(Non-Lutheran readers, you may want to skip this post. I don’t want you to get annoyed, but please bear with me with this reflection on Lutheran identity. Though actually, you could probably help.)
Hey, we Lutherans got a shout-out in Mitt Romney’s Mormon speech! He didn’t mention Baptists or Calvinists, but he mentioned Lutherans! And we almost never get mentioned in surveys of American religion. (OK, according to the Adherents site, there are lots of Lutherans in Mormon-heavy Western states, and Iowa ranks 6th in per-capita Lutheranism.) Here is what Mr. Romney said:
“I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.”
But does he really get Lutheranism right? Do we have “confident independence”? Confidence, yes, but independence? Is he confusing us with the Baptists, after all? Does that mean we are still invisible within American Christendom? Frankly, I think at our best that we exemplify ALL of those traits he hails, though I recognize that we are not always at our best. (See that lack of confidence?)
Paul S, in a comment on an earlier post about Romney, raised this quotation and thought “confident independence” had to do with “stubbornness.” May be. Any other takes on what Romney may have been thinking of?
What would be a more accurate way to characterize Lutherans? “The ______ _______ of the Lutherans.” Billy Graham might say “the sleeping giganticism of the Lutherans.” Bob Jones might say “the doctrinal strength and the moral weakness of the Lutherans.” Garrison Keillor might say, “the gloomy whimsey of the Lutherans.” What would you say?
HT: Bob Hunter