Has Lutheranism caused secularism?

A Danish scholar looks at the influence of Protestantism–specifically, Lutheranism–on modern Scandinavian culture.  Some of her conclusions:

Lutheran Protestants are free from religiosity

For centuries, Lutheran Protestant Christianity in Northern Europe and the US taught our ancestors that there was nothing they could do to make God think better of them. Neither good deeds nor giving money to the church was seen as having importance in the eyes of God.

“For Protestants, life can be good just as it is. Life does not have to be lived in any particular ’religious’ way in order to have a good relationship with God,” says [Matias] Dalsgaard.

Protestants are free from obligations to God. They don’t have to live according to strict rules. Instead they have been charged with a rather nebulous task.

“Protestants are commanded to live an ordinary life together with other people. It is a tough task because Protestants are not told specifically how to do this,” says Dalsgaard.

‘Protestant’ countries have a culture of freedom

Throughout history, Protestant Christians have tried to manage their freedom in the best possible way. Over time, this has permeated the culture in countries that subscribe to the Protestant tradition, even though Christianity has gradually slipped into the background.

In Denmark, Sweden, the UK and Germany, this freedom meant that around 500 years ago, citizens started to become what is termed ‘modern’. It occurred after the Reformation in Northern Europe in the first half of the 16th century.

In this context, ‘modern’ has nothing to do with fashion, but means that people feel more free to make their own decisions without causing others to react negatively to those decisions.

“One could go as far as to say that the Protestant tradition squeezes out religion, because it rejects the idea that something holy exists here on Earth,” says the researcher.

Kierkegaard furnishes a good example

The author has analysed a large number of the most significant Christian texts. But the most important writer referred to in his book is the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.

“Kierkegaard is perhaps the sharpest existential analyst in the Lutheran Protestant tradition. He is the one who best presents the existential challenges, conflicts and opportunities. That is why I use him as a starting point,” he says.

You shall not know yourself

Kierkegaard describes the situation in which modern people find themselves today. In his book ‘Either/Or’, Kierkegaard introduces a person whom he calls ’the aesthete’. This is a man who cannot find a way to ‘choose himself’.

Kierkegaard criticises the aesthete for not choosing himself. Instead, he avoids himself by constantly acting out multiple roles.

But although you should ’choose yourself’, there is no prescription for what to choose, because you cannot find a core that is yourself.

“The Delphic Oracle – which existed in Ancient Greece – said ‘know thyself’. But Kierkegaard says ‘choose yourself’ – it is action-oriented. You should actively be the one you are, where you are – and not think so much about who you are. This is a task given to us by God,” says Dalsgaard.

via Protestantism has left us utterly confused | ScienceNordic.

This scholar, of course, misses the distinction between orthodox Lutheranism and the liberal, culturally-conforming state church.  Kierkegaard’s emphasis on “choosing” would not seem to go well with Luther’s “bondage of the will.” And, of course, there is nothing about Christ, much less the Law (which destroys all complacency–I thought guilt and gloominess were part of the Scandinavian legacy!) and the Gospel.  Or the Cross.  The notion that one can have the influence of Christianity without Christianity–  “even though Christianity has gradually slipped into the background”–is  ludicrous on the face of it.

And yet, aren’t there some valid observations here?  Lutherans, even orthodox ones, do seem to have less “religiosity.”  And there is quite a bit of the doctrine of vocation here:  “live an ordinary life with other people”; “you should actively be the one you are, where you are–and not think so much about who you are.”

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.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Some valid observations, yes. But one thing the researcher is totally missing is that Scandinavian countries that experienced reformation also received any form of Christianity 1000 years later than the Southern European (now Roman Catholic) countries. And even then we received a quite corrupted, state-invaded version of it.

    When speaking about Christianity molding a whole culture, you can’t expect time to be an insignificant factor. Even Lutheranism with its revolutionary concept of actually teaching people something about the faith they’re baptized in, has had a hard time rooting out the “Old Adam” of the Scandinavian culture: eg. still in the 19th century there could be sages in many villages as a remainder of the old pagan habits.

    When you add here the enlightenment era, pietism, liberal theology etc., it leaves us with roughly 200 years of influence of orthodox Lutheran theology to the whole country.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Some valid observations, yes. But one thing the researcher is totally missing is that Scandinavian countries that experienced reformation also received any form of Christianity 1000 years later than the Southern European (now Roman Catholic) countries. And even then we received a quite corrupted, state-invaded version of it.

