Faith Active in Love

By Hendel, Kurt K. | Currents in Theology and Mission, October 2012 | Go to article overview

Faith Active in Love


Hendel, Kurt K., Currents in Theology and Mission


In 1520, Martin Luther published one of his most important and influential treatises, "Freedom of a Christian." In this incisive work, the Reformer summarizes his vision of the Christian life by explicating the freedom that people of faith enjoy because of the "happy exchange" that is Christ's gift to them. He also clarifies the servant vocation that is theirs because of this gift of freedom. By emphasizing the principle of faith active in love, Luther advocates a personal and communal faith ethic that is radically altruistic and emulates the profound love of God for God's people and the whole creation. The Reformer insists that Christ, faith, and the gospel shape all aspects of the Christian life.

The articles in the October 2012 issue of Currents in Theology and Mission illustrate how Luther's evangelical ethical perspective might be implemented within and even beyond the Christian community as people of faith make crucial ethical decisions.

Having experienced what he describes as an "epiphany" while reading David R. Weiss' To the Tune of a Welcoming God, Sidney Flack shares a more expansive understanding of the practices of welcome and judgment within the contemporary church. He does so by proposing a reading of Genesis 3, which suggests that "misappropriated judgment" may be the cause of broken relationships in general and of the church's difficulty in welcoming the LGBTQI community specifically. Rather than exercising such judgment, he suggests that the church practice "merciful welcome" that emulates God's gracious dealings with God's people and sets judgment aside.

Paul Seastrand's essay is inspired by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's decision-making processes that culminated in the ministry policies adopted by the 2009 Assembly of the ELCA. He maintains that this decision was made apart from the church's confessional claim that the gospel is the interpretative key and norm for the church's life and practice. He, therefore, reiterates this confessional claim and proposes how the gospel can be the basis for the important task of providing evangelical foundation for the ministry policies affirmed in 2009.

Jane Hicks offers keen insights into the contemporary ecumenical discipline of Christian ethics as she explores the academic study of Christian ethics during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and proposes that a gradual shift has occurred from viewing the ethical discipline primarily as "reflection upon moral debate" to envisioning it as a stimulant of moral behavior and social action. …

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