Issue: April 2005

Volume 5 Number 4

JLE Portfolio: Reflections on End of Life Decisions

[1] The long tragic case of Terri Shiavo recently produced an outpouring of response throughout the United States. Her death was reported on April 1, 2005, nearly two weeks after life support was removed in accord with a court order. Terri Shiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when she collapsed at home after suffering […]

Can Bioethics Be Lutheran?

[1] When invited to speak at a recent gathering of Lutheran ethicists I was asked to address the question “What are the distinctive contributions of a Lutheran bioethic?”1 Thus, my charge seemed to make two assumptions: the first, that there is a Lutheran bioethic and second, that its contributions to plenary debate are distinctive. Both […]


In relation to responsibility [1] Accountability is grounded in the relationality of communion and empowered by the mutuality of responsibility. Accountability complements or flows from responsibility, by moving from the explicitly Christian grounding and non-coerced nature of responsibility to a more public, enforceable accountability. Theologically, accountability is necessary because of the all-pervasive presence of sin, […]

A Community of Character at the Intersections of Life and Death

[1] As a Christian and as a Moral Theologian, I have been appalled by the Theresa Schiavo case for a number of reasons. There is no doubt that many people used this case as an opportunity to promote a particular point of view or agenda. To these ends they twisted the legal, medical, political, moral, […]

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on “End of Life Decisions”

[1] Christ has risen! He is risen, indeed! [2] On Easter morning Jesus provided the ultimate answer to matters related to the end of life. We proclaim it in the words of the hymn: “Thine is the glory, Risen, conqu’ring Son; Endless is the victory, Thou o’er death hast won!” For the believer, the last […]

Civil Religion: Thinking With Robert Benne

[1] Robert Benne believes that we need “a more positive, yet critical, appropriation of the [American] civil religion” than has been offered us by most Lutherans in this country. Some Lutherans have drawn back because our country’s civil religion seems insufficiently religious, others because it seems too religious (and insufficiently secular). Neither of these strikes […]

Responses to Bob Benne on Civil Religion

[1] Bob Benne’s questions, whether American civil religion offers more than meets the critical neo-orthodox eyes, whether its nationalistic affections may be transformed by the universal perspectives of Abrahamic religions, expresses a magnanimous and inclusive spirit. His essay brings to mind Paul’s generous approach to the Athenians. Paul acknowledges their religiosity (without a word about […]

The American Civil Religion—Destructive, Useless, or Beneficial?

[1] “Why does the President of the United States insist on ending his speeches with ‘God Bless America?” asked a European friend testily. “Doesn’t God bless all nations?” she angrily continued. Furthermore, she complained, this religiously-laden political rhetoric proves that Americans persist in thinking that God is on their side. Whatever she understood of the […]

Harvesting Martin Luther’s Reflections on Theology, Ethics, and the Church

Edited by Timothy J. Wengert. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004. 260 pp. [1] This impressive collection of essays by leading Lutheran theologians and Reformation historians represents the state-of-the-art in current Luther scholarship. Originally published in Lutheran Quarterly these essays now appear under a single title in Eerdmans’ new and promising series, Lutheran Quarterly Books. […]

The Kenosis of Christ in the Politics of Paul

“As she listened her tears ran and her body was melted, as the snow melts along the high places of the mountains when the West Wind has piled it there, but the South Wind melts it, and as it melts the rivers run full flood…” (Homer, Odyssey, 19.204-207) “… he emptied himself…” (Philippians 2:6) “… […]