Introduction to Reflections on Deus Caritas Est

[1] Journal of Lutheran Ethics continues its series on Pope Benedict’s first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “God is love.” This month five more authors join the four from the August issue to offer their reflections on the pope’s letter. Three of the authors focus on theoretical themes arising from the letter and two draw out the practical meaning of love.

[2] In a wide-ranging article, William Buckley, a Roman Catholic, introduces Pope Benedict and his encyclical and places them in historical perspective. He interprets the encyclical in terms of its eucharistic liturgical catechesis and points to a history shared by Benedict and Luther.

[3] Mary Gaebler takes up Benedict’s claim that eros and agape cannot be separated and turns to Luther texts to investigate whether or not Luther affirmed eros or self-love as part of the Christian life. [4] Michael Rothaar writes on why and how the pope’s letter on love is helpful to him in his pastoral ministry.

[5] Mark Peterson, viewing Deus Caritas Est from the perspective of Lutheran social ministry, praises the centrality of love of neighbor in the letter and notes areas for further elaboration.

[6] Michael Trice argues that an in-depth reading of the encyclical shows that Benedict missed the opportunity to develop two important themes about love and community.

[7] Deus Caritas Est is online at

John R. Stumme

Dr. John R. Stumme is a retired ELCA Pastor. When he wrote this piece, he was Professor of Systematic Theology at the Instituto Superior Evangélico de Estudios Teológicos in Buenos Aires and Vice-President of the Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida in Argentina. After ten years in Argentina, he worked for almost two decades with the ELCA's Church in Society unit as Associate Director and Director for its Department for Studies.