Christine Helmer

Professor of Religion
Department of Religious Studies
Office: Crowe Hall, 1860 Campus Drive, 4-148
Phone: (847) 491-2616
On leave during 2014-15


Christine Helmer (Ph.D. Yale) is Professor of Religious Studies at Northwestern University. She also has a courtesy appointment in the Department of German. Professor Helmer’s area of research and teaching specialization is Christian theology from historical, systematic, and constructive perspectives. Her work is focused on German intellectual history with primary interest in the theology of Martin Luther, the philosophy and theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher, and the flourishing of scholarship on Luther and on religion in early twentieth-century Germany, known as the Lutherrenaissance. She is also interested in ways in which theologians can make knowledge claims about God, theology’s conversation with the modern study of religion, and how the theological perspective can contribute to the humanities and social sciences.

In May 2015, she will present a paper at the conference "Martin Luther and Catholic Theology" in Maynooth, Ireland.

Dr. Helmer is the author of many articles as well as contributing editor (and co-editor) of numerous volumes in biblical theology, philosophy of religion, Schleiermacher studies, and Luther studies, including most recently The Global Luther (Fortress Press 2009), Transformations in Luther’s Theology (EVA-Leipzig 2011), and Lutherrenaissance: Past and Present (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2015). She is the main editor for the Christianity section of the Encyclopedia of Bible and its Reception (de Gruyter). Her monograph, The Trinity and Martin Luther (Zabern 1999), shows how the Trinity is an important doctrine for Luther. Her new book, Theology and the End of Doctrine (Westminster John Knox Press 2014), consists of an historical analysis of theology’s preoccupation with doctrine over the last century and a constructive proposal for renewing doctrinal production as a creative enterprise.

Her research has been supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Humboldt Foundation. During 2012-2013 she was the Marie Curie EURIAS (European Institutes of Advanced Study) Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies in Helsinki, Finland. She is currently a Research Fellow in the Philosophy and Theology of Intellectual Humility Project, based at Saint Louis University. Her book project explores the epistemological, hermeneutical, and ethical dimensions of humility in Schleiermacher’s thought.

Professor Helmer is Associate Master of Willard Residential College. She teaches undergraduate courses on key religious thinkers in western thought, the theology of love, religion and sports, and introduction to theology. Her graduate courses focus on the history of theology in relation to the study of religion. She welcomes applications to the Ph.D. program in Religious Studies, in the areas of her teaching and research.

Photo credit: Veikko Somerpuro

Selected Works


Theology and the End of Docrine.

Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.

The Trinity and Martin Luther: A Study on the Relationship between Genre, Language and the Trinity in Luther’s Works (1523-1546). Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte/Abteilung Abendländische Religionsgeschichte 174. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1999.

Edited Books

LUTERO: Um  teologo para tempos modernos.

São Leopoldo: Sinodal, 2013.



The Global Luther: A Theologian for Modern Times.

Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009.

Transformations in Luther's Theology: Historical and Contemporary Conciderations. Edited by Christine Helmer and Bo Kristian Holm. Arbeiten zur Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte 32. Leipzig: EVA-Leipzig, 2011.

The Multivalence of Biblical Texts and Theological Meanings. Edited by Christine Helmer with Charlene T. Higbe. Symposium Series 37. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006.

Biblical Interpretation: History, Context, and Reality. Edited by Christine Helmer with Taylor G. Petrey. Symposium Series 26. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.

Schleiermacher and Whitehead: Open Systems in Dialogue. Edited by Christine Helmer in Cooperation with Marjorie Suchocki, John Quiring, and Katie Goetz. Theologische Bibliothek Töpelmann 125. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004.

One Scripture or Many? Canon from Biblical, Theological, and Philosophical Perspectives. Edited by Christine Helmer and Christof Landmesser. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Truth: Interdisciplinary Dialogues in a Pluralist Age. Edited by Christine Helmer and Kristin De Troyer, with Katie Goetz. Studies in Philosophical Theology 22. Leuven: Peeters, 2003.

Schleiermachers Dialektik: Die Liebe zum Wissen in Philosophie und Theologie. Edited by Christine Helmer, Christiane Kranich, and Birgit Rehme-Iffert. Religion in Philosophy and Theology 6. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

Biblischer Text und theologische Theoriebildung. Edited by Christine Helmer, Stephen Chapman, and Christof Landmesser. Biblisch-theologische Studien 44. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2001.


“Schleiermacher,” 31-57. InThe Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth-Century Theology. Ed. David Fergusson. Edinburgh: Blackwell, 2010.

“Introduction to Luther’s Theology in Global Context”. In Religion Compass [on-line journal; Blackwell] 3, 3 (2009): 1-13.

“The American Luther”. Dialog: A Journal of Theology 47, 2 (Summer 2008): 114-24.

“Real Presences: The Life of Theological Concepts”. Harvard Divinity Bulletin 35, nos. 2&3 (Spring/Summer 2007): 60-69.

Interviews, Web Audio/Video

“An Interview with Christine Helmer”, posted by Fortress Forum, Feb. 18, 2010

Audio: “The Liberal Luther and Modern Theology”, from Nov. 12, 2009, Faith in Public Lecture Series 2009-2010 at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary (Canada)

Conference video: “Honest Truth and Liberal Love”, from Feb. 23, 2008, The Global Luther: Considering the Contributions of Martin Luther Conference at Northwestern University

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February 23, 2015