    When speaking about Christianity molding a whole culture, you can’t expect time to be an insignificant factor. Even Lutheranism with its revolutionary concept of actually teaching people something about the faith they’re baptized in, has had a hard time rooting out the “Old Adam” of the Scandinavian culture: eg. still in the 19th century there could be sages in many villages as a remainder of the old pagan habits.

    When you add here the enlightenment era, pietism, liberal theology etc., it leaves us with roughly 200 years of influence of orthodox Lutheran theology to the whole country.

  • Gary

    Kierkegaard rocks.

  • Gary

    Kierkegaard rocks.

  • Tom Hering

    Perhaps the real reason why people in northern latitudes wonder about who they are is … they live in northern latitudes. They have long winters to wonder about such things. People who live in warmer climes don’t bother, much, with these questions. They’re too busy enjoying sunny weather.

    Seriously, the only cure for existential confusion is activity. Any activity.

    So, if you happen to be making shoes at this point in your life, the Biblical/Lutheran advice to be the best shoemaker you can be is pretty good advice. Now you’re someone who makes life better for others. Now you’re an image of God.

  • Tom Hering

    Perhaps the real reason why people in northern latitudes wonder about who they are is … they live in northern latitudes. They have long winters to wonder about such things. People who live in warmer climes don’t bother, much, with these questions. They’re too busy enjoying sunny weather.

    Seriously, the only cure for existential confusion is activity. Any activity.

    So, if you happen to be making shoes at this point in your life, the Biblical/Lutheran advice to be the best shoemaker you can be is pretty good advice. Now you’re someone who makes life better for others. Now you’re an image of God.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Snafu mentions pietism, and I think this needs to be taken strongly into account here. (And I speak as a pietist.) Although pietism existed throughout the Lutheran world, it had influence in Scandinavia far beyond its influence in Germany. The “dark side” of pietism (as I dramatize in my novel “Troll Valley,” plug, plug) is a tendency to an increasingly secular passion to fix the world through civil law.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Snafu mentions pietism, and I think this needs to be taken strongly into account here. (And I speak as a pietist.) Although pietism existed throughout the Lutheran world, it had influence in Scandinavia far beyond its influence in Germany. The “dark side” of pietism (as I dramatize in my novel “Troll Valley,” plug, plug) is a tendency to an increasingly secular passion to fix the world through civil law.

  • Pete

    “Neither good deeds nor giving money to the church was seen as having importance in the eyes of God”

    Yes, but perhaps an over-simplification. As a lifelong Lutheran, I wouldn’t see this statement as accurately characterizing my belief or practice.

  • Pete

    “Neither good deeds nor giving money to the church was seen as having importance in the eyes of God”

    Yes, but perhaps an over-simplification. As a lifelong Lutheran, I wouldn’t see this statement as accurately characterizing my belief or practice.

  • Pete

    Like Tom @3 said.

  • Pete

    Like Tom @3 said.

  • Cincinnatus

    I don’t know if Lutheranism caused secularism, but Luther himself certainly played a part.

  • Cincinnatus

    I don’t know if Lutheranism caused secularism, but Luther himself certainly played a part.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    My fellow Scandinavian Lars rocks there above at #4.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    My fellow Scandinavian Lars rocks there above at #4.

  • George

    I don’t know much else about his thesis, and its been a long time since I’ve read Kierkegaard, but I recall that Either/Or is comparing the aesthetic vs. moral “stages on life’s way” without addressing in any way Kierkegaard’s “religious” stage, in which (as we can see in “Practice in Christianity” and “Works of Love”) is dominated by a desire to be “abnormally” good, though perhaps not in a way recognizable by common people.

    Also, I think this would make more sense if Catholic and Orthodox countries were not just as secular (in the case of some Orthodox countries, more secular! though likely due to communism. Though at the same time much of the secularism in Protestant countries can be laid at the foot of Fascism).

    I do think it is the case that Lutherans commonly practice fewer rituals and traditions than do other traditional churches, which generally help to remind people that they are Catholic/Orthodox/whatever. This makes it, in a sense, easier for someone to just “stop being Lutheran” since it is not as much of a cultural investment as other churches.

  • George

    I don’t know much else about his thesis, and its been a long time since I’ve read Kierkegaard, but I recall that Either/Or is comparing the aesthetic vs. moral “stages on life’s way” without addressing in any way Kierkegaard’s “religious” stage, in which (as we can see in “Practice in Christianity” and “Works of Love”) is dominated by a desire to be “abnormally” good, though perhaps not in a way recognizable by common people.

    Also, I think this would make more sense if Catholic and Orthodox countries were not just as secular (in the case of some Orthodox countries, more secular! though likely due to communism. Though at the same time much of the secularism in Protestant countries can be laid at the foot of Fascism).

    I do think it is the case that Lutherans commonly practice fewer rituals and traditions than do other traditional churches, which generally help to remind people that they are Catholic/Orthodox/whatever. This makes it, in a sense, easier for someone to just “stop being Lutheran” since it is not as much of a cultural investment as other churches.

  • Gary

    Lars, I think there are helpful tendencies associated with pietism, although Lutheran right-wing bloggers never seem to notice, as busy as they are bashing it in its entirety.

    However, I don’t know about your reference to this particular “dark side.” Imagine a hypothetical congregation that is thoroughly Orthodox in the “golden age” sense, with all the attending romantic nonsense. Add to it a “Confessional” pastor who deftly divides Law and Gospel in his preaching, and who administers the sacraments (the “gifts”) every Sunday. Members have been well-taught in regards to seeing their secular positions in terms of vocation, and these members hearken to the Scriptural preaching they hear regularly. By this preaching, not only do they clearly see (by faith) Christ as their only hope and the world’s true Redeemer, but they are stirred often to consider what Christ has redeemed their lives _for_.

    In other words, this is not a pietistic setting at all. But when believers are understanding of vocation, wherever they have influence in the secular world they try to reflect living in relationship with God under His reign. So how could they not use civil law, and a free press, economics, and protest when called for, to try to “fix the world”? And why shouldn’t they? While some (specifically, pastors) are given the “job” of influencing the world through preaching, not all are called to preach.

    So yes, try to fix whatever part of the world you have influence over by means of civil laws and whatever other secular power you have.

  • Gary

    Lars, I think there are helpful tendencies associated with pietism, although Lutheran right-wing bloggers never seem to notice, as busy as they are bashing it in its entirety.

    However, I don’t know about your reference to this particular “dark side.” Imagine a hypothetical congregation that is thoroughly Orthodox in the “golden age” sense, with all the attending romantic nonsense. Add to it a “Confessional” pastor who deftly divides Law and Gospel in his preaching, and who administers the sacraments (the “gifts”) every Sunday. Members have been well-taught in regards to seeing their secular positions in terms of vocation, and these members hearken to the Scriptural preaching they hear regularly. By this preaching, not only do they clearly see (by faith) Christ as their only hope and the world’s true Redeemer, but they are stirred often to consider what Christ has redeemed their lives _for_.

    In other words, this is not a pietistic setting at all. But when believers are understanding of vocation, wherever they have influence in the secular world they try to reflect living in relationship with God under His reign. So how could they not use civil law, and a free press, economics, and protest when called for, to try to “fix the world”? And why shouldn’t they? While some (specifically, pastors) are given the “job” of influencing the world through preaching, not all are called to preach.

    So yes, try to fix whatever part of the world you have influence over by means of civil laws and whatever other secular power you have.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Gene Veith: “And yet, aren’t there some valid observations here?”

    Is this one a valid observation:

    “For centuries, Lutheran Protestant Christianity in Northern Europe and the US taught our ancestors that there was nothing they could do to make God think better of them.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Gene Veith: “And yet, aren’t there some valid observations here?”

    Is this one a valid observation:

    “For centuries, Lutheran Protestant Christianity in Northern Europe and the US taught our ancestors that there was nothing they could do to make God think better of them.”

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Before we evaluate this, we need to make a distinction between what we understand Lutheranism to accurately be, and how it’s understood by the general laity. We may affirm that the former does not lead to a lethargic religious life, but that may be beside the point.

    In my own sermonizing, I worry that, in preaching sola fide, I will be perceived as preaching complacency. Rhetoric which is anti works righteous sounds very much like a call to inactivity. I recall professor Scare once affirming, “You owe Christ nothing!” Which, strictly speaking is true, in that our salvation is a gift, and by definition, one does not owe someone for a gift.

