Issue: December 2007

Volume 7 Number 12

Imagining a Conversation between Brother Martin and the Angelic Doctor: A Lutheran Approach to Virtue Ethics

[1] Lutheran ethics remains untouched by the vaunted “return to virtue ethics” in contemporary Christian ethics. The pursuit of virtue smacks of “works righteousness;” it registers as one more attempt to ascend the ladder of spiritual perfection. Martin Luther saved his most savage critique for Aristotle and Aquinas, traditional figures associated with virtue ethics. It […]

The Flat above the Store: An Unpretentious Faith Active in Unselfconscious Love

[1] For nearly three generations almost everyone in or around Elkhorn, Wisconsin who played the piano was likely to have had the same teacher. Her name was Ida Mott. She was my great aunt and my godmother. [2] Lessons were held in her little dining room in the flat above the hardware store where she […]

Lewis B. Smedes

[1] Among the more precious possessions in my study drawer are the notes from the last sermon Lew Smedes ever preached. It was delivered from the pulpit in which I spend most of my Sundays. Lew left his little 5 x 7 sheets in the pulpit, pock marked as they were with a few words […]

Gay Christian Marriage in American Civil Society: Beyond Natural Law Theory, in Response to Carl Braaten

[1] Gay marriage! It’s not about sex you know! It is about ethical and legal Love. When our children come home to announce they are “in love”, and intend to be married, we examine them very closely. “It’s not just about sex, you know. Are you in love with this person for her or himself? […]

Luther on Natural Law

[1] Can Lutherans do ethics? No doubt Lutherans can act ethically, and there certainly are Lutherans who engage in ethical reflection and analysis. But can Lutherans do ethics as Lutherans; that is, can Lutherans articulate models of moral conduct, or render appropriate judgments in ethically congested situations, in ways that are strictly derived from Lutheran […]

Spiritual Reinvention and the Andrew Greeley Principle

When the church neglects its practices, the culture reinvents them in secular form. [1] The seminary where I serve celebrated the 40th anniversary of the dedication of its building in October. As I reviewed its history, I came across the comments of architects and seminary officials describing the significance of its design. At one point, […]