Mark W. Thomsen: remembering the missiologist and the man.

Author:Grafton, David D.
 
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January 20, 2015, marks the one-year commemoration of the death of MarW. Thomsen, Lutheran professor, theologian, administrator, missiologist, pastor, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Thus, it is fitting that this edition of Currents in Theology and Mission has been commissioned to reflect on the life and work of Mark Thomsen, and his impact on the church. To this end, the collection of articles in this volume review Thomsen's theological views, his role as Executive Director of the American Lutheran Church's (ALC) Division for World Mission and Inter-Church Cooperation and the Global Mission unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and as teacher of interfaith dialogue at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC).

Bonnie Jensen, the former Executive Director of the ELCA Division for Global Mission (1996-2004), begins this edition with the sermon she preached for Thomsen's funeral on February 15, 2014, at Hope Lutheran Church, Wautoma, Wisconsin. Paul T. Jersild, a longtime colleague and friend, reviews Mark Thomsen's theology, shaped by his missionary calling and deep engagement with people of other faiths. Jersild notes that for Thomsen, Jesus Christ as the man for others and ultimately the Cosmic Crucified is the embodiment of God's suffering love which embraces human history and indeed all of creation. Michael T. Shelley follows this with a reflection on Thomsen as a theologian of the cross. Here, Shelley notes that Thomsen believed that the cross could be explained as "costly grace and merciful justice."

The next three articles in this volume recall Thomsen's impact as both administrator and teacher of the church. Harold Vogelaar recalls Thomsen's role in his focus on Islam, and the development of ALC, Lutheran Church in America (LCA), and ELCA mission in the Middle East from the 1970s to the 1990s. Vogelaar notes the influence and impact of Thomsen on the role of the ELCA in the Middle East. Carol Schersten LaHurd reviews her work with Thomsen at the ELCA's annual missionary conferences and study programs, and in LSTC's Religions in Dialogue course. It was Thomsen's vision for a global mission shaped by the cross of Christ that was deeply respectful of diverse religious traditions that...

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