Lutheran Only LUTHERANISM IN THE USA: Why Is It "Off the Radar?"

Josiah

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Lutherans represent 3.5% of the population of the USA - not much, but we're in the top 5 of Protestants (Baptists - 15.4%, Methodist - 4.6%, Pentecostals - 4.6%, Lutherans - 3/5)

But we are largely "off the radar." This is especially true when it comes to theology; we simply aren't even a known position and typically not "at the table" at all. IF Lutherans are known AT ALL, it's for being the church with the blondes and the good coffee, what the ditzy old lady on Maude was. Then again, one person I spoke to thought it was interesting that I went to a Black church ... when I explained that I did not, he said, "Isn't that the church Martin Luther King founded?"

In the following video, Dr. Jordon Cooper shares one theory. it's 12 minutes long (not too long for Lutherans). I'll share additional thoughts on the other side....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMinCkU-kQ0


Yeah.... We found ourselves in a very Calvinist country... and I think we clung to each other also for cultural reasons. I think Dr. Cooper has points. And some good suggestions!




But I'd suggest the following as factors, too:


1. Anti-Catholicism. I know, we aren't Catholic!!! Ah, but anti-Catholicism was entrenched in US culture until maybe 50-60 years ago. IMO, this caused Anglicans and Lutherans to be pushed aside as 'too Catholic.' I think it even caused some Lutherans to try to LOOK less so (in the US, Crucifixes disappeared for example) rather than share our theology to show the distinction. But I think this milieu caused Lutheranism to be pretty quiet here, except maybe in Minnesota and Wisconsin and places where our shear numbers allowed expression.


2. State Church Mentality. Another aspect we share with Anglicans... Lutherans came to the US from European countries where we were the State Church. Evangelism and outreach was irrelevant; members were BORN. So the whole mentality was have babies and then work to KEEP THEM in the church. This mentality remains - many generations after we left "the old country." Outreach isn't much in our DNA. Add to this, culturalism remains - even DECADES after it has any relevance; people STILL think of Lutherans as Germans and Swedes with blonde hair (our CULTURAL tie is another problem that Anglicans share - and of course Eastern Orthodox). There have been a couple of interesting exceptions (both from the LCMS). A half century ago, the #1 Christian Radio ministry was "The Lutheran Hour." For a few decades, people who had never heard of Lutherans learned about our theology from some powerful radio preachers. That ministry continues but it has lost the impact it had for a few years. Much smaller was the LCMS outreach to Blacks. It's a little known chapter, but for a time, the LCMS was very committed to this, we had a Black seminary and a Black college (very recently closed - tragically). But these are very notable NOT because they were typical but because they were the antithesis of the usual.


3. Mystery.... Balance. Americans (well, people generally) like neat, easy, "logical" ANSWERS to everything.... stated with great authority. Lutheranism speaks much of MYSTERY. Lutherans is bold where we can be bold and silent were we just can't be otherwise. We hold to the Law/Gospel distinction.... to the theology of the Cross.... there is a foundational humility to Lutheran theology.... Mormons have answers. Calvinists have answers. Pentecostals have answers. On top of this, Lutherans embrace an anthropology that is far from flattering. Americans like to love themselves, believe in themselves, pat self on the back.... Americans believe that we pull ourselves up by our own bootsraps. Lutheran theology runs counter to the self-trust and self-reliance that is at the heart of American culture.


Dr.Cooper gives some ideas on what we can do to change this..... What do you think?




Thank you!


- Josiah






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Lämmchen

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The sad thing is how the ELCA is how some Americans view Lutherans :( They give us a bad rap.
 

Andrew

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I never met a Lutheran yet in real life, the Czech community that settled along the colorado river were strict Catholics.. nothings changed but their are some mennonites, a handful of Pentecostals and a good number of baptist, but the majority are Catholic
 
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