    One may respond to this predicament with Law, but even if done eloquently, it will be hard to distinguish from works-righteousness. The traditional homiletic technique, which we could call Waltherian, is to lead the congregation through a process as in a drama, terrorizing with the Law, then consoling with the Gospel. This makes great theological sense, however it may not work psychologically. Instead of producing gratitude which is expressed in a zeal for serving God, the human mind just breaths a sigh of relief and goes about its fleshly interests.

    I am in no way saying that the doctrine of salvation by grace is wrong. I am suggesting (musing?) that it may have a somnambulic effect on our fallen nature. Complacency and secularization may be a built in part of the Truth, as it interacts with man as he is, as oppose to man as he should be.

    Of course my orthodox brethren will point out that the work of the Holy Spirit is the operative factor. And they would be right, however, the Holy Spirit seems has a preference for minorities i.e. “Many are called but few are chosen.”

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Before we evaluate this, we need to make a distinction between what we understand Lutheranism to accurately be, and how it’s understood by the general laity. We may affirm that the former does not lead to a lethargic religious life, but that may be beside the point.

    In my own sermonizing, I worry that, in preaching sola fide, I will be perceived as preaching complacency. Rhetoric which is anti works righteous sounds very much like a call to inactivity. I recall professor Scare once affirming, “You owe Christ nothing!” Which, strictly speaking is true, in that our salvation is a gift, and by definition, one does not owe someone for a gift.

    One may respond to this predicament with Law, but even if done eloquently, it will be hard to distinguish from works-righteousness. The traditional homiletic technique, which we could call Waltherian, is to lead the congregation through a process as in a drama, terrorizing with the Law, then consoling with the Gospel. This makes great theological sense, however it may not work psychologically. Instead of producing gratitude which is expressed in a zeal for serving God, the human mind just breaths a sigh of relief and goes about its fleshly interests.

    I am in no way saying that the doctrine of salvation by grace is wrong. I am suggesting (musing?) that it may have a somnambulic effect on our fallen nature. Complacency and secularization may be a built in part of the Truth, as it interacts with man as he is, as oppose to man as he should be.

    Of course my orthodox brethren will point out that the work of the Holy Spirit is the operative factor. And they would be right, however, the Holy Spirit seems has a preference for minorities i.e. “Many are called but few are chosen.”

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Did I write “Scare”? I believe it’s “Scaer”. Sorry.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Did I write “Scare”? I believe it’s “Scaer”. Sorry.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    @ 12, Pastor Spomer,

    I think you have written great observations from your side of the pulpit, and the implications of that and its practical outworking is probably what this Danish scholar is writing about and arguing for in her Ph.D dissertation.

    Seed. Fruit.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    @ 12, Pastor Spomer,

    I think you have written great observations from your side of the pulpit, and the implications of that and its practical outworking is probably what this Danish scholar is writing about and arguing for in her Ph.D dissertation.

    Seed. Fruit.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Pastor Spomer: “Before we evaluate this, we need to make a distinction between what we understand Lutheranism to accurately be, and how it’s understood by the general laity. We may affirm that the former does not lead to a lethargic religious life, but that may be beside the point.”

    Distinction between Intended Seed and Unintended Fruit, but realizing that there’s a connection.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Pastor Spomer: “Before we evaluate this, we need to make a distinction between what we understand Lutheranism to accurately be, and how it’s understood by the general laity. We may affirm that the former does not lead to a lethargic religious life, but that may be beside the point.”

    Distinction between Intended Seed and Unintended Fruit, but realizing that there’s a connection.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But isn’t this simply the way of humanity in general? You look at pretty much any denomination and you’ll encounter a drift towards secularism in one way or another. As sinful beings, we are “prone to wander” as the hymn states it.

    Put it this way: the apostles themselves had to deal with problems in the churches which they themselves had a hand in establishing and maintaining. If they had such problems with keeping the early church from drifting, what makes us think we won’t have those same problems?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But isn’t this simply the way of humanity in general? You look at pretty much any denomination and you’ll encounter a drift towards secularism in one way or another. As sinful beings, we are “prone to wander” as the hymn states it.

