abandons the performative-constative distinction and formulates instead a distinction among locutions, various illocutionary acts, and the different perlocutions accomplished through these illocutions.   

The locution is the semantic content of an utterance; it is the act of saying something.   The illocutionary act is that which is accomplished in the saying.  It is the "extra meaning" beyond the literal meaning of the locution.  It and the perlocution constitute part of the speech act's force.   The perlocution is the intended effect produced in the hearer by the illocution.   This effect clearly depends upon social convention.   Austin's student, John Searle, revised the threefold schema of Austin into five categories:  

  • Representatives state something in the doing.  Examples are "the cat is on the mat," and "David Hume died in 1776."  
  • Directives tell others to do something, e.g., "Give me the hammer!", "Don't make a sound during church." 
  • Commissives occur when promises are made, e.g., "I promise to be faithful to you until death parts us," "God sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall never die." 
  •  Expressives merely display the speaker's attitudes and states.   Examples are, "I am really sorry about that," "Congratulations!!!"  
  •   Declarations actually do something with words, e.g., "I name you John," "Class dismissed!"  
Searle regards directives, commissives and declarations to be general performatives where the world must now fit the words.  Alternately, representatives and expressives are general representatives where the words must fit the world.   (In an expressive, the word is supposed to fit the world of the speaker's attitudes and emotions.)  With all of these, however, there is an element of each in the other.   General performatives have locutionary semantic content; general representatives have a particular illocutionary force.  A single locution can sustain markedly different different illocutionary and perlocutionary force.

Take, for instance, the phrase, 'The dog is in the yard."   This could be a representative or an assertive merely stating what one thinks.  It might be used as a directive, telling others to stay away.   It might be a commissive that promises to all a safe yard.   Of course, it could be an expressive that does nothing more than display speaker fear.   The phrase, "I promise to be there tomorrow," can be a promise, but it might be a threat.  Saying 'the Day of the Lord is at hand' might be interpreted as a promise if God's presence is thought to be advantageous to the hearer, but it might be threat if divine presence is likely disadvantageous to the hearer.  (Notice how easy it is to explain now how the same locution of Scripture can both be Law and Gospel?)    

Given all of these distinctions, it becomes very hard to see how a performative utterance can somehow lead to Bayer's championed identity of a signum and res.  The signum does constitute the locutionary content of the expression.  The res, however, seems best associated with the perlocution, with what is brought about through the illocution.  Clearly, on this interpretation the perlocution cannot be a thing identifiable with the semantic content of the word itself.

We have found that the notion of a performative utterance has been employed in preaching to speak of the force of preaching and its effect, but that the notion of a performative as not having a truth value makes problematic this use.  We have also learned that Austin himself found his distinction between performatives and constatives problematic, and that newer views were subsequently devised to speak of illocutionary acts which utter locutions.  What Austin and Searle both discovered, however, is that in the analysis of speech act meaning, one simply cannot escape semantic content.    

We have previously concluded from this that there is nothing especially mysterious about using language to accomplish persuasive ends.   In good preaching, illocutions effect perlocutions.  Preachers thus exhort by demand and promise to move the hearts of their hearers.   This movements of the heart are the perlocutionary effects of these utterances.   Consequently, there is no simple identity between signum and res.  So far so good.   But there remains one really big problem for those finding an isolated doing in preaching performance that protects Lutheran's from an Enlightment-style critique of putative Lutheran saying.   

According to speech act theory, for a declaration to obtain certain felicity conditions must be in place.  For preaching to be interpreted as felicitiously performative, there can be no misfiring or abuse, and there must exist the proper preparatory conditions.  This means that while 'I absolve you' may have the sufficient felicity conditions in congregations whose attendees have appropriate presuppositions about the authority of the preacher to pronounce absolution and the sincerity of the preacher in pronouncing it, this is not the case in much of America now.   If preaching is a performative utterance, then any putative identity of signum and res can only occur as an “inside game” where the appropriate executive conditions --- are there appropriate background conditions? -- and essential  felicity conditions --is there proper fulfillment of the speech act? -- obtain.

