Saturday, December 04, 2010

Two Lutheran Tribes

There are two Lutheran churches in America, writes Peter Berger. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), aka Aunt Elka. There are two kinds of Lutheran fundamentalism. "There is a theological fundamentalism very visible in the LCMS. A political fundamentalism (aka “political correctness”) is very evident in the “airport culture” of the ELCA—it shares it with the mainline Protestantism into which it is morphing."

The article has some good background on the current woes of ELCA and the financial struggles of those congregations who are leaving it. Since 1988, when the ELCA was formed, contributions have declined by 50%, on the other hand, the newly formed NALC (which our congregation has joined) doesn't yet have enough financial clout to support many of the struggling smaller congregations that have left ELCA. So, staying or leaving, these "Lutheran" congregations are facing tough times. I didn't know that ELCA's headquarters were at O'Hare Airport. So, how nice that the new NALC headquarters will be at our own Mill Run Church.

I commented a few entries ago at my regular blog that ethnicity trumps everything. ELCA is no longer ethnically identifiable and has become a blob of its former selves--Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, Finns-- merged into one big mushy protestantly bland and policially liberal church. LCMS for now anyway, still has the glue of ethnicity to hold together its theological structure.

Two Lutheran Tribes | Religion and Other Curiosities

Please note, there are other Lutheran synods and groups, but I think Berger's point is that LCMS and ELCA are the biggies.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I wasn't sure after reading this if you are just stating facts, regarding the ethnicity of the groups or if you, or the author, are criticizing the ethnicity of the groups. By that I mean, if a "Christian group," in this case, a specific set of Lutherans, stays mostly within a certain ethnic group, then that shows that either it doesn't know how to reach beyond those boundaries or it doesn't care to reach beyond those boundaries. Would that mean that it elevates the specific ethnic groups above other groups? Or that the only "real" Christians are found in those ethnic groups?

I think that these are valid questions, not just devil's advocate questions, because there has been an implication when reading lots of writings by Lutheran pastors, especially those who are more conservative, that they are "right" and others are wrong. If they are "right," that strongly implies that the others aren't really Christian. And if the certain groups intentionally stay within certain ethnic groups, then that calls into question the intentionality of their Gospel witness to the world.

To put it more bluntly and a bit more rudely: Are there specific rooms in Heaven just for Lutherans? And are those the only rooms? Or perhaps, are those rooms sound proofed so that the Lutherans therein can't tell that they are the only saved Christians?

Norma said...

Did I suggest that ethnicity was all that you read into it? You didn't bother to click over and read my original post. I was making an observation--all sorts of evils are attributed to religion (usually by unbelievers) or to culture (usually by the so-called "advanced" ones) or to political theories (by the other parties), but dig a little deeper and you often find ethnicity. Once the unity of the ethnic group (for instance, Hungarian Lutherans in Cleveland or German Lutherans in Missouri or German Baptist Brethren in Pennsylvania) is weakened by several generations of immigration or emigration and loss of language, the church also loses its unity--especially loyalty. You don't have to agree--but you might look for another a reason. The left understands this because the push for "multiculturalism" or "diversity" is actually a return to ethnic bonds because those smaller groups are easier to control when kept out of the mainstream assimilation.

When the USSR was originally formed, they were wise enough to create mini-states based on ethnicity. Once in power, of course, that local control was all taken away.