Saturday, November 26, 2016

Edmund Schlink Works - Volume One (Ecumenical and Confessional Writings)

This past week I learned that a new book I've edited has been published: Edmund Schlink Works, vol. 1, Ecumenical and Confessional Writings (The Coming Christ and Church Traditions and After the Council(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017). Hans Spalteholz (who was my college professor and later colleague at Concordia University, Portland) and I have translated here, in the first part of the volume, the principal ecumenical writings of Edmund Schlink that he wrote in the fifties and early sixties. The second part contains our translation of Schlink's book on the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). After the Council was among the first analyses of Vatican II to be published by an official observer from a non-Roman church body.

Although nearly all of Schlink’s writings in this first volume have been available in English for several decades, the publication of the new German edition of Schlink's works (Schriften zu Ökumene und Bekenntnis, 5 vols., ed. Klaus Engelhardt et al. [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004-2010]) offered a significant impetus for providing a fresh and more accurate translation of them. Key terms are now handled consistently. Infelicitous and misleading renderings of Schlink’s language into English, which more or less happened in the earlier versions, have been corrected. Technical theological terms and concepts received special attention so that their English equivalents are as accurate as possible. Sentences, footnotes, and entire paragraphs that, for whatever reason, were omitted have now been restored. Unlike the abridged  English edition of Der kommende Christus und die kirchlichen Traditionen, which was published in 1967, this new edition includes all of the essays that appeared in the original book, published in 1961. In addition to writing the introduction, I have included editorial notes in each of the chapters.

These are the essays that appear in the first part:

1. The Task and Danger of the World Council of Churches

2. The Structure of the Dogmatic Statement as an Ecumenical Issue

3. The Christology of Chalcedon in Ecumenical Dialogue

4. Christ and the Church

5. The Expanse of the Church according to the Lutheran Confession

6. The Cultus in the Perspective of Evangelical-Lutheran Theology

7. Law and Gospel as a Controversial Issue in Theology

8. Apostolic Succession

9. On the Issue of Tradition

10. The Sojourning People of God

11. Christ—The Hope for the World

12. Transformations in the Protestant Understanding of the Eastern Church

13. The Significance of Eastern and Western Traditions for Christendom

14. Ecumenical Councils Then and Now

15. The Resurrection of God’s People

These are the chapters that appear in the second part:

1. The Spiritual Awakening of Christendom

2. The Conciliar Awakening of the Roman Church

3. The Resolutions of the Council

4. The Reform of the Worship Service

5. The Self-Understanding of the Roman Church

6. The Council and the Non-Roman Churches

7. The Council and the Non-Christian Religions

8. The Council and the World

9. Scripture, Tradition, Teaching Office

10. Post-Conciliar Possibilities of the Roman Church

11. Pope and Curia

12. The Significance of the Council for Other Churches

13. Anxious Christendom

14. Necessary Steps

15. The Mystery of Unity

Here are a few paragraphs from my introduction:

An influential teacher, pastor, and professor, and a leading participant in numerous official ecumenical dialogues for more than forty years, Edmund Schlink was one of the most significant Christian theologians of the twentieth century. The author of a weighty dogmatics text, five additional important books, and numerous essays, sermons, and addresses, this second-generation “ecumenical pioneer of the 20th Century” was the central systematic and historical theologian at Heidelberg University between 1946 and his death in 1984.  Lauded as a “teacher of the church,” as a “forerunner of the Ecumenical Movement in the 20th Century,” and as “a quiet reformer” who “lived his life for the unity of the church,” Schlink's contribution to the development of ecumenical theology in the second half of the twentieth century was considerable.  In the words of one of his most well-known students [Wolfhart Pannenberg], “By connecting such ecumenical breadth with a forceful emphasis on the abiding authority of the apostolic confession of Christ, the theological works of Edmund Schlink, and especially his Ecumenical Dogmatics, are still exemplary guides today.”  The recent publication of these principal writings in a new German edition offers a further reason to re-examine Schlink’s life and literary output, especially given the fact that many English-speaking students of religious studies, including younger American theologians, may be unfamiliar with this important German Protestant....

