Hans Wiersma

Associate Professor of Religion

CB 62
Curriculum Vitae

Most Augsburg students take the “Religion, Vocation, and the Search for Meaning” course (a.k.a. RLN 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 RLN 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 beliefs are not the same. The resulting 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. Most 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 continues to decline. What are the possible explanations for this decline? What are the possible outcomes of this decline? As a former parish pastor who still goes to church, I have a stake in getting at the answers. I want to understand what is happening. Because 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.

Courses TAUGHT

  • Religion, Vocation, and the Search for Meaning
  • Religion at the Movies
  • Church: Past, Present, Future
  • Lutheranism: Past, Present, Future
  • Media and Ministry
  • Theology of Marriage and Family
  • Vocation and the Meaning of Success

sample Publications (available online)

ADDITIONAL Scholarly publications

  • Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career, 2nd Edition (of the original classic by James M. Kittelson) (2016)
  • “Luther’s Treatises and Polemics” in Martin Luther in Context (2018) (Info)
  • “The Uses of the Law” and “Martyrs and Martyrologies” in Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions (2017)
  • “Martin Luther On Grace” in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (2017) (abstract)
  • “The Story of the Small Catechism” in By Heart: Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (2017) (Info)
  • “Engaging Media and Messages in the Religion Classroom” in Teaching Civic Engagement (2016) (Info)
  • 330 entries (including 22 long articles) in the on-line edition of Dowley’s Introduction to the History of Christianity (2014)
  • 24 articles in The Westminster Handbook to Theologies of the Reformation (2010) (Info)

CRAzy stuff

  • 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; 2nd Edition, 2017) (see story in the Star Tribune)


  • 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