Issue: December 2010

Volume 10 Number 12

One Pastor’s Response to Harry Potter

[1] I’ve just returned from seeing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and for the first time I understand what all the fuss is about. Well, maybe not ALL of it. [2] I understand the best seller sales. I understand how people of all ages have been captivated by the story. I understand why the […]

Conscience in the Theology of Martin Luther and Søren Kierkegaard

[1] Both Martin Luther and Søren Kierkegaard understand Christianity primarily in terms of its impact on and relationship to the conscience. In particular, Kierkegaard explicitly agrees with Luther that Christianity cannot be understood apart from the experience of the terrified and afflicted conscience. “What Luther says is excellent, the one thing needful and the sole […]

Gary Dorrien’s Social Ethics in the Making

[1] Much of the history of Christianity has been concerned with the individual’s relation to Jesus Christ and the behavior that such a relationship demands in our day-to-day living. The so-called “law of love” has focused on how individuals relate to God and one another and less on human groups and organizations and how their […]

Blessed are the Undocumented? A Reflection on Matthew 5:1-12

[1] When preaching on the Beatitudes it’s easy to default to two common interpretations. The first is to individualize the statements, making them into a scheme for securing God’s blessing. Such an approach assumes that if we adhere to the qualities outlined by Jesus, God will be more apt to bless and love us. [2] […]

Incarnation and the Holy Innocents

[1] Most preachers do not preach the Sunday following Christmas, and I sympathize. We are tired, have just finished Advent and Christmas and are looking forward to a Sunday off with our families or friends, perhaps a congregational carol sing with scripture readings of the gentler parts of the story of incarnation. [2] However, to […]

Editor’s Comments – The Advent of Justice

[1] During the Advent season the Christian community approaches its celebration of God with us — the feast of Christmas — by reflecting on and preparing for the “second coming” of Christ the Judge. How do we get ready to face Christ the Judge? Assuming that Christ bases his judgment on what he deems just, […]

The Institutional Dilemma of Principled Dissent

[1] In July 2010, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Convention passed a resolution calling for a “thorough response” to the ELCA social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust. In the justifying clauses of Resolution 3-05, the document asserts that the social statement “suggests a concept, namely the ‘bound conscience,’ as a ‘distinctly Lutheran’ principle of theology.” […]

What Is a Conscience, Anyway?

[1] The great Louis Armstrong was reportedly asked once how he would define “jazz.” His famous reply was, “Man, if you’ve gotta ask… you’ll never know.” Some things seem intuitively clear to people who are familiar with them, and could never satisfactorily be described or defined by them. One wonders whether “conscience” might be just […]

Response to John Stumme on Conscience

See “Conscience-bound Beliefs” Rule and the “Conscience-bound-belief” Rule by John R. Stumme [1] John R. Stumme is right1: with “bound conscience” the ELCA has bought an unfocused concept with an undefined purpose and an unspecified scope of application, whose usefulness is uncertain and whose consequences are unknown, perhaps because its biblical origins are unstated. Stumme […]