Sunday, 21 June 2009

Lutheran Ethics, Abortion and George Tiller

As a person with a Lutheran background (somewhat convoluted and sidetracked admittedly, as most people who read this blog know) I found a recent university course on Christian ethics moderately distasteful in its carelessly assumed Calvinism. I prefer progressive Catholic teaching on ethics by far, and am especially impressed by the work of Daniel Maguire (not top of the bishops' hit parade by any stretch!) Maguire's A Moral Creed for All Christiansis worth a truckload of Reformed gnat-straining.

A specifically Lutheran approach to ethics, however, is hard to pin down. It's not the same as our Calvinist brethren, and often woefully negligent in specifics. I found this article by Ed Knudson, an ELCA pastor, fascinating because he actually tackles the ethical question, and in the difficult context of the recent murder of George Tiller, a doctor who performed abortions. Tiller was also a practicing Lutheran. Knudson goes as far as implying that he was a martyr.

I'm not sure how to evaluate Knudson's article. It needs time to "settle," and deserves a second (and third) reading before leaping to conclusions. Reservations? You bet. But definitely food for thought (and grist for fundagelical outrage, no doubt.)

Related Link: Online Journal of Public Theology.


  1. I just knew that was coming down the pike; I dunno why the Spanish Inquisition that laughingly passes for pro-life Christianity these days didn't realize they'd be setting Tiller up for martyrdom, when they murdered him in cold blood in his church.

    The stupid, it burns.

  2. The part about "Original Sin as Empire" in Maquires book reminds me of HWA's notion of the "Imperical self", add to it knudson's labeling of Aristotle as social substantalist, and what we got is another use of Luther's dialect of law and gospel to juxstapostion anything we want, anyway we want.