Drunken Lutherans?

Wisconsin leads the nation in people who admit to drinking and driving. The rest of the top five in this particular list of shame are North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Utah has the least problem with this, followed by a number of Southern states. One reason, according to this AP article is religion:

Eric Goplerud, research professor at George Washington University Medical Center, said cultural and demographic issues probably have a role in the higher rates of driving under the influence in certain states. He said that religious affiliations in the Southeast often strongly discourage drinking, but that doesn’t occur so much in the upper Midwest.

What is mercifully unspecified is what the religion of those Northern states is. According to Adherents.com, the five states with the highest proportion of Lutherans are THOSE very states (in this order: North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Nebraska).

And it is true, in something that surprised me when I became one (and later came to appreciate), that Lutherans–for all of their theological, social, and moral conservatism– have NO problem with drinking alcohol. (At least not in the LCMS, though I’m aware there are more pietistic Lutherans that do.) Yes, drunkenness and alcoholism are considered wrong, as is alcoholism, but Lutheranism posits not the slightest guilt or stigma about social drinking. Indeed, beer is often served at church dinners. (I have often wondered why Lutherans don’t promote THAT in their church growth efforts.) And yet, I have not witnessed in my congregations any major problems with this, no more than in my earlier anti-alcohol liberal and evangelical congregations down in Oklahoma. When I was growing up, we actually were in a “dry” county, and yet drunkenness was rampant.

Drinking and driving, of course, is wrong, but there is another part of the story (in addition to questions about how the survey defined the transgression–it may be that citizens in these states are, like good Lutherans, more open to confessing their faults than driving while actually impaired). The fact is, Wisconsin has FEWER TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS than the average. (I don’t have statistics for the other top four.) See this and follow the links.

What are we to make of all of this?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Kyralessa

    So…more Lutherans drive drunk, but Lutherans are better drunk drivers than others?

  • Kyralessa

    So…more Lutherans drive drunk, but Lutherans are better drunk drivers than others?

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    My very Baptist mother looked at me a while back and asked, “Did you become Anglican so you can drink?”

    My Wisonsin-born Lutheran father become Baptist and stopped drinking when he married my mother. And yet the strongest drink I ever saw served by my Wisconsin relatives was raw milk, straight from the cows (dairy farmers, every one of them). I used to get sick on it every summer.

    Funny, all these cultural associations.

    Kamilla

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    My very Baptist mother looked at me a while back and asked, “Did you become Anglican so you can drink?”

    My Wisonsin-born Lutheran father become Baptist and stopped drinking when he married my mother. And yet the strongest drink I ever saw served by my Wisconsin relatives was raw milk, straight from the cows (dairy farmers, every one of them). I used to get sick on it every summer.

    Funny, all these cultural associations.

    Kamilla

  • utahrainbow

    Some perspective about the great state of Utah.

    I think what is most telling about this, as you said, is who is willing to confess. I’ve known people here who won’t admit to fighting with their spouse, much less driving after drinking! It would be interesting to be able to know who ACTUALLY did it, versus how many confess to it. Ah, but that is something only God knows.

    I knew there was some reason why I found Wisconsinites (is that how you refer to them?) so refreshing!

    By the way, Utah has, if not the highest, one of the highest prescription antidepressant use rates in the country.

    Or maybe we just don’t consider having a 3.2% beer actually drinking?

  • utahrainbow

    Some perspective about the great state of Utah.

    I think what is most telling about this, as you said, is who is willing to confess. I’ve known people here who won’t admit to fighting with their spouse, much less driving after drinking! It would be interesting to be able to know who ACTUALLY did it, versus how many confess to it. Ah, but that is something only God knows.

    I knew there was some reason why I found Wisconsinites (is that how you refer to them?) so refreshing!

    By the way, Utah has, if not the highest, one of the highest prescription antidepressant use rates in the country.

    Or maybe we just don’t consider having a 3.2% beer actually drinking?

  • Bror Erickson

    Yes Utah Rainbow,
    I think the only sin in Utah greater than drinking is admitting to it :)
    And the honesty Lutherans have about this kind of thing always gets them in trouble. They look worse because they really don’t care if they do, and that gets to be latent in a culture heavily inundated with Lutherans. Then the pietists come….

