The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
IntroductionAbout SittlerBy SittlerTopicsMultimediaDiscussionCatalogueMake a Gift


HomeSite MapContact Us


Joseph Sittler considered theology to be an act, not just an idea; hence he “did” theology. His theology was done within the matrix of the church, with his eye always on how the Gospel to which the church witnesses makes an impact on the world in which we live. That world includes the cultural situation, to which the arts speak; the social context in which we seek to live faithful lives; the natural environment; and the individual struggle to find meaning and relevance in life. He spoke of himself as the church’s emissary who was dispatched to live on the boundary of church and culture. In his thinking, culture provides counterpoint to the melody of the church’s preaching and action, and without counterpoint, the melody has no real significance.

Sittler was convinced that in order for theology to make its impact, radically new ideas are needed. He brought his new thinking to bear on his theology of nature, ecology, grace, Christ, ethics, and the Trinity. An example is this comment about the Trinity: “It is likely that theology may be unable intelligibly and effectually to propose a doctrine of grace that shall be useful to practical human understanding and obedience short of a radically fresh reconceptualization of the doctrine of the Trinity” (In Vajta, ed., The Gospel and Human Destiny, 1971, page 127). In Christology, his fresh ideas included a retrieval of the older traditions of the “cosmic Christ” (see Colossians 1:15-20). Scholars have said that he and Teilhard de Chardin are the two great twentieth century advocates of this strand of thought. He had a keen and humble sense of his own work as a theologian, and often quoted what one scholar wrote in her dissertation about his Christology: “With both feet firmly planted in mid-air, he takes off in several directions” (Running with the Hounds).

A sample of materials on Theology available from the Archives

  • Evocations of Grace: Writings on Ecology, Theology and Ethics, edited by Steven Bouma Prediger and Peter Bakken. Eerdmans, 2000, Book

  • The Greening of Theology: The Ecological Models of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Joseph Sittler, and Jurgen Moltmann, by Steven Bouma-Prediger. Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1995, Book

  • Sittler’s Course on Theological Method, Audiotape (9/30-11/06/74)




Free Downloads!

The Anguish of Preaching by Joseph Sittler

Copyright © Joseph Sittler Archives Committee, a cooperative ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago