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

  • Case Studies on ELCA Social Statements: For Personal Reflection and Group Discussion

    Nessan, Craig L. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-11)
    An Introduction to the following five case studies, based on social statements of the ELCA ("Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action;" "Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries;" "Genetics, Faith, and Responsibility;" "For Peace in God's World;" and "Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice"). 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.
  • A New Creation: Sex and Gender in 'Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action'

    Lowe, Mary Elise (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2020-03-05)
    In her essay, Mary Elise Lowe demonstrates that the social statement’s openness is grounded in Lutheran commitments to the diversity of creation, neighbor justice, and the body of Christ. She then contends that the document’s expansive welcome is informed by three significant shifts in the way theologians, scientists, and theorists view sex, gender, and sexuality.  
  • What the Bible Has to Do with It: God's Justice and Social Justice in Matthew's Gospel Account

    Allen, Amy Lindeman (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2019-11-11)
    The author discusses the idea of justice in our context and within Matthew's gospel. She points out that the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is one of the foundational texts for how justice is understood by many Christians.She adjures us to consider that the call to care for one another is not contingent on our political party or convictions."Social justice is biblical justice." There may be diffrent ideas regarding the means to achieve God's ends, but the call of God itself, as taught and lived out by Jesus, is clear and compelling.
  • Turning an End into a New Beginning: Contesting Epistemic Authority in Matthew's Olivet Discourse

    Yip, Man-Hei (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2019-11-11)
    The author reads the Olivet discourse from a post-colonial perspective. Scripture is misused when read from the perspective of "epistemological triumphalism." Such a reading, however well-intentioned, becomes exclusive and demotivating. The author describes the practice of reading contrapuntally and demonstrates the difficult blessing of hybridity--that viewpoints from other cultures and identities can create an in-between space that allows the invaluable voice of the invisible to be heard. When we hear and see those whom Jesus never abandons, we are freed to respond to God's call in an authentic way.
  • Matthew 5:5: Justice and Grace in Fracked Earth

    Waldkoenig, Gilson A. C. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2019-11-11)
    The author reminds us that the earth is the Lord's and is intended for the meek.He explores the scriptural roots of the Sermon on the Mount and demonstrates that the Parable of the Wicked Tenants recapitulates this teaching. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, recaptured for us and in us through the means of grace, allows people to live in hope, in the promise that their inheritance and the earth itself will not always be harmed, but will be healed. The author, through the example of fracking in Northern Appalachia, stresses that God's people, strengthened by God's grace, can witness to the unshakable nature of God's promised future in the resurrected Christ.
  • Our Lives Matter

    Barrett, Chanta' (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2019-11-11)
    The author writes a very personal and powerful reflection on her struggles under the harmful messages that she internalized growing up as an African American in an un-gentrified urban American context, a place, she says, like Nazareth. The liberation and empowerment that came to her through the good news of the incarnate God choosing a life like hers, of one on the margins, in order to save "those discarded and constrained to such circumstances" has transformed her life into one of witness and service.
  • Protective Declarations

    deForest, Beau (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2019-11-11)
    The author explores the ways our human fears lead us to mask our own struggles and self-awareness, just as they did in Jesus' day. He interprets the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats from the perspective of a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, reminding us that, hard as we might try, we do not get to be the ones to declare the goodness of the fruits that are our actions.
  • Introduction: The Law of Love in Matthew's Gospel

    deForest, Allison (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2019-11-11)
    This issue brings together a range of voices that speak to the justice of God as illustrated in Matthew's portrait of Jesus and how judgment is often a facet of tht justice. Though the God of all creaation is unreservedly for all that God has created, Jesus tells us that there are dire consequences for living in ways that are not in harmony with God's care for the most vulnerable, both among humanity and in the creation itself.
  • Hope in the Key of Chōra

    Gaulke, Thomas R. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-03-16)
    To questions in search of a hope that does not rely on a motif of Christian promise, Westhelle’s apocalyptic hope offers a meaningful response. Shifting hope into a spatial realm, Westhelle conveys the expectant emotions evoked in the crossing. These emotions are evoked not by a promise, but by a proximity. In times of health crisis, and near Westhelle’s own end, the body itself becomes such a space. The pastoral function of a choratic hope, as identified by Westhelle, is one of voicing. It gives voice to the experience of apocalyptic anticipation, illustrating and describing rather than dressing or prescribing a pastoral solution or consolation.   
  • Native Lives Matter: Wilhelm Löhe (1808-1872) and the Mission to Native People

    Walz, Heike (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    The article is based on the festive lecture held on the occasion of Reformation Day on October 31, 2020, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church Parish of St. Michael in Fürth in Germany. The Franconian Lutheran pastor Wilhelm Löhe, born in Fürth, was the founding father of the diaconal institutions in Neuendettelsau and the missionary work, first of all in North America. The congregation in Fürth had initiated a debate on how to deal with the memorial relief on the churchyard that depicts Löhe’s emissaries and Native Americans. It bears the signature saying that the missionaries are “preaching the gospel to the Indians (sic!)” The author asks how to deal with the ambivalent colonial-missionary heritage and proposes a reformatory postcolonial re-reading of mission as receiving. Therefore, she invites the celebration of the Reformation festival in honor of Native Americans and to receive an ecological, cross-theological, and anti-racist mission for life from them. The lives of native people matter to God.
  • "It Will Never Happen to Me!"

