September 2014 Issue Index

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​Editor's Introduction
   by James Kenneth Echols

In this issue of the journal, Jeff Olson Biebighauser and Bruce Wollenberg draw upon aspects of Martin Luther's theological perspectives in order to explore two distinct ethical matters. While Biebighauser critically examines and renders a judgment on the "Virtue Ethics" movement, Wollenberg establishes God's gift of temporal authority. In so doing, they treat dimensions of both personal and public ethics.


Like us on Facebook!  The Journal of Lutheran Ethics Facebook page is up and running.  Go to​ to join in discussions of this month's articles and more.​

The Journal of Lutheran Ethics soon will begin publishing an occasional series on public theologians of the global church.   We are looking for figures who speak from their cultures through a Christian lens--not necessarily in English.  We are also looking for writers who can explain--in English, of course--the thought and influence of such figures in compact articles of no more than 1500 words.  For more details, please contact Stewart Herman (, Cheryl Pero ( or Mary Streufert (​​.



Aga​​inst Virtue Ethics
   by ​Jeff Biebighauser
In light of increasing use and popularity of virtue ethics, Biebighauser looks for a uniquely Lutheran contribution to the conversation. He suggests that much of the ambiguity and imperialism of uplifting “universal” virtues can be remedied by Luther’s “Freedom of a Christian” and the commandment that we love our neighbors.  He also explores what loving and serving our neighbor means, asking what kind of action and attention is required of us as loving neighbors.



Wielding the Word: Martin Luther on Temporal Authority​
    by Bruce Wollenberg
Through historical analysis, Wollenberg argues that Luther was not simply writing about faith and spirituality in a vacuum, but in a context where economics and social institutions greatly impacted people's day-to-day and spiritual lives, just as they do today. If Luther critiqued the oppressive economic systems of the sixteenth century, what should the ELCA be saying about similar institutions in the United States today?​


Book Reviews

American Civil Religion

A Case for Character: Toward a Lutheran Virtue Ethics​​​ by Joel D. Biermann​​​​
    by Aaron Klink
Joel Biermann, Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, argues that a focus on justification by faith in contemporary Lutheranism has led Lutherans to a neglect the practices of moral formation of individuals and the development of authoritative teachings about the shape of the Christian life. He acknowledges that focusing on “standards,” “formation,” and “virtue” will seem to some to constitute “works righteousness” but counters that a careful reading of Lutheran confessional documents shows a profound concern for formation, virtue, and commandment.  ​

Many Colors

The New Testament and Ethics: A Book by Book Survey edited by Joel Green
    by Joe Wolf​
Joel B. Green offers a second distillation of his landmark Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics. The New Testament and Ethics comes on the heels of the Old Testament survey.  Green offers twenty six entries on the books and genres of the New Testament plus an assortment of articles on selected topics helpful for current discussions of hot button issues including a reflection on healthcare in scripture.​

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​​​© September 2014
Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE)
Volume 14, Issue 8

Articles published in the Journal reflect the perspectives and thoughts of their authors and not necessarily theological, ethical, or social stances of the ELCA.​