heatherdean

Posts by heatherdean

Book Review: What Do We Do When Nobody Is Listening? Leading the Church in a Polarized Society by Robin W. Lovin

[1] As society grapples with growing polarization, one might ask: where is the church in this conversation? Robin W. Lovin, Professor Emeritus of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University addresses this question in his latest book, What Do We Do When Nobody is Listening? Leading the Church in a Polarized Society. His thesis […]

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Book Review: When Sorrow Comes—The Power of Sermons from Pearl Harbor to Black Lives Matter, by Melissa M. Matthes

“The power of the pulpit lies not in taking a specific position but in providing a vocabulary, ways of thinking, and challenges to the governmentality of the contemporary state,” (p. 336).   [1] Immediately after the Pulse nightclub violence, Orlando, Florida, 12 June 2016, where 49 individuals were killed and 53 injured, I jotted notes […]

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Book Review Introduction: December 2022/January 2023

[1] Our first book review addresses the power and nature of sermons at times of mass shootings and other national traumas. Chaplain (Colonel–Retired) Ken Sampson reviews When Sorrow Comes—The Power of Sermons from Pearl Harbor to Black Lives Matter.  The book takes a fascinating historical journey through the types of sermons preached at various times […]

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Religion and Government: Creating Trustworthy Places to be Different Together (Addressing American Civil Religion and Christian Nationalism)

[1] To say “I’m not political: I will remain neutral” is not neutral.  Elie Wiesel said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor never the victim. Silence helps the tormentor, never the tormented.”[i] We live in a time of violent civil unrest.  We live in a democracy, but democracy is fragile. We become discouraged and tempted to become […]

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The Paradoxical Vision: Robert Benne’s Public Theology in the 21st Century

[1] Dr. Robert Benne, prominent Lutheran theologian and ethicist is the closest Lutheran theologian who actively utilizes the theology of Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Christian Realism” within a Lutheran framework.[1] Dr. Benne has been a public theologian for the past 30 years and has explored different theological and ethical concepts, authored numerous books, and served as professor […]

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As We Consider the Witness of the Lutheran Church on Church and State

[1] In my experience as a scholar and teacher of American constitutional law, I have frequently resorted to our Lutheran tradition as a guide for understanding why we place emphasis on, and how we distinctively understand, concepts such as the rule of law and the separation of church and state.  In American constitutional classes, we […]

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Navigating Theological and Ecclesiological Friction in the Church: Olli-Pekka Vainio’s Insights on Virtuous Disagreement

Note: This a revision of a shorter (unpublished) edition of this paper that was orally presented at the conference: Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology (LEST) XIII, Dissenting Church: Exploring the Theological Power of Conflict and Disagreement, October 22, 2021. [1] Theological disagreement in the church is often seen as something to avoid at all costs […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Book Review: Trinitarian Grace in Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will by Miikka Roukanen

[1] Miikka Roukanen, professor at Nanjing Theological Seminary, argues that Luther’s account of God’s creation of faith in the believer, and subsequent justification and sanctification, is fully Trinitarian in nature.  I want to be clear from the outset that this review cannot do justice to the carefully grounded, and intricate arguments made in the book. […]

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