God’s work never stops. Churchwide office staff are still hard at work – from our homes. Hours and lines of communication remain the same.

Journal of Lutheran Ethics Issue Index April/May 2020: Lutheran Theology and the Relationship between Church and State

Sept 2015 issue image 500.jpg


Editor's Introduction


Jennifer Hockenbery Dragseth, Editor
If it is true that many people consider it impolite to talk publically about religion or politics, then perhaps no topic is going to be more improper to discuss than the topic of the proper relationship of church and state. Yet, both articles in this issue all call Lutherans to talk publically about their religion, about their political views, and about how the two intersect.
 Read more.

For Congregational Discussion

The Journal of Lutheran Ethics hopes to provide reading material to stimulate thinking and conversation among academics, clergy, and laity. To this end, this section of JLE encourages constructive discussion within congregations about the topics discussed in JLE.  Consider using this section in formal adult education classes or in informal small group discussions.  The quotes below are followed by questions that encourage readers to think about their own experiences and their own views on this topic and to share these views while listening to others.  After reading this issue, readers also might want to refer to the October/November Issue on Dialogue for tips on creating constructive dialogue practice. Read More. 



Justin Nickel x100.jpg

nancy arnisonx100.jpg

A Sketch of Luther’s Political Theology on the Question of Church and State with Reflections concerning the Current Responsibility of the Church in Society by Myung Su Yang

The state Luther knew and contemplated is different from the modern state, but his political theology is still meaningful in the sense that it deals with the essential function and limit of public power. The kingdom of the world, or the worldly kingdom of Luther’s two kingdoms doctrine, refers to the state as a political community. The church needs to be in the position of counterforce to the state for the sake of the conservation of humankind and the formation of true individuals. Luther’s theology of paradox requires churches today to recover the position of the prophet.

Faith-based Advocacy with Today's United States Government by Amy Reumann

Lutherans can participate in the governing structures as naturally and faithfully as they make use of God’s other good gifts. The ELCA as a denomination has, since its beginning and in its predecessor bodies, been committed to a relationship with the state that starts with partnership and collaboration towards the common good while also exercising robust public policy advocacy to inform, shape, and correct governmental action. Today, this relationship is continued by individuals, congregations and synods as well as by the ELCA Advocacy’s federal policy office in Washington D.C. whose staff is devoted to work in the areas of domestic, international, migration, and environmental policy.

Book Editor's Introduction
Nancy Arnison, Book Editor

This issue is published at a time when individuals, families, and communities are experiencing the upending of daily life.  COVID-19 dominates our consciousness as we grapple with its implications for  health, economics and social relations.   These book reviews may offer a brief respite.  They consider big picture theological questions of beauty and creation.  Diane Yeager reviews Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal and Randy Nelson reviews Christ of the Celts: The Healing of Creation.  The first is a long academic book, the second, a shorter book for larger audiences.  The first is very Lutheran, the second is immersed in Celtic Christianity.  They provide fascinating points of divergence and occasional moments of complementarity.  Each offers perspectives that can challenge, inform, and deepen the ways we think about creation and aesthetics in our own faith traditions. Enjoy and be well.


Dear Churchx100.jpg

Martin Luther's Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal by Mark C. Mattes

Review by D.M. Yeager

The “reappraisal” promised in the subtitle of this book is most obviously a reappraisal of Luther’s views concerning beauty.  Mark Mattes intends to establish that Luther is neither a “great foe of beauty” (1) nor the architect of the “disenchantment” of material reality (13).  The author’s larger objective, however, is to deploy Luther’s theology of beauty in a broader reassessment that offers “a new perspective on Luther, one that gives cosmic, historical, and social breadth as a counterweight or balance to the ‘existential’ depth that earlier generations of scholars have so ably described.” 

Christ of the Celts: The Healing of Creation by J. Philip Newell

Review by Randy Nelson

J. Philip Newell's book, Christ of the Celts is not a new book but its endorsement of Celtic Christianity can remind us that "the matter of creation is a holy and living energy born from the hidden depths of God." (xiv)  At the center of his argument is the conviction rooted in Celtic Christianity that grace "is given to save our nature, not to save us from our nature" (68) because "nature and grace flow together from God.  They are both sacred gifts." 


Articles published in the journal reflect the perspectives and thoughts of their authors and not necessarily the theological, ethical, or social stances of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.​

© April/May 2020
​Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 20, Issue 2



​ ​​