Friends and family remember Schlink and his wife as lovers of classical music (she especially of Mozart and he especially of Bach), as talented musicians, as warm and interesting conversationalists, as caring and friendly hosts. He was a creative scholar and critical thinker, who sought to serve Christ and the needs of the una sancta in all of its forms and expressions. He modeled the vision of ecumenical unity that he so often articulated in order to assist the strengthening of the bonds of human and ecclesial community. To be sure, as both Dr. Jochen Eber and Dr. Eugene Skibbe have noted, Schlink’s was “only one voice in the choir of learned voices in the church,” but still “his was a voice that echoes into the present.”  

It [this voice] can never replace this choir but can only sing in support of the choir and hope to be recognized as one of its voices. For no individual can fully portray the reign of God or his deeds. That is the task of the church as a whole, and indeed this happens not only in its life but also in its prayers, sermons, worship and confession, and in its love, service, and suffering (Edmund Schlink, Schriften zu Ökumene und Bekenntnis, vol. 2 [Ökumenische Dogmatik], 71, as cited by Jochen Eber, “Edmund Schlink 1903-1984. Ein Leben für die Einheit der Kirche,” in Edmund Schlink, Schriften zu Ökumene und Bekenntnis, vol. 1 [Der kommende Christus und die kirchlichen Traditionen and Nach dem Konzil], xxii.).
For more information on the first volume, go here.

The American edition of Schlink's works will eventually total six volumes. I hope to have the second volume (the Ecumenical Dogmatics) completed by Christmas of 2019. Since it is the largest in the bunch (more than 800 pages), it is going to take a little longer to complete than the others.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Post-Election Crossings Reflections by Jerry Burce

Count me among those who are confused and troubled by the outcome of last Tuesday's presidential election. I had hoped and prayed for a different result. My friend, Jerry Burce, who is an ELCA pastor, published his post-election reflections on the Crossings website ( Jerry has given me permission to reprint his ruminations here.

Thursday Theology #895
November 10, 2016

Topic: The necessity of Christ for his Christians, post-election


I foist on you some thoughts that have either screamed or simmered in my head through the hours since Tuesday. If you voted for Mr. Trump, there is much you will not like. Those who voted for Mrs. Clinton may also object along the way. Still, that you’re reading this at all presumes a common loyalty to Christ our Lord, and a common interest in sharing his benefits with fellow sinners. So hang in there if you can with this sinner as I pick my six-step way toward that goal. We will all need to be thinking, praying, and perhaps preaching about this very thing when Sunday rolls around. For the record, I thought long and hard about toning down the rhetoric and emotion that you'll encounter here. I decided not to. It testifies to a reality that all of us are dealing with in these hard, tough days. Kyrie eleison.

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1. The Morning-After Scream

He won. My jaw hits the keyboard as I write this. The citizens of my country have just picked a pig to be the next president of the United States. I dare to call this a judicious assessment. It rests on facts that we the people have been witnessing over eighteen terrible months. The man wallows in sin. He does it with glee. There is not a commandment he has failed to violate over the course of his campaign. We have all heard and seen it. i) He doesn’t fear God. ii) He wears the Christian name lightly, gingerly—and mocks what it stands for (e.g. “turn the other cheek”; “love your enemies,” as we heard from Christ himself last Sunday). iii) He ignores the Sabbath. iv) He doesn’t render to Caesar (“because I’m smart!”). v) He foments hatred. vi) He revels in sexual aggression. vii) He cheats the unfortunates who do business with him. vii) He slanders others with relish; he assaults truth as a matter of course. ix) He covets adulation, to say nothing x) of his neighbor’s wife.

He does all this openly, without the slightest hint of shame. That’s what makes him so abhorrent. Shamelessness is the hallmark of the person who fancies himself to be a god, beyond the reach of anything others might have to say about right or wrong, good or evil. The god makes the rules. The god does as the god pleases. The rest of you tiny creatures will bend the knee, or else.

And people I know, people I cherish, voted for this man. Among them are some I preach the Gospel to every Sunday.

