Christian Living, Discipleship, and/or Spirituality

A Sketch of Luther’s Political Theology on the Question of Church and State with Reflections concerning the Current Responsibility of the Church in Society

[1] Luther strengthened drastically the role of the individual over the institutions of church and state. This was because Luther located the kingdom of God in each individual’s inner soul, so that the authority of Catholic Church might rapidly decline and that state power could be desacralized. Securing independent interiority, individuals were given opportunity to […]

For Congregational Discussion: The Ethics of 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 new section will be included in each issue of JLE in order to encourage constructive discussion within congregations about the topics discussed in JLE.  Consider using this section in formal […]

Theological Touchstones for Disagreeing in the Body of Christ

[1] Martin Luther wrote his Small Catechism after traveling and observing how little of Christian teaching most people knew. Four hundred years later, one of us (Amy) had a Missouri Synod Lutheran grandmother who was not permitted to move from lower to upper Michigan with the rest of her family until she had finished memorizing the Small […]

A Different Way of Talking

  [1] “For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.”[i] [2] The Lutheran doctrine of the “two kingdoms” has real-life import when it comes to churches engaging in public issues. Because Lutherans believe that God’s realm meets the earthly realm, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a history of helping […]

Preaching Across the Political Red-Blue Divide: Using the Sermon-Dialogue-Sermon Method in the Purple Zone

[1] Parts of this article are adapted from Schade’s book Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). [2] In the first two months of 2017, I conducted a survey of mainline Protestant clergy in the United States to assess how preachers were approaching their sermons during this divisive time in our […]

Review: Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide. by Leah D. Schade.

9 [1] Good morning congregation, let’s talk about women’s reproductive rights! Or maybe gun control? How about immigration?   [2] If a sermon or adult forum on these topics doesn’t elicit some nervousness for you as a pastor or layperson, I bet you can think of several other topics that would be controversial—and likely divisive—in […]

Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the United States by Lenny Duncan

Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the United States is written by Lenny Duncan, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Duncan was a “free-agent Christian” until he met the ELCA through an open communion table. This revolutionary symbol of grace and welcome later led […]

An Economy of Grace: Inequality and Lutheran Witness

“Douglas Hicks opens his masterful 2000 book Inequality & Christian Ethics by asking the seemingly simple question, “equality of what?” Inequality, he writes, is often reduced to discussions of economic inequality, which tend to miss the complexity of inequality, where income is tied to other distributional and consequential imbalances of resources, assets, access, and outcomes. This is an important consideration. Nevertheless, we must start somewhere, and income inequality provides an accessible launching point. Taking both Hicks’ concern and the reality of the US context seriously, though, means bearing in mind the layers of inequality and the connections between them.”

Justification and Justice: Luther on the Love of the Enemy as Criterion of Justice

“The relationship between justification and justice in Luther´s theology pertains to his distinction of régimes, the so-called “two kingdoms doctrine.” The amount of literature on this “doctrine” produced between the 1930s and the 1970s is immense.[1] However, at the theological core of this distinction lies Luther´s reading of the scriptures’ framing of the peculiarities of two central notions, faith and love. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) exemplifies the crux of this distinction offering two sets of injunctions, which we find throughout the bible, but in the Sermon are presented in a succinct form parallel to each other…”

Review: Seeing-Remembering-Connecting: Subversive Practices of Being Church

There are signs that all is not well with the Christian Church in North America. Among the signs often mentioned are these. First, institutional strength is in decline. Virtually all mainline denominations are experiencing membership loss and financial struggle. Second, the influence of the church seems to be less robust. Congregations were once often the center of community life and their voice a significant force in social discourse. This appears to be less true today. Third, a declining percentage of people identify with the Christian faith tradition. Polls suggest that an increasingly large portion of the population does not see much purpose in the church or has become disillusioned. Karen Bloomquist, a parish pastor, theological professor, scholar and church leader, in Seeing-Remembering-Connecting, offers an extremely helpful analysis and proposal for any congregation wishing to be faithfully engaged in the social order, which is to say, the place we live out our lives.