Book Reviews

Book Reviews are listed beginning with the most recent issue.

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Book Review: How Luther Became the Reformer by Christine Helmer

[1] Christine Helmer’s book How Luther Became the Reformer is not a typical history of Martin Luther. At its core, the book is an examination of historical interpretations of Luther. [2] Helmer is a professor of the Humanities and German at Northwestern University. Her areas of study include Martin Luther, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and the Luther […]

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. […]

Book Review: Aging and Loving: Christian Faith and Sexuality in Later Life

”Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:11-12) Sarah needed to read this book. So do you, if you are […]

Book Review: The Generative Power of Hope: Anticipating Possibilities in Times of Crises

This past Pentecost, my pastor announced the imminent transformation of the world, with the elimination of all oppression.  I’d call it “skylight” hope—the light that comes from above, into the domes of our minds, reminding us of God’s ultimate sovereignty over history.  Biblically, it is rooted in the Magnificat and in the “new heaven and […]

There Is No God and Mary Is His Mother: Rediscovering Religionless Christianity by Thomas Cathcart

[1] Hearkening back to the death of God theologians, Thomas Cathcart writes a provocative book to jar conventional theology. Cathcart—like Thomas J. J. Altizer, William Hamilton, Paul van Buren, and Gabriel Vahanian among others before him—challenges traditional conceptions of a transcendental divine being and the obsolete cosmologies that perpetuate such misunderstandings. With the rapidly increasing […]

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

[1] Regular readers of The Journal of Lutheran Ethics may be surprised to see a review of a novel in this issue.  Most of the reviews in these pages are spent, correctly, I think, on considerations of non-fiction and scholarly books that are concerned more directly with ethics and theology.  Occasionally, however, a novel comes […]

Amending the Christian Story: The Natural Sciences as a Window into Grounded Faith and Sustainable Living by Ron Rude

[1] Years ago, I was speaking with a professor of Church history, when he asked, what if 10,000 years from now Christians are looking back on this period as the early Church? The question immediately challenged the way I had imagined Church history. And the new perspective stuck with me. Reframing is a powerful tool […]

Religion within the Limits of History Alone: Pragmatic Historicism and the Future of Theology by Demian Wheeler

[1] The day I started writing this essay a review of a new musical appeared in the New York Times under the headline, “History Always Gets To Sing the Last Note.”  According to Demian Wheeler in Religion within the Limits of History Alone, history gets to sing the first note as well.  It is history […]

I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Courageously Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times by Mónica Guzmán

“To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.” Mark Nepo [1] We humans are on an unprecedented hinge of history. It’s hard to imagine a more apocalyptic accretion of worldwide catastrophes: among them the most lethal pandemic in a century; the dismantling of formerly stalwart democracies; […]

Book Review: Christianity, Social Justice, and the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II by Anne M. Blankenship

[1] Our personal security is more of a fantasy than we can comfortably admit, and appeals to national security can conceal the darkest chambers of social bigotry. Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt eighty years ago on February 19, 1942, devastated the lives of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent (Nikkei) […]