Editor’s Introduction: Lutherans and Sanctification

In this issue of the JLE we continue to explore the role of sanctification in the thought of Luther vis-à-vis that of John Wesley. The original setting of these papers was the January 2017 meeting of the Lutheran Ethicists Gathering which included an actual dialogue between Methodist and Lutheran ethicists. In the first article, Svend Andersen, professor at the Department of Theology in the University of Aarhus, Denmark, compares and contrasts Wesley’s explicit elaboration of sanctification as moral perfection with Luther’s more implicit understanding of sanctification especially as it finds expression in his discussions of the role of love in the life of the believer and the work of the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation. In the second article on this issue, Mathew Riegel, bishop of the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, offers an erudite exploration of the place of justification and sanctification in the thought of Luther.

Sanctification and Lutheran Ethics

Writing from a Danish perspective, Andersen explores the role of sanctification in Lutheranism, in part by comparing it to the Methodist tradition. Focusing on the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctification, Andersen analyzes the origin of caring for the neighbor, as emphasized in Luther. If Lutheran ethics is not about following moral rules, what is our guide and how is the Holy Spirit involved?

The End of the Human: Relocating Sanctification in Luther’s Thought

In order to discern Luther’s thoughts sanctification, and their significance for us today, Riegel, Bishop of the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, examines Luther’s questions: “What is the human creature? And what is its end?” With such an emphasis on justification in Lutheran theology, what role is there for sanctification? For Riegel, the answer likes in Luther’s theological anthropology.

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?

Joint Declaration on Justification: History Making or Precious Memory?

[1] On October 31, 1999, an historic moment of ecumenical reception for Lutherans and Roman Catholics took place at Augsburg, Germany. The Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification was signed that day by representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican. A decade later, on October 1, 2009, a service will be held […]

Holy Spirit: Gospel Sanctifies in Society (2 of 2)

Part 2 of a 2 part series. From Christians in Society: Luther, the Bible, and Social Ethics by William H. Lazareth, © 2001 Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. For the first part, click here. Priesthood of the Baptized [86] Luther’s theology of sanctifying love in vocation was further reinforced by the ethical doctrine of the […]

Luther and Christian Liberty

Copyright © 1994, Word & World, Luther Seminary. Word & World, Supplement Series 2, pp. 48-56. First published in the Lutheran Theological Seminary Bulletin 68/1 (Winter 1988), pp. 3-11. Dr. Forell delivered it in lecture form at the October, 1987, “Luther Symposium” at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Used with permission. A Focus of Controversy [1] While Luther […]