Author: Jennifer Hockenbery

Jennifer Hockenbery serves as Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics .  She is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at St Norbert College. She attends Grace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI. 

For Congregational Discussion: Responses to Christian Nationalism

[1] Two things many people learn we should never discuss in public are religion and politics.  As American Lutherans we often think that the separation of church and state and the “Two Kingdoms Doctrine” mean that we should not discuss politics when we are discussing our religion and we should not discuss our religion when […]

Editor’s Introduction: Responses to Christian Nationalism

[1] This May marked the 90th anniversary of the Barmen Declaration, which was written to denounce the German Christian movement under the Nazi regime and continues to serve as a guide for avoiding the false teaching of Christian nationalism. [2] This issue of JLE contains a lengthy two part essay, first presenting the history of […]

For Congregational Discussion: Protecting Children: What Is the Role of the ELCA?

FOR CONGREGATIONAL DISCUSSION Please note: Congregations looking to have discussions on child abuse and its prevention might also look to the discussion guide in the December 2023 issue: Each of the essays in this issue might be occasions for a discussion within a congregation that wishes to consider new ways of thinking and new […]

Panel Discussion on Child Welfare: Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering 2024

[1] The Lutheran Ethicists’ Network invited a panel of three practitioners to share their insights on the issue of children’s welfare at the Lutheran Ethicists Gathering. [2] Cheryl Collins, CEO of Holy Family Ministries, Principal of Holy Family School in Chicago, gave a report titled: “The Maltreatment of Children:  Protecting our Future Leaders Is Everyone’s […]

Editor’s Introduction: Protecting Children: What Is the Role of the ELCA?

[1] This issue of JLE, which publishes the papers given at this year’s Gathering of Lutheran Ethicists, is a call to action to the ELCA on behalf of children.  We feature two renowned experts on this topic, Victor Vieth and Marcia Bunge, who were the speakers at the gathering in January. [2] In December, our […]

Editor’s Introduction: Grief, Mourning, and Distress and the Search for Spiritual Care

[1] The Latin word salus, which means salvation, also means health, safety, and security. It is the word from which the English word salve comes. And it is a salve that so many seek. A salve for the souls that are in such dis-ease. Yes, we know that we are saved eschatologically, but right now, […]

Editor’s Introduction: Addressing the Sin of Child Abuse

[1] In December, Christians, especially those in the United States, tend to think a lot about children. Part of this is, of course, theological.  Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation of God as an infant.  Fragile as any child, the maker of the stars was, at his birth, unable to support his own head.  […]

For Congregational Discussion: Addressing the Sin of Child Abuse

[1] This issue of JLE gives congregations an opportunity to host two kinds of adult education discussion.  The first, is to consider the possibility of non-violent parenting.  Reading Kathleen Gallagher Elkin’s essays on the Household Codes of Ephesians, participants might consider what it would mean to rethink the way we expect the use of force […]

For Congregational Discussion: The Lutheran Catechism as a Call Towards Our Ethical Concerns

Mary Lowe’s article asserts that many Christians find reading about Biblical acceptance makes them more accepting of others with differences as well.  She suggests that Lutherans might find a deeper study of Luther’s theology to be similarly liberating.  This issue suggests ways that a look at Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms might help a reader […]

Editor’s Introduction: The Lutheran Catechism as a Call Towards Our Ethical Concerns

[1] As we head towards Reformation Sunday, this issue of JLE presents four articles on how understanding Luther’s teachings calls us to consider our ethical responsibilities. These four articles were research presentations in the “Luther and Religion” seminar within the 14th International Congress for Luther Research held at California Lutheran University in 2022.  I am […]

For Congregational Discussion: The Ethics of Interfaith Dialogue

[1] Linda Morgan-Clement’s essay gives practical advice for holding an interfaith dialogue which can result in transformative learning.  While adult education and confirmation classes can be powerful places for learning about other faith traditions through readings and watching videos, another path for learning might start by considering one’s own faith tradition through dialogue with others […]

Editor’s Introduction: The Ethics of Interfaith Dialogue

[1] This issue of Journal of Lutheran Ethics invites thinking about the ethics of dialogue. This has been a common topic in the last several issues for the Journal, as dialogue between people with different life experiences, politics, and faith perspectives continues to be one of the most pressing demands for pastors, professors, and members […]

Notes from the Dialogue: What Can the ELCA Say or Do about Gun Violence Now?

