Currents in Theology and Mission, the Theological Journal of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and Wartburg Theological Seminary, offers theological essays and book reviews on a wide spectrum of theological literature, as well as exegetical and homiletical resources for every Sunday and major festival in the church year (the latter section is called "Preaching Helps"). Currents aims to provide resources for mission, ministry, and theological growth for pastors and other church leaders.


The library contains articles of Currents in Theology and Mission as of vol. 43(2016) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Talking on the Road to Emmaus

    Vandiver, Kevin (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-08)
    This essay traces the formation of race in society as a hierarchical mechanism to maintain privilege. It then tracks Christianity’s engorgement on power and its resultant all-encompassing “normed” theology, and the failure of said theology to liberate all bodies. Next, the author turns toward contextualization as a tool for the liberation of marginalized bodies from theologies that privilege whiteness. Finally, using the road to Emmaus story from Luke 24:13-35, the author argues that the moment of experiencing God through the stranger can be life-giving, as the table of Christ becomes the place where white privilege and power are leveled.
  • July 2020 Book Reviews

    Nessan, Craig L.; Troftgruben, Troy M.; Klein, Ralph W. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-05-23)
    Peer-generated reviews of books of interest to our readers and/or pertinent to the content of the journal.
  • The Cheap Grace of White Privilege and the Costly Grace of Repentant Antiracism

    Mahn, Jason A. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-07)
    In this essay, the author juxtaposes contemporary culture wars over white privilege with the critique of cheap grace by Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is done to show that grace as an alternative to works-righteousness and meritocracy can also be used ideologically to justify the status quo. Thus, Christians must continuously interrogate the use of grace to ask who benefits from it. The author then pairs broader Lutheran theological staples (bondage to sin, the call to repentance, a theology of the cross, and kenotic discipleship) with leading black prophetic voices and analyses of white privilege by critical race theorists. This is done to argue that Lutherans, alongside other denominations, are well-positioned to live into costly grace by hearing and heeding the call to become anti-racist disciples of Jesus.
  • Challenging Privilege through the Preaching and Teaching of Scripture

    Nave, Guy (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-08)
    This paper argues that privilege must be conceived as the privileging of some groups to the disadvantage of other groups, lest corrective measures that seek to reduce and/or eliminate disadvantages fall under the fallacious charge of “reverse discrimination.” The author then grapples with the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman from Matthew 15:21-28, showing how the story reveals an attitude of ethnic and patriarchal privilege, but also problematizes and challenges that privilege. The author concludes by calling preachers and teachers to reflect on our cultural privilege and to critically examine how we use it when interpreting and proclaiming biblical texts.  
  • Case Studies on ELCA Social Statements, Part Two

    Nessan, Craig L. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-13)
    This entry consists of an introduction and case studies on five additional ELCA social statements (see the April issue of Currents for case studies on five other social statements), which include "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" (2009), "Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor" (2003), "Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All: A Social Statement on Economic Live" (1999), "Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture" (1993), and "Abortion" (1991). Case studies encourage participants to reflect on the issues presented in each social statement, applying the statement to their own lives and that of their congregations.
  • COVID-19

    Mutel, Cornelia F. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-09)
    Two defining crises of our time, COVID-19 and climate change, are similar in many ways, including their power to transform life on Earth. But one major feature, their duration, pushes them worlds apart. This essay examines the similarities and differences of these crises, concluding with thoughts on how COVID-19 can beneficially advise our efforts to mitigate climate change.
  • Little Apocalypse

    Stewart, Benjamin M. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-10)
    Media accounts of climate-driven weather events often include dramatic images of floods, fires, and barren ground. These motifs communicate the life-and-death salience of climate-related threats even as they contribute to a sort of apocalyptic paralysis. These motifs are ritually engaged at another nexus of ecology and mortality: green funeral practices. Green funeral practitioners experience their own moments of hesitation and paralysis as they engage archetypal motifs of mortality. Some practices, however, help them pass through these little apocalyptic thresholds toward ecological efficacy. Practices in which this pattern is evident include burning bodies in open air cremation, securing bodies through inhumation, and experiencing seasons of barrenness in conservation burial grounds. While the efficacy-generating nature of these green funeral practices is the focus of this article, the concluding section suggests implications for baptismal theology in an era of ecological emergency.
  • Practices of Belonging

    Carlson, Britta Meiers (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-08)
    Decades of diversity initiatives have failed to yield meaningful results for Lutherans who wish to see racial equity in the ELCA. The more recent emphasis on missional ecclesiology offers a promising channel but is currently undermined by the persistent predominance of white cultural norms. This essay describes how Lutheran identity came to be associated with white, elite cultural forms in its journey from immigrant religious tradition to American mainline Protestant denomination. The author advocates for increased attention to “Lutheran” as a fluid category in order to affirm the full membership of all who choose to be in Lutheran spaces, regardless of racial or cultural identity.
  • Faith and Science as Partners in Environmental Awareness and Creation Care

    Nadkarni, Nalini M. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-15)
    The need to engage all people in the care of nature has prompted my work with faith-based groups. I am a scientist who has discovered common ground between the ecological and spiritual values of trees and forests. Drawing upon the authorities of religious texts to articulate these shared values, I have given over forty sermons in places of worship of numerous faiths, created pamphlets about trees in churchyards, and interacted with faculty and students in seminaries. These activities have created portals through which scientists and faith-based groups can further explore and enact ways to promote creation care and sustainable actions.  
  • Science, Cosmology and Faith

    Mix, John (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-10)
    The swiftly deteriorating life-support systems on earth present a radical challenge to Christianity. Some ways we have understood our faith practice have contributed to this decline. We have rich resources in our tradition that can inspire and mobilize our communities for a more promising and faithful future.
  • Being Hosted as Guests

    Sletto, Olin K. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-06)
    The author recounts his experience of being hosted as "guest" in other countries, and draws the comparison between being hosted as a guest and being a person who immigrates to another country with the intention of living there.
  • Pass the Mic

    Hannan, Shauna K. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-09)
    In this essay, the author suggests that preaching is not a solo endeavor, but rather the ministry of a community—ideally, of the whole congregation. The proclamation of the gospel is the responsibility of the baptized rather than the privilege of pastors, especially in historically and predominantly white denominations. Concrete strategies are offered for extending the responsibility of preaching among a diversity of perspectives and identities during sermon preparation (feedforward), within the sermon delivery (feed), and throughout reflection and commentary afterward (feedback).  
  • Being Neighbor in the Coming Pandemic Crisis:

    Simpson, Gary M. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-14)
    This article addresses the contemporary context of global pandemic with special reference to research from Harvard University. The author explores the vocation of Christian neighborliness based on the writings of Martin Luther during the “Black Death” in Germany, which struck Wittenberg in 1527. Luther claimed that forsaking the office of neighbor is the very definition of a tyrant. The article concludes with reflections on the significance of this case study for reimagining neighborliness in our time.
  • Bonhoeffer Remembered in a Time of Crisis

    Lundblad, Barbara K. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-14)
    Pericope helps for Lectionary texts of July 5, 2020 through September 27, 2020 written by peers of our readers.
  • Spiritual Practices for Creation in Crisis

    Rasmussen, Larry L. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-06-10)
    Creation in crisis and a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, the Age of the Human, mandate a review of Christian spiritual practices. Do they offer guidance for the dramatic context in which we live? This essay names criteria for their relevance. Christian practices should be ecological, ethical, sacramental, and ecumenical, in addition to biblical and theological. The rite of baptism illustrates a Christian practice reconsidered for life amid planetary creation in crisis. 
  • Editorial Introduction to the Issue

    Lowe, Mary; Kleinhans, Kathryn; Nessan, Craig (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-19)
    Provides overview of the content of the issue's main essays.
  • Implementing Social Change to Confront Sexism in the Church

    Clover, Liz (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-07)
    Sister Liz Colver, a community organizer, reflects on the Christian call to challenge unjust systems and offers specific suggestions for congregations to begin to dismantle sexist practices and understandings.
  • One Perspective on 'Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action' as a Beacon of Gospel Hope for the ELCA

    Thomas-Breitfeld, Viviane (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-07)
    Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, co-chair of the Women and Justice: One in Christ task force, reflects on the "Faith, Sexism, and Justice" social statement as an aspirational call to work toward and live into beloved community.
  • The Freedom of a Christian to Address Sexism

    Streufert, Mary (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-05)
    Mary J. Streufert sets the ELCA social statement “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action” within the context of ecumenical and global Lutheran partnerships, seeing gender justice as a faithful, trusting response to God’s gracious call to serve our neighbors in Christian freedom.
  • Foundations for a Neighbor Justice Ethic

    Rodriguez, William (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-07)
    William Rodriguez explores the philosophical and biblical understandings of justice underlying the social statement’s commitment to gender justice as neighbor justice, as well as the ways in which these understandings are essential a society committed to the common good.    

View more