2. Our Christian Embarrassment

I don't get these baptized, Christ-confessing people who sided with Trump. I'm pretty sure they don't get me. Even of you, a few, perhaps, will want to write me off as another knee-jerk ELCA liberal, now whining as liberals are wont to whine. I am not that. My loathing of the man began as a visceral and quite conservative reaction to his personality. It festered as I watched his performance in the early debates among the 15 plus Republican candidates. Of all who spoke, none were more devoid of thoughtful substance. None were quicker to insult. None were less respectful of the basic rules that govern decent conversation. No one bragged as Trump bragged. No one matched the brio with which he spouted mean plans and vile promises. He was the worst of middle-school bullies somehow transposed into a 70 year-old body and planted on a platform where only grown-ups belong. The grown-ups I know were embarrassed to see him there. I have yet to meet the Christian parent who would let their seventh-grader evince the attitudes and behavior that we saw on that stage. If I had ever caught one of my boys crowing allusively in public about the size of his penis, I would have sent him to his room for a week. So too with you, I imagine. Yet this man got away with it. And today we are all forced to know him as our president-elect. The American who writes this cringes with embarrassment.

And those dear Christian people, the ones I know and cherish, abetted this shame when they voted for him. I ache to spill with anger about that. What holds me back is the fact of knowing them as I do. They are good. They are decent. They are generous. When together we break bread. We crack jokes. We pray and sing in unison. I like them a lot. Still, they voted for Trump. For the life of me, I just don't get it. I think I am more embarrassed about that today than anything else. How do you love your neighbor well when you can’t begin to understand her?

For the record, I suspect that my embarrassment is shared by lots of these dear people, only in reverse. They can't begin to guess how, as they intuit, their friend or pastor could have voted for Hillary. For my part, that only increases the mortification. I don't get Hillary hatred. I fail to see how anybody could have thought that Mrs. Clinton, for all her reported flaws, was the worse choice. If nothing else, the woman is capable of compassion. There are clear, bright streaks of it in her record as a public servant. In the other guy's record as a businessmen and entertainer, there is none of it at all.

But isn't compassion among the highest of traits that God requires of any human being, to say nothing of a leader? Holy Writ is clear on this. So now the floodgate cracks and the sinner's anger starts to spill—not so much at the dear ones I know as at the Christian scoundrels I do not know: the Graham, the Dobson, the Falwell, Jr., the Ralph Reed. The host of self-righteous big name pastors waving Bibles in the air to urge a vote for the vindictive adulterer. Had they no shame as they desecrated the name of Christ? They have certainly tarred the rest of us with shame, obliging us to cringe in the company of secular friends. "Oh, you're a Christian? One of those people?" End of conversation. End of opportunity to speak of God as one for others to trust and hope in. Thank God, I say, for those voices in that conservative, evangelical bloc who dared to demur. But they too are writhing with embarrassment today, or so I should think. And so embarrassing, also for them, is to find our Christian selves so profoundly at odds, so unable to fathom how the other could have voted the way he or she did.

3. Of Whom Shall We Be Afraid? (Part A)

So is God embarrassed by God's Christians today? If so, God isn't saying. He never does. What we ought to imagine is something more fearful, that God is somehow driving our present embarrassment. Jeremiah would remind us of his record for doing such things. If Nebuchadnezzar does not pop up from nowhere, then neither does Trump. Neither does Hillary, for those of you loathe her.

We will spend the next two years reading analyses of what happened on Tuesday. Most all of it will be guesswork, in some cases intelligent, in others not so much. The mere speck I've caught so far—in my grief I've avoided the news these past two days—comes from the left, with a tale about angry, racist, working-class white men as the culprits in chief. I'm not buying that. It doesn't square with those dear ones I know and cherish. Something else was driving their votes. Of my Facebook friends, the ones most eager to tout Trump in recent months have been women. Aside from their politics, I tend to respect them.

The right will have its own interpretive tropes, equally simplistic, equally wrong. What these are I don't plan quickly to find out. Doubtless I should. Wise ones urge us to know our enemies. Wiser ones will tell us to know ourselves. None of us, of course, is eager to do that.

