From October 2016 through September 2017, Concordia is hosting nine guest speakers as part of its celebration of the 500th Reformation Anniversary Year (see http://reformation.cune.edu/). The lectures feature a wide range of topics: the Middle Ages and Reformation; Renaissance Humanism; Confession/Witness; Women of the Reformation; Reformation Mission; Christians in the Visual Arts; Creation; God’s Word; and Hymnody and the Reformation. It is a blessing to attend the lectures and to interact with the guest speakers. As I reflect on the lectures, one of my takeaways is the breadth and depth of the Reformation’s impact on God’s church and world. The Reformation was the rediscovery of the Good News of the Gospel, and a whole lot more! The nine topics, though distinct and geared to highlight a variety of academic disciplines, did not touch on everything. There is more, much more that we could have invited guest lecturers to consider and present. For example, the topic of Reformation Ethics is missing!
Thus, please receive the Summer 2017 edition of Issues in Christian Education and its writers as the tenth presentation in our series of Reformation celebration topics. The goal of the edition is to provide the reader an opportunity to consider, in the context of our Lutheran, Reformation heritage, the value, necessity and application of Christian ethics today.
In a recent blog post, Rev. Dr. Steve Schave, Director of LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission (UICM) and Director of LCMS Church Planting wrote:
The present reformation is still all about Jesus; it is about the Gospel being rightly taught and the Sacraments being rightly administered, orthodoxy—even in the midst of the difficult terrains of MissionField: USA. Which includes those who worship false gods or have made science into a religion, those fallen into despair or addiction or homelessness, those who have strayed far from the Word of God in the name of tolerance, those divided across racial and ethnic lines … the reformation is about correcting our confession and making that confession even into the margins and amongst our persecutors. (From Leader Blog, Planting Churches, June 5, 2017, www.lcms.org)
The Reformation was and still is “all about Jesus.” The same is true of Christian ethics. Christian ethics is “all about Jesus”! It is how we, in this day believe, teach, confess and live out the faith “that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). It is how we, in this day, by the Holy Spirit at work in us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). It is how we, in this day, as Martin Luther did 500 years ago, profess: “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”
As we rejoice in the free gift of grace alone by faith alone on the basis of Holy Scripture alone, during this year of Reformation celebration may our ongoing witness reflect what the Lord requires of us: “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”