December Issue Index 2014--Third Use of the Law

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Editor's Introduction

Criminal Justice


'Third Use' of the Law        
   by James K. Echols
In this edition of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics, the perennial issue of whether Christians are called to “keep the law” is explored. While Jon Olson’s article and Robin Mattison’s response center on the Apostle Paul, his Jewish heritage and the extent to which he continued to observe the Sabbath and observe the dietary laws after his conversion, the larger theological question for Lutherans, who draw significantly upon Paul, concerns the so-called “third use of the law” and the controversy among theologians referred to in the 1577 Formula of Concord.


Lutheran Ethicists' Gathering

Have you considered attending “Christian Reflections on Dying Well in a Technological Society?”   This year’s Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering sponsored by the ELCA’s Theological Discernment Team (January 7-8, 2015 at the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago) will bring together ethically attentive Christians whether ethicists, pastors, chaplains, teachers, or lay people around end-of-life questions.  For more information, click here​

2015 is around the corner! What's next?

Have you ever been interested in writing for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics?  Are you interested in finding out about what topics might be explored in 2015?  Click here to see a list of potential topics for 2015 and find out how to become a writer for the Journal!  




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Might the Lutheran Paul Aim to K​eep the Law?

​   by Jon Olson

Peter Tomson reckoned Paul’s theology of justification able to coexist with his Law (Torah) observance.  Recent exegetical work based on the view that Paul remained within Judaism make reconsideration of Tomson’s position timely.  Olson examines five theological criteria in Stephen Westerholm’s Lutheran Paul, arguing that Paul so defined might also consistently observe the Jewish Sabbath and dietary laws.  If so, the ‘Third Use’ of the Law is relevant for all Christians.



Response to “Might the Lutheran Paul Aim to Keep the Law?” by Jon C. Olson by Robin Mattison 

Olson’s concern with the last twenty-five years of critical work on Paul’s identity as a Christ-believing hellenistic, diasporan Jew is its potential to shift the Lutheran paradigm of the proper boundaries of Christian praxis for Jews.  Olson notes that this desire was expressed in the papers of the 2014 Helsinki consultation on “Continuity in the Body of the Messiah”.  Christ-believing Jews wish “to express election and covenant-based Torah practice in the church” as part of their Christian witnesss. Such commitment to God’s earlier and continuing covenant is not foreign to Paul’s thinking about Jews,  “… to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah (Rom 9:4-5)”.  Thus, Mattison explores the question of would or could the Pharisaic, diasporan Paul have kept the Law while an apostle to the Gentiles? What would be the criterion for keeping the Law?



Book Reviews

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Civil Disagreement: Personal Integrity in Pluralistic Society​ by Edward Langerak​

    Review by Ward Cornett III
In an increasingly polarized society, with a dysfunctional and unpopular Congress and a culture that is racked with disagreement to the point of vitriol, Edward Langerak, Prof. Emeritus, St. Olaf College, has offered some carefully nuanced insight into the nature and history of disagreement. This book is compact and concise and yet heavy with ideas for better understanding conflict and differences.  An important dimension of his focus is the ability to engage in disagreement, hold onto your personal convictions and maintain your personal integrity through it all.  

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The E​thics of Death: Religious and Philosophical Perspectives in Dialogue by Lloyd Steffen and Dennis R. Cooley 

   Review by Paul T. Jersild 
In several ways this book brings an innovative approach to the treatment of some wide-ranging subjects regularly addressed in social ethics courses.  The subject of death functions as a blanket concept in analyzing the ethical issues surrounding abortion, the death penalty, war, suicide, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia.  The focus on death and dying provides an opportunity for philosophical and theological reflection that gives added depth to the consideration of these topics.  



© December 2014
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 14, Issue 11

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