Bob Stern

Profile: Robert Stern

Professor Robert Stern’s reformation expertise can be summed up as “Luther as philosopher”. The 500 Reformations team asked Bob some questions about how this knowledge connects with his research.

Tell us about your Reformation research:

My interest in Luther came originally from work on the 20th-century Danish philosopher and theologian K. E. Løgstrup, who engages with a number of central Lutheran themes, such as sin as “incurvatus in se”, grace, problems with Aristotelian views of the virtues, and creation vs revelation. I have since gone on to look more closely at the work of Luther himself, though I still have a long way to go!

What question, or questions, are you aiming to answer in your 500 Reformations talk?

I’ll be asking, “What did Luther ever do for philosophy?—or, for those who prefer, “What did Luther ever do for existentialism?” I also work on the “creation theology” tradition in Scandinavia and how that relates to Luther.

I will consider why it is that philosophers have largely ignored Luther (compared to Augustine or Aquinas, for example), and how Luther might be understood from a more philosophical perspective—and also how being Lutheran has influenced the thinking of key modern philosophers such as Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard and others.

Is this your main research area?

Partly: I have other research interests, mainly in German idealism—but I would like to consider this from a more Lutheran perspective also.

Find out more:
See Bob’s research on Løgstrup
(Ethical Demand website)
Read about Bob (University of Sheffield research profile).

Want to hear Bob speak?

Bob will be talking about some of his Luther research on the 31 October in London (free), and on 1 November in Aarhus, Denmark (as part of Rethink Reformation).

Those in Sheffield and the surrounding area are encouraged to invite Bob as part of the 500 Reformations scheme: Information about hosting.