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

  • Text and World, Unity or Division? Questioning Lindbeck’s Postliberal Biblical Interpretation

    Yip, Man-hei (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2017-03-21)
    This article examines George Lindbeck’s position on premodern biblical interpretation within the cultural-linguistic framework. While highlighting the narrative may be a crucial step to understand the meaning of Scripture, he overlooks the multiplicity of voices in the story. While his claim that “the biblical world absorbs other worlds†may contribute to Christian unity, it can conflict with people of other religious traditions. Engaging the voice of the other opens new avenues to understanding. The voice of the other is a voice that matters equally. 
  • Times of Change: 1515—2015. Wittenberg, Rome, Dubuque

    O'Meara, O.P., Thomas F. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2017-03-21)
    This article reflects on two moments in time: the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s call for reformation in years after 1515, and the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion in December 1965 of the reforming Council, Vatican II. These events remind us how we are called in our time to be the servants of God’s kingdom in history, living out our lives in the midst of the mystery of God’s saving grace in Christ and we minister to the church by discovering new ways of preaching. 
  • Preaching Helps: Fifth Sunday in Lent — Third Sunday after Pentecost

    Lundblad, Barbara (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2017-03-21)
    Preaching Helps from the lectionary for each Sunday in April, May and June 2017.
  • A House Divided? Reconsidering Newbigin’s The Household of God, Six Decades Later

    Schattauer Paillé, Joseph (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2017-03-21)
    As “missional theology†becomes a buzzword in the church, many church leaders and pastors find themselves looking for new ways of thinking about and being church. Lesslie Newbigin’s The Household of God remains an indispensable contribution to this conversation. This article re-evaluates how Newbigin’s theology of eschatology from 1952 can be used in churches today. The church lives in mission and strives toward unity only when it first lives into its eschatological calling to be a sign, instrument, and foretaste of the kingdom of God.
  • Enabling the Majority World to Benefit from “Superior†Western Theology

    Harries, Jim (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2017-03-21)
    Is the proposal that Western theology is in no way superior to other theologies a pretentious humility? While contextualization is a necessary part of enabling theology to work, subsidizing Western theological education can block contextualization. Helpful translation is introducing something new into a pre-existing field. Theological education in the majority world being in Western languages implies translation from known into unknown bodies of knowledge and understanding. Success in this project would require destruction of the target context. Theology should be taught, that is, learned, primarily by example. Theological education should be engaged in using the language of the people being reached. 
  • World Council of Churches’ Model of God’s Mission and Diakonia in the Signs of the Times: From a Global South Response

    Chung, Paul S (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2017-03-21)
    This article is a revision of a presentation delivered for Ecumenical Conversation 21 (Compelled to Serve: Diakonia and Development in a Rapidly Changing World) at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Busan, South Korea. The article addresses mission and diakonia from the perspective of the Global South. 
  • Paul and Women: An Analysis of 1 Corinthians Reflecting Paul’s Contradictory Attitudes

    Plamadeala, Cristina (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2018-03-16)
    This article provides a contradictory depiction of Paul in respect to women, as evidenced in 1 Corinthians, an image in which he is simultaneously egalitarian and misogynist toward his female counterparts. The author offers a possible explanation of this inconsistency, rooted in a potential sentiment of envy toward women, which Paul and the men surrounding him may have shared as a result of Jesus’ rather democratic and glorifying treatment of women (as evidenced in some of the Gnostic literature). 
  • Thought-Provoking and Action-Promoting: A Response to the ELCA Gender Justice Document

    Deifelt, Wanda (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-11)
    Wanda Deifelt reflects on the need for the social statement, connects the new insights of “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action†to her own theological journey, and highlights how the intersectional analysis of the statement aligns with the Lutheran church’s ministry of Word and Sacrament.
  • Allowing the Other to be the Other: A Reading of Luther as a Theologian of Otherness

    Taylor, Benjamin (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-12)
    This article articulates Luther’s theology as a “theology of otherness†that serves as a critique of “the dominant logic of modernity.†In conceptualizing the dominant logic of modernity, the author utilizes the work of the political philosopher Iris Marion Young, who argues that contemporary forms of political and social oppression are undergirded by “the logic of identity.†After introducing Young’s conceptualizing of “the logic of identity,†the article contends that Luther’s theology provides ground for theological and ethical resistance to these forms of oppression. To this end, the author gives a detailed reading of three elements of the Reformer’s theology—Luther’s theology of the cross, Luther’s doctrine of justification, and Luther’s notion of the hiddenness of God—as three elements of a theology of otherness.  
  • Carrying the Message of Love, Mercy, and Grace to Each and Every Child of God: A reflection on the ELCA Social Statement 'Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action'

    Garcia, Nicole (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-11)
    Pastor Nicole M. Garcia offers a pastoral and personal reflection on “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action,†as she artfully describes how she heard echoes of her own story in the document, and the gospels’ promise that all are created equally in the image of God.
  • Identifying the Intersections: Youth Ministry and the ELCA's Social Statement 'Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action'

    Tangen, Nicholas (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-06)
    Writing from his experiences working with youth and young adults, Nicholas Tangen describes the power of naming the sin of sexism with youth. He articulates how the social statement’s use of the concept of intersectionality deepens conversations with youth and helps them name the challenges they face and hear the gospel in ways that are meaningful to them.
  • Talking on the Road to Emmaus: A Paradigm for Deconstructing Racial Hierarchies and Contextualizing Theology

    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.
  • Case Studies on ELCA Social Statements, Part Two: For Personal Reflection and Group Discussion

    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: Dress Rehearsal for a Climate in Crisis

    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: How Green Funeral Practitioners Reconfigure the Iconography of Climate Catastrophe

    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: Mainline Protestant Culture and Notions of Lutheran Identity in the ELCA

    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: An Ecologist's View

    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: The Challenge of Climate Change to Christianity

    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.
  • Pass the Mic: Expanding Pulpit Privilege

    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:: Thinking with Luther in the 21st Century

    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.

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