    Put it this way: the apostles themselves had to deal with problems in the churches which they themselves had a hand in establishing and maintaining. If they had such problems with keeping the early church from drifting, what makes us think we won’t have those same problems?

  • Jerry

    Reading Kierkegaard is much like reading the Bible, you can pick and choose whatever you wish to say whatever you wish. However when all is read together you see Christ…in this way many believe Kierkegaard was a rather orthodox Pietist, but not ordinary, who was taking on this very attitude of complacency in the Lutheran church of his age. Kierkegaard’s ‘leap of faith’ has been taken so far out of context that it no longer carries the meaning Kierkegaard intended it to have.

    If anyone has questions about Northern Lutheranism, and have not read Giertz, they definitely need to read The Hammer of God. It will give you a more complete picture. Furthermore, the parallels with Kierkegaard are striking.

  • Jerry

    Reading Kierkegaard is much like reading the Bible, you can pick and choose whatever you wish to say whatever you wish. However when all is read together you see Christ…in this way many believe Kierkegaard was a rather orthodox Pietist, but not ordinary, who was taking on this very attitude of complacency in the Lutheran church of his age. Kierkegaard’s ‘leap of faith’ has been taken so far out of context that it no longer carries the meaning Kierkegaard intended it to have.

    If anyone has questions about Northern Lutheranism, and have not read Giertz, they definitely need to read The Hammer of God. It will give you a more complete picture. Furthermore, the parallels with Kierkegaard are striking.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Do wish I had more time for this. But yeah, Lars’s excellent novel deals with this very well.
    Kierkegaard? I won’t be hard on him. But to use him to explain how Lutheranism is responsible for secularism is a bit of a stretch. I don’t find him to have had the best grasp on Luther, even if a prominent ex Lutheran historian who swam the Bospherous disagrees with me. He swam the Bospherous…
    Personally, I wouldn’t go after Justification by faith alone in all that. I would go after the separation of church and state that Luther proposed, and follow how that has played out in a Constatinian state that was reluctant to let go, and a church that taught this but itself was reluctant to let go. My thoughts.
    Basically I’m saying Lutheranism has played a part, but I think a different part than the author imagines.
    Another good show seeming to deal with all this, but I have only seen one episode so far, is Anno 1790, which takes place in Sweden and is the only show on television where I ever saw anyone reciting Luther’s Small Catechism.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Do wish I had more time for this. But yeah, Lars’s excellent novel deals with this very well.
    Kierkegaard? I won’t be hard on him. But to use him to explain how Lutheranism is responsible for secularism is a bit of a stretch. I don’t find him to have had the best grasp on Luther, even if a prominent ex Lutheran historian who swam the Bospherous disagrees with me. He swam the Bospherous…
    Personally, I wouldn’t go after Justification by faith alone in all that. I would go after the separation of church and state that Luther proposed, and follow how that has played out in a Constatinian state that was reluctant to let go, and a church that taught this but itself was reluctant to let go. My thoughts.
    Basically I’m saying Lutheranism has played a part, but I think a different part than the author imagines.
    Another good show seeming to deal with all this, but I have only seen one episode so far, is Anno 1790, which takes place in Sweden and is the only show on television where I ever saw anyone reciting Luther’s Small Catechism.

  • Gary

    @ 16

    “You look at pretty much any denomination and you’ll encounter a drift towards secularism in one way or another.”

    Hmmmm. I’m having some difficulty with this. I know what piety is and also what pietism is, so by extension, knowing the meaning of the word secular, one would think secular is to “secularism” as piety is to pietism, but no. Webster defines “secularism” differently as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations”.

    The dictionary definition doesn’t help me interpret your comment, since I don’t think you mean every denomination is drifting towards a rejection of religion. Perhaps you could offer an example of what you’d consider a drifting toward secularism?

  • Gary

    @ 16

    “You look at pretty much any denomination and you’ll encounter a drift towards secularism in one way or another.”

    Hmmmm. I’m having some difficulty with this. I know what piety is and also what pietism is, so by extension, knowing the meaning of the word secular, one would think secular is to “secularism” as piety is to pietism, but no. Webster defines “secularism” differently as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations”.

    The dictionary definition doesn’t help me interpret your comment, since I don’t think you mean every denomination is drifting towards a rejection of religion. Perhaps you could offer an example of what you’d consider a drifting toward secularism?

