The Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay file (housed in the WLS Digital Library) makes available many of the essays and senior thesis written by seminary students and faculty over the years on hundreds of historical and theological topics. The broader “digital library” collects, preserves, and distributes digital theological materials beyond just essays. Truly a synodical and theological treasure for those doing research on many different topics. At last count there were over 4,000 documents, audio and video files there.
Using an open source software product called Duraspace the seminary has created a well organized and easy to search repository. The documents contained there are in PDF format and have all been indexed so the body of the document can be searched, in addition to the title and relevant metadata. The result is a super useful collection of works preserved for research or just interesting reading.
You can browse by “collections” (essays, senior thesis, audio files), date of publication, authors, title and subject. Search however is the star of the show. Since everything has been indexed, it is likely that whatever search term you enter will net relevant results that can then be further filtered by the categories listed above. The “essays” in the file typically are treatments of historical events, while the “senior thesis” mostly deal with theological topics, but not exclusively.
It should be noted that the archive does contain a disclaimer that the works offered there do not necessarily represent the position held by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod or Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
The essay file could be a useful resource in any number of situations:
- The source or a source for a Bible study subject
- Personal research on a particular theological topic of interest (i.e. infant baptism, the antichrist, close communion, prayer fellowship, role of men and women, the differences between WELS and LCMS, etc.)
- Answers on practical theological topics like communion for alzheimer patients, dealing with suicide, or ministering to those struggling with same-sex attraction.
- Research into many historical events or church histories.
The file is open to anybody, but probably of special interest to pastors, teachers, staff ministers or others leading bible studies. Church historians also might find useful information about their particular church.
Briefer treatment of many of the same theological topics can be found in the WELS Topical Q&A. These shorter resources are based on questions asked from visitors to the website of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod – WELS.net.