Issue: November 2009

Volume 9 Number 11

Introduction to A Report from the Front Lines

[1] “It has been argued conclusively, I believe, that the spirit of American religion and of America itself, insofar as it has been penetrated by religious themes, has been thoroughly Calvinistic, rather than Catholic, sectarian, or Lutheran.”[I] It has been the mission of Robert Benne, Lutheran public theologian, to balance the current engagement between the […]

What Lutheran Ethics Can Learn from Other Christian Ethical Traditions

[1] In 1972, as a freshly minted M.Div., I went off to begin graduate work in ethics in the Department of Religion of Princeton University. On a quiet summer Saturday, just days after my arrival, I went to explore 1879 Hall, where the department’s offices were located. It was silent and empty on that Saturday […]

Reflections on the ELCA Churchwide Assembly and the Bible

[1] If there is one rule we need to follow in the wake of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, it is this: Do not break the eighth commandment (against false witness) in order to defend the sixth (against adultery and other sexual sins). Both those who supported the changes in policy and those who did not […]

Joint Declaration on Justification: History Making or Precious Memory?

[1] On October 31, 1999, an historic moment of ecumenical reception for Lutherans and Roman Catholics took place at Augsburg, Germany. The Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification was signed that day by representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican. A decade later, on October 1, 2009, a service will be held […]

Conventional Energy Options

From Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy, and Public Policy copyright © 2010 Fortress Press. Reproduced by special permission of Augsburg Fortress Publishers. Complete copies of the book may be ordered at Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy, and Public Policy: Conventional Energy Options Energy is the world’s biggest industry, by far . . . . All told, […]

Energy, Development, and Quality of Life

[1] “Developed countries” are characterized by large formal economies, a significant use of modern technology, an increasing ability to transform natural environments, and increasingly, a homogenized, “Western” worldview. Such development has relied upon the increasing access to and use of high quality reliable energy, typically in the form of fossil fuels and electricity.[1] Cars, electric […]

A Postscript: Using Ethical Principles to Guide Decision-Making about Energy Use

[1] In addition to highlighting the importance of reducing energy use among those who use the most and ensuring that all have affordable access to high quality energy, the principles of responsibility, justice, and frugality can, when paired with knowledge of contemporary energy use, also aid decision-making about how to reduce energy use. At least […]

A Report from the Front Lines: Conversations on Public Theology

[1] This book is a well deserved tribute to Robert Benne for his contributions in theology and ethics—for the church, the academy, and the culture. At the same time, the fourteen authors make it a stimulating contribution to the importance of developing a public theology. In his introduction John Stumme begins with Benne’s own definition: […]

A Review by Dr. Martha Stortz

Michael Shahan (ed.), A Report from the Front Lines: Conversations on Public Theology, A Festschrift in Honor of Robert Benne (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009). xv + 166 pages. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-8028-4863-5. [1] Someone as prolific as Robert Benne probably ought to have a festschrift every decade, simply to pause and […]

A Report from the Front Lines: Conversations on Public Theology

1] Writing a review of this festschrift in honor of Robert Benne has reminded me of the many things we’ve had in common over the years. Both of us have roots in Eastern Nebraska, both attended Lutheran colleges in that area (Midland Lutheran and Dana, just twenty miles apart), we both were energized by the […]

Jonathan Edwards on the Christian Life

[1] Harriet Beecher Stowe complained that Jonathan Edwards’s (1703-58) sermons on sin and suffering were “refined poetry of torture.” After staying up one night reading Edwards’s treatise on the will, Mark Twain reported that “Edwards’s God shines red and hideous in the glow from the fires of hell, their only right and proper adornment. By […]

Gregory of Nyssa on the Christian Life

Introduction [1] When looking at Christian figures from the past, interpreters primarily choose three routes, what I think of as the evolutionary, conservative, and progressive. A more evolutionary approach views Christian history as a development to maturity, with the earliest years of the church akin to its childhood and adolescence, the Middle Ages as perhaps […]