So let's suppose that God is using this election to force that knowledge on us, increasing our shame in the process. I will hazard two weak and wild guesses as to how that might happen. One aims at the right, the other at the left. Pretensions to divinity are the target in both cases.

Two years ago a billionaire named Nick Hanauer published an online article entitled "The Pitchforks are Coming…For Us Plutocrats." He warned that the obscene concentration of wealth in the hands of a few over lo these many years is bound to spark a reaction. Who can doubt that the sparks have been flying in recent months? Indebted students flocked to Bernie Sanders' campaign, indebted parents to Donald Trump's. That the latter picked a greedy plutocrat as champion is ironic in the extreme. Might it also be deliberate where the hand of God is concerned? When tax rates on the wealthy and support for the poor are both slashed, will the sparks not fly that much thicker? Might this be how the mighty get their long-deserved comeuppance? Those of us who know God's ways will want to stay tuned, with fear and trembling. My pension is at stake. Yours too, I'll bet. Both with and after that comes judgment.

Speaking of judgment, seats on the Supreme Court are suddenly at stake, and with it the haughtiness of the cultural elite. Christians on the left seem often unaware of their participation in that. I'm still sufficiently in the middle to sense how it can sting. There is something obnoxious and altogether unneighborly in the assumption that once a narrow Court majority has weighed in on an issue, however controversial, the yahoos on the losing side should shut up and get over it. That will not and cannot happen when the yahoos turn out instead to be thoughtful people with large hearts and deep convictions that the will of God is at stake in the issue at hand. Those dear ones of mine who voted for the other guy are surely among them. Again, how they could imagine that someone of this man's character and habits would drive a "pro-life" agenda, I cannot fathom. Still, when I watched the third debate and heard Mrs. Clinton robustly defend a woman's "right to choose" for the entire length of a pregnancy, I had an inkling that she had just lost a ton of votes. I may well be wrong about that. My friends on the left are even more wrong if they imagine that abortion either has or should have gone away as an issue that spurs people to vote Republican. So too with "marriage equality," to use the current euphemism. Quite aside from the merits of the arguments themselves, to speak with Olympian condescension about honest opponents of these things is another way of calling in the pitchforks; and where such condescension is in play, one should always assume that the hand on the biggest pitchfork of them all belongs to God. God loathes Olympian pretenders, as he time and again makes plain. One of his favored ways of dealing with them is to ramp up their embarrassment. Yes, let us tremble.

4. Of Whom Shall We Be Afraid? (Part B)

Still, in the middle of all this we in the Church have Gospel to hear, tell and share. God grant in these days that each of us will do it well.

We might, for example, start talking this Sunday about the strange and embarrassing God who has inexplicably voted for us, not once, but over and over and over again. Tellingly, the theologians' fancy word for this great Biblical theme is "election."

God picks people. Embarrassed and embarrassing people. Of immoral pigs, who is the greater, Jacob or David? Yet both are key bearers of the promise. The promise is this, that once God latches onto a pig in love, he will not let it go. So too with the other denizens of the sty. Judah may be a mess, with fat cats lounging on their beds of ivory as the economy crashes and the poor starve. That doesn't keep God from comforting these people with the great visions of Isaiah. We who dwell in the American sty will also get to hear these things in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile this Sunday we will all meet Christ in Word and Sacrament. "Behold the Embarrassment," to crib from Pilate. Here is the One dispatched by God to enact the story we heard him spin some weeks ago, about the wretch of a son who heads for the far country to squander the father's wealth with human pigs, and to land in the sty where all pigs belong. In his case the sty has a cruciform shape. There hangs our God, draped in our shame and choking to death on our own consternation. Nowhere to be seen are disciples who, as we've been hearing in our current tour of Luke, have been embarrassing him every step of the way from Galilee to Jerusalem with their quarrels and their odious questions (cf. Lk. 9:54). Still, for their sake Jesus dies. That becomes plain in the astonishment of Easter, when God casts his final vote on the proposition of Christ-for-us by raising Jesus from the dead. The first people to hear the news are those embarrassing disciples. The first thing Jesus says to them is "Peace be with you." He also says, "Don't be afraid." After that he thrusts them into the enduring embarrassment of touting him as God's Gift and Hope for all people, in all circumstances, not least the ones that prevail in America today. He also gives them the Holy Spirit so they can tout with shameless joy.

5. Toward Christian Shamelessness

Come to think of it, shameless joy is the very thing I need most right now. So do those dear ones of mine, however they voted. So do you, including any of you who may have been badly scraped by things you waded through in the paragraphs above.

There is one place and one place only to find this otherwise impossible gift. Christ Jesus is his name.

"Peace be with you." He says it again, and, in this moment, he says it directly to all of us who constitute this reading-and-writing community. On Sunday I will hear him say it again as I stand with all those dear ones who will constitute the assemblies I will serve as pastor.

I don't expect that those dear ones will be talking politics this Sunday; or if they do, it will be in corners, sotto voce, with a wary eye cast for any within earshot who might disagree with their views. Conversations like this are always tainted with a whiff of embarrassment. We live in fear of the other's critique, or worse, of his anger.

But this, of course, is the very point at which Christ emerges as the Best Gift Ever. The constant challenge is to use this gift—to grasp it by faith, as the old, familiar language has it. I look at you, you look at me, and what we get to see in each other is a person God voted for when he raised Jesus from the dead. This will be, at first blush, an embarrassing idea. I bumble, stumble, and grope my way as badly as anyone. So do you. I think thoughts and make the kind of choices that leave you speechless. You do it in turn. You will not appear to me at times to be the kind of person a righteous God could get behind. You'll want to mutter similar thoughts about me when cornered with your friends. Yet here is Christ for both of us. And if Christ, then why not me for you and you for me, each bearing the burden of the other's sins and follies, and not once, but over and over, on a patiently enduring basis? Who knows, we might even learn how to be open and honest with the other about our political views without expecting, as sinners do, that the other will spin on her heel and stomp away.

Will Christians in America ever get around to embracing this faith in their relations with each other? The track record is not at all promising. What abides is the Promising One who refuses to give up on his dear ones, pigs though they be in their relations with each other. It has got be so very embarrassing for him, that we are like this. Still, he's used to it. Dealing with embarrassment, his own as well as ours, is the very thing he lives for.

6. The Enduring Promise

 I don't mean in any of this to underplay the challenges I expect our country to face in the presidency of Donald Trump. His character is bound to shape not only the decisions he makes, but also the people he leads; and having no respect for his character, I can't begin to welcome what comes next. I can only pray that the God who works through sinners to conjure up huge and happy surprises will somehow surprise us all in these next four years.

Meanwhile we step into these years with the words of Christ ringing in our ears: "Don't be afraid." I tend often to focus too much on the eschatological dimension of those words. I could use some help in concentrating for now on their immediate import. Don't be afraid to love each other as I have loved you. Don’t be afraid to let your light shine in a world that has a deep abiding thing for darkness. Don’t be afraid to turn that cheek or to love that enemy, and to do it especially when things like these are out of fashion.

Don't be afraid to poke the haughty, or to succor the lowly. The legend of Lawrence the Deacon comes suddenly to mind. He's the fellow who, when commanded by the prefect of Rome to hand over the church's treasure, distributed it instead to the poor, the lame, the blind, who he then ushered into the prefect's presence. "Here is the church's treasure," he said, whereupon he was promptly fried on a griddle. It is said that he died cracking a joke.

I will sing the praises of God this Sunday in the company of people who know their Lord and honor his love for every human being. Yes, they do that imperfectly. Why some of them will have voted for the other guy, I still do not get. But I will see them in action. They will love each other quietly. They will welcome strangers who wander in. They will pitch in with generosity to speed along whatever project we're working on to address the needs of neighbors. Some will write letters to congressional representatives. Others will pray for the welfare of the city and the nation. All will struggle to keep the faith we share in Christ, and to let it shape their lives. They will often rejoice in the Gospel. When they do, all embarrassment is gone.

