Scholarly Conference

So Much Great Fruit: Lutheran Perspectives on Contemporary Legal Issues

“For any ordinance and work of God constantly produces so much great fruit that it cannot be counted or comprehended.  For one thing, the jurist with his law book (by God’s ordinance) maintains and helps to further the whole worldly government—emperor, princes, lords, cities, land, and people . . . ;  for all these must be preserved by wisdom and law.  But who is able adequately to praise this work alone?  By it you receive protection of life and limb against neighbors, enemies, and murderers.  Then, too, you have peace and tranquility for your wife, daughter, son, house and home, servants, money, property, lands, and everything that you have.  For all this is comprehended in, encompassed by, and hedged about with law.  What a great thing this is can never be fully told in any book. . . .”

Martin Luther, “Sermon on Keeping Children in School” (1530)

In recent years, persons from many religious traditions around the world have started examining and critiquing secular law from the perspective of their own theology and religious traditions.

The goal of this conference is to begin a conversation among American lawyers, judges, and Lutheran theologians and pastors about how the Lutheran tradition does and should inform critical issues of law and justice for our world. The conference will consider how Lutheran judges find their work informed by their faith and cultural background, and explore a range of issues from environmental protection to family law where Lutheran voices in law, theology, and ethics can make a distinctive contribution to secular law-making.

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March 27-28, 2014


Valparaiso University Law School’s Hyde Park Venue at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. 1100 East 55th St., Chicago, IL.


The papers presented at the conference will be included in a forthcoming book on Lutheran perspectives on secular law co-edited by Marie Failinger and Ron Duty.

Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School will give the luncheon address.

Several Lutheran ethicists, theologians, and Lutheran legal scholars are slated to contribute essays to the book, including Svend Andersen (Aarhus), Per Anderson (Concordia, Moorhead), Robert Benne (Emeritus, Roanoke), James Childs (Trinity Seminary), Wanda Deifelt (Luther College), Ron Duty (ELCA), Edward Engelbrecht (Concordia Publishing House), Marie Failinger (Hamline Law), Mary Gaebler (Gustavus Adolphus), Patrick Keifert (Luther Seminary), Susan Martyn (Toledo Law), Richard Perry (LSTC), Gary Simpson (Luther Seminary), John Stumme, Robert Tuttle (George Washington Law), Victor Thasiah (California Lutheran), Tracy Thomas (Akron Law), Bradley Wendell (Cornell Law), and Vitor Westhelle (LSTC).

For More Information Contact: Professor Jeremy Telman at