Review: Christian Economic Ethics: History and Implications (Fortress Press, 2013)

[Originally included in JLE July/August 2014] [1] Daniel Finn is the William and Virginia Clemens Professor of Economics and the Liberal Arts and professor of theology at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville, Minnesota. He has published extensively in the area of Christian ethics and economics and enjoys the genuine […]

Editor’s Introduction: Economism and Sanctification

The two articles in this issue of JLE are very different from each other. The first article comes from the pen of Ted Peters, distinguished Research Professor of Systematic Theology (and Religion and Science) at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union. Different from his past contributions to the Journal in this article, he engages the question of economism. He follows closely the work of his colleague, Richard Norgaard, who has articulated an alternative economic proposal that puts ecological concerns over market economic interest. With the help of Langdon Gilkey’s hermeneutics Peters reads economism as the structuring myth of contemporary society and calls for (and models) a thorough criticism of its crypto-theological underpinning.

De-Mythologizing the Myth of Economism

Economism is a myth that requires demythologizing. Economist and ecologist Richard Norgaard insightfully describes economism as a secular religion at whose altar American society and many other societies worship. Economism is the free-market ideology that has so imprisoned the American mind that it can no longer address the urgent matter of climate change. Economism is an idolatrous religion that is leading the planet to destruction. This article augments Norgaard’s treatment of economism by calling it a myth and then offering a prophetic critique in the form of demythologizing, or better, demythicizing. Only by demythologizing the myth of economism can the church speak to the larger society’s responsibility to care for the poor and the planet in light of a vision of the common good.

Of Fruit Trees and Newborn Babes: Luther and Wesley on Moral Transformation

Taken from a lecture delivered to a meeting of Lutheran and Wesleyan ethicists, Burroughs’ article explores how and why Lutheran and Methodist understandings of moral transformation differ. Burroughs skillfully analyzes Luther and Wesley’s writings, along with theologians of their traditions who have been influenced from both. With this laid out, he then addresses the question, “What do these differences mean for us today?

Editor’s Introduction: Student Debt

When approached about finding contributors to the Journal of Lutheran Ethics around a topic which was and remains particularly relevant to millennials, student debt emerged as perhaps the most important distinguishing criteria setting this generation apart from predecessor generations. Sure, many theological topics remain high priorities in the life and witness of most millennials, yet there remains a deep concern about the sustainability of these priorities given the immense debt that so many have accrued. I will be the first to recognize that I am not a financial expert, nor a person particularly fraught with debt myself. As I remind myself, this is not my own doing, it remains a gift from God. With that quite Lutheran recognition, I found two lenses that should be helpful in discerning this topic—though I recognize this topic is not new to many.

The Importance of Talking about Money

Students who enter seminary typically have experienced a call to ministry. However, pursuing that call professionally can be expensive. Melissa Curtis Powell, Director of Financial Aid at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, shares her expertise on the problems of student debt and ways to prevent students from being overly burdened.

Postsecondary Student Debt Bondage – A Case for Public Ethics

HIGHER EDUCATION AS A PUBLIC GOOD [1] At the 2014 Laurier University Governance Dinner, Andrew Newman, an Audit Partner with KPMG’s Public Sector Audit Practice in Ottawa, described how his grandfather had gone to school through to grade eight and then went out to work. He then recounted how his father went to school through […]

The Forgotten Luther: Reclaiming the Social-Economic Dimension of the Reformation (Lutheran University Press, 2016)

[1] In his piece in this book, Carter Lindberg quotes Luther from his commentary on Deuteronomy: “’The poor you always have with you,’” quoting John 12:8, “just as you will have all other evils. But constant care should be taken that, since these evils are always in evidence, they are always opposed.”[1] Thus, for Luther, […]

Editor’s Introduction: Puerto Rico

This month the Journal of Lutheran Ethics features two editorials by ELCA leaders who live personally and professionally with the myriad issues facing Puerto Rico. These concerns also lie close to the heart and mind of JLE’s editor Carmelo Santos who first suggested this topic, sought out the appropriate writers, and translated one of the […]

Crisis in Puerto Rico and the Lutheran Voice

Bishop Felipe Lozada-Montañez​ writes from his personal experience living and working on the ground in Puerto Rico to speak out against the corruption both in and inherent in the governmental structure of the island commonwealth. Calling on Martin Luther’s pillar of serving the neighbor, Lozada-Mo​ntañez identifies this injustice as an opportunity for the church to live into its call to serve all people.