Special Issue "Luther’s theology and Feminism"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 August 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna

California Lutheran University, PLTS 2000 Center Street, Suite 200, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This project calls for a focused and an in-depth treatment of Martin Luther’s theology from a feminist perspective, broadly conceived.

The word “feminism” [1] is used beyond its historical roots with European and North American feminism to include a variety of voices that identify with scholarship that 1) acknowledges the reality of sex/gender in human life, 2) that offers critical reading of the Christian tradition(s) with a special attention to the voices and experiences of women, and 3) that at least on some level concerns itself with issues of equality, justice, and emancipation [2].

The contributions in this issue/ebook will offer 1) fresh and intellectually rigorous assessment of Luther’s theology vis-à-vis feminist concerns, 2) theological analysis with Luther’s sources and teachings with contemporary constructive questions in mind, and 3) feminist reconstruction of theologies that engage Luther critically and from “doctrinal” or philosophical points of view. The articles will, collectively, suggest important and well-argued paradigm shifts as well as they will model revised or entirely new methods for Luther scholarship. The word “theology” is the key, and the word can be construed broadly.

Authors for this project read Luther in different languages and they critique and construct with Luther’s theology in different contexts. The 16th century man Luther, with his substantial and rich production (with its inner tensions and evolutions), is engaged critically and constructively, by women scholars who consider his voice worth testing and conversing with, and/or who engage Luther in their own theological work. While a variety of topics are included, Luther’s theology is considered particularly for its value for “freedom theologies” and freedom urgencies.

Namely, there are reasons to consider Martin Luther as a freedom fighter in his time and place, and as an ally for freedom work today. Considering the monk Luther’s powerful personal experience of freedom of conscience that led him on a path of a reformer (with consequences intended and unintended), and paying close attention to his major statements about the theological premises and both philosophical and practical implications of “Christian Freedom,” which he argued Christologically and from his un-authorized “new” reading of the Scriptures, and observing the different kinds of eruptions vis-a-vis power and theological imagination and epistemologies of his day, it is easy to see how his reforming vision aroused hopes for freedom and radical changes in the world as well as the church.

The interest in these articles, however, is not the historical assessment of Luther in this regard, but rather the promise of his theology – its ingredients and orientations in critical analysis and conversation with feminist theologies today. One shared, underlying question can be this: How can Luther’s theology fuel theological freedom work today, and if so, with what premises, elements, caveats and considerations?

The aim with this issue/e-book is to offer a substantial milestone study that stands tall in the field of theological scholarship  - on a par with the pioneering milestone works achieved by Catholic feminist scholars with their critical and forward-looking treatment of the Christian tradition broadly speaking, while rooting themselves within the Catholic tradition (e.g. E. Johnson, R. R. Ruether). In the bull’s eye in this study is Martin Luther, a key figure in Christian theological tradition, a “game changer” in many ways, whose production warrants critical and substantial and collective engagement from feminist scholars. Lutheran feminist scholars in particular are called to the task. This work is long overdue.

Authors are invited to suggest a preliminary topic and title for their article, with a description of their goals, sources, and methods. The final plan for the whole will be designed by and negotiated with the editor and in conversation with the contributors. The editor will organize the articles in relevant groups and write an introduction.

[1] Feminist scholarship, originating in Europe and North America academically speaking, has caused a major eruption and emancipation in Christian theology – a reformation of the reformations, still ongoing, and ever multiplying with new conversation partners and hermeneutics to be tested and applied. Womanist, Hispanic/Latina/Mujerista theologies, and Asian and African and other “Fourth World” feminist theologies, including “Indecent theology”, have further expanded the scholarship.

[2] With the preliminary question of “how about women”, feminist scholarship has significantly contributed to theological work in several ways: e.g., bringing a human experience, a woman’s experience in particular, to the forefront in interpreting Christian sources, correcting or refocusing patriarchal narratives of the central, or “marginal”, Christian stories, and calling for significant paradigm shifts vis-a-vis theological categories, questions, source assessment and analysis, and methods, and speaking theologically to the different dimensions of human life. Equality, emancipation, solidarity and justice are some of the core values in feminist theological work.

Prof. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 550 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • women, feminist, theology
  • gender/sex, queer
  • freedom, liberation, emancipation
  • experience, body, sexuality
  • reason, faith, redemption, Scriptures, hermeneutics, epistemology
  • grace
  • sin, will, virtue
  • church, sacraments

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
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