    Albers, Robert H. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    Addiction is an insidious disease process that robs the person of her/his ability to exercise choice. The author, who has worked for decades in the area of addiction, has seen that it affects every aspect of society, be it social, racial, religious, economic or ethnic. Addiction is an “unsanctioned illness,” that prompts a sense of “disgrace shame” that results in attempts to keep it hidden and secret from others. More often than not, especially among those working in a ministry role, the pervasive idea is that “it will never happen to me!”
  • Scripture by Heart: Learning and Performing Biblical Passages for Worship—A Brief Tutorial

    Rhoads, David M. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    This article offers ideas for the process of presenting biblical passages by memory in worship. The author addresses the basis for presenting scripture by heart, how to learn a passage, how to perform it, and what the impact might be for worshipping communities.
  • Soul Survivor

    Marlowe, W. Creighton (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    The word “soul” is frequent in English Bible versions, interpreted in popular culture in ways both similar to, and different from, the ancient meanings of the respective Hebrew and Greek words. Recently some scientists have proposed a meaning related to the brain’s energy field. The question is raised if “soul” is the best translation gloss for the passages where it appears in English versions. Do the related Hebrew and Greek words (nephesh and psuchē) in these contexts mean what modern readers usually think when they encounter “soul” in a Bible version? This essay provides a selective exegetical examination of pertinent passages and issues to help clarify when “soul” is an appropriate translation. This has implications for how we talk about the afterlife and related issues as we communicate internationally about biblical theology and the Gospel.
  • Reading Mercy in the Parables of Jesus

    Kim, PhD, Yung Suk (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    The parables of Jesus deal with various issues in human lives, ranging from personal crisis to economic justice. The culture of competition and comparison has deleterious effects on the weak and marginalized. Some parables of Jesus address these problems: “Father and Two Sons” (Luke 15:11-32), “Pharisee and Tax Collector” (Luke 18:9-14), “Wheat and Weed” (Matt 13:24-30), and “Vineyard Workers” (Matt 20:1-16). In these parables, Jesus challenges the merciless society and the culture of competition, asking his audience to see others through the lens of mercy.  
  • The Johannine Realism about the Kingdom of God: "Born from Above, Born of Water and Spirit" (John 3:1-21)

    Kim, PhD, Yung Suk (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    John emphasizes the realism of the kingdom of God in the present. Given the Johannine community’s expulsion from the synagogue due to its faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the members of this nascent community need assurance about their new place in Christ. They are comforted and encouraged to live as children of God. They are born from above and experience a new life through the Spirit. To maintain their discipleship with Jesus, they must keep his word and stay in the light. The Advocate will come to them after Jesus is gone, and God’s reign continues to be seen, touched, and experienced in the present. As Jesus sends his disciples into the world, the Johannine community receives a new mission to love the world, testifying to the truth of God, following Jesus’ word. 
  • October 2021 Book Reviews

    Klein, Ralph; Nessan, Craig L.; Troftgruben, Troy (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    Book Reviews submitted by clergy peers; reviews works in subject areas of interest to the readership.
  • Reading the Bible Aloud in Church

    Lundblad, Barbara K. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    Preaching Helps are offered by multiple clergy for the weeks of October 3 through December 26, 2012 (Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost through the First Sunday after Christmas).
  • God's Word: Justice and Mercy

    Nessan, Craig L. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-09-15)
    Provides a general introduction to the issue, stating that the essays relate to matters of the "first use of the law and the Gospel: Justice and mercy." A brief synopsis is given of each of the essays included.
  • Coming Out: A Theological Dialogue of Queerness and Ability

    Needham, River Cook; Harren, Jessica A. (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-06-16)
    Two authors relate their experiences of coming out as queer to the experience of coming out as disabled or crip. The authors tie these experiences to how Jesus must come out as resurrected and how Christ comes out in the ritual and theology of the Eucharist. This dialogue between queer, disability, and crip theologies elucidates the ways that lived experiences overlap and interact with each other, creating a messy story of lived human experience and a more profound experience of theology.
  • Toward a More Embodied Liberation: Theologically Integrating Racial Justice, Size Liberation, and Transgender Liberation

    Needham, River Cook (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2021-06-16)
    Often, movements for embodied justice and liberation fail to account for bodies containing multiple marginalizations. This article looks at how fat and transgender liberation movements have (not) engaged with each other and with movements for racial justice. Further, this analysis offers ways to bring about God’s kindom through intentional racial justice, body justice, and trans justice work. This paper argues that only through integrating racial justice work into the extant work on size or fat liberation and transgender liberation can embodiment theology be liberatory for all of God’s people.

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