ELCA Social Teachings

Editor’s Comments – Christ Made Sin and Criminal Justice

[1] Bodies are eloquent.1 They do, of course, literally speak out, communicating a range of experiences and perspectives; but they also “act out,” with seemingly infinite communicative potential. Much body “talk,” however, is unintentional, consisting of non-verbal action, expressed in one’s overall manner or way of doing things. Reading such body language, whether dealing with […]

Response to Hearing the Cries: Faith and Criminal Justice

[1] Hearing the Cries:Faith and Criminal Justice opens the door to a long overdue conversation about beliefs, values, experiences, practices, and policies that profoundly affect all of us. I approached my reading of Hearing the Cries with a deep sense of gratitude for the work of the task force and staff, and a feeling of […]

Response to Hearing the Cries: Faith and Criminal Justice

[1] Years ago when I was a graduate student at Union Theological Seminary in New York, my wife Ellen appeared breathlessly in our apartment doorway at noon; she regularly would walk home from work at the “Godbox” (the National Council of Churches headquarters) to join me for lunch. She had just been robbed at knife […]

Response to Hearing the Cries: Faith and Criminal Justice

[1] “I don’t understand why you care about those people. They’re just trash, and we should throw them away. I don’t want anything to do with them.” I have become accustomed to hearing statements like these from people whom I love, who are Christian, but who do not see my work critiquing criminal justice systems […]

Hearing the Cries: Conversations with Luther and the USCCB

[1] Hearing the Cries: Faith and Criminal Justice (hereafter HtC) provides an important contribution to theological reflection on the current penal crisis. The ELCA Criminal Justice Task Force deserves considerable praise because their document is theologically robust, pastorally-driven, and instructive for Lutheran congregations as well as all persons concerned about the state of criminal justice […]

The Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality: How Not to Derive “ought” from “Is”

Introduction [1] Since the time of David Hume (1711-76), philosophers have been struggling with the question of whether “ought” can be inferred from “is.” Famously, Hume held that it “seems altogether inconceivable how this new relation [ought] can be a deduction of others [is] which are entirely different from it.[1] For Hume, propositions of how […]

Comments on Human Sexuality Proposals Coming before the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

[1] A few months ago, I taught a class on sexuality for our 9th grade confirmation students. As the class began, I asked them to write on an index card what they believed the bible said about sex. To a student, all 22 responses were the same: “if you have sex before marriage, you’ll go […]

Thank You, but No Thank You

[1] Thank you to the Journal of Lutheran Ethics for this invitation to reflect on the proposed social statement. Thank you also to the ELCA Task Force on Human Sexuality for their work. I imagine it has been a long and difficult journey. It is my prayer that their journey together has built them up […]

Luther’s Christocentric and Biblical Theology of Marriage

What follows is an excerpt from my forthcoming Luther and the Beloved Community: A Path for Christian Theology after Christendom (Eerdmans, Spring, 2010). Since I have elsewhere made my sharp and fundamental critique of the draft Social Statement and its accompanying Recommendations on Rostered Ministry. I am thankful to Kaari Reierson for the invitation to […]

Response to the Work of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality in 2009

The release of the Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies and the proposed social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust by the Task Force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality has naturally occasioned public comment and public interest. Journal of Lutheran Ethics offers, as its contribution to the public debate, both original essays by Lutheran […]