About Steve

In 1976 I left my engineering position to go to Lutheran seminary. I thought my calling was to be a pastor. My wife and I packed up and moved to Iowa to attend Lutheran seminary.  The two years I spent studying theology were both enlightening and disappointing.  I had been raised in a moderately conservative Christian environment so I brought that background to seminary where the Bible was the resource for truth. My view at that time was that the Bible was somehow “holy writ” — the definitive guide to the nature of God and God’s relationship to this world.  However, the seminary was far from what I expected. There were many of the traditional classes in biblical studies, hermeneutics, pastoral care and the like but I gravitated towards theology.  What I found in those theological and biblical studies classes was far from a conservative orientation. Instead, the best minds of the time presented a very different picture.  The Bible was composed of the testaments (sometimes conflicting) of faithing individuals and groups puzzling through an understanding of God and their relationship to God.  This view was confirmed as I studied, in-depth, the traditional canon and some apocryphal texts.  I felt this view, new to me, was right and I had to adjust my beliefs.

After two years of this intensive study, I was set to take a year-long break from my studies and do an internship at some local parish.  As I pondered how much my views had changed and how little they coincided with those at the grassroots level, I realized being a pastor wouldn’t work for me.  I didn’t see any way I could be true to my beliefs and not create great confusion and disruption among the faithful.  There had been a great disconnect between the best theological thinking over the years and what was maintained in the parishes.

So, I left the seminary and went back into engineering.  I was both disappointed and disillusioned with traditional religion.  I realize it is complex, but I felt like there was some dishonesty in play between what was being maintained at the grassroots level and what the prominent theological thinking of the time was.

After that time, I continued a fulfilling engineering career but there was still this nagging sense of being adrift theologically.  If there is no absolute, definitive metaphysical resource as a basis for belief, then to me as an engineer that represented a problem to be solved.  So, I continued to study — theology, philosophy, world religions, science, art, psychology, etc.  Now, since I was a design engineer and used to inventing machines and systems (15 US Patents), I decided to try my hand at developing a systematic theology that I could personally accept.  And so my journey began. My goal was to develop a reasonable systematic theology that seemed compelling to me as a science-oriented engineer but also felt right as one who sensed the presence of God in my life. The Divine Life Communion is the result of that journey.

Steve Petermann

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