So asks Reformed blogger Kevin DeYoung:
What up with Lutherans?
More to the point: where are they? I’m looking for help from those of you out there who know the Lutheran world better than I do. I look around at what seems vibrant in evangelicalism and see lots of Baptists and Presbyterians. I see a lot of Free Church folks and a growing number of Anglicans. I see non-denominational guys aplenty. The Pentecostal world is a little outside my circles, but I certainly see continuationists and charismatics in conservative evangelical circles. But I don’t see many Lutherans.
I don’t know of Lutherans speaking at the leading conferences. I don’t know of many popular books written by Lutherans. I don’t know of church planting movements among Lutherans. I know lots of people who look up to Martin Luther, but I don’t see the influence of Lutherans.
I’m genuinely curious to know why the big tent of conservative, confessional evangelicalism doesn’t have more Lutherans. I understand that the Calvinist soteriology of TGC and T4G types doesn’t fit with Methodism or parts of the Holiness traditions, but Luther’s doctrine of predestination was Calvinist before there was Calvin.
I know Gene Veith is Lutheran. So is Doug Sweeney. White Horse Inn has worked hard to include the confessional wing of Lutheranism. But after that, I’m drawing a blank to come up with contemporary Lutheran leaders/theologians/pastors I know or read. I’m not blaming anyone–Lutherans or the Young, Restless, Reformed movement or the blogosphere or Sarah Palin. It’s just something I’ve thought about from time to time: Where have all the Lutherans gone? I know you exist outside of Lake Wobegon.
So which of the statements below best explains why quandry?
1. I’m ignorant. This is, no doubt, a big part of the explanation. I’m sure there are thousands of good Lutheran churches and pastors. I just don’t know all the good they are doing and saying. And there may be thinkers and authors I like who are simply Lutheran without my knowing it.
2. With their high church, confessional tradition, Lutheranism has always been a little out of place with the sometimes rootless, low church expressions of evangelicalism. They never got on board with evangelicalism after the Great Awakening. This may be part of it, but evangelicalism has been influenced by many Anglican theologians and preachers, hasn’t it?
3. Lutherans are content to remain in ethnic enclaves. Again, that could be part of the issue, but then how do you explain the influence of the Dutch Reformed on evangelicalism?
4. The Lutheran view of the sacraments is a bridge too far for many evangelicals, and the faddish nature of evangelicalism is a bridge too far for many Lutherans.
5. Lutheranism in America has bigger problems and less influence than many people realize. The bulk of Lutherans have gone liberal and the rest have gone into bunker mode.
I’ll read the comments more carefully than usual. I blog so that I might understand. Help me out, especially if you are part of the tribe: What’s up with Lutherans?
How would you answer him? (Click the link and go to the comments to see what I said. Also see what others have said, including the folks at Pirate Christian Radio.)
HT: Justin Taylor