Introduction to the Reviewers

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the essential Lutheran theologian for our dispirited post-modern age, reminds us that the field of ethics – the sometimes disciplined effort to understand and elect “the good” or “the right” – belongs to the realm of the penultimate in human affairs. Accordingly, the issues arising from and surrounding morality, justice, the good life, the duties of the believer in Christ, etc, must never be permitted to occupy a place of importance in our philosophical schemes or in our lives above the issues of faith and of the world’s relation to God. “Justification by grace and faith alone remains in every respect the final word and for this reason, when we speak of the things before the last, we must not speak of them as having any value of their own, but we must bring to light their relation to the ultimate.”[1]

[2] Granting the truth of Bonhoeffer’s assertion, it is a special treat that Fortress Press has published Professor Samuel Torvend’s concise book on Luther’s understanding of the ethical dimensions of the believer’s life in Christ. One can only hope that Fortress Press will continue to publish even more Lutheran work in theology and ethics – especially as it relates to the great reformer of the sixteenth century – as we approach the quincentennial of the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses.

[3] The reviewers for this month’s book once again represent a cross-section of the Church as well as society.

The Rev. James Bartos is a retired ELCA pastor from Charlotte, North Carolina. Having served a mission congregation in Ohio, a semi-suburban parish in W. Virginia, six years in campus ministry, an experimental urban congregation in Milwaukee, and a Church in Charlotte, Pastor Bartos brings a life-time of preaching and action in social ministry to his review of this book. He spends his free time traveling with wife, Carol, visiting children and grandchildren, and fending off requests for book reviews from friends.
Dr. Joseph A. Swanson is Clinical Professor of Finance in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Recently, Joe contributed a chapter to a newly published Festschrift in honor of Dr. Robert Benne of Roanoke College, titled A Report from the Front Lines: Conversations on Public Theology. He is the owner and president of Joseph A. Swanson and Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
David R. Smedley has a Master of Public Administration degree from Temple University and has completed course work towards a doctorate in political science. His vocation has allowed him to teach, work in administration, and counsel in several institutions of higher learning. He is currently serving as Associate Director of Compliance and Training at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. David is “discerning ordination,” is on “deferred admission” to seminary, and has recently married an Episcopal priest.

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics (Touchstone, N.Y., 1995), p. 125.

Michael Shahan

Michael Shahan is Book Review Editor of Journal of Lutheran Ethics. A retired ELCA clergyman, Shahan does freelance writing from his Nashville home.