  • Bror Erickson

    Yes Utah Rainbow,
    I think the only sin in Utah greater than drinking is admitting to it :)
    And the honesty Lutherans have about this kind of thing always gets them in trouble. They look worse because they really don’t care if they do, and that gets to be latent in a culture heavily inundated with Lutherans. Then the pietists come….

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I think we’d definitely have more people at church events if we told them that we have good German beer. I had my wedding reception at our church and our pastor asked if we were going to serve cocktails. He said, “This is a Lutheran church after all!”

    Maybe the Midwestern Lutherans drink moderately enough to drive safely? I would admit to having been drinking after having only one glass with dinner.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I think we’d definitely have more people at church events if we told them that we have good German beer. I had my wedding reception at our church and our pastor asked if we were going to serve cocktails. He said, “This is a Lutheran church after all!”

    Maybe the Midwestern Lutherans drink moderately enough to drive safely? I would admit to having been drinking after having only one glass with dinner.

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    this doesn’t have anything to do with drunk lutherans, but I thought you might get into Dr. V.

    and i think you check these comments more than your e-mail
    ;)

    http://www.patrolmag.com/index.php?id=452

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    this doesn’t have anything to do with drunk lutherans, but I thought you might get into Dr. V.

    and i think you check these comments more than your e-mail
    ;)

    http://www.patrolmag.com/index.php?id=452

  • Booklover

    I remember a 4H movie we had to watch when I was young, concerning alcoholism. A Catholic priest who worked with that issue said those religions on the opposite ends of the spectrum had the most problems with it; i.e., the Baptists who strictly forbid drinking have loads of alcoholics, as well as the religionists who have a party at every event. He said those who simply welcome wine at a meal don’t seem to have a problem. I guess the moral was moderation is the key.

    I know a couple who fits that description. A Lutheran married a Baptist. The Baptist was forbidden drink while he was being raised, yet he drinks to excess at every occasion offering alcohol. But he highly frowns upon the local Lutheran pastor who has a beer in public. Go figure. The Lutheran spouse does not have a problem with alcohol–she can take it or leave it.

    Here in Montana, alcohol is the drug of choice. Drunken driving fatalities here are the nation’s highest, or one of the highest. Some days we have three deaths in my town alone. It is tragic. I can’t speak to the relation of that with our religious persuasions, but it seems that most of the drunken drivers involved in these accidents have broken families and other family problems.

    I think it is hypocritical when a drinking-to-excess father can’t understand his son’s pot smoking. But as I said, here in Montana, alcohol is the accepted drug of choice.

  • Booklover

    I remember a 4H movie we had to watch when I was young, concerning alcoholism. A Catholic priest who worked with that issue said those religions on the opposite ends of the spectrum had the most problems with it; i.e., the Baptists who strictly forbid drinking have loads of alcoholics, as well as the religionists who have a party at every event. He said those who simply welcome wine at a meal don’t seem to have a problem. I guess the moral was moderation is the key.

    I know a couple who fits that description. A Lutheran married a Baptist. The Baptist was forbidden drink while he was being raised, yet he drinks to excess at every occasion offering alcohol. But he highly frowns upon the local Lutheran pastor who has a beer in public. Go figure. The Lutheran spouse does not have a problem with alcohol–she can take it or leave it.

    Here in Montana, alcohol is the drug of choice. Drunken driving fatalities here are the nation’s highest, or one of the highest. Some days we have three deaths in my town alone. It is tragic. I can’t speak to the relation of that with our religious persuasions, but it seems that most of the drunken drivers involved in these accidents have broken families and other family problems.

    I think it is hypocritical when a drinking-to-excess father can’t understand his son’s pot smoking. But as I said, here in Montana, alcohol is the accepted drug of choice.

  • Booklover

    My view on this particular survey is that Wisconsinites are simply honest. I know drinkers who would never admit to being drunk after 13 beers. These Wisconsinites are admitting to being “under the influence,” therefore they probably do not have a problem with it.

