Rev. Dr. Craig L. Nessan

Academic Dean & Professor of Contextual Theology and Ethics

Office Number:
201 Fritschel Hall
Office Phone:
(563) 589-0207
(563) 589-0333


  • Academics


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

Click here for complete curriculum vitae.


Dr. Craig L. Nessan is Academic Dean and 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 .

Click here    for a summarized article from “The Theology of Wartburg Theological Seminary,” by Craig L. Nessan

Dr. Nessan is leading a study trip this coming January to Germany for students, alumni, and friends of the seminary, to study Martin Luther, German Pietism, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This trip is from January 4 to 25, 2017. Details of the trip can be viewed with this PDF document.


“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)
“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 KingdomsLutheran 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