Issue: November 2006

Volume 6 Number 11

Failures of Imagination

Imagination enlarges the circle of our seeing and enables empathy. It is the only real cure for the globe’s deadly levels of toxicity. [1] Students in my spirituality workshops at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago reflect a maturity beyond much commentary I read each day in the Chicago Tribune. They also outpace many […]

In Gratitude

[1] First, thanks go to John Stumme. It was his foresight which concluded that there would be a place for an internet journal centered around such a topic as Lutheran ethics. His wisdom and scholarship have guided what is right and good about the journal. All that falls short is my responsibility. My other colleagues […]

On the Fifth Anniversary

[1] Journal of Lutheran Ethics was originally scheduled to be launched on September 15, 2001. The pages were all set to go, only our web editor had a vacation in California in early September. This meant that when airline traffic was shut down after 9/11, he had to make his way back via rental car […]

Stem Cell Research – Is There a Lutheran Ethical Position?

[1] One of the fields continuously raising ethical questions is the fast development within biotechnology. Constantly new possibilities arise and lead to ethical questions. For a Lutheran ethic the challenge is twofold – it is both a challenge to determine the key ethical questions in general and a question whether or not there is a […]

Three Challenges to Lutheran Ethics

[1] During discussions by JLE’s editorial council this past summer, I rashly suggested that contributors to this focus section might want to articulate one global challenge, one local challenge and a hermeneutic challenge to Lutheran ethics. Swallowing my own medicine, therefore, let me identify three such challenges from the admittedly limited vantage point of the […]

Will There Be a Lutheran Theological Ethic in the Next Generation?

[1] The greatest challenge for Lutheran theological ethics in the coming years will not be how adequately they address the myriad contemporary issues the modern world faces. Rather, it will concern whether or not ethics done by ELCA Lutherans will flow from genuine Lutheran theological sources.[1] The Lutheran theological resources I am thinking about are […]

A Lutheran Ethical Tradition: Distinguishing Features and Discernible Threats

[1] Is there a Lutheran intellectual tradition?[1] [2] When my academic dean, Bill Craft, invited me to answer this question I decided to run some quick keyword searches in a couple of databases. The results were not very encouraging. When I searched for “Lutheran” and “intellectual” in an on-line database for periodical literature in religion, […]

“A Lutheran Social Policy Convoy”

[1] The ELCA is fast approaching its twentieth year and, having been there from the beginning, John Stumme is fast approaching his twentieth year of ELCA leadership, first as the Associate Director for Studies of the ELCA’s division for Church in Society and eventually as the Director for Studies. His imminent retirement provides an opportunity […]

Church, State, Bioethics

[1] Because Lutherans tend to emphasize that even the best of our achievements will be corrupted and tainted by what Helmut Thielicke called our “Babylonian heart,” they should, one might think, be modest in their expectation of any government’s ability to shape and foster a virtuous life among its citizens. [2] Moreover, politics is not […]

Conversations in Community

[1] “The church,” writes John Stumme, “is about speaking and listening. For those who believe the church has responsibility in and for society, it follows quite naturally that Christians should talk together about the relationship of the faith to their responsibilities. Christians have done so for centuries in a variety of ways, and in a […]


[1] I worked with John Stumme only since 1999, during the six years that I was on what until recently was called the Division for Church in Society board. Our biannual meetings gave me brief but striking glimpses into the workings of the Division, with its overwhelming polyphony of projects and agendas. Add to this […]

John Stumme — Lutheran Ethicist

[1] Every once in a while I pull a slim volume from my shelf and leaf through it. The book is Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, translated into English and published in the United States in 1962.[1] This go round, I turned my attention to Martin E. Marty’s introduction to Thielicke’s work. […]

John Stumme—The Hidden Years

[1] Martha and I and our two sons arrived in Buenos Aires on a cold September day in 1978. The military government was an immediate reality as we walked through a line of armed soldiers and were greeted with incredulous stares at the immigration desk. Informed that our luggage had not arrived, we were given […]

Lutherans and the Southern Civil Rights Movement

[1] One of the most important events in United States history is the southern Civil Rights Movement. Although the Civil Rights Movement involved religious leaders and communities of many denominations, this paper focuses on how Lutheranism interacted with the movement. Lutheran involvement in the movement is a milestone in Lutheran history that will possibly be […]

Preaching and the Polis—Some Thoughts from the Pew

[1] As someone who has known John Stumme since his student days at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in the late 1960s, when I was a young professor there, I am not surprised at the stellar career he has had in the succeeding decades. For already at that time he was a visible […]

Transforming Polarization: A Distinctive Lutheran Witness in the World?

[1] When asked to write an article upon the occasion of John Stumme’s impending retirement, my immediate impulse was to reflect back on our early days together in 1988 at the beginning of the ELCA, and the long conversations we had trying to discern how the ELCA should go about arriving at social statements. Everything […]

Tribute to John Stumme on His Retirement

[1] My acquaintance with John Stumme goes back to his days when he was a student at the Lutheran School of Theology and I was a young professor there. As I recall, he was a serious and excellent student who was particularly drawn to Carl Braaten’s teaching and work. He then went off to graduate […]

When Parallel Lines Converge: Roman Catholic Integrism and Evangelical Fundamentalism–some reflections from Latin America

[1] Roman Catholicism (RC) is still the major religious force in most of Latin America. It is more than a denomination: it is a powerful social organization with an extraordinary cultural-formative power. Even though Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals have experienced a steady growth during the last century, Catholicism has managed to continue to dominate the […]

Giving Thanks for John Stumme

[1] One of my first tasks as associate director for studies was to work with John to research and write what became the ELCA’s message on commercial sexual exploitation. I’d been working at the ELCA all of about three months before I found myself being driven around the seedier parts of Minneapolis by a member […]

John Stumme: A Critical Appraisal of His Work in Editing The Promise of Lutheran Ethics

[1] If one were to live solely in the rarified air of most college campuses today, the overwhelming impression would be of a universe wholly devoid of continuity with the past. Linkage to tradition, much less voluntary servitude to something labeled “the Word of God” or the Great Tradition of Christianity, is anathema to the […]