Kirsi I. Stjerna

Kirsi I. Stjerna, Ph.D.

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

(510) 559-2760
2000 Center Street, Berkeley

Office Hours: By appointment


NEWS! Women Reformers in the Early Modern Europe: Profiles, Texts, and Contexts (Fortress Press, 2022), ed. Kirsi Stjerna, available at stores in October 2022! 


Kirsi Stjerna, a native of Finland, is a Lutheran theologian engaged (in her own words" in "critical and compassionate" examination of the relevance of Luther's freedom theology for the contemporary world. Educated in Helsinki University, Finland, with the late Tuomo Mannermaa and in Boston University with Carter Lindberg, she has broad interests in the Reformation scholarship and with the sources in Christian theology.

Stjerna's book Women and the Reformation (Wiley 2008) broke new ground by bringing women's theological voices to the conversation. Her newest book Women Reformers of the Early Modern Europe: Profiles, Texts, and Contexts (Fortress/Media 1517, 2022) features original and cutting edge work of over 30 international scholars and is designed as both a teaching and reference tool.

In her Luther scholarship, she has focused on theology of faith, freedom, and sacraments, and critical uprooting of antisemitism in Christian argumentation. The Annotated Luther, Vol. I-VI (Fortress, 2015-2017) was a major undertaking that saw its completion in the Reformation anniversary year. In 2021 she published Lutheran Theology: A Grammar of Faith (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark), taking a look at the history, vocabulary, basic tenets, and future possibilities of Lutheran teachings as freedom theology. 

In addition to serving full-time at PLTS, Stjerna teaches at the Core Doctoral Faculty at Graduate Theological Union, both in Theology and Ethics department, and in Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion department Ethics (Chair, 2022-2023). Until summer 2022, she served as the Chair of the Local Committee for the  14th International Congress for Luther Research, hosted at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA, in August 2022, where she also led a seminar on "Luther and Religion" with Christopher Ocker (GTU).



First Lutheran, Los Angeles/Southwest California Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology, Chair, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley.  2015-ongoing.

Core Doctoral Faculty, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley: Theology and Ethics department. Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion/Spirituality (Chair, 2022-). 2016-ongoing. 

Docent, Theological Faculty, University of Helsinki, Finland: History of Christianity and Gender; Theology and Luther.  2014-ongoing.

An ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. 1989-ongoing. Associate Pastor for Suomikirkko/FinnChurch, California-Texas-Mexico City.



Professor of Reformation Church History, with tenure, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, PA. 2010-2015. Associate Professor of Reformation Church History, LTSG, with tenure. 2006-2010. Assistant Professor of Reformation Church History, LTSG. 2000-2006.

Associate Director for Theological Studies, Division for Ministry, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 1999-2000.



The Annotated Luther, Volumes 1-6, Fortress Press, 2015-2017, co-general editor, with Hans Hillerbrand and Timothy Wengert; advisory team; volume editor; contributor.

National Italian PhD Program, with global partners, 2022-

The 14th International Congress for Luther Research, Thousand Oaks, CA, August 2022, local committee, Chair. Seminar leader.

Swedish Theological Quarterly (STK), 2019-.

Martin Luther and the Global Lutheran Traditions Group of the American Academy of Religion , Co-Chairing with Deanna A. Thompson and Vitor Westhelle. 2007-2017

Lutheran Quarterly. 2015-ongoing.

Dialog: A Journal of Theology. 2013-ongoing.

FSCIRE = Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXI. 2015-ongoing.

The Desire for Christian Unity, Italy. Fscire. 2017-2021.

The Encyclopedia of Martin Luther and the Reformation. Rowman and Littlefield. 2015-2017.

Luther: A Christian and His Legacy, 1517-2017. UTET, DeGruyter. 2015-2017.


Married to Rev. Dr.  Brooks Schramm, Professor of Biblical Studies, Kraft Chair, United Lutheran Seminary; Pastor at the Church of Christ, ELCA, Goleta, CA.


