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Social Ministry in the Lutheran Tradition [Paperback]

By Foster R. McCurley (Editor)
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Item description for Social Ministry in the Lutheran Tradition by Foster R. McCurley...

This indispensable volume offers a fundamental rationale or "case" for Lutheran engagement in social services by highlighting the biblical warrants, panoramic historical expressions, and deep theological under-pinnings of such Christian corporate social engagement. Social Ministry in the Lutheran Tradition gathers the insights of historians, theologians, and organizational leaders to address this task.

Publishers Description
This indispensable volume offers a fundamental rationale or "case" for Lutheran engagement in social services by highlighting the biblical warrants, panoramic historical expressions, and deep theological under-pinnings of such Christian corporate social engagement. Social Ministry in the Lutheran Tradition gathers the insights of historians, theologians, and organizational leaders to address this task.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Fortress Press
Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.02" Width: 6.42" Height: 0.46"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2008
ISBN  0800621298  
ISBN13  9780800621292  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Lutheran
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Ethics

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Protestant Denominations

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"Social Ministry" - Perhaps a Term that Needs Rethinking  Sep 24, 2008
Social ministry has always been about serving the disadvantaged, whether economic disadvantage and/or social disadvantage. This has always been interpreted within local contexts, but with ever increasing and deepening globalization, the context of social ministry has broadened.

This book overviews social ministry primarily within the context of the American Lutheran tradition. It begins with some introductory articles on the biblical context of social ministry -- McCurley's article focuses on both Old and New Testament biblical source for social ministry -- from God's delivery of people from affliction to the provision of law through various codes in the Old Testament to the ministry of Christ in his favoruing of the poor and disrespected. Torvend's article underscores the experience of early Christian communities, noting the "harsh and brutal" nature of early Christian urban life.

Several articles overview the infrastructural nature of American Lutheran social ministry, with its antecedents in European social ministry infrastructures. This includes various organizations created by American Lutheran church bodies focusing on various aspects of social ministry such as medical facilities and retirement communities. The penultimate essay by McCurley is a compilation of ideas postulating the future of social ministry stemming from a panel discussion from "the Future's Group" - "an informal gathering of cheif executive officers of Lutheran social ministry organizations (SMOs), including Lutheran Services in America (LSA) and the ELCA's Division for Church in Society" that was originally organized in 1980. The prevailing emphasis is on maintaining Lutheran identity in the provision of social ministry within SMOs.

The strongest essay in the book is that of Carter Lindberg, "No Greater Serbice to God Than Christian Love: Insights from Martin Luther". Lindberg correctly and insightfully demonstrates how Luther's theology serves as a basis for social ministry -- notably, the nature of diakonia (service) as an extension of liturgy. Most interestingly, Lindberg noted that "people looked to Luther for guidance on economic reform and welfare issues". Luther supported community chests, and proscribed usury in several proclamations. Lindberg notes that "in spite of the fact that Luther's writings on economics were important to his contemporaries, these writings today are largely ignored" while also pointing out that some have never been translated from German. (Note: Luther's theology in the context of economics is further detailed in a recently published book by Samuel Torvend entitled Luther and the Hungry Poor: Gathered Fragments (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008)

This is quite interesting because clearly global economics are impacting everyday life, with deepening globalization increasing the chasm between haves and have nots. While social ministry still needs to maintain those traditional notions of service delivery, preaching and advocating for the poor and disadvantaged, and teaching the poor and disadvantaged skills for sustenance in n increasingly global economy. As a professional student aid administrator, with interests in diakonia and church administration, I see financial literacy as a key component of 21st century social ministry. Although there is discussion about the notion of community chests in the book, the only sustained focus on service delivery mentioned pertains to like retirement communities.
Providing financial literacy -- from teaching skills for understanding basics of money and banking and finance to promoting the social and economic utility of higher education -- should be an emerging focus of social ministry today. The mortgage and student loan crises in the United States are perfect examples of this exigent need. The church is uniquely poised to provide successful interventions for such need to bring humanity to the sometimes inhumane nature of capitalism.

The beauty of the series of readings is that it does highlight the ecumenical nature of social ministry. This is one aspect of ministry where agreement is nearly uniform, and despite organizational splits in the United States, the major Lutheran bodes, the ELCA and LCMS, both have been active in the same.

This is a series of very cogent, extremely thoughtful essays that should form the basis for thinking strategically about social ministry in the 21st century, within a Lutheran theological context, and within the prevailing social and economic context of deepening globalization.

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