  • Booklover

    My view on this particular survey is that Wisconsinites are simply honest. I know drinkers who would never admit to being drunk after 13 beers. These Wisconsinites are admitting to being “under the influence,” therefore they probably do not have a problem with it.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Nathan, only in the summer! And e-mails nearly always mean more work. Thanks for that link. I’ll blog it next week. In the meantime, friends, click it, for some interesting reflections on the debate between Tyndale and Erasmus as it relates to contemporary Christian music.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Nathan, only in the summer! And e-mails nearly always mean more work. Thanks for that link. I’ll blog it next week. In the meantime, friends, click it, for some interesting reflections on the debate between Tyndale and Erasmus as it relates to contemporary Christian music.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I also just knew that PHC students, like Nathan, would give me grief for “Drunken Lutherans?”

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I also just knew that PHC students, like Nathan, would give me grief for “Drunken Lutherans?”

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    One thing about Lutherans is that the wave of immigration that settled Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Minnesota came after 1848, so the Lutherans there simply didn’t experience a lot of the difficulties that led to many other Protestant denominations (Methodists, Baptists, and others) going “dry.” Baptists in Europe are often drinkers, for example.

    What happened? Well, prior to about 1850, a farmer west of Appalachia generally brought his corn to market in liquid form as whiskey. The surplus of Ohio and Indiana topsoil (3′ thick in places ) made this a practical way of making a living.

    Of course, alcohol being addictive, it also made a level of drunkenness practical that had never been the case for any poor/middle class person before, and it also made it practical for a farmer to drink away a few years’ work on a flatboat bound for “Nawlins.”

    The German and Scandinavian Lutherans came after the railroads came west (that’s how they got here after all), and they also had a tradition of “brewmasters” instead of each person making his own “hooch.” Hence for most of them, the opportunity of drinking away your fortune never came.

    And thus the preachers never got a chance to address an issue that didn’t happen. My theory, anyways.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    One thing about Lutherans is that the wave of immigration that settled Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Minnesota came after 1848, so the Lutherans there simply didn’t experience a lot of the difficulties that led to many other Protestant denominations (Methodists, Baptists, and others) going “dry.” Baptists in Europe are often drinkers, for example.

    What happened? Well, prior to about 1850, a farmer west of Appalachia generally brought his corn to market in liquid form as whiskey. The surplus of Ohio and Indiana topsoil (3′ thick in places ) made this a practical way of making a living.

    Of course, alcohol being addictive, it also made a level of drunkenness practical that had never been the case for any poor/middle class person before, and it also made it practical for a farmer to drink away a few years’ work on a flatboat bound for “Nawlins.”

    The German and Scandinavian Lutherans came after the railroads came west (that’s how they got here after all), and they also had a tradition of “brewmasters” instead of each person making his own “hooch.” Hence for most of them, the opportunity of drinking away your fortune never came.

    And thus the preachers never got a chance to address an issue that didn’t happen. My theory, anyways.

  • Matt L

    The terms are vague. Driving after having a drink is not wrong. Being over the legal limit is (by way of the 4th commandment)… however drunkeness may vary from person to person… for some it is below .08 and for others it is above.

    Apart from people receiving blood tests, this survey is rather subjective and open to one’s definition and ethical perception of drinking.

  • Matt L

    The terms are vague. Driving after having a drink is not wrong. Being over the legal limit is (by way of the 4th commandment)… however drunkeness may vary from person to person… for some it is below .08 and for others it is above.

    Apart from people receiving blood tests, this survey is rather subjective and open to one’s definition and ethical perception of drinking.

  • Bror Erickson

    Bike Bubba,
    nice try, but far from the truth. People are people wherever they go. we had our own brand of legalist teetotalers in the lutheran areas of Europe, they were called pietists. Drunkenness abounded and the legalists came out. But it still exists even today. Most anyone who has ever had a drink has had opportunity to drink a fortune away.

  • Bror Erickson

    Bike Bubba,
    nice try, but far from the truth. People are people wherever they go. we had our own brand of legalist teetotalers in the lutheran areas of Europe, they were called pietists. Drunkenness abounded and the legalists came out. But it still exists even today. Most anyone who has ever had a drink has had opportunity to drink a fortune away.

  • Bror Erickson

    Has anyone else ever wondered why the Bible Belt coincides with the Moonshine Belt?

  • Bror Erickson

    Has anyone else ever wondered why the Bible Belt coincides with the Moonshine Belt?

  • LutheranNotPietism

    Hi!