Boston University Graduate School, Division of Religious and Theological Studies: Doctor of Philosophy: Religious and Theological Studies, 1995. 

University of Helsinki, Department of Theological Studies: Master of Theology: Systematic Theology and Ecumenics, 1988. 

Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Department of Theological Studies: Visiting scholar: Ecumenical, Feminist and Spiritual Theology, Fall 1989. 

Lyseon Lukio College/High School, Mikkeli, Finland: Equivalent of Bachelor of Arts Degree, 1982.

University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medical Studies: Studies in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychotherapy Training, 1988-1989.

Languages: English and Finnish. Swedish, Italian and German. Latin. Studies in Greek and Hebrew. Beginning studies in Spanish.

Music: Piano and voice.




The Gross Memorial Lectures at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, 10/31-11/1, 2022, two keynote lectures:

1)    “Luther, a Freedom Theologian”, 2) “They Asked No Permission”: Women Leaders of the Reformation”.



Luther and Mystagogy: Fördjupningsdagar för präster och diakoner i Uppsala stift, 9/29-30, 2022, Uppsala, Sweden, main speaker, with two lectures, and a seminar: 1) “Mysteries of faith: Exploring with Luther and the mystics”, 2) “Luther and theosis: about the eye of faith”, and a 3) seminar on “Mothers of Faith: Women and the Reformation”.The 14th International Congress for Luther Research, Thousand Oaks, CA, August 14-19, 2022.  Seminar "Luther and Religion", with Christopher Ocker.

The Significance of Feminism and Gender Studies in Academy and Beyond, Aarhus, Denmark, "Hermeneutically Suspicious and Spiritually Constructive: the Gift of Feminist Scholarship in (Late) Medieval and Reformation Studies." June 2-3, 2022.

Kessler Conversations, Emory University, "Women Leaders of the Reformation: Profiles, Contexts, and Texts", April 6, 2022.

Women Studies in Religion, GTU, "Women as Confessors of Faith in the 16th century", March 11, 2022.

Reformation Conference: Religion, Politics, and Society, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California, presentation on "They Asked No Permission: Women and the Reformation", February 24-26, 2022.

Lumen 2021 Conference, Århus, Denmark, "Reformation and Every Day Life", keynote presentation on "Reformation and Women", May 31, 2021.

Webinar, by LWF: "On Being Lutheran: Spirituality", keynote presentation, October 2020.

Webinar, by ELCA Wittenberg Center, "A Conscience Captive to God's Word: the 500th Anniversary of Luther at the Diet of Worms, April 16, 2021, keynote presentation, with Martin Lohrmann.

Luther and the Subaltern. A Symposium, Skaholt, Iceland, May 31-June 3, 2018.

Presenting: "Luther against Luther: Anti-Semitism and Racism vis-à-vis Luther’s Freedom Theology." 

Conference Churches Against PopulismChurches as Agents for Justice and Against Populism. Public Theology in Global Intercontextual Dialogue. Lutheran World Federation, Svenska Kyrkan, Evangelische Akademie in Berlin. Berlin, May 2-4, 2018. Presenting: “Roots of Persistence: Reformation against Sexism”.

Adult Forum at St. Johns Presbyterian Church. Berkeley, CA. April 29, 2018. Presenting: “The Reformation Mothers of the Reformed Tradition”.

Luther, the Jews, and the Bible. Hunter College, New York. April 24, 2018. A symposium with Visnu Adulri and Brooks Schramm. Presenting: “Luther and the Jews in his world”.

Passion and Persecution: The Music of Bach, the Gospel of John, and Religious Intolerance.

Google Community Space, San Francisco, April 8, 2018. A community discussion organized by San Francisco Bach Chorus. A panel with Tom Hall, John Efron, and Jonathan Sheehan.

