Lutheran Heritage

Many private colleges identify themselves as church-affiliated or church-related, but the extent and meaning of affiliation or relatedness varies greatly among institutions. The following statements seek to explain how Gustavus Adolphus College interprets and exemplifies its Lutheran tradition, church-relatedness, and values.

Gustavus Adolphus College affirms its church-related identity and Swedish background not merely because that is its heritage - though its heritage is important - but because it finds in the Lutheran tradition strong support for the liberal arts and the kind of college it aspires to be.

The Lutheran tradition

  • Insists upon freedom of inquiry and criticism in the pursuit of knowledge and truth;
  • Values intellectual rigor and cautions against both premature judgments and overreaching conclusions;
  • Prefers paradoxes to dogmatism or ideological "certainties";
  • Supports interfaith understanding and welcomes those of other denominations and religions as partners in the search for wisdom;
  • Views justice informed by compassion as the goal of all political and social structures;
  • Encourages a sense of vocation- discerning one’s responsibility to benefit the larger community in every area of one’s life;
  • Seeks to understand the nature and vital importance of community community that is constituted by quality relationships with each other, with the natural world, and with God;
  • Supports music and the arts as integral to what it means to be human;
  • Regards the purpose of education to be human freedom: freedom from ignorance, prejudice, and coercion, and freedom for service and leadership within the larger community;
  • Takes human limitations seriously and therefore regards a deliberative community and ongoing dialog as essential for education;

Gustavus Adolphus College

  • Is Lutheran, not sectarian;it favors the Lutheran tradition and Lutheran values, including religious services, but does not seek religious uniformity (all members of the campus community are invited to daily chapel and other religious observances, but participation is voluntary);
  • Has as its goal combining a mature understanding of faith with intellectual rigor to the benefit of society, believing faith and education inform each other;
  • Purposely explores moral development;
  • Honors individuals, but believes that individuals find fulfillment in community;
  • Values diversity and welcomes students, faculty, staff, and administrators of other faiths or no religious tradition, yet expects all faculty, staff and administrators to support the mission of the college;
  • Appreciates humor, including directing some of that humor toward itself.