  • Jon

    “[A]ren’t there some valid observations here?

    Yes, I observe that the author is getting the message of Lutheranism–i.e., freedom the Gospel–wrong, just like those of her fellow Scandinavian “protestants” she seems to be complaining about.

    The freedom of the Gospel is that we are free in Christ, so now then we are free to go out and love and serve our neighbor.

    It’s the Ephesians 2:10 part that’s missing, vocation. That she is mixing it up with humanist thought of Scandinavian Kirkegaard that turns one inward is, therefore, not suprising why this is the result.

    It is an example of Lutheranism lite- or gone off the rails.

  • Jon

    “[A]ren’t there some valid observations here?

    Yes, I observe that the author is getting the message of Lutheranism–i.e., freedom the Gospel–wrong, just like those of her fellow Scandinavian “protestants” she seems to be complaining about.

    The freedom of the Gospel is that we are free in Christ, so now then we are free to go out and love and serve our neighbor.

    It’s the Ephesians 2:10 part that’s missing, vocation. That she is mixing it up with humanist thought of Scandinavian Kirkegaard that turns one inward is, therefore, not suprising why this is the result.

    It is an example of Lutheranism lite- or gone off the rails.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Gary @19,
    Would you say that in history there is a general trend of churches/denominations to drift from sound orthodoxy over time?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Gary @19,
    Would you say that in history there is a general trend of churches/denominations to drift from sound orthodoxy over time?

  • Joe

    She seems to not understand Lutheran teaching on good works. They are decidedly not unimportant in the eyes of God. Instead, they are the very means by and through which God has decided to poor out his mercy to us. They are very important in Lutheran teaching. They are just not the way to salvation.

    She also assumes that the incorrect position that is sadly held by some among us – its doesn’t matter if I sin because God will forgive me later – is orthodox Lutheran teaching. It is not. Callousness to sin or premeditated sin with the expectation of later forgiveness often means that there is no real repentance.

  • Joe

    She seems to not understand Lutheran teaching on good works. They are decidedly not unimportant in the eyes of God. Instead, they are the very means by and through which God has decided to poor out his mercy to us. They are very important in Lutheran teaching. They are just not the way to salvation.

    She also assumes that the incorrect position that is sadly held by some among us – its doesn’t matter if I sin because God will forgive me later – is orthodox Lutheran teaching. It is not. Callousness to sin or premeditated sin with the expectation of later forgiveness often means that there is no real repentance.

  • Gary

    Dean @21

    1. Perhaps, but that’s not what I think the word “secularism” means.
    2. Orthodoxy itself changes over time more than you might care to imagine.

  • Gary

    Dean @21

    1. Perhaps, but that’s not what I think the word “secularism” means.
    2. Orthodoxy itself changes over time more than you might care to imagine.

  • –helen

    Pastor Spomer March 22, 2012 at 9:59 am
    Did I write “Scare”? I believe it’s “Scaer”. Sorry.

    According to my son, you accurately depicted the reaction of many first year seminarians, and he was of the opinion that Dr. Scaer enjoyed his reputation.
    [Bill, though apparently from Texas, had spent his first 14 years in the East and was familiar with the Scaer "style". Remarks about "Iowa West" couldn't faze him.] :)

  • –helen

    Pastor Spomer March 22, 2012 at 9:59 am
    Did I write “Scare”? I believe it’s “Scaer”. Sorry.

    According to my son, you accurately depicted the reaction of many first year seminarians, and he was of the opinion that Dr. Scaer enjoyed his reputation.
    [Bill, though apparently from Texas, had spent his first 14 years in the East and was familiar with the Scaer "style". Remarks about "Iowa West" couldn't faze him.] :)

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    We should also look at the doctrine of vocation as it has an effect on people’s practical religious life. It can be interpreted, or applied in a manner that would lead people into a type of quietism. If changing a baby’s diaper is just as much a good work as the exertions of a monk, or an evangelist, well then, a lay person may conclude, “I’m fulfilling my Christian obligations doing the same thing, having the same routine, as my secular neighbor.” He may understand it differently, but such an understanding has an epiphenomenal relationship to what he’s physically doing. Hence it’s not necessary to the behavior and what is superfluous tends to atrophy and disappear.