Luther Lecture at PLTS. Berkeley, CA, March 8, 2018. “Luther Against Luther.” Scripture and Christian Anti-Semitism. Past Realities and Future Remedies”. Keynote and Roundtables with Brooks Schramm.

An Inter-Religious Panel at CLU. Thousand Oaks, CA, March 5, 2018. Planning and participating in a public discussion on the ELCA statement on Inter-Religious trajectories for the future.

Boston College the Corcoran Chair Conference. Boston College, Mass, March 25-26, 2018. “Luther’s Anti-Jewish Interpretation of the Bible: A Case Study in Christian-Jewish Relations in Late Medieval Germany.” Presenting: “The Luther’s Jesus Christ Was a Jew”.

The Forgotten Luther II Conference.Washington, D.C. January 19-20, 2018. Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Capitol Hill, D.C Presenting: “A cautionary tale: Luther and the Jews, and rejecting anti-Semitism”.

PBS documentary, Martin Luther: the Idea that Changed the World, 2017, participating in interviews.

American Academy of Religion, 2017, Boston, Mass. Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Traditions. Moderating and Responding in two panels addressing the Reformation 500th anniversary and the relevance and urgencies of the reformation theologies for the future, globally speaking.

Fairfield University, Center for Judaic Studies/Center for Catholic Studies, Connecticut. October 25, 2017. Keynote: "Luther's Christ was a Jew - Implications."

Ohio State University, Symposium: Reformation and Remembrance.  Ohio State University, October 20-21, 2018. With Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Alexandra Walsham, James Simpson, Ralph Keen. Presenting: “Remembering Eve in Martin Luther’s Theological Imagination”.

California Lutheran University Convocation Address. Thousand Oaks, CA, October 13, 2017. “Reforming, Then and Now”.

Association for Lutheran College Professors, Thousand Oaks, Ca. September 29, 2017. Keynote lecture: "Reformation and Education - Then and Now."

International Luther Congress, Wittenberg, Germany. July 31 - August 6, 2017. Seminar leader with Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen, "Luther on Women/Luther and Women".

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, D.C. June 19-23, 2017. Teaching a faculty seminar on "Luther and the Jews", with Brooks Schramm.

Society of the Holy Trinity, Spring Retreat, St. Benedict, Oregon, 5/24-25, 2017. Presenting: "Mothers of Faith, Women and the Reformation."

Concordia Seminary and McGill University. May 8-9. 2017. "Reformation and the City." Presenting: “The Reformation Call for Freedom – and Freedom in 2017.”

Theological Seminary Saskatoon Annual Study Conference. Saskatoon, Canada. May 2-4, 2017. Three lectures: "Dashed Hopes and Dark Sides of Luther's Reformation."

Pacific Coast Theological Society, February 21-22, 2017, Berkeley, CA. A public lecture: "Luther's Theses and Freedom Theology."

Faith Lutheran Church, Castro Valley, CA, 4/26, 2017. Presenting: "Women and the Reformation."

Concordia Lutheran University, Austin, TX, 4/10, 2017. Presenting: "Women and the Reformation."

Westar Institute of Theology, St. Rosa, CA, 3/22, 2017. Presenting, two lectures: "Luther for the Future." "Gender and the Reformation."

Luther and the Subaltern. A study symposium, PLTS, Berkeley, March 9-11, 2017. Co-hosting and presenting: "Gender and Luther."

Fartsrup-Mortensen Lectures, Solvang, CA, 2/24-26, 2017. Presenting: "Luther for Today, Freedom Theology," "Luther's Core Theological Insight - Dancing with Law and Gospel," "Luther and the Reformation Mothers", and panels.

Nordic Spirit Symposium, Thousand Oaks, California, February 10-11, 2017. "All Power is of God. Reform in Sweden and Finland". Presenting: "Reformation in Finland: Commitments to Education, Welfare, and Culture".

Stanford Primary Source Symposium. November 10-13, 2016. Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Stanford University, CA. "Reformation Theology in the Hands of Argula von Grumbach."