    I would be interested to know is the matter of alcohol different in different countries? I mean is the issue different even among Lutherans, and even if it is not a matter of Pietism? In one country some issues might be raised, I think, if alcohol would be used when Christians gather together and Gospel is preached (I do not mean Lord’s Supper). And I think it is not a matter of Pietism there. The same “rule” is quite widely among all Biblical Lutheran groups in that country. Perhaps there exists a little variations, but maybe not so much. Alcohol is also a bigger problem in that country in overall.

    This might also be more an issue related to the culture.

    What do you think?

    Do you (sometimes) use alcohol, in correct way (not to become intoxicated) there in USA, when Lutheran Christians gather together and Gospel is preached in the gathering? (LCMS, WELS,…)

    Thank you very much for your Blog!

  • LutheranNotPietism

    Hi!

    I would be interested to know is the matter of alcohol different in different countries? I mean is the issue different even among Lutherans, and even if it is not a matter of Pietism? In one country some issues might be raised, I think, if alcohol would be used when Christians gather together and Gospel is preached (I do not mean Lord’s Supper). And I think it is not a matter of Pietism there. The same “rule” is quite widely among all Biblical Lutheran groups in that country. Perhaps there exists a little variations, but maybe not so much. Alcohol is also a bigger problem in that country in overall.

    This might also be more an issue related to the culture.

    What do you think?

    Do you (sometimes) use alcohol, in correct way (not to become intoxicated) there in USA, when Lutheran Christians gather together and Gospel is preached in the gathering? (LCMS, WELS,…)

    Thank you very much for your Blog!

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    Dr. V,
    I’m just teasing you about not checking your e-mail.

    I’m from Mississippi and good church-goers just don’t drink in most polite contexts, and definitely not with your church, except for the Presbyterians on a few occasions.

    Socially this has the affect of pushing a lot of the drinking underneath the table and raising generations of children who primarily associate drinking with “getting wasted”

    These children lack examples of how it can be done in moderation and in godliness, and that partially contributes to the irresponsibility shown in that area.

    I just got back from New Attitude, a conference in Louisville, and it was a special thing to be able to go out with your pastor and the men of the church after the sermons to sit, grab a drink and just talk.

    Sometimes rather than just a total prohibition, young people need to have godly examples of how this thing can be used rightly.

    just an incomplete thought,
    n

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    Dr. V,
    I’m just teasing you about not checking your e-mail.

    I’m from Mississippi and good church-goers just don’t drink in most polite contexts, and definitely not with your church, except for the Presbyterians on a few occasions.

    Socially this has the affect of pushing a lot of the drinking underneath the table and raising generations of children who primarily associate drinking with “getting wasted”

    These children lack examples of how it can be done in moderation and in godliness, and that partially contributes to the irresponsibility shown in that area.

    I just got back from New Attitude, a conference in Louisville, and it was a special thing to be able to go out with your pastor and the men of the church after the sermons to sit, grab a drink and just talk.

    Sometimes rather than just a total prohibition, young people need to have godly examples of how this thing can be used rightly.

    just an incomplete thought,
    n

  • Bryan Lindemood

    How different the culture would be if there was no legal age for alcohol consumption and drivers licenses were granted at the “adult” age of 18. Drunken driving should still obviously be penalized swiftly and harshly.

    The teaching of moderation should be left to the family where God’s gifts of Lutheran beverages (which we all know Jesus also enjoyed and which will be even better in heaven) can be used rightly as Nathan points out (above). Less laws, pass the freedom, please.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    How different the culture would be if there was no legal age for alcohol consumption and drivers licenses were granted at the “adult” age of 18. Drunken driving should still obviously be penalized swiftly and harshly.

    The teaching of moderation should be left to the family where God’s gifts of Lutheran beverages (which we all know Jesus also enjoyed and which will be even better in heaven) can be used rightly as Nathan points out (above). Less laws, pass the freedom, please.

  • Richard Lewer

    Liquor stores in the mid-west do not need Baptist windows. Anyone from the South knows what I am talking about.

  • Richard Lewer

    Liquor stores in the mid-west do not need Baptist windows. Anyone from the South knows what I am talking about.