I take it for granted it that scenes like this will keep playing out all over our country, wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name, with Christ himself in their midst. Let this be enough for me to say of the years we face: "Bring them on!"

God plant such faith in all our hearts.

Peace and Joy,
Jerry Burce


Thursday Theology: that the benefits of Christ be put to use
Published by the Crossings Community
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Prayer after the Election

My friend and former colleague at Concordia University, Portland, Bob Schmidt, recently shared a prayer he composed in the wake of the election. He's given me permission to share it here:


You urge us to pray for all people,

especially for kings and those in authority.

Forgive the hateful words of those seeking office.

Replace our anger with respect for our leaders.

We pray for Donald Trump, president-elect.

Give him a spirit of humility in taking office.

Help him learn about the challenges of the task.

Like David, fill his heart with compassion for the poor

and understanding for the strangers in our land.

When nations increase their weapons of war,

we pray for reconciliation of enemies and

peace between peoples in conflict.

Give us all a change of heart that we might

be better stewards of the climate of our world,

the land, the water and the air, and, like Noah,

preserve all of your creatures from their end.

Bless this our land, and the lands of all your people,

In Jesus' name.  Amen

Sunday, November 6, 2016

One Evangelical Christian's Decision

For the past several weeks, I have been debating whether or not to share my views here about this year's US presidential election. I had been leaning toward keeping quiet. At seminary I was taught that a pastor must serve and care for the whole congregation, not merely a partisan few, which would likely be the case if one came out publicly with one's political views and decisions. Inevitably such partisan sharing from the pulpit or in a Bible class would alienate a portion of one's flock. Moreover, a pastor is called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and not to get mixed up in partisan politics. The pastor who would enter that fray could end up confusing the gospel with earthly justice or even equating the kingdom of God with the kingdoms of this world. (One notes, by the way, that the public positions on social issues that have been set forth by my former church body, the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, nevertheless coincide to a large extent with the platform of the Republican Party. I once heard a pre-election sermon in an LCMS congregation that seemed to assert that a vote for Ronald Reagan was a vote for God's kingdom, though the Gipper's name was never mentioned by the preacher.) Not surprising, in light of the risks, most pastors avoid giving public advice on elections. I suspect that is true for many professors, too. At the end of the term, when students fill out their course evaluations, profs can get dinged for being "too political" or "too biased." (Last spring when I again taught my course on "Christians in Nazi Germany," a few students complained that I was "clearly anti-Trump" in my responses to student questions about the similarities between statements made by him and ones that the German national-socialist leader made during his 1932 stump speeches, despite my best efforts at explaining why Mr. Trump's views do not easily fit with basic elements in classic fascism.)

Nevertheless, keeping quiet has its own risks. Such silence may suggest that Christian faith has no import for political life, that faith is "private" and not at all related to social and political life. Such silence may also contribute to the acceptance of bad behavior and to the election of individuals who are unfit for office. The fact of the matter is, Christians have a political responsibility to seek peace and justice in the world. When one follows Jesus, one does not follow with only one aspect of one's life. Christian discipleship includes the totality of one's life, hence, also the social and political realm. In fulfilling their political responsibility, Christians cannot allow themselves to be impeded by those who would limit religious faith to a supposedly private realm ("the inner life") and thus exclude social and political problems from consideration. According to Christian teaching, God seeks to preserve and serve the world through his word (centered in the gospel) and through faithful individuals who are active in love.While the church's primary task is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of eliciting faith in Christ, those who hear and receive this message in faith are then sent out into the world to participate actively in civic life. Those who are saved by grace through faith in Christ are called to seek the good of the neighbor, to work for justice, to find ways to peace, and to speak up for and act on behalf of those who are weak, vulnerable, on the fringe of society, those deprived of secular justice (i.e., equality before the law, fair economic opportunity) and civil freedom. (Cf. Helmut Gollwitzer, The Rich Christian and Poor Lazarus, trans. David Cairns [New York: MacMillan, 1970], 27.) We are to vote accordingly. (Cf. Art Simon's 2006 online article, "Thoughts for Pastors Regarding the Election," which can be read here.)