Ritualizing Environmental Change, Re-thinking Religion. October 23rd, 2016, Doug Adams Gallery. Interdisciplinary Panel with GTU faculty –Dr. Rita Sherma and Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza - and REDO scholars, moderated by Dr. Devin Zuber. 

Bishop’s Convocation, Eastern WA and Idaho Synod. October 24-27, 2016. Two lectures, and a panel, on “Episcopacy": 1) "From Early to Medieval Church." 2) "From the Reformation to Modern Day.”

Sierra Pacific Synod, CA, Pastoral Leaders Conference, October 18-20, 2016. Four lectures: “Reformation Revisited and Ongoing”, “Reformation and Women”,”Luther for the Future.”

Northern Rockies Institute of Theology: Luther Lectures. Chico, Montana. September 29-30, 2017. Four lectures: “Luther for the Future.”

Grace Gathering, Freed & Renewed in Christ. ELCA. New Orleans, LA, August 13-12. Workshops: "Women and the Reformation" (twice), and "Large Catechism and Luther’s Freedom Theology."

Luther500. Conference on Theology of Martin Luther. Melbourne, Australia, June 28-July 3, 2016. Lecture: “Luther for the Future”.

Southwest Pennsylvania Synod Assembly, May 7-8, 2016. Keynote lectures (two): “Reforming then, Reforming now!”  

Lay School of Theology, Chippawee Falls, WI, 4/8-9. 2016. Seminar, with Brooks Schramm: "Luther and the Jews."

Sierra Pacific Synod, Retired Pastors' Retreat,  San Damiano, CA, 2/22, 2016.  Three lectures: "Luther and Spirituality," "Luther and Women," "Luther for the Future."




Luther's theology and spirituality; feminist  and gender approaches with Luther and Reformation; and the Finnish Luther School.

Women and the Reformations.

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.

Reformation theologies and histories with gender perspectives.

Lutheran: Sacramental theology and baptism; Anthropology and sexuality.

Protestant Reformations, foundational texts, and gender perspectives.



  • Reading Christian Texts in Context 
  • Freedom Theology with Martin Luther
  • Christian Thought and Ecumenical Creeds
  • Lutheran Theology: Sources and Hermeneutics
  • Luther and the Lutheran Confessions
  • Women and the Reformations
  • Luther and the Reformations
  • Luther and the Jews 
  • Luther and the Finnish Luther School: Justification
  • Luther and the Books of Genesis
  • Luther and the History of Spirituality
  • Sacraments: Luther and Contemporary Considerations
  • Luther and Lutherans and Contemporary Concerns: Sexuality, Marriage, War and Violence 
  • Reformation Studies: New Sources and Hermeneutics 
  • Revisioning the 16th Century Reforming Church and Its Heritage
  • Women’s Voices; Women in Christian History and Theology
  • Medieval Women as Spiritual Teachers
  • Saints and Sacredness 
  • Christian Mysticism 
  • History and Theology of the Reformed Confessions
  • Church History I and Church History II
  • Christianity in Ancient and Medieval Worlds




Women Reformers in the Early Modern Europe: Profiles, Texts, and Contexts. Fortress Press, 2022.



Lutheran Theology: A Grammar of Faith. Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2021.



Women Reformers: Profiles, Contexts, and Texts, editor and contributorMinneapolis: Fortress Press/Media 1517, 2022.

Lutheran Theology: A Grammar of Faith. London: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2021.

By Heart: Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, co-authored by Guy Erwin, Mary Jane Haemig, Ken Sundet Jones, Martin Lohrmann, Derek Nelson, Kirsi Stjerna, Timothy Wengert, Hans Woersma. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2017.

Encounters with Luther, New Directions for Critical Studies (Westminster John Knox, 2016), edited with Brooks Schramm; with an article "Luther on Marriage: Gay or Straight".