I believe our time is like the time of the first century.   People to whom we preach must be convinced of the truth of what we are saying before they will join a community and adopt the appropriate felicity conditions making possible preaching declarations.   One can "hand over Christ" in preaching only if there are previous broad commitments about the existence and nature of a God causally efficacious in salvation.   The problem of our time is that only a few share the societal conventions that make possible the obtaining of the felicity conditions for proclamation.  The following likely hold:   

  • We find the background conditions of belief necessary for the social conventions grounding the felicity conditions of preaching declaration are no longer present. 
  • We find that few are moved by the illocutionary acts of preaching because the very possibility of perlocutionary response is tied to the question of truth. 
  • We discover that more than a few pastors are simply insincere; they use language in ways that downplay propositional content in order to bring about a perlocutionary effect that in the tradition was always tied to that content.   
Performative utterances are not mysterious and cannot remove us from the truth game.   Accordingly, they cannot lead us around the critique of modernity.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Christ School of Theology News

The Institute of Lutheran Theology's graduate school, The Christ School of Theology, now has its own webpage at   We are looking forward to an exciting semester with new students and courses.   Are you interested in the Lutheran Confessions?   The Theology of Luther?  Nineteenth Century Theology?  Philosophy of Religion?   Biblical Hebrew?   Christian Sexual Ethics?   Patristics?   Courses in the Synoptics and Epistles?  The Pentateuch?   Theology and Science?  We have these courses and more beginning in two weeks!

Remember that the Christ School of Theology offers a Masters of Sacred Theology (STM) as well as Masters of Religion and Masters of Divinity degrees.   This fall we offer four selections, one taught by Professor Paul Hinlicky entitled "Jenson's Systematic Theology."   This will be a wonderfully in-depth treatment of one of the most creative American Lutheran theologians of the past fifty years.   If interested, please visit our webpages and enroll today!   The ILT webpage remains

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

On the Logical Priority of Logos

Theology's function is to interpret the kerygma into the context.   This much has always been clear to me.   But what are the limits of this interpretation?  What norms sort theological attempts between success and failure?   And what are the proper words to use here?   Ought we to speak of true theological statements over and against false ones?    Are theological claims made in this interpretation better thought to be felicitous or infelicitous?   Are some more fecund than others, and, if so, what are the marks of this fecundity?

Over three decades ago I decided that I wanted to do theology seriously.  But over the decades I have been paralyzed by the Herculean effort seemingly needed to make any true theological advance in our time.   I knew that I could not simply parrot putative truths of another time as if they were truths of our time, yet I did not want to say that the truth-values of theological statements were simply and facilely indexed to time.  I have watched contemporary theology (and theologians) come and go and I have marveled at how little their passage on the theological stage seemingly depends upon the strength of their arguments.  I have always assumed that the acceptance of theological positions ought not be like that of political ones.   Theology, the grand discipline of the west, could not be simply a matter of fad, whim, and immediate political, economic and social cash value.   It simply has to be something more, I have hoped.

The proclamation of the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ has to be the starting point of theology.  The source of theology must be the CrossOf this, I have never had doubt.   An analysis of the cultural and intellectual horizon is necessary to the task of theology and, in some way, this horizon is itself a source of theological reflection.   However, this source is not of the same type as the other source.  While one has particular insight into the horizon, and while the horizon is something we "bump up against" in all experience, the horizon is not revealed.   The kerygma is revealed and the horizon is not.

Yet the two are given in a different way than our interpretative activity of unpacking the poles of kerygma and horizon, and carefully and patiently laying out, uncovering, or constructively articulating the relationships holding between those poles.  Our language, culture, philosophical assumptions, conceptual schemes, and own existences (including the socio-political) are the media by which the poles are refracted.  The hard task of locating the poles with respect to each other by specifying their connections is, of course, what the method of correlation is all about.   This creative, interpretive act of correlation is built upon previous acts of interpretation.   There is a hermeneutic of kerygma, a hermeneutic of horizon, and a hermeneutic correlating the deliverances of the first two hermeneutics.   Since the hermeneutical act is historically, culturally, conceptually influenced - - the product of the hermeneutic seems destined to be a here today, gone tomorrow, Johnny one-hit phenomenon.  Or so it seems on first reflection.

But perhaps we theologians spend too much creative energy wallowing in the quagmire of the seeming relativism based upon historical, cultural, and conceptual dynamism.  After all, it is not that the hermeneutical task - - and the hermeneutical circle and its effects - - infect what we do alone.   All intellectual activity proceeds by interpreting one thing, then interpreting another thing, and finally interpreting how those things fit, or don't fit, together.  It is what human beings do, and it is what we have always done.   Yet, there was once a time - - and there is in many other disciplines still a time - - when truth claims were/are vigorously asserted, supported, denied and repudiated on the basis of criteria that are abiding even within the flux of history, language, and culture.  It is not that everything is a Heraclitian flux only.  There is, after all, logos in the flux; there is order and reason.  We theologians have tended to concentrate so much upon the flux that we miss the order.   We tend to forget that the very categories we use in thinking and communicating the historical flux of thought are, in some sense stable categories.   In fact, the necessary condition for communicating flux is an ordered, coherent structure of thinking and being.  One cannot state change without perdurance.   This very old thought is either true or false, and I believe there are very good reasons to think it true - - Gorgias aside.  

What we theologians need again is a healthy dose of the reality of logos.  Our task is not dissimilar to Descartes'.   We must assume the worse-case scenario for theological knowledge, and try to uncover those stable structures presupposed by that worse case.  We must again learn to employ principle of contradiction:  If a theological position, or a hermeneutical interpretation of the hermeneutical situation ramifies a contradiction, then we must learn again to state clearly that the denial of that position is at least possible.  Moreover, we must learn again to think deeply enough theologically to spot the ways in which theological discourse is not generally a discourse of the contingent, and be able to conclude appropriately from this how the possible thus relates to the actual.  This is not easy work, but it is the work before us.

Just as flux presupposes logos, so does the historicity of the hermeneutical situation presuppose a metaphysics, that ontological correlate to the stable structural categories necessary even to state a non-completable hermeneutical dynamism.  It is precisely this metaphysics that theology has forgotten about, and it is precisely this that must be investigated again.   My hope is to begin this investigation soon.    

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reflections on Teleology in Theology

When I was young I captivated by the natural sciences - - particularly physics.   Now this should not be taken to mean that I actually knew a great deal of physics.   The specifics of physics aside, I loved the idea of physics, that idea that one could describe the initial state of a system, apply the relevant laws of nature, and calculate with certainty the position of the system at a later time.   

It always seemed to me that physics was like logic.   The initial state of the system corresponds to the axiom set, the laws of nature to the transformation rules or allowable logical operations, and subsequent states of the system to theorems.  Just as one can continue to derive theorems in the propositional logic, so can one continue to calculate  future states of a physical system.   The major disanalogy pertains to time.  While it is needed to actualize subsequent states of the physical system, it is irrelevant to logical derivation.   God could, after all, intuit all theorems of a logical system simultaneously because all theorems of a logical system obtain simultaneously.  Things are different in physics.  God could foreknow future states of the system, but there is a sense in which these states are not yet present.   (For purposes of the illustration let us not assume Boethius' view that eternity, for God, is the "whole simultaneous and perfect possession of unbounded life," and thus, for the divine, the future states of any physical system already hold in the fullness of the unbounded present.)  

When I was young it seemed to me that the more mathematics one knew, and the more one knew about the structure of scientific theory, the more one might hope in principle to know something definite about the world.   The world was the kind of thing that could be captured in scientific theory that makes appeal to nothing more than the regularities of nature and the category of efficient causality.   While it has proven very difficult to give an analysis of 'cause' that stands philosophical scrutiny, scientists do seem to make good use of the category and we humans seem to presuppose it in our dealings with the world.  (OK . . . I admit that Kant always seemed right on this point.)    I admit always being tempted to thinking of cause in terms of Mackie's INUS condition:  A causes B if and only if A is an insufficient but necessary part of a unnecessary but sufficient condition.  While I shall spare you the specifics of his account, the idea is simple enough: The short-circuit causes the fire because it is an indispensable part of a complex situation which, together with the short-circuit, causally produces the fire.  

I talk about causality because it is a basic metaphysical building block of what we think the world is.   Whether we think causes are events, facts, features or states of affairs, we think there are  such things.  Our view of the world is one in which there are things (e.g., events) causally related to one another.  Accordingly, one event is said to cause another when it is sufficient to produce it, and, in some sense, when the second event would not have happened were the first not to have happened.  Understood in this way, the causal relation is the metaphysical glue of the universe; it is what gives our experience cohesion and stability.   Chairs simply do not pop in and out of existence in my room because there is no causal mechanism sufficient and necessary for these events to occur.   

Some time ago I simply started paying attention to nature.   Not the nature that I learned about in the physics laboratory, but the nature that I saw all around me as a child on an Iowa farm but somehow had systematically blocked out.   I was watching a swallow  build a nest and thought about giving a nice causal explanation of its movements in the building of this nest.   Now this is not a particularly deep thought.   We all observe nature and we all know that it seems to be purposeful. Watching the activity of the swallow building her nest is that which seems filled with purpose, but if we really know that the causal map of the universe is finally an efficient causal one, this nest-building activity should give a naturalist at least some pause.   How could it be that the swallow goes and searches for mud and straw and seems to stitch them together into a nest to birth and then nurse her young?   

Aristotle would have no problem with this, of course, and most of us never really think twice about the situation.   We know that it is instinct after all that pushes the swallow forward in this way.   Perhaps the possession of genetic information coupled with  rudimentary antecedent conditioning nicely explains this.   It is not that such explanations cannot be given, after all.  How could anyone have a problem somehow thinking that nest-building is irreducibly teleological or purposeful?   All of this is very clear.   

And the clear story proceeds to sketch a view wherein supervenient layers of entities, properties, events and/or states of affairs having putative teleological properties are somehow asymmetrically determined by subvenient layers that finally terminate in a most basic microphysical description that is not teleological at all.   Somehow the higher levels of a system - - the swallow and its nest building, for example - - are realized by a set of microphysical actualizations, the presence of which, metaphysically determines the determinate contour of the swallow's nest building.   The story goes on to say that this swallow's nest building could have obtained were another set of microphysical actualizations present, that, in fact, the swallow's nest building is multiply realizable microphysically.   This is important, as it turns out, because one would not want to reduce the type of swallow nest-building to some particular actualization of the microphsyical.  Reduction, after all, is decidedly out of favor.   While there can be no old-style reduction in this matter, one can simply say that some microphysical actualization or other realizes the swallow's nest-building and seemingly skip merrily home. 

So as I look at the swallow building its nest, I am evidently to cheer because its seemingly purposeful activity is not reducible to the microphysical, but somehow simply realizable by it.  Presumably two atom-by-atom microphysical replicas within a region will yield two replicas of the swallow and its nest building within that region.   There can be no swallow nest-building difference without a microphysical difference!   

But the thought that struck me that day is that just as one can't pull a rabbit out of a hat, one cannot pull macrophysical purpose out of microphysical efficient causal determination.  This thought, which is clearly a thought that most in the western philosophical tradition have had, is not a thought that prohibits our time from such tryings.  We are, after all, physicalists at heart:  We believe that what ultimately exists are those entities which are fated to be quantified over by our final fundamental particle theory.   We know this so deeply, that we simply must start with this and then try, through philosophical reflection (or lack thereof), to provide an account whereby the apparent purposefulness of nature can be made compatible with this deeply-held physicalism.   We thus specify teleonomic laws and give functionalist explanations that work in their own region of explanation, knowing that somehow all of this is realized by microphysical systems far removed from purpose.  We know that philosophy has a humble task, that it probably can't explain or give an adequate account of downward causality - - the notion that the distribution of properties within   lower levels is causally affected by actualization at the upper levels - - but that we can only ask so much of philosophy.   We must keep at the task!!  

Watching the bird make its nest I thought about what it would be like to think our thoughts again for the first time, to roll back the clock, as it were, and see the world without deep physicalist assumptions.  What could be clearer than that the swallow is acting purposefully, that it has a goal it wants to reach and that it has a nicely programmed set of objectives by which to reach that goal!  (Some of you may be groaning at this anthropomorphism.)   The activity of the swallow is best understood by knowing what it is that the swallow is attempting to do.  Maybe the category of  final causality, that most unscientific of all categories of thinking, simply is the best way to explain  why the physical system of the swallow's nest-building has been actualized.  

I like to dream and I started to dream about purpose.   What if many things in nature actually do have a purpose, that is, that their purpose is as objective as the efficient causal chain that produced them?  What if we humans really had such purpose?   What if the universe had such purpose?  What if we went back to Plato and Socrates and started with a macro-world of purpose instead of to Leucippus and Democritus and began with a micro-world of determinacy?   What if instead of making the problem how to get apparent purpose out of an underlying causal mechanism, we made the problem how to get underlying causal determinacy out of a universe clearly filled with purpose?   

Lutheran theology for many reasons has not cared deeply about teleology for the past 200 years.   Granting the truth of Kant's First Critique, and never clearly understanding the subtlety of his Third Critique, we Lutherans have made a cottage industry out of adjusting our semantic fields to make the language of Lutheran theology play in a world without purpose.   Survey the tradition and think about this.   What did Ritschl and his School assume about the metaphysical constitution of the world?  How about Bultmann, Gogarten, and Ebeling?   For these great men, whether the world ultimately had purpose was somehow irrelevant to doing Lutheran theology, to preaching Law and Gospel, to proclaiming the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus.  One could have highly nuanced and sophisticated theological argumentation without thereby resorting to teleology - - at least teleology in the grand old tradition.  Ritschl simply moved theology to the realm of value, and while his Lotze-inspired understanding of value is not that of today's advocates of understanding theology and religion valuationally, the central move was clear enough.   And if anybody has missed it, here is the central move.  

Theology is unredeemably teleological.   Since the days of Kant, constructive Lutheran theology has attempted to do theology in a way that is indifferent to questions of metaphysical teleology.  It has consistently reminded us to look at Christ and not at the world with its metaphysical questions. But in so doing, the very semantic field of Lutheran theology has changed.  'Creates,' 'redeems' and 'sustains' no longer connote causal production, because there is no divine being existing apart from human awareness, perception, conception and language that has a particular intentionality for the world.  Creation is not a purposeful act of God, but is a natural process that can, in theology, be understood as if it were a purposeful act of the divine.  The meaning of many of the central theological terms have shifted.  This has happened so gradually, that users and hearers of the language have not understood the changes.   

My sense is that we may never get clear on theology again if we don't get clear on teleology.   I have not had time to argue all of that directly here, but will try to do so at a later time.          


Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Christ School of Theology

As many of you know, I have been heading an effort these last six years to build an independent, autonomous, and fully-accredited graduate school of theology and seminary.   The name we have used since the very early days is 'The Institute of Lutheran Theology' (ILT).   Some of you know as well that over the last five years we have referred to the Institute of Lutheran Theology's graduate school specifically as the 'Christ School of Theology'.  

The Christ School of Theology (CST) has been growing nicely and I am happy to report that we easily shattered this semester our old enrollment records.  Many of you realize we have stellar names teaching at CST, e.g., Paul Hinlicky, Bob Benne, Jonathan Sorum, David Yeago, etc.   Since the beginning we have had on our Board Professor Hans Hillerbrand, one of the top names in Reformation scholarship and the former President of the American Academy of Religion.  Our Masters of Sacred Theology (STM) program is growing nicely and we look forward to announcing soon our course offerings for this fall. Stay tuned!      

Students and faculty of CST know that we deliver our courses in a fully interactive video platform that allows each student to see and interact with each other student as well as the professor.   This has worked very well these last five years, but we realize that we need to be able to deliver content in parts of the world where bandwidth does not exist for fully interactive video yet.  We also know that some students actually prefer asynchronous delivery of course content to the interactive approach we routinely employ.  Such asynchronous delivery works nicely for independent study options.  Because of these demands, ILT is beginning work to produce  usable video products that can be delivered by DVD or directly through satellite download.   While most of this content will be password-protected, we shall be broadcasting some on-demand content in the clear.

While we are in the first stages of this, some content is already available.  I am the guinea pig for this ILT "beta project."   If you are interested in lecture content from my "Faith, Knowledge and Reason" course about how philosophy connects to (and has connected with) philosophy, visit either our ILT Christ School of Theology Ustream or YouTube channels.   You can find the latest lecture on Ustream here or on YouTube here.   Four to five lectures are going up each week on these CST channels, as well as Word at Work content for congregations here, or our daily chapel archive here. We are also working to make available some of the last lectures from my "Doktor Vater," George Forell.   I will update you on this project as it progresses.  

What would it have been like to watch the lectures of Walther, Chemnitz, Luther, Thomas or Aristotle?   While we shall never know this, folks at the Christ School of Theology do hope someday to capture and archive quality content from significant Lutheran theological voices.  In doing this, ILT will be doing what it has always done: seek humbly to perpetuate the Lutheran tradition by connecting  the most able and curious of students with the most knowledgeable and experienced of professors.