    One may think that how one goes about common activities is the difference. If say, I manage a drug store, I will treat my employees and customers with love and respect. If my clerk is an alcoholic, I may provide time off for AA meetings say. But again, this may not seem significantly different (in practice) than good business policy.

    How do we teach vocation in a manner which elevates each calling to the realm of worship, rather than reducing the spiritual aspect to just an appendix to the profane?

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    We should also look at the doctrine of vocation as it has an effect on people’s practical religious life. It can be interpreted, or applied in a manner that would lead people into a type of quietism. If changing a baby’s diaper is just as much a good work as the exertions of a monk, or an evangelist, well then, a lay person may conclude, “I’m fulfilling my Christian obligations doing the same thing, having the same routine, as my secular neighbor.” He may understand it differently, but such an understanding has an epiphenomenal relationship to what he’s physically doing. Hence it’s not necessary to the behavior and what is superfluous tends to atrophy and disappear.

    One may think that how one goes about common activities is the difference. If say, I manage a drug store, I will treat my employees and customers with love and respect. If my clerk is an alcoholic, I may provide time off for AA meetings say. But again, this may not seem significantly different (in practice) than good business policy.

    How do we teach vocation in a manner which elevates each calling to the realm of worship, rather than reducing the spiritual aspect to just an appendix to the profane?

  • Bob

    I agree with the author’s observations.

    People don’t realize how pervasive the Church was in society before the Reformation — it pretty much controlled every aspect of peasant life.

    Unfortunately, some today, here, want the Church to reassert that role instead of letting individuals make up their own minds. Why?

  • Bob

    I agree with the author’s observations.

    People don’t realize how pervasive the Church was in society before the Reformation — it pretty much controlled every aspect of peasant life.

    Unfortunately, some today, here, want the Church to reassert that role instead of letting individuals make up their own minds. Why?

  • –helen

    Gary @ 19
    Perhaps you could offer an example of what you’d consider a drifting toward secularism?

    The ELCA and, I suppose, the other “Mainline” churches who have compromised their historic positions to be in “pulpit and altar fellowship” with them? [Or has ***A done all the compromising?]

    Christianity is supposed to be “in the world but not of the world”.
    A social club which has all the same standards as “the world” has drifted toward secularism, wouldn’t you say?

    It can call itself a church for tax purposes, but “lodge” (to which many of them belong) would also accomplish that.

  • –helen

    Gary @ 19
    Perhaps you could offer an example of what you’d consider a drifting toward secularism?

    The ELCA and, I suppose, the other “Mainline” churches who have compromised their historic positions to be in “pulpit and altar fellowship” with them? [Or has ***A done all the compromising?]

    Christianity is supposed to be “in the world but not of the world”.
    A social club which has all the same standards as “the world” has drifted toward secularism, wouldn’t you say?

    It can call itself a church for tax purposes, but “lodge” (to which many of them belong) would also accomplish that.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Helen @ 21
    One of the things I miss most about the Sem is having a good argument with professor Scaer in class. Most of my fellow students we put off by his gruffness, but I took it up as a challenge, this made class a riot. He once made a point that since God rested from His work on the 7th day there were no more real miracles which required the creation of anything. He then said (absurdly, I thought) that Jesus changing water into wine was merely an acceleration of a natural process. I pointed out that water was made up of oxygen and hydrogen whereas wine contained carbon an element more massive than oxygen, hence matter had to have been created. The rest of the class period was festive.
    Now, of course, Pastors daren’t argue theology, but only speak the truth in love. Sigh.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Helen @ 21
    One of the things I miss most about the Sem is having a good argument with professor Scaer in class. Most of my fellow students we put off by his gruffness, but I took it up as a challenge, this made class a riot. He once made a point that since God rested from His work on the 7th day there were no more real miracles which required the creation of anything. He then said (absurdly, I thought) that Jesus changing water into wine was merely an acceleration of a natural process. I pointed out that water was made up of oxygen and hydrogen whereas wine contained carbon an element more massive than oxygen, hence matter had to have been created. The rest of the class period was festive.
    Now, of course, Pastors daren’t argue theology, but only speak the truth in love. Sigh.

  • Gary

    Uh, Helen, you answered my call for an example of secularism without any example at all. Forget ELCA, are you saying that when a church body has “compromised their historic position” THAT’S secularism? That’s absurd. Historic positions are abandoned for kinds of reasons, and the best reason of all is when the historic position is reevaluated as false or incomplete.