The Annotated Luther, Vol. I-VI. General Editor with Timothy Wengert and Hans Hillerbrand. Essential Luther’s works with revised or new translations, new introductions and annotations. Fortress Press, 2015-2017. Contributions: Volume Editor for Volume 2, Word and Faith. September, 2015. Work with Volume 6, ed. Euan Cameron, 2017. Contributor: Luther's Large Catechism (Vol. 2), That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew (Vol. 5), Luther's lectures on Genesis 2 , and Luther's Galatians commentary (Vol. 6). 

The Large Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther, 1529: The Annotated Luther, Study Edition, from the Annotated Luther. Fortress Press, 2016.

On the Apocalyptic and Human Agency: Conversations with Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther. Eds. Kirsi Stjerna and Deanna A. Thompson. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014.

Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People, with Brooks Schramm. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. August, 2012.

Reformaation Naisia  (Women and the Reformation). Helsinki: Kirjapaja, 2011.

“No Greater Jewel:” Thinking of Baptism with Luther. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2009.

Women and the Reformation. Wiley Blackwell, 2008 (translations in Finnish, Korean, and German).



Lutheranism. Oxford Handbook on Christmas, ed. Timothy Larsen.

Martin Luther: A Christian between Reforms and Modernity, ed. Alberto Melloni et al.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, ed. Derek Nelson and Paul Hinlicky.

The Cambridge Handbook: Martin Luther in Context, ed. David Whitford.

The Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions, ed. Timothy Wengert et al.

Encyclopedia: Martin Luther and the Reformation, ed. Mark Lamport.

“Part III: The Reformation Period (1500-1600)”, eight chapters. Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition, 315-458.  Ed. Kelly M. Kapic and Hans Madueme. T&T Clark, 2018.





"Lutheranism." In Oxford Handbook on Christmas. Oxford University Press, December 2020.


"Luther Against Luther: Anti-Semitism and Racism vis-à-vis Luther’s Freedom Theology." In The Alternative Luther: Lutheran Theology from the Subalterns. Edited by Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen. Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019.


”Roots of Persistence: Reformation against Sexism”. Resisting Exclusion - Global Theological Responses to Populism. Edited by Simone Sinn and Eva Harasta. Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig/Lutheran World Federation, 2019.

“A cautionary tale: Luther and the Jews, and rejecting anti-Semitism”. In The Forgotten Luther II. Edited by Ryan Cummings. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2019.



Journal contributions: 




“Luther across the borders: The 14th. International Congress for Luther Research, Thousand Oaks, California, 2022”, article,  co-authored by Volker Leppin and Kirsi Stjerna, Dialog: A Journal for Theology, vol. 61, issue 3 (Fall), 2022, 194-199 (published October 13, 2022).


"When Examined Faith Matters", Editorial, Dialog: A Journal of Theology (Vol. 60, Issue 1, pp. 2-5.)


“Dangerous Pamphlets – Margaretha Pruss”. A contribution in Christian History special issue on Women and the Reformation. Fall, 2019.


“Luther and Feminist Thought”. A special theme issue in the Journal: Religions, Open Access; guest editor, and the author of the invitation and the epilogue. Spring, 2020.



“Combatting Violence and Nationalism Through Multi-Faith Alliance.” Dialog: Journal of Theology, Vol, 58, Issue 1, published March 2019.

Grant Funding

Association for Theological Schools, Theological Scholars Grant, 2004-2005, "Women and the Reformation".

Association for Theological Schools, Theological Scholars Collaborative Research Grant with Dr. Brooks Schramm (LTSG), 2010-2011, "Luther, the Bible and the Jewish people".

The Sachem Title VI Grant, 1997, "Internationalizing the Curriculum - Ancient History".

Scholarship of Merit, 1990-92, Boston University.

Chamberlain Herman Rosenberg Research Fellowship, 1990-93.

The Finnish Academy Research Grant, 1990-91.

Grants from the Finnish Women's Science Foundation, the Culture Foundation, and the Finnish-Swedish Culture Foundation, 1990-1991.