Faculty Directory

Kirsi Stjerna

First Lutheran, Los Angeles/Southwest Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology

Core Doctoral Faculty
At the GTU since
(510) 559-2760

It brings me joy to explore Christian sources with my students, critically and compassionately and with an ecumenical spirit. In this pursuit, I wear two hats – that of a theologian and of a historian – held together with my feminist orientation. My specialty is Lutheran theology and history, interpreted with a twist!

In my classes, students encounter Martin Luther, the freedom-theologian. From the 16th century sources, they gain a window into the complex layers of Christian history, theology, and spirituality. They connect with the women of the Reformation, who invite us to rewrite the history books and critically assess Protestant theologies from gender perspectives. The mystics and the theologians of the cross remind us of the feebleness of our human discourse, and the freedom-theologians inspire us to attend boldly to the urgencies of our day.

Always reforming and empowering: that is my motto as a theologian and as a teacher. Emancipating theology, inclusivity, and equality – these are my priorities as a theologian interested reforming contemporary Lutheran discourse in dialogue with a variety of partners.

Coming from Finland, and having lived in different parts of the USA, I relish cultural diversity and languages, and global friendships.

Degrees and Certifications

PhD, Boston University, 1995

ThM, University of Helsinki, 1988


Curriculum Vitae

Research and Teaching Interests
  • Luther's theology and spirituality; feminist and gender approaches; and the Finnish Luther School.
  • Lutheran theology, sources, and hermeneutics with contemporary concerns for freedom, equality, and justice. 
  • Luther and the Jews.
  • Luther and the Book of Genesis, especially the creation and the fall of Eve.
  • Women and the Reformations/Reformation theologies and histories with gender perspectives.
  • Protestant Reformations, foundational texts, and theological orientations.
Selected Publications
  • Women and the Reformation. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Translated into Finnish (2011), Korean (2012) and into German (2017, forthcoming).
  • Current Questions with Gender in Reformation Research.” Suomen Kirkkohistorian Seura: A Reformation Anniversary Book. Kirjapaja, 2017
  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther. Edited by Derek Nelson et al. Oxford University Press, 2017. Stjerna: "Baptism."
  • The Annotated Luther. General Editor with Timothy Wengert and Hans Hillerbrand. Fortress Press, 2015-2017. Contributions: Volume Editor for Volume 2, Word and Faith. Contributor: Luther's Large Catechism (Vol. 2), That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew (Vol. 5), Luther's Genesis 2 and the creation of Eve (Vol. 6) (2015-2017).
  • Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People, Fortress Press, 2012.
  • "No Greater Jewel:" Thinking of Baptism with Luther, Augsburg Fortress, 2009. 
Courses Taught
  • Freedom Theology with Martin Luther
  • Christian Thought and Ecumenical Creeds
  • Reading Christian Theology in Context
  • Lutheran Theology: Sources and Hermeneutics
  • Women and the Reformations
  • Luther and the Jews