Concordia professors Dr. David Coe and Dr. C. Matthew Phillips, as well as guest speaker Dr. Daniel Siedell, gave a talk on campus this week looking at the Lutheran faith through the combined lens of their unique fields of expertise.
Siedell, who has a doctorate in modern art history and criticism, worked with CUNE students from the Luke Scholars and Studies in Art this week before joining Coe and Phillips for “Faith Matters: A Conversation Across Disciplines.”
Coe opened with faith as an aspect of the field of philosophy and talked about the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, focusing on his reexamination of Martin Luther’s theology. He explained the uncomfortable yet necessary presence of “Anfechtung,” or Christian suffering, in faith by illustrating three uses of the Biblical Law – accusation, justification, and sanctification.
“I am a fan of everything we do being done in faith as forgiven, loved, and treasured children of God,” Coe said.
Phillips discussed medieval Christianity and the role that artistic representation played in the faith of centuries-ago Christians. He focused heavily on a processional cross dating back to the 12th century, explaining how its elaborate nature and the supposed relic of Jesus’ cross inside displayed the importance of art in the Christian faith throughout history.
Siedell concluded the lecture portion of the presentation with a discussion of modern art and its connections to the Christian, and more specifically Lutheran, faith. Lutheran faith is “risky,” Siedell explained, because Lutherans believe in a “theology of the cross” that places faith over works.
“Through art, then, faith can enter the secular realm either directly or indirectly,” he said.
Coe said he would like to see “more art that portrays Christians doing their best… with Jesus on my mind and my neighbor on my hands.”
The discussion was then opened to audience questions, and the conversation turned to the interplay of art, theology, philosophy, and Lutheran faith.
“[Drs. Coe, Phillips, and Siedell] all seemed to really enjoy the discussion,” said freshman Adah Pflughoeft. “They each had their own area of expertise.”
The presentation provided attendees with new ideas and insights about their Christian faith.
“Faith is inherent to humanity,” Phillips said.