So, as Lutheran Christians like to underscore, God works in the world in two different ways: through the gospel and through the law. Stated differently, God works through faith and through love and social justice. Martin Luther described this two-fold way of God in the world as God's "right hand" and God's "left hand." God's "right hand" works through the Holy Spirit who calls us to faith in Jesus through the power of the gospel and the sacraments. The Spirit places us in a relationship with God that we ourselves could never create or sustain. That divine "right hand" focuses entirely on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, for life, and for salvation. The short hand word for this "right hand" way of God's working in the world is "gospel."

God's "left hand" works through creation and the "orderings" within it (e.g., marriage, family, government, justice system, economic life, schools, the institutional church, and so on) that allow human beings to flourish, to pursue justice, to strengthen human community, and to preserve the planet. All of the ways in which our various family and social relationships are regulated and supported are functions of God's "left hand." The short hand word for this "left hand" way of God's working in the world is "law."

While political responsibility cannot lead to the politicizing of the church, since such a confusion of gospel and law corrupts both political life and the church (and undermines the church's primary task of purely preaching the gospel), Christians must participate in helping to shape and change social and political life for the good. Yes, Christians will disagree among themselves and with their fellow citizens about the nature of that "good," about what it is, and about how best to achieve it. Still, the individual Christian must follow his or her conscience in the light of both law and gospel. He or she lives by faith in Christ and by reasoning about what will bring about the greater good in one's community and world. In other words, Christian faith is active in politics, it seeks to make wise decisions, and, at the end of the day, it takes a stand. And, of course, for the Christian, in addition to faithful "thinking" and "discerning," there is faithful praying. Faith seeks the guidance of God's Spirit in all realms of one's life, including the voting booth.

Although a slim majority of my fellow Hoosiers--many of them evangelical Christians like me--may end up giving Mr. Trump our state's electoral votes, here are the reasons why I won't be voting for him on Tuesday:

(1) Mr. Trump lacks the experience, temperament, and character to be president;
(2) He lacks the judgment and wisdom to be commander-in-chief;
(3) More specifically with respect to points #1 and #2 above, he cannot be trusted to control the country's nuclear arsenal;
(4) His rhetoric is racist, bigoted, white-nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-LBGTQ;
(5) He promises to lower taxes for the wealthiest Americans, while his trade protectionism will likely harm the poorest (his tax and spending plan, if actually implemented, would be a financial disaster);
(6) He denies global warming and will do nothing to try to curb this global issue;
(7) He has praised foreign autocrats;
(8) He has ruined several of his companies/hotels and likely paid no federal taxes for nearly two decades (although we don't know this for sure, since he's not released his tax returns).

I'm not a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but I will be voting for her. Unlike Mr. Trump:
(1) Mrs. Clinton has the experience, temperament, and character to be president (despite the serious error she made in setting up a private email server, an error which she has acknowledged and learned from);
(2) She has the judgment and wisdom to be commander-in-chief (despite her actions/inactions with respect to Libya, another matter that has taught her some important lessons);
(3) She can be trusted with the country's nuclear deterrent;
(4) Her rhetoric is inclusive, embracing the country's marginalized and most vulnerable (I do wish, however, that she would return to her mid-1990s position on abortion law, which was not one of unconditional affirmation);
(5) She's a principled, center-left pragmatist (who will likely work across party lines more effectively than many other politicians);
(6) She will continue and improve many of Mr. Obama's policies (e.g., regarding health care, the environment, labor policy);
(7) She favors paid parental leave and wants to expand early-childhood education.

Of course, if Mrs. Clinton is elected, it will be better for her (and the country, frankly), if she has a Senate to work with that is controlled by her own party, even if only by a one- or two-vote margin. Indiana may play a role here, if Mr. Bayh is elected, since his election would help to secure that majority. If, however, the GOP retains control of both the House and the Senate, then it will be very difficult for Mrs. Clinton to govern. Then again, maybe she will surprise her critics by "being better suited to cope with the awful, broken state of Washington politics" than they will admit (The Economist [Nov. 3, 2016], 7).