    Now if you want to say that something specific, like denominational support for gay marriage, is due mainly to secular viewpoints gaining influence over a church’s message, I understand that. I may even agree with you, although I still have trouble with J. Dean’s statement (@16), but who cares?

    Whether responsibility for secularism should be laid at the feet of Luther or not is going to depend on how we define secularism. I think on this thread we’re not all working with the same definition, so I think we’re not likely to get anywhere. Peace.

  • Gary

    Uh, Helen, you answered my call for an example of secularism without any example at all. Forget ELCA, are you saying that when a church body has “compromised their historic position” THAT’S secularism? That’s absurd. Historic positions are abandoned for kinds of reasons, and the best reason of all is when the historic position is reevaluated as false or incomplete.

    Now if you want to say that something specific, like denominational support for gay marriage, is due mainly to secular viewpoints gaining influence over a church’s message, I understand that. I may even agree with you, although I still have trouble with J. Dean’s statement (@16), but who cares?

    Whether responsibility for secularism should be laid at the feet of Luther or not is going to depend on how we define secularism. I think on this thread we’re not all working with the same definition, so I think we’re not likely to get anywhere. Peace.

  • Bob

    tendency to an increasingly secular passion to fix the world through civil law.

    Yeah, I get it.

    You mean like Rick Santorum.

    Only, he’s not Lutheran, but RC.

    What to do, what to do?

    More confusion!

  • Bob

    tendency to an increasingly secular passion to fix the world through civil law.

    Yeah, I get it.

    You mean like Rick Santorum.

    Only, he’s not Lutheran, but RC.

    What to do, what to do?

    More confusion!

  • Gary

    Bob, I agree with you about Santorum, he’s a real piece of work, that on is.

    No, we both know the comment about fixing the world was a dig at the idea of working toward what is commonly called “social and economic justice.” You see here’s my problem, too many Christians are disgruntled about expending real effort to make this world a better place unless doing so results in conversions. Blah.

  • Gary

    Bob, I agree with you about Santorum, he’s a real piece of work, that on is.

    No, we both know the comment about fixing the world was a dig at the idea of working toward what is commonly called “social and economic justice.” You see here’s my problem, too many Christians are disgruntled about expending real effort to make this world a better place unless doing so results in conversions. Blah.

  • Bob

    Gary,

    I agree.

    I guess this means that Martin Luther King was a pietist?

  • Bob

    Gary,

    I agree.

    I guess this means that Martin Luther King was a pietist?

  • rlewer

    Did the author read “The Freedom of the Christian Man?”

    Total freedom. Total slavery to the service of others in that freedom.

    Free to serve. Denying Luther’s teaching on good works perhaps shows ignorance of the actual Luther.

    Or perhaps the Scandanavians have long forgotten Luther. How many of them still even attend church? What kinds of things are preached in those churches?

  • rlewer

    Did the author read “The Freedom of the Christian Man?”

    Total freedom. Total slavery to the service of others in that freedom.

    Free to serve. Denying Luther’s teaching on good works perhaps shows ignorance of the actual Luther.

    Or perhaps the Scandanavians have long forgotten Luther. How many of them still even attend church? What kinds of things are preached in those churches?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The statement is simplistic. Lutheranism per se had as much of a hand in causing Scandinavian secularism, as Dutch Calvinism caused secularism in the Netherlands (which is not dissimilar to Scandinavian secularism, btw).

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The statement is simplistic. Lutheranism per se had as much of a hand in causing Scandinavian secularism, as Dutch Calvinism caused secularism in the Netherlands (which is not dissimilar to Scandinavian secularism, btw).

  • kerner

    Bob:

    What you don’t see is that you and Rick Santorum are basically brothers in arms. You are hot and bothered about charity and Santorum is hot and bothered about chastity. Buyt you both want to restrict freedom and pass laws to “make people good”. Next time you throw some barb at Santorum, go take a look in the mirror.

    Gary @31:
    “You see here’s my problem, too many Christians are disgruntled about expending real effort to make this world a better place unless doing so results in conversions. Blah.”

    How do you figure that? Does the fact that Christians frequently try to do both mean that they respect one or the other any less?

  • kerner

    Bob:

    What you don’t see is that you and Rick Santorum are basