Hans Wiersma

Associate Professor

Memorial Hall 227B
CB 62
Curriculum Vitae

At Augsburg, students are required to take the “Religion, Vocation, and the Search for Meaning” course (a.k.a. REL 100). Teaching this course is one of my favorite things to do. Why? Because Augsburg’s diverse student community is an ideal setting for comparing and contrasting beliefs about life’s meaning and purpose. In REL 100, I get to meet and learn from students representing all kinds of religious and non-religious points-of-view. I’ve found that students figure out pretty quickly that all religious and non-religious beliefs are not the same. Fortunately, talking about conflicting points-of-view is good for learning. Such discussions help students hone and articulate what they themselves believe — leading to changed minds or deepened commitments or both!

As my list of “courses taught” suggests, I have a wide range of teaching interests. My main area of expertise is in the history of Christianity. Many (but not all) of my courses are focused through the lens of history. One of the things I’m interested in is where things are headed for Christianity. The number of U.S. citizens identifying as Christian has been going down for a while. Why? As a former camp-counselor, youth director, youth pastor, and youth-and-family pastor (and presently an active church member and a supporter of other ministries), I’ve got some skin in the game. I want to understand what is happening. I believe that if you can understand where you’ve been and where you are at, religiously/spiritually speaking, you just might have a better sense of where you might be going.

humor: Crazy Talk and Crazy Book.

Courses TAUGHT

  • Religion, Vocation, and the Search for Meaning
  • Religion at the Movies
  • Lutheran Heritage
  • Life and Work of the Church
  • Media and Ministry
  • Theology of Marriage and Family
  • Vocation and the Meaning of Success

sample Publications (available online)

CRAzy stuff

  • Crazy Folk: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Christian History (due out in 2017)
  • Crazy Book: A Not-So-Stuffy dictionary of Biblical Terms (2009) (see story in AugNet)
  • Crazy Talk: A Not-So-Stuff Dictionary of Theological Terms (2008) (see story in the Star Tribune)

Scholarly publications and papers

  • 24 articles in The Westminster Handbook to Theologies of the Reformation (2010)
  • 330 entries (including 22 long articles) in the on-line edition of Dowley’s Introduction to the History of Christianity (2014)
  • “Engaging Media and Messages in the Religion Classroom” in Teaching Civic Engagement (2016)
  • Forthcoming: “The Uses of the Law” in Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions
  • Forthcoming: Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career, 2nd Edition (of the original classic by James M. Kittelson)


  • B.A., University of California, 1984
  • M.Div., Luther Seminary, 1991
  • Ph.D., Luther Seminary, 2005

Parish Experience

  • The American Church of The Hague, The Netherlands, 1991-1993
  • St. Paul Lutheran Church, Lodi, California, 1994-1998
  • St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, 1998-2008

Full curriculum vitae