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I Can Do No Other: The Church's New Here We Stand Moment

Anna M. Madsen (Author)
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Author Anna M. Madsen's book is a fresh and challenging look at the legacy of Martin Luther and the new reformation that is calling people of faith to action today.

This book is born out of the conviction that at least two gods are currently competing for our collective trust: nationalism (and its many sub-manifestations) and quietism. Both make a case for and a claim on our allegiance, each by way of different motivations of self and institutional protection. Madsen looks at today's modern context and asks: Where will the church stand in a day that is marked by globalization, polarization, racism, bigotry, and debates about justice for humanity and for the earth itself? While the Reformation church was built on the foundation of justification by grace, Madsen calls people of faith to a new reformation that will focus on standing for justice in the world. Madsen delves into who Jesus was, and how our claim that he died and was raised establishes our faith and impacts the way we live it out. She pays attention to Luther's theology and juxtaposes it with our present context. She explores recent examples of Nazi resistance, liberation theology, black and womanist theology, and feminist theology, each of which come at social justice in their unique ways, with a common conviction that justice work is central to the Christian life. She speaks of how our faith grounding and our faith history weave together and entwine themselves into our present moment, offering both warnings and encouragement. And last, a case is made that justice, anchored in justification, is our new Reformation moment, one not inconsistent with Luther's theology, but weighted differently to address the different weighty concerns of our day. A study guide is included to encourage group conversation and action.

Release date: 
October 1, 2019


Anna Madsen’s work is an unfolding wonder to me

“Anna Madsen’s work is an unfolding wonder to me; her deeply spiritual reflections on very real issues in life and society hit me sometimes like a prophetic slap—and yet, beneath the critique and the concern for real human sin, the whisper of God’s mercy and love can always be heard. I am grateful for all I have learned—and continue to learn—from her.”

Guy Erwin | ELCA Bishop

A unique, prophetic voice. 

“Rev. Dr. Anna Madsen has a unique, prophetic voice as a Lutheran theologian. With passion and erudition, she brings Martin Luther’s liberating discovery of grace as a charge for Christian communities today to make justice happen, with hope embodied. ‘Our God is revealed in every move we make, and people are watching.’”

Kirsi Stjerna | Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

 A systematic response to this divided, tragic, beautiful world.

“Rev. Dr. Madsen has gifted us with a systematic response to this divided, tragic, beautiful world, to her own personal tragedy and how it affected everything, and the call that Christians desperately need to hear right now to truly practice ‘justice and peace in all the earth.’”

Beth Birkholz | Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Action in everyday life.

"Anna Madsen was able to take 'what we've heard and learned' from Sunday School, Catechism, sermons, conversations and Bible studies, and expound her theological thoughts, in such a way, that will help those who read this, take pause and reflect on a wider view of possibilities. A seasoned learner or not so seasoned learner, is sure to get a broader sense of their own faith sense and practices as they help others to stretch their concept of God. Our challenge as disciples is to not always accept the status quo but to put our faith into action. Action in everyday life. I, personally, was moved by the concept of 'The Anticipatory Church,' and pray that somehow this is lifted as a vision of God's possibilities."

Victoria Hamilton | Jacksonville, Florida

Not our grandparents’ Lutheran Church.

"In the words of Habakkuk 2:2 paraphrased, write it down, make it clear and run with it. That is exactly what Anna Madsen has accomplished in this book. Anna has connected the dots across time and space to help individuals and the Church to continue to reform. The church today is not our grandparents’ Lutheran Church (The church for that time served as called by God). The church of today is called to address the current issues facing the least of these, through the Gospel of Jesus The Christ." 

William C. Hamilton Jr. | St. John’s Lutheran Church