The Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. serves as the sixteenth president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and professor of American Christianity and American Lutheranism. Dr. Rast joined the Department of Historical Theology in the fall of 1996. Previous to his seminary service, he was the pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, Madison, Tennessee (1992-1996).
He received his B.A. in Theological Languages with a minor in Theology from Concordia College (now University), River Forest, Illinois (1986), and his M.Div. (1990) and S.T.M. (1995), both with a major in Historical Theology and a minor in Systematic Theology, from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. In 2000 he received the M.A. degree and in 2003 he successfully defended his dissertation, “Joseph A. Seiss and the Lutheran Church in America,” earning his Ph.D. in American Church History from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Rast is the chairman of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) on which he has served since 2006. The CTCR provides guidance and leadership in the areas of theology and church relations. This includes doctrinal issues as well as social concerns such as divorce, gender identity, and immigration. He also serves as president and member of the Board of Directors for the journal Lutheran Quarterly.
He has authored numerous articles on a wide range of topics with special interest in the growth and expansion of Lutheranism in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Dr. Rast is currently writing a comprehensive history of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for Concordia Publishing House and continues work on an oral history project chronicling the rich and varied stories of African-American pastors in both the LCMS and the old Synodical Conference.
As President of CTSFW, Dr. Rast launched a significant strategic planning process that has resulted in the funding and completion of a new library, the doubling of the Seminary’s endowment, successful audits of all business practices, the provision of a 100% tuition guarantee for all residential students, and steady enrollment in the face of significant demographic challenges. Dr. Rast has worked to ensure that the Seminary upholds its core values and vision in all it does so that it can continue to form servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all.
In addition to serving at the Seminary, Dr. Rast regularly presents at district and congregational workshops, retreats, and conferences around the United States. He has represented the Seminary and Synod at numerous international conferences and by teaching in Argentina, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere throughout the world.
His professional associations include:
- Editorial Committee, Concordia Historical Quarterly (2000-2010)
- President, Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis, Missouri (2001-2007)
- Board of Governors, Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis Missouri (1995-2009; 2015-present)
- LCMS Commission on Doctrinal Review (1998-2001)
In 2012, the Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) recognized him with the Distinguished Service Award for his dedication to Lutheran history, especially that of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and to CHI.
When not teaching or traveling, Dr. Rast still enjoys the delving into history, especially from the Civil War era. He is a music enthusiast and his iPod playlist includes genres from Classical to Bluegrass—the more obscure the better. But perhaps his favorite pastime is all things pertaining to railroads. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of locomotives, train stations, and routes. He is a long-time member of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society and models the Pennsy in HO scale from the year 1948.
The greatest joy of his life, however, comes from the time he spends with his family. He and his wife, Amy, have three children: Lawrence III, Karl, and Joanna.
Works of Note
|“What is the Future of Evangelicalism?” [online] Modern Reformation (2008) Vol. 17 No. 6|
|“Confessing in the Public Square” [online] Concordia Theological Quarterly 66 (2002) no. 4:315-326.|
|“Taking Missouri’s Pulse: A Quarter Century of Symposia” [online] Concordia Theological Quarterly 66 (2002) no. 2:121-144.|
|“Pietism and Mission: Lutheran Millennialism in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries” [online] Concordia Theological Quarterly 64 (2000) no. 4:295-318.|
|“Demagoguery or Democracy? The Saxon Emigration and American Culture” [online] Concordia Theological Quarterly 63 (1999) no. 4:247-268.|
|“Friedrich August Cramer: Faithful Servant in Christ’s Church” [online] Concordia Theological Quarterly 64 (2000) no. 1:39-60.|
|“The Third Use of the Law: Keeping Up to Date with an Old Issue” [online]Concordia Theological Quarterly 69 (2005) no. 3-4:187-190.|
|“Faith in Contemporary Evangelicalism” [online] Concordia Theological Quarterly 70 (2006) no. 3-4:323-340.|