As indicated in the editor’s introduction, this submission to the April 2023 issue provides readers with a snapshot of themes and content reported from the break-out group discussion session at the January 2023 Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering.  This informal summary was compiled by Rev. Rebecca Nin​​ke and Dr. Jennifer Hockenbery; it does not represent official minutes […]

April/May 2023: For Congregational Discussion

[1] As the ELCA urges congregations to host  open discussions on issues such as gun violence prevention, the following discussion guide gives readers a list of questions to discuss as a group after looking together at the “Notes from the Discussion” in this issue. [2] Considering the nine ideas generated at the Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering, […]

Editor’s Introduction: Guns, Violence, Security in the U.S.: What Might the ELCA Say Now?

[1] The April issue of JLE publishes the papers and proceedings from The Lutheran Ethicists’ Network Gathering that was held in January. The conference topic in 2023 was “Guns, Violence, Security in the U.S.: What Might the ELCA Say Now?” [2] This issue is released the same week as the mass shooting at The Covenant […]

Creating a Culture of Life

[1] Working with the authors who contributed to this issue of JLE, has been an exercise that has renewed my spirit.  I admit my spirit needed renewing. The news of the Dobbs decision and the immediate consequences has felt like a forceful slap against women as persons deserving of the rights to moral autonomy and […]

February/March 2023: For Congregational Discussion

[1] Celcy Powers King essay ends with the following call to action: “If the focus of any church is compassion for those in need, then I believe its members can implement practices that help them grow and connect to their local communities. One way to achieve this is to open up dialogue to those outside […]

February/March 2023: Editor’s Introduction Il/legal Abortion: Lutheran Ethical Responses Post-Dobbs

[1] The essays in this issue are offerings concerning faithful ethical responses after the Dobbs ruling by the Supreme Court this summer. As such, they are different in tone and intention than the kinds of discussions that were on-going while Roe still held, such as those in The Journal of Lutheran Ethics published in November […]

For Congregational Discussion: Civic Engagement and the Relationship of Church and State December 2022/January 2023

[1] This issue of Journal of Lutheran Ethics suggests constructive ways of thinking of the relationship between piety and justice, faith and secular reasoning, church and state.  The following activities encourage the development of the virtues needed for such conversations as well as specific activities to help communities engage together on this topic.   Activity […]

Editor’s Introduction: December 2022/January 2023 Civic Engagement and the Relationship of Church and State

[1] The 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly authorized the development of an ELCA social statement on government, civic engagement and the relationship of church and state as a means to probe for shared convictions and establish this church’s comprehensive teaching. The ELCA task force has been at work since October of 2020 in forums of listening […]

For Congregational Discussion: October/November 2022

[1] This issue of Journal of Lutheran Ethics focuses on the question of What the Church is, can be, and ought to be.   The following activities can be done in small groups in church communities and are meant to foster both discussion and action on the topics at hand.   Activity 1: The Church as […]

Editor’s Introduction: October/November 2022 What Does It Mean To Be Church Now?

[1] I remember sitting with tens of thousands of Luther Leaguers in San Antonio in 1988 at the National Lutheran Youth Gathering as we all sang together “The church is not a building where people come to pray, it’s not made out of sticks and stones, it’s not made out of clay.  We are the […]

For Congregational Discussion: August/September 2022: Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexuality

[1] This issue of Journal of Lutheran Ethics brings up a number of distinct topics for consideration and discussion all under the theme of Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexuality and the larger ethical question: How might we help our neighbor flourish as the person God intends them to be?  The following sets of reflection […]

Editor’s Introduction

[1] Gender is at least one of the major theological, philosophical, and ethical issues of our age. On one hand, the issue’s complexity means that conversation and study is often difficult. Some congregations and individuals have simply chosen not to discuss questions that pertain to gender identity, expression, and sexuality out of fear that such […]

For Congregational Discussion April/May 2022: Restorative Justice: Prospects for Transformation & Penitence

Topics of racism and justice are some of the most difficult to discuss for Americans.  One way to start a discussion is to use a dialogic method of discussion.  Such a method asks small groups to agree to speak and to listen on a topic following a certain order that encourages time for silence between […]

Editor’s Introduction April/May 2022: Restorative Justice: Prospects for Transformation & Penitence

[1] On January 6, 2022, the Lutheran Ethicists gathered by Zoom before the virtual annual meeting of the Society for Christian Ethics.  The topic was about the nature and possibility of justice in America after nearly 250 years of slavery and not quite 160 years of post-slavery systemic racism.  This issue of JLE presents the […]

For Congregational Discussion: Pastoral Ethics

[1] Each issue, the editorial staff at JLE create questions to spark conversation for adult education and to inspire thoughtful contemplation and reflection for individual readers.  Because of the topic of this edition, many of these questions might be especially fruitful for conversation in the congregational setting as members consider constructive approaches to challenges in […]

Editor’s Introduction, February/March 2022: Pastoral Ethics

[1] In this season of Epiphany, North Americans experience the continued darkness of winter but can see the faint glimmer of light on the Eastern sky a little earlier each morning.  This winter, we are all trying to mitigate the forces that keep us separated from each other: the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19 […]

Congregational Discussion Guide: 2020-2021, A Retrospective

For Congregational Dialogue: [1] In this retrospective issue, we are republishing two activities for adult education on these topics.  The first is a group activity from the October 2019 issue on deliberative dialogue. The second is a personal meditative activity from the February 2020 issue on Faith, Reason, and Climate Change.   [2] A Deliberative […]

Editor’s Introduction: December 2021/January 2022, 2020-2021, A Retrospective

[1] As the secular year draws to a close and the new church year opens into the season of Advent it seems a fitting moment to take a pause and to reflect on the turbulent last two years. This issue of JLE, therefore, is not introducing a new topic but is instead drawing together some […]

Call for Papers 2022

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Please consider submitting a paper proposal for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.  For our submission guidelines, click here.  June, 2022 Summer Book Review Issue Please submit the title and a short description of a book you would like to review.  Please send proposals for reviews to  August, 2022  “Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexuality” Please consider […]

For Congregational Discussion: The Ethics of Pan-Lutheran Dialogue and Debate

[1] The Journal of Lutheran Ethics hopes to provide reading material to stimulate thinking and conversation among academics, clergy, and laity.  To this end, this section of JLE is designed to encourage constructive discussion within congregations about the topics discussed in JLE.  Consider using this section in formal adult education classes or in informal small […]

Editor’s Introduction October/November 2021: The Ethics of Pan-Lutheran Dialogue

[1] The news cycle continues to bewilder.  Listening to the news demands we think seriously about the central questions of ethics.  Philosophically and theologically we ask, “What ought we do?” Pragmatically, we ask, “What can we do?” As we think about our call to serve the common good, one important action is to build partnerships […]

Book Review: Stjerna, Kirisi.  Lutheran Theology: A Grammar of Faith. (NY: T&T Clark, 2021)

[1] In this issue of JLE, which is dedicated to the discussion of the vocation of ELCA colleges and seminaries, it is fitting to review Kirsi Stjerna’s new handbook on Lutheran theology, a textbook dedicated to her students. This book is, itself, a connection for the Lutheran college with the church and laity.  It provides […]

Congregational Discussion Guide: Lutheran Higher Education

These questions are written to spark conversation among readers in small groups or to inspire thoughtful contemplation and reflection for individual readers. Consider your own journey academically and spiritually. Whether you went to parochial or public schools and/or college, how did you see the convergence of your faith commitments and the way you used observation […]

Editor’s Introduction August/September 2021: Lutheran Higher Education, Rooted and Open

[1] When my son started thinking earnestly about college, he was pretty sure he wanted to major in biology and environmental science, but his high school studies had also centered around singing and playing the tuba.  I told him, that with a very few exceptions, the best liberal arts schools that, also, offered excellent music […]

Editor’s Introduction May 2021: Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering Part II

[1] Last May, JLE published a special issue to address the ethical concerns raised due to Covid-19.  A year later, we are still in the pandemic.  Although Americans are being vaccinated quickly, (at the time of this publishing over 50% of adults over 18 have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine), cases […]

May 2021 Congregational Discussion Guide

[1] Per Anderson asserts in his essay, “Rejecting complacency, ELCA schools should focus upon responsible citizenship in response to crises of polarization and distrust that threaten U.S. democracy.”  He asks readers to contemplate, “How should ELCA colleges and universities commit to responsible learning form students for a post-COVID-19 world?” Consider a memorable experience you had […]

Editor’s Introduction: April/May 2021

[1] Christ is Risen, Christ is risen indeed.  Hallelujah. [2] Never before in my life have I felt so palpably the national and global need for the good news of Easter.  This is the good news that God has faced all that we face, suffered all that we suffer, died as we will die and […]

Editor’s response to the February 2021 Issue

[1] The February 2021 Issue of JLE was intended to create a place for diverse opinions and deeper deliberations about racism, justice, and equity in the ELCA at a time when the nation is reeling with both systemic racism and racist violence. The issue more than missed this mark.  It created a painful distraction for […]

Racism, Justice, and Mercy: For Congregational Discussion

[1] One of the hardest things for congregations to do is to talk about race.  It is the hope of JLE that the following ideas for discussions or study sessions based on the articles in this issue can provide a helpful direction. [2] Ted Peters and Timothy Hoyer both wrote articles that claim that the […]

Editor’s Introduction

[1] “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) [2] Riots at the Capitol on Epiphany interrupted Congress as it was beginning to certify a democratic election.  The riots […]

Congregational Discussion Questions: Gun Violence and Childhood Trauma

​Because this issue centers around the questions of trauma and childhood, readers might consider engaging high school and middle school youth groups in their study and discussions of these issues.  These conversations might need to be done in virtual formats or on discussion boards during the pandemic. Questions for adults to ask older children: What […]

Editor’s Introduction: Gun Violence and Childhood Trauma

[1] “The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.  They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11: […]

Editor’s Introduction: Women’s Ordination August/September 2020

[1] August 18, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of women’s right to vote in the United States. November 20, 2020 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first woman’s ordination in a Lutheran church in the United States.  Despite Lutheran views about two kingdoms and American views about the separation of church and […]

A Note from the Editor: June/July 2020

[1] Last October when the JLE Advisory Council met to plan the issues for 2020 we decided to put the summer book review issue in June.  We, or at least I, envisioned professors on summer break from classes having time to peruse new books on the beach while pastors and lay leaders had a more relaxed […]

Congregational Discussion Guide: COVID-19

For Congregational Discussion   [1] The Journal of Lutheran Ethics hopes to provide reading material to stimulate thinking and conversation among academics, clergy, and laity. To this end, this section of JLE is provided in order to encourage constructive discussion within congregations about the topics discussed in JLE.  Consider using this section in formal adult […]

Editor’s Introduction: Lutheran Theology and the Relationship between Church and State

[1] If it is true that many people consider it impolite to talk publically about religion or politics, then perhaps no topic is going to be more improper to discuss than the topic of the proper relationship of church and state. Yet, both articles in this issue all call Lutherans to talk publically about their […]

Editor’s Introduction: Faith, Science, and Climate Change

[1] The calendar has rolled over into 2020, starting a new year and a new decade that many had hoped would be marked with clear 20/20 vision. But January 1st did not bring a sudden clearing of our eyes and of the air. Instead there has been marked political turmoil and fiery natural disasters. Our smart […]

Introducing Myself as the New Editor of JLE

​ [1] In June, I was officially hired to begin as the new editor of Journal of Lutheran Ethics.  While, this August issue is designed and edited by our book editor, Nancy Arnison, I was asked to use this opportunity to introduce myself to the regular readers of JLE.  I am privileged and delighted by […]