  • RandomBaptistPHCstudent

    I hate being late to blog conversations!! :P A lot of stigma is being placed on Baptists for opposing drinking. It is deserved now, but didn’t always used to be. Most of the causes of the prohibition cause lie in American history–namely, the Second Great Awakening. It was at this time that Arminianism, social crusading (including prohibition), and an overall democratization of American Christianity became prominent. The attitude of prohibition was strengthened during the Progressive era, where there were several reform-crusade movements. It was at this time that the Welch’s company started to make grape juice for Communion instead of wine. It was actually the Brethren church (which sect I do not know) which started to ban wine from the Lord’s Supper, mainly because most of its converts were former drunkards. I personally as a Reformed Baptist oppose the Second Great Awakening, along with my Lutheran and Presbyterian friends. And that’s why I also don’t really condemn people for drinking. I don’t drink because alchoholism runs in my family. I just thought I would say Baptists aren’t all “dry.” It’s a stigma resulting from the late 1800s on to today.

  • RandomBaptistPHCstudent

    I hate being late to blog conversations!! :P A lot of stigma is being placed on Baptists for opposing drinking. It is deserved now, but didn’t always used to be. Most of the causes of the prohibition cause lie in American history–namely, the Second Great Awakening. It was at this time that Arminianism, social crusading (including prohibition), and an overall democratization of American Christianity became prominent. The attitude of prohibition was strengthened during the Progressive era, where there were several reform-crusade movements. It was at this time that the Welch’s company started to make grape juice for Communion instead of wine. It was actually the Brethren church (which sect I do not know) which started to ban wine from the Lord’s Supper, mainly because most of its converts were former drunkards. I personally as a Reformed Baptist oppose the Second Great Awakening, along with my Lutheran and Presbyterian friends. And that’s why I also don’t really condemn people for drinking. I don’t drink because alchoholism runs in my family. I just thought I would say Baptists aren’t all “dry.” It’s a stigma resulting from the late 1800s on to today.

  • Dave Sarafolean

    I don’t think that this is just a Lutheran phenomenon. The other large religious group in this part of the US are Roman Catholics (who are not known for being teetotalers). Somewhere around 65% of the population in Minnesota and Wisconsin are either Catholic or Lutheran. Minnesota is slightly more Lutheran than Catholic while Wisconsin is slightly more Catholic than Lutheran. Social drinking is part of their ethnic background plain and simple.

    I agree with the comments (and the links) that you can say anything by manipulating the statistics a bit.

  • Dave Sarafolean

    I don’t think that this is just a Lutheran phenomenon. The other large religious group in this part of the US are Roman Catholics (who are not known for being teetotalers). Somewhere around 65% of the population in Minnesota and Wisconsin are either Catholic or Lutheran. Minnesota is slightly more Lutheran than Catholic while Wisconsin is slightly more Catholic than Lutheran. Social drinking is part of their ethnic background plain and simple.

    I agree with the comments (and the links) that you can say anything by manipulating the statistics a bit.

  • Norman Teigen

    I’m tired of alcohol being promoted as a means of being socially sophisticated. In Minnesota we are extending the bar hours during the Republican convention to 4 AM so that we will not look like rubes.

    I find it interesting that one of the most popular sites on ‘The Wittenberg Trail’ is devoted to Lutherans who like to booze it up.

  • Norman Teigen

    I’m tired of alcohol being promoted as a means of being socially sophisticated. In Minnesota we are extending the bar hours during the Republican convention to 4 AM so that we will not look like rubes.

    I find it interesting that one of the most popular sites on ‘The Wittenberg Trail’ is devoted to Lutherans who like to booze it up.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Lutherans probably should not get so enamored with good beverages – but to enjoy a couple beers here or there with a buddy or a glass of wine in the evening with one’s spouse, or a shot of something a little stronger on a cold night is certainly is a gift from God to enjoy.

    What I really don’t like is being nickel-n-dimed by the government over things they really have no right taxing. And this is a reason to assert our Christian freedom even in silly areas such as this. Have fun and grab a beverage!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Lutherans probably should not get so enamored with good beverages – but to enjoy a couple beers here or there with a buddy or a glass of wine in the evening with one’s spouse, or a shot of something a little stronger on a cold night is certainly is a gift from God to enjoy.

