Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE) is an online publication dedicated to promoting awareness of, study of, and conversation about Christian ethics in the Lutheran tradition. It is a free, interactive journal for all who are interested in Lutheran ethics, both in the United States and around the world. A bridge between the academic study of Christian ethics and the contemporary life of the Church, JLE is a meeting place for scholars and professors, seminary and college students, pastors and bishops, and theologically informed lay leaders.


The library contains vol.1(2001) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Preaching across the political red-blue divide : using the sermon-dialogue-sermon method in the purple zone

    Schade, Leah D. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2019)
    What theological underpinnings do we have to help pastors to think about preaching on social issues? And how can they do so effectively? Drawn from a nationwide survey and multiple case studies, Schade takes readers through her sermon-dialogue-sermon model to demonstrate an effective way for constructive conversations to occur.
  • A different way of talking

    Kaufman, R. Gregg (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2019)
    How do Christians bring the Gospel into a world divided? What resources exist for congregations to talk together about tough social issues? Kaufman outlines the process of deliberative dialogue and how it can be used to help people find common ground and to move them from dialogue toward action.
  • Theological touchstones for disagreeing in the body of Christ

    Carr, Amy; Helmer, Christine (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2019)
    As Christians, we know that we often disagree. Sometimes the heart of the conflict is related to content, and sometimes it's related to the way we communicate. No matter the nature of the discussion, we remain connected as the Body of Christ. Carr and Helmer acknowledge the need for conversation and disagreement and outline three theological themes that help us to think about how to disagree constructively. 
  • Welcoming the stranger? Rethinking our language of hospitality

    Rehwaldt, Jeremy (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2019)
    How can we reframe our language and experiences to create a community of justice and welcome? In this essay, the author looks at Christians across the rural Midwest to explore questions of immigration and what hospitality can look like in everyday life.
  • A pastoral reflection of congregational response during a family separation crisis

    Lynn, Jonathan “JJ” (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2019)
    What are some of the issues that arise when a congregation member is affected by deportation? In this article, a pastor describes a church’s response when one of their own experiences a family separation – including raising legal fees, money for travel, and having representation at court. Using scripture as well as pastoral experience, the author discusses how a congregation spanning the political spectrum responded to an immigration issue in their midst.
  • Learning from the Barmen Declaration of 1934 : theological-ethical-political commentary

    Nessan, Craig L. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2019)
    What can the Barmen Declaration teach us about theological, ethical, and political implications for the political responsibility of Christians in response to the flight, migration, and integration of displaced persons also in our own time? This essay examines each of the six articles of the Barmen Declaration using a contemporary theological-ethical-political lens.
  • Faith, science, and climate change building with AND and CHANGE : an invitation to inclusion

    Schmidt, Heather Lee (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    "Sitting down on a cold winter afternoon with my dog vying for the larger portion of the couch at my side, I glance at the theme of this issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics: Faith, Science, and Climate Change. Being committed to the Christian contemplative practice of lectio divina, I am always listening-- listening for a word or a phrase that catches me and invites me to go deeper. God uses this invitation to build me and all things. I am most drawn, most compelled not by the words “Faith,” “Science,” or “Climate,” but by the words “and” and “Change.” Truth, as I hear it, as I see it, is that God is at work in all things! And is the operative word that I hear today. Faith builds a house. Science builds a house. My neighbor builds a house. The bird builds a house. The bee builds a house. The doctor builds a house, and so does the musician. And, and, and…God is the builder of all. Everything is included in the house of God, the builder of all things."
  • Considering global warming as a hyperobject with definitive presence

    Trozzo, Eric (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    "The mid-day skies darkened as an acrid-smelling cloud of haze rolled in over the city of Kota Kinabalu this past September. The haze is generated by the burning of rainforests in the region, particularly in Borneo and Sumatra. The burning is done primarily by farmers clearing the land for agricultural use, particularly planting oil palm trees. As highlighted by a recent CNN Special Report, these fires not only destroy the jungles and fill the air with pollution, they also destroy the underlying peatlands, which are the earth’s largest terrestrial carbon sink. Meanwhile, between August and October 2019 the Borneo fires alone released 626 megatons of carbon dioxide. These fires, then, not only deforest an ancient rainforest, they are also intimately linked to issues of global warming. Yet they are not global warming itself. They are a visible component of a complex system of land use, commercial interest, economic systems, and environmental issues, to name but a few elements. Together, the fires are a component of the larger phenomenon that goes under the name 'global warming.'"
  • The use and limits of science in making ethical decisions

    Keller, Kristi (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    As Christians, we have the ethical responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation and to advocate for care of creation in public decision making. In our technological and scientific society, creation care relies on using our best scientific knowledge to aid in this decision-making process. Technological advancements can bring benefits but also have side effects that could cause harm to the environment. For example, the use of advancements such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) to defeat illness may have unintended consequences. Technological advancements often promote economic activity, and this economic activity promotes the use of the new technology. This has always been the case for human beings as we create new technologies, but over the last one hundred years, certain advances (the use of carbon based fuels by cars, airplanes, factories for examples) have led to consequences for the climate."
  • The ethics of science/the science of ethics : moving beyond the dichotomy towards a Lutheran approach

