Issue: November 2010: A Matter of Conscience?

Volume 10 Number 11

Victor Thasiah

Editor’s Introduction – A Matter of Conscience?

[1] Pages 18–21 of the 2009 ELCA social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, which consider same-gender relationships, have not gone unnoticed by members of the ELCA. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that, as the statement puts it, “We have come to various conclusions concerning how to regard lifelong, monogamous, same-gender […]

“Conscience-bound Beliefs” Rule and the “Conscience-bound-belief” Rule

[1] What is striking about the ELCA’s August 2009 decisions about sexuality is that they changed policy without giving a scriptural account for the change. The policy change allows persons in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to be ordained, yet the change is not supported in any official church document on the basis of […]

Law and Gospel: A Problem with Bound Conscience

A Problem with “Bound Conscience” [1] In August of 2009 the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, its highest legislative body, approved the social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust by exactly the required two-thirds majority. The task force producing the policy document identified the “bound conscience” as a key concept in […]

“Neither Jew nor Greek, Male nor Female, Slave nor Free, Strong nor Weak”: A Call to Friendship in Christ

[1] The final scene of Eric Till’s 2003 movie Luther silhouettes Luther and his wife against a green hill as horsemen gather ominously. The tension breaks when one of the riders gallops toward the couple shouting “They accepted our confession!” Melanchthon bears the good news. As the scene fades, words scroll across the screen praising […]

Reinhold Niebuhr as a Perennial Resource for Public Theology

[1] I was recently asked by a group of Canadian college professors what “public theology” — a term that was not familiar in their intellectual world — was all about. I said that “public theology” was the engagement of theology and theological ethics with many facets of the public world — politics, economics, education, culture, […]

Daniel M. Bell, Jr.’s Liberation Theology after the End of History: The Refusal to Cease Suffering

[1] Almost 10 years have passed since the publication of this interesting and challenging book from the pen of a theological ethicist in the “Radical Orthodoxy” circle of John Milbank. Bell’s work is at once a validation of the fundamentally Christian concerns of Latin American Liberation Theology and a penetrating theological critique of the latter […]

John Milbank and Slavoj Žižek’s The Monstrosity of Christ

[1] You would think that Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, might generally have more sympathy for one another’s cosmological views than either would for the cosmological views of an atheist. And in last year’s The Monstrosity of Christ, British Catholic theologian John Milbank does mount an elaborate defense of traditional beliefs against Slovenian critical theory […]


[1] Journal of Lutheran Ethics owes its existence to the forward thinking of John Stumme and to the faithful support of the community of Lutheran ethicists. As I cleaned out my files at churchwide, I found the stub from my first paycheck, two hundred and forty dollars for compiling results from a survey of Lutheran […]

Of Lament and Gratitude

[1] In its nine years of publication Journal of Lutheran Ethics has become synonymous with the best characteristics of moral deliberation and an internationally appreciated tool for theological reflection. The Rev. Kaari Reierson, founding editor, has been the single most significant reason for its existence, shape and success. This fact did not preclude the elimination […]

Luther’s Understanding of the Bound Conscience

[1] Much work has been done on Martin Luther’s use of the term “conscience”1 and how the meaning of this concept has developed over the years. Journal for Lutheran Ethics has participated in this conversation.2 Its studies have ranged in their approaches, some try to systematize Luther’s views, others look into his thematic uses of […]

Swords, Plowshares and Guns in Church

[1] The oracle in Isaiah 2:1–5 presents a vision of what life will be like when Zion is established as a worship place, and all the nations of the world follow God’s teaching.1 It is a picture of the world as it should be, as opposed to the world as it is. For Isaiah’s original […]