Government (Civil)

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, […]

Review: The Company of Strangers: Christians and the Renewal of America’s Public Life, by Parker J. Palmer

[1] Parker Palmer is familiar to educators as a beacon of hope and courage.  His 1998 Courage to Teach articulated the dignity and even nobility of the profession to young instructors like me.  His 2000 Let Your Life Speak fearlessly recounted his own struggles to sustain a sense of meaning in his life.  Yet his 1981 The Company of Strangers might be […]

Review: I Can Do No Other: The Church’s New Here We Stand Moment, by Anna Madsen

[1] Anna Madsen’s new book, I Can Do No Other: The Church’s New Here We Stand Moment, is not explicitly about the relationship between church and state.  It is, rather about discipleship, about taking the promise of the Gospel that though “death is real, life is realer” and the message of the Reformation that justification means that injustice threatens […]

Editor’s Introduction: Lutheran Theology and the Relationship between Church and State

[1] If it is true that many people consider it impolite to talk publically about religion or politics, then perhaps no topic is going to be more improper to discuss than the topic of the proper relationship of church and state. Yet, both articles in this issue all call Lutherans to talk publically about their […]

For Congregational Discussion: Lutheran Theology and the Relationship between Church and State

[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 section of JLE encourages constructive discussion within congregations about the topics discussed in JLE.  Consider using this section in formal adult education classes or in informal small group discussions.  The […]

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 […]

Faith-based Advocacy with Today’s United States Government: Summary at Lutheran Ethicists Gathering 2020

[1] Lutherans can participate in the governing structures as naturally and faithfully as they make use of God’s other good gifts. This summation of Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession (AC) stands in contrast to the views of other protestant groups of the time, some who condemned civic participation as incompatible with the Christian life while […]

Review: Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal, by Mark C. Mattes

[1] The “reappraisal” promised in the subtitle of this book is most obviously a reappraisal of Luther’s views concerning beauty.  Mark Mattes intends to establish that Luther is neither a “great foe of beauty” (1) nor the architect of the “disenchantment” of material reality (13).  The author’s larger objective, however, is to deploy Luther’s theology […]

Learning from the Barmen Declaration of 1934: Theological-Ethical-Political Commentary

19   [1] The Barmen Theological Declaration was crafted and adopted in May 1934 by a scholarly team whose guiding figure was Karl Barth. The context for this theological statement included the increasing machinations by the German Christians, supported in their efforts by the Nazi regime, to control and dominate the Protestant churches in Germany […]

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 […]