    Pearson, Thomas D. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    Over the past two centuries within the Western intellectual tradition, considerations of the relationship between science and ethics have moved in two distinct and largely opposite directions. This paper examines these two directions and poses ideas and questions in order to move Lutheran thinkers towards a new way of thinking about the intersection of science and ethics. On the one hand, accounts of moral sensibility and judgment in human communities are often examined from within the domain of scientific inquiry, most often within the discipline of evolutionary psychology and related fields. This way of explaining ethics as a natural phenomenon subject to scientific explanation is a relatively recent development in Western history. The treatment of ethics from this perspective tends to focus on the possible origins and subsequent emergence of moral impulses in human beings as the result of adaptive pressures arising within the environment. In this understanding, ethics is regarded as a category of scientific inquiry and is subject to various modes of scientific scrutiny that define and evaluate the role of ethics within human experience. In short, ethics has been “naturalized”; that is, how and why morality works the way it does can be fully explained by science."
  • Faith-based advocacy with today's United States government : summary at Lutheran ethicists gathering 2020

    Reumann, Amy (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    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.
  • 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

    Yang, Myung Su (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    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.
  • On what we might learn from Luther about ministry in a pandemic

    Klink, Aaron (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    Many Christians are wondering what faithfulness requires during the pandemic. Luther’s reflections on a similar situation are contained in “Whether One May Flee a Deadly Plague,” a treatise written in response to a request for advice from Johann Hess, leader of the Reformation in Silesa. However, Luther’s views about the use of reason means his advice cannot simply be repristinated. Klink’s article explains Luther’s text in its historical context and gleans insights for our own to help readers think faithfully and rationally about their obligations during the time of COVID-19.
  • Two short reflections on women’s leadership as teaching theologians

    Riswold, Caryn D.; Lagerquist, DeAne (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    Thank God for the academic vocation. Without it, I have no idea when I would meet, know, and eventually become a female leader in the Lutheran church. Insofar as colleges and universities continue to exist as expressions of the church in the world, female faculty have a wide-ranging influence on the church as well as the communities in which they and the church exist.
  • The original order of things

    Tatlock, Julie C. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    Lutheran churches in America lagged well behind social movements that gave women more access to positions of authority. From suffrage to ordination, different Lutheran synods have continued to embrace different interpretations of the Bible’s stance on women’s roles. And, surely the debate is not yet over. While women can vote and preach in the ELCA, other Lutheran church bodies refuse to bend, preferring to uphold what they consider the original order of things.
  • Women preachers : an apocalyptic image of the Kingdom of God

    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020
    In the five years leading up to the fiftieth anniversary of women’s ordination in the ELCA’s predecessor bodies I interviewed eighty-five ELCA female pastors serving in congregations across the Southeast. It was an honor to receive their stories – stories of amazing grace and devastating heartbreak. By the end of that project I could see that there are concrete ways that we, as church, are called to respond to the stories of our female rostered leaders. We must do this for the sake of the world God so loves.
  • Embodiment of power, self and identity : weaving my story of ordination in history.

    Anderson-Rajkumar, Evangeline (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    I was raised in a Lutheran family, with a father and a grandfather who were pastors in a Lutheran church that was a sister/daughter church of the LCMS. My Dad encouraged us children to go for theological studies, all eight of us – six daughters and two sons. For Dad, the ordination question was irrelevant. He wanted all the children to be theologically equipped to discern God’s call in each of our lives. He saw the potential of theological education as a tool for empowerment of self and identity. I am amazed at this vision and understanding of the scope of theological education as a tool for gender justice, women’s empowerment, and discovering of new self-identity and so on, when the social location, social experience, education and environment of my Dad was that of a typical patriarchal household with even more conservative patriarchal values.
  • “We are determined:” suffrage, ordination, and coeducation

    Crist, Jessica (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    Just as coeducation in universities has not solved all gender issues, and universal suffrage has not solved all justice issues, the church's decision in 1970 did not immediately change the relationship between women and men in the church. But it was a bold start, just as suffrage was a century ago. More than a century before the 19th amendment was ratified, there were states who permitted women to vote. In each case, that vote was rescinded. In the early days of women's ordination there was fear that it, too, might be rescinded, that women would be sacrificed for ecumenical harmony. But the threats did not change the trajectory of the church. And we move forward, proclaiming, reforming, lamenting and celebrating.
  • Marching for our lives on the road to Jericho

    Roche, Mary M Doyle (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    Gun violence and its trauma have reached epidemic proportions. The trauma of gun violence is both acute and chronic. The term epidemic in this instance is both a public health appraisal of the impact of gun violence as well as a metaphor that might spark the civic imagination toward a more effective response. The metaphor also invites healthcare ethics and healing practices to contribute to communal response. As a public health issue, the epidemic of gun violence must also be addressed at a structural level and in systemic ways.
  • The Messianic reign in Isaiah 11:1-10 : a message to foster children post-traumatic growth

    Sarras, Niveen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2020)
    The prophet Isaiah, in chapter 11:1-10, speaks a message of hope not only for his war-traumatized community but also for our community of children traumatized by gun violence. Isaiah gives confidence to children that they will no longer experience violence and trauma, but that they will play safely in their neighborhood. Isaiah leads his traumatized community to foster post-traumatic growth. The ELCA must continue to offer spiritual counseling and participate in political activism in order to help children grow in the midst of trauma and to help end the conditions that cause that trauma.

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