A Jagged Contention: Lutheranism in America

“The infusion of European migration has been over for two generations. Assimilation to American cultural patterns proceeds rapidly. Lutherans now cannot avoid choices about how to relate more generally to other American churches and to the American environment itself…The choices that have been made so far seem to throw into doubt either the ability to communicate an authentically Lutheran word in America or a capacity to maintain such an authentic word…The dominating concern seems to be less the offering of Lutheranism to America than the promotion of social engagements and bureaucratic efficiency.”

-Mark Noll, “An Evangelical Protestant Perspective” in Word and World 11, (1991). Pgs. 314-315


What has changed for the Lutheran church in the twenty-five years since Mark Noll made these assertions about Lutheranism in America? Though directed primarily at the ELCA, can similar assertions be made about more conservative Lutheran bodies? How ought the church go about recovering, maintaining, and offering a faithful Lutheran identity in the trenches of the American context?

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