    What I really don’t like is being nickel-n-dimed by the government over things they really have no right taxing. And this is a reason to assert our Christian freedom even in silly areas such as this. Have fun and grab a beverage!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    By the way, I’m a Utah Lutheran, and here there’s also a bit of a social stigma attached to even touching the stuff.

    For example, the local German Choir practices at our church, they love to sing Bach and Distler, but at their fellowship dinners, its only punch and water, and especially no coffee. Here’s all these Germans, whose mothers and fathers were Lutheran in the Old Country, who go up to the Lutheran pastor and love him up because he keeps asking them to sing Old Lutheran Hymns for the Lutheran congregation and for their concerts, and all the while they go on about how much they respect Luther for “opening the way for the truth” (of Mormonism).

    Imagine living with that around you all the time in your neighbors, friends, (and family members), your children who despite all your warnings still married a mormon – everyone with so much “respect” for Luther.

    Your love will grow for the pure Gospel of free forgiveness and also you will learn to appreciate your Christian freedom at every turn. The Lutherans here are really something!

    In the midwest, its a different sort of culture, I remember.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    By the way, I’m a Utah Lutheran, and here there’s also a bit of a social stigma attached to even touching the stuff.

    For example, the local German Choir practices at our church, they love to sing Bach and Distler, but at their fellowship dinners, its only punch and water, and especially no coffee. Here’s all these Germans, whose mothers and fathers were Lutheran in the Old Country, who go up to the Lutheran pastor and love him up because he keeps asking them to sing Old Lutheran Hymns for the Lutheran congregation and for their concerts, and all the while they go on about how much they respect Luther for “opening the way for the truth” (of Mormonism).

    Imagine living with that around you all the time in your neighbors, friends, (and family members), your children who despite all your warnings still married a mormon – everyone with so much “respect” for Luther.

    Your love will grow for the pure Gospel of free forgiveness and also you will learn to appreciate your Christian freedom at every turn. The Lutherans here are really something!

    In the midwest, its a different sort of culture, I remember.

  • http://roadsage.blogspot.com Marge Lillo

    Those five states also have the highest rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, which is permanent brain damage to the developing fetus that can be the result when the mother drinks alcohol while she is pregnant. Sad to be in the top five list for brain damage, don’t you think?

  • http://roadsage.blogspot.com Marge Lillo

    Those five states also have the highest rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, which is permanent brain damage to the developing fetus that can be the result when the mother drinks alcohol while she is pregnant. Sad to be in the top five list for brain damage, don’t you think?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, just because radical pietists in Germany also tried teetotaling (why is it that Lutherans seem to blame all the world’s ills on pietists, BTW?) doesn’t mean that cracking down on liquor in the USA doesn’t have anything to do with a whiskey economy west of the Appalachians.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, just because radical pietists in Germany also tried teetotaling (why is it that Lutherans seem to blame all the world’s ills on pietists, BTW?) doesn’t mean that cracking down on liquor in the USA doesn’t have anything to do with a whiskey economy west of the Appalachians.

  • kerner

    BB:

    Lutherans tend to condemn pietism because we worry about American Protestantism (i.e. Baptists, Calvinists, charismatics, etc.) influencing Lutherans to the point of blurring the distinctives that keep our doctrine Lutheran (or, as we would say, Biblical; but I digress).

    In this day and age, the cultural forces that made it easier to maintain our distinctives are waning, so many of us (myself included) are more vigilant about the general America Protestant culture affecting the way Lutherans do things. And since American Protestant culture resembles pietism, we tend to speak out against it.

  • kerner

    BB:

    Lutherans tend to condemn pietism because we worry about American Protestantism (i.e. Baptists, Calvinists, charismatics, etc.) influencing Lutherans to the point of blurring the distinctives that keep our doctrine Lutheran (or, as we would say, Biblical; but I digress).

    In this day and age, the cultural forces that made it easier to maintain our distinctives are waning, so many of us (myself included) are more vigilant about the general America Protestant culture affecting the way Lutherans do things. And since American Protestant culture resembles pietism, we tend to speak out against it.

  • Dr. G

    If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail.

    If a group is strongly anti-pietistic, then everyone else tends to look like they’re pietistic.

    There was much more to Prohibition, whiskey economies (and the reaction against whiskey economies) than pietism. Framing the history of teetotaling as an effect of pietism is about as accurate as framing Lutheranism as a church which only sings Luther’s hymns – a wild exaggeration even though most do sing them often. (or at least they did back when I was a member)

  • Dr. G

    If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail.

    If a group is strongly anti-pietistic, then everyone else tends to look like they’re pietistic.

    There was much more to Prohibition, whiskey economies (and the reaction against whiskey economies) than pietism. Framing the history of teetotaling as an effect of pietism is about as accurate as framing Lutheranism as a church which only sings Luther’s hymns – a wild exaggeration even though most do sing them often. (or at least they did back when I was a member)

  • Aussie Dave

    Didn’t Augustine say something like “no virtue in abstinence or drunkenness, but virtue in moderation”, presumably because us moderate drinkers could always have another glass (or two) of Aussie shiraz (up to 14.5-15% now) or Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc

  • Aussie Dave

    Didn’t Augustine say something like “no virtue in abstinence or drunkenness, but virtue in moderation”, presumably because us moderate drinkers could always have another glass (or two) of Aussie shiraz (up to 14.5-15% now) or Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc

  • kerner

    Dr. G.

    I’m sure the development of prohibition in the United States was as complex as you say, and that attributing it simply to “pietism” would not be accurate. But that’s not what I mean, and I don’t think that’s what most other Lutherans mean either.

    According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, I grant you, but humor me), the pietist movement had a great inlfuence on the development of Methodism and the Prussian Union (which forced the unification of the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia).

    Lutherans regard Methodism and similar denominations as imposing a lot of un-Biblical prohibitions on Christians (no drinking, no dancing, no card playing, etc.), the apparent purpose of which is to provide the individual Christian with a “good” witness through all this abstinance. And of course we reject this idea as a lot of un-Biblical works righteousness.

    Many Lutherans in the United States, the LC-MS among them, attend churches that were founded by Lutherans who left Germany rather than compromise their doctrine as required by the Prussian union. So you can see how we would regard pietism, which contributed to the imposition of the Prussian union, with some healthy suspicion.

    Maybe it isn’t strictly accurate to lump all American protestants we don’t like as “pietists”, as perhaps the sloppier among us do. On the other hand, it IS accurate to identify the pietism that developed in Europe as an influence and precursor of many characteristics of American protestant churches that we reject today. So if Lutherans say “we’re not pietists” as a short hand way of saying that we are not hung up on a lot of abstaining from things that the Bible does not require us to abstain from, and as a short hand way of saying that we reject the works-righteous nature of all these man made rules, I that is a legitimate way of communicating our position in an abrieviated way.

  • kerner

    Dr. G.

    I’m sure the development of prohibition in the United States was as complex as you say, and that attributing it simply to “pietism” would not be accurate. But that’s not what I mean, and I don’t think that’s what most other Lutherans mean either.

    According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, I grant you, but humor me), the pietist movement had a great inlfuence on the development of Methodism and the Prussian Union (which forced the unification of the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia).

    Lutherans regard Methodism and similar denominations as imposing a lot of un-Biblical prohibitions on Christians (no drinking, no dancing, no card playing, etc.), the apparent purpose of which is to provide the individual Christian with a “good” witness through all this abstinance. And of course we reject this idea as a lot of un-Biblical works righteousness.

    Many Lutherans in the United States, the LC-MS among them, attend churches that were founded by Lutherans who left Germany rather than compromise their doctrine as required by the Prussian union. So you can see how we would regard pietism, which contributed to the imposition of the Prussian union, with some healthy suspicion.

    Maybe it isn’t strictly accurate to lump all American protestants we don’t like as “pietists”, as perhaps the sloppier among us do. On the other hand, it IS accurate to identify the pietism that developed in Europe as an influence and precursor of many characteristics of American protestant churches that we reject today. So if Lutherans say “we’re not pietists” as a short hand way of saying that we are not hung up on a lot of abstaining from things that the Bible does not require us to abstain from, and as a short hand way of saying that we reject the works-righteous nature of all these man made rules, I that is a legitimate way of communicating our position in an abrieviated way.

  • kerner

    er-I mean: abbrieviated.

  • kerner

    er-I mean: abbrieviated.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X