Author: Karen L. Bloomquist

Karen Bloomquist, ordained in 1974, has served as pastor of Lutheran congregations in CA, NYC, WA, and after completing her PhD at Union in NY, has been on faculties in Chicago, Dubuque and Berkeley, as well as director of departments in the ELCA and the LWF.  She also has taught at seminaries throughout the world, and has authored or edited many publications. She currently is a theologian-at-large, and lives in  both WA and CA.

Transformative Theologizing

Theologizing is an ongoing, transforming process in the world.. [1] In the 1970s, I decided to work on a Ph.D. in Theology, even though my interests were pulling me into Ethics. Back then, Lutheran Ethics was seen by many as an oxymoron; Lutherans believe “God does it all; we don’t.” Because I wanted to be […]

A Review by Karen L. Bloomquist

[1] From the initial planning for this book, the intent was not to set forth one normative Lutheran approach, against which other approaches could summarily be dismissed as “inferior.” Nor was it to suggest that there are no distinctive commonalities and emphases among those whose moral life has been shaped by Lutheran theology, centered in […]

Review: Radical Discipleship: A Liturgical Politics of the Gospel (Fortress Press, 2017)

Radical Discipleship: A Liturgical Politics of the Gospel by Jennifer M. McBride || This is not another book talking about “lived theology” but actually doing it. The author draws upon key insights from especially Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as a variety of other recent theological voices (e.g., feminist), which will be familiar to many of us. We share many of her basic commitments –- e.g., that Jesus calls us to be disciples not simply believers, and that the gospel is always social and political, transforming not only individuals but also systemic structures and policies. Her incisive analyses of incarceration and homelessness, and their related causes, draws on what others have written.But what is distinctive is how she lives this out, and does constructive theology in the context of the Open Door Community in Georgia –- especially with those who are incarcerated, homeless and poor. She went there to teach theology to the imprisoned women, but heard from them theological meanings and connections that most academic theologians would not encounter.

Ordaining Women Goes to the Heart of the Gospel

Addressing a group from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon, Bloomquist outlines the reasons why Lutheran church bodies often choose not to ordain women. Looking at Christian history and scripture, she explicates how women’s ordination is grounded in the heart of the gospel, while also utilizing real life examples of the value of women’s ordained ministry and the ability of people to grow in their understanding of culture and taboos when it comes to spiritual life.

Ordaining Women Goes to the Heart of the Gospel

Following is a script from a presentation given by Dr. Karen Bloomquist for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon. [1] Since 1984 the clear official position of the Lutheran World Federation has been in favor of the ordination of women. Now, approximately 63 million, out of a total of 68 million members, belong to LWF […]

Transforming Polarization: A Distinctive Lutheran Witness in the World?

[1] When asked to write an article upon the occasion of John Stumme’s impending retirement, my immediate impulse was to reflect back on our early days together in 1988 at the beginning of the ELCA, and the long conversations we had trying to discern how the ELCA should go about arriving at social statements. Everything […]

New Discussion Site

A new Web-based theological discussion site was launched in April by the Lutheran World Federation (Department for Theology and Studies), in connection with its global initiative, “Theology in the Life the Church.” Check out the initial papers and discussion forum at, where you can read what has been posted or sign up to be […]

More than Principles Are Needed

[1] Having been invited to respond from a Lutheran World Federation perspective (although not speaking officially for the LWF) to the recent JLE articles on just peace/peacemaking, I begin by strongly affirming JLE for having taken this initiative to invite further theological-ethical thinking that can contribute to ongoing LWF concerns. The LWF Department for Theology […]


In relation to responsibility [1] Accountability is grounded in the relationality of communion and empowered by the mutuality of responsibility. Accountability complements or flows from responsibility, by moving from the explicitly Christian grounding and non-coerced nature of responsibility to a more public, enforceable accountability. Theologically, accountability is necessary because of the all-pervasive presence of sin, […]

Urgently Needed: Some Lutheran Accents in American Political Life

[1] Coincidentally, the U.S. election comes just two days after the 5th anniversary of the signing by the Catholic and Lutheran churches of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, when we witnessed the potential of theological doctrine to bring together and reconcile forces that had been divided for nearly 500 years. In stark […]

Homily at the Ecumenical Center, 17 September, 2001

[1] For many places around the world, being vulnerable to devastating attack is not a new historical experience, 20th century Europe being just one case in point. But we who are Americans have been conditioned throughout our national history to feel our nation is invulnerable to attack, and certainly not by airplanes with “American” or […]