Government (Civil)

Editor’s Introduction: Responses to Christian Nationalism

[1] This May marked the 90th anniversary of the Barmen Declaration, which was written to denounce the German Christian movement under the Nazi regime and continues to serve as a guide for avoiding the false teaching of Christian nationalism. [2] This issue of JLE contains a lengthy two part essay, first presenting the history of […]

For Congregational Discussion: Responses to Christian Nationalism

[1] Two things many people learn we should never discuss in public are religion and politics.  As American Lutherans we often think that the separation of church and state and the “Two Kingdoms Doctrine” mean that we should not discuss politics when we are discussing our religion and we should not discuss our religion when […]

A Different Approach to Christian Nationalism

[1] In the glossary of the draft of the proposed ELCA Social Statement on Civic Life and Faith, Christian Nationalism is said to be: A cultural framework that idealizes and advocates fusion of certain Christian views with American civil life.  This nationalistic ideology believes, among other things  that the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired, that […]

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 […]

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 […]

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Note: This a revision of a shorter (unpublished) edition of this paper that was orally presented at the conference: Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology (LEST) XIII, Dissenting Church: Exploring the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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

‘Covenant’ as a Biblical Anchor: Some thoughts for the upcoming Social Statement on Government and Civic Obligation

Currently, the Task Force on Government and Civic Engagement is beginning the process of creating a social statement on faith and civic life.   The Journal of Lutheran Ethics has invited short pieces from ethicists on this subject for the December 2022 issue.  To start this process, Stewart Herman has offered the following which also fits […]

Review: Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States by Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry

[1] Sociologists Andrew L. Whitehead (Clemson University) and Samuel L. Perry (University of Oklahoma) compel us to reflect on the twin questions that motivate Taking American Back for God: “What is Christianity’s relation to American identity and civic life? What should it be?” (3). Although they clearly state that social science cannot answer these questions, […]