The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology

The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology

The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology

The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology


"This volume assesses the prospects and promise of Lutheran theology at the opening of a new millennium. From four continents thirty noted and respected contributors not only gauge how such classic themes as grace, the cross, and justification wear today. They also look to key issues of ecumenism, social justice, global religious life, and the impact of contemporary science on Christian belief." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Niels Henrik Gregersen and Ted Peters

In preparing this book, we set before ourselves two questions. One asks about the status quo of contemporary Lutheran theology. the other asks the question, Quo radis? (Where are you going?). What is the state of Lutheran theology at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and where do we go from here?

We thus attempt to offer a fairly representative collection of live options within current Lutheran systematic theology, topically centered on classical issues of Lutheran concern. the reader will thus find sections on grace, cross, justification, and comparisons, but also sections on justice, world, ecumenics, and science.

We thereby wish to acknowledge that the Lutheran tradition, after all, is not only a theological movement following in the wake of Martin Luther and his sixteenth-century disciples. Almost immediately, Lutheranism also developed into a cultural vision for the common people. As recently argued by John Witte Jr. in Law and Protestantism, Lutheranism left for the future both a theological and a cultural legacy: “A good deal of our modern western law of marriage, education, and social welfare, for example, still bears the unmistakable marks of Lutheran Reformation theology.” For example, most people today regard marriage as both a civil and a spiritual institution; education is today regarded as a fundamental right of a citizen and as a duty of the state to provide; and care for the poor and needy is in most Christian societies seen as an indispensable office of the state and as a calling for its citizens. Lutherans, alongside others, care for the common good in society; justice as well as justification mark the Lutheran legacy. the Lutheran affirmation and even celebration of ordinary life, of the created life in calling, may be well worth pursuing today, even if it also might involve conflicts with an excessive individualism and consumerism found in today's Western and Eastern societies.

This volume nonetheless gives special emphasis to the doctrinal dimensions of current Lutheranism. the reader of the book will find substantive contributions from scholars in both northern and southern hemispheres. and the spectrum of positions spreads from the liberationist on the left to more classic shapes of doctrine on the right, and from the “low church” angle of Lutheran theology to the “high church” angle of evangelical catholicity. in terms of ecumenical positions, the volume includes supporters and opponents of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

1. John Witte Jr.. Law and Protestantism: the Legal Teachings oj the Lutheran Reformation
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press 2002). 295.

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