Doctor of Theology
University of Munich

Master of Sacred Theology
Wartburg Theological Seminary

Master of Divinity
Wartburg Theological Seminary

Bachelor of Arts
Michigan State University

Download Curriculum Vitae

Rev. Dr. Craig L. Nessan

Academic Dean & Professor of Contextual Theology and Ethics
The William D. Streng Professor for the Education and Renewal of the Church

Faculty Biography

Dr. Craig L. Nessan is Professor of Contextual Theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.  He teaches courses in the areas of contextual theology, pastoral theology, and theological ethics.  He has oversight of the seminary’s internship program.Dr. Nessan has served eleven years as a parish pastor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  He holds degrees from Michigan State University, Wartburg Theological Seminary, and the University of Munich.  His theological interests include ecclesiology, theological ethics, liberation theology, and family systems theory.In addition to other articles, reviews, and books, Dr. Nessan is the author of Shalom Church: The Body of Christ as Ministering Community (2010), Beyond Maintenance to Mission: A Theology of the Congregation (2010, Revised Edition), Liberating Lutheran Theology: Freedom for Justice and Solidarity in a Global Context (2011-with Paul Chung and Ulrich Duchrow), Doing Theology in a Global Context (2009-Editor with Thomas Kothmann),Transforming Leadership: New Vision for a Church in Mission (2008-with Norma Cook Everist), Many Members, Yet One Body: Committed Same-Gender Relationships and the Mission of the Church (2004),Give Us This Day: A Lutheran Proposal for Ending World Hunger (2003), The Air I Breathe is Wartburg Air: The Legacy of William H. Weiblen (2003), andWho Is Christ for Us? (2002-edited with Renate Wind). He is contributing author for the book, The Evangelizing Church: A Lutheran Contribution (2005-edited by Craig Van Gelder and Richard Bliese) and editor of the revised version of William Weiblen’s history of the seminary, Life Together at Wartburg Theological Seminary (2005).

Dr. Nessan has also drafted a resolution on “Ending Hunger as a Core Conviction,” which is available for download and use (click on the appropriate format link) in the following formats:  in Adobe PDF or in MSWord .

MN 255W           Being Body of Christ: Theology of the Congregation
MN 350W           Church Administration and Mission
HT 260W            American Genocide 1: American Indian History and Theology
HT 261W            American Genocide 2: African American History, Slavery, and Black Theology
HT 267W            Lutheran Ethics: Freedom for the Neighbor
HT 294W            Theology of Wartburg Seminary
HT 363W            Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wittenberg – 1934 Case Study. For Educational Use. This case study explores issues facing those who joined the Confessing Church in resistance to Nazism. Historical, ethical, and theological information is introduced about the German church struggle and the complexity of the issues.

The Integrity of the Body of Christ: Boundary Keeping as Shared Responsibility. With Arden F. Mahlberg. Cascade Books (A division of Wipf and Stock Publishers), 2016. [Note: the link downloads an excerpt of the beginning of the book, through Chapter 1. Used with Permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers:]

“A Well-Formed Stewardship Leader is Grounded in Biblical and Theological Principles”, a chapter in the book, How Much is Enough? A Deeper Look at Stewardship in an Age of Abundance, Catherine Malotky, Editor, Columbia, S.C.: Region 9 of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary Council on Stewardship Education (2011). [Note: The above link downloads the entire e-book.]

Liberating Lutheran Theology: Freedom for Justice and Solidarity in a Global Context. With Paul S. Chung and Ulrich Duchrow. Minneapolis:  Fortress Press

(2011)Shalom Church: The Body of Christ as Ministering Community. Minneapolis:  Fortress Press (2010)

Beyond Maintenance to Mission: A Theology of the Congregation. Minneapolis:  Fortress Press (2010, Revised Edition)

Transforming Leadership: New Vision for a Church in Mission.  With Norma Cook Everist. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress (2007)

Many Members, Yet One Body: Committed Same-Gender Relationships and the Mission of the Church.  Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress (2004)

Give Us This Day: A Lutheran Proposal for Ending World Hunger.  Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress (2003)

The Air I Breathe Is Wartburg Air:  The Legacy of William H. Weiblen.  Eugene: Wipf and Stock (2003)

Who Is Christ for Us?  (With Renate Wind).  Minneapolis:  Fortress Press (2002)

Wer bist Du, Christus? Ein öekumenisches Lesebuch zur Christologie Dietrich Bonhoeffers(With Renate Wind). Gütersloh:  Chr Kaiser/Gütersloher Verlagshaus (1998)

Orthopraxis or Heresy: The North American Theological Response to Latin American Liberation Theology.  Atlanta:  Scholars Press (1989)



Universal Priesthood: Keeping the Unfulfilled Promise. Theological Grounding for the Life of Faith Initiative (2017)

“Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory”: New Vistas for the Theology of the Cross”, inDialog, v. 50, n. 1, March 2011 

Mission and Theological Education – Berlin, Athens, and Tranquebar: A North American Perspective (2010) 

“The Authority of Scripture”, paper presented to the Conference of Bishops (ELCA), March 4, 2006 

Reappropriating Luther’s Two Kingdoms, Lutheran Quarterly, Volume XIX, 2005 

Rethinking Pastoral Formation at Wartburg Theological Seminary: Using Graduates’ Experiences in Parish Leadership, (with David Roozen) in Theological Education, Volume 40, Supplement 2005, pp. 1-24. [NOTE: The link brings up the entire 142 page volume as a single PDF, which also includes an introduction by David Roozen and Craig Nessan as guest editors.] 

“Surviving Congregational Leadership: A Theology of Family Systems”, in Word & World, v. XX, n. 4, Fall 2000

Dr. Nessan has extensive knowledge in the following categories and is able to serve as a resource on:

  • Congregation Leadership
  • Theological Ethics
    (including: Homosexuality and the Church; and World Hunger)
  • Systematic Theology
  • World Religions