July/August Issue Index


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  Book Review Issue

Series Reviews

   Review by Robert Benne
All the authors in this volume agree on the general principle that Christian doctrine and central moral teachings and practices cannot be divided into “first-order” and “second-order” issues.   What would one expect of an organization that is aiming at being orthodox, evangelical, and catholic?  A majority of ​the authors take the next step and argue that the Christian doctrine of marriage is one of those central moral teachings that cannot be altered without threatening the unity of the church.​​​

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Faith and Human Rights: Christianity and the Global Struggle for Human Dignity by Richard Amesbury and George M. Newlands and The God You Have: Politics, Religion, and the First Commandment by Patrick D. Miller 

Review by Daniel A. Morris

For anyone worried about Christianity’s effect on political engagement, the authors of these two slim volumes have good news. Christianity has ample resources to support proper participation in political life. Although the two books articulate the details of such participation in markedly different w​ays, both ultimately ask Christians to draw on the rich moral wisdom of their tradition as they move through the perilous world of earthly politics. Scholars who are interested in Christianity’s potential for supporting human rights discourse and the political significance of biblical injunctions to undiluted obedience to God should read these texts. They are appropriate reading for seminary/divinity school students and advanced undergraduates as well.​

Dan Lee

 We Are Who W​​e Think We Were: Christian History and Christian Ethics​ by Aaron D. Conley
   review by Kevin Considine                                       
In this work, Conley's guiding question is this: do social ethicists, and in particular Protestant, white, male, heterosexual social ethicists, take history seriously?  In other words, do they disclose and account for the role that historical-situatedness and social location plays in their ethical theories? Conley thinks not. He is convinced that the mainstream of Protestant social ethicists is blind to the formative role that their own personal and social histories play in their work. In other words, social ethicists are not critically self-reflexive and thus do not recognize the implicit historiographies that undergird their work.  

Other Featured Books​​

Carmelo Santos

 Christian Economic Ethics: History and Implications 

   by Daniel K. Finn ​
   Review by James Childs
Fi​nn states at the outset and reiterates throughout that the aim of the book is to answer the question, "What does the history of Christian views of economic life mean for our economic life in the twentieth century?"  His review of that history begins with the Hebrew Scriptures and runs through the early church, the Middles Ages, the Reformation, modern and contemporary encyclicals, and social statements of the Protestant churches.  The historical narrative is a rich blend of extensive excerpts from the primary sources and the author's commentary on their message.  It is the foundation that Finn lays for his concluding chapters on th​e principles and implications for economic ethics today. ​

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Ethics Beyond War's End edited by Eric Patterson 
   Review by E. Wray Bryant
 While much ethical literature exists discussing the justification for war (jus ad bellum) and the rules governing the prosecution of war (jus in bello) little literature exists which addresses issues related to how war ends and what principles guide actions in the post-conflict era (jus post bellum). This book presents the contribution of eleven scholars to the growing desire to address the ethical conditions faced after wars end. ​ 

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​​​​Professional Sexual Ethics: A Holistic Ministry Approach edited by Patricia Beattie Jung and Darryl W. Stephens​​ 

Review by Mary Gaebler​

​​With this collection of essays "for and about ministerial leaders," Jung and Stephens have provided the church with a practical, much-needed, and easily accessible handbook on professional sexual ethics for those called to the Church's public ministry.  Many enter into this work, Jung and Stephens suggest, "unprepared to handle issues of professional power, intimacy, and interpersonal boundaries."   The book utilizes a conversational and sympathetic style; "we are merely people...called to sacred roles,"   challenged by the sometimes "murky waters" of parish life. Written for church leaders "striving to be true to ourselves, our communities, and God,"  "professional sexual ethics" is defined here as "the intentional practice of reflecting on, deliberating about, and acting on the right use of...power and authority."​


Articles published in the journal reflect the perspectives and thoughts of their authors and not necessarily the theological, ethical, or social stances of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

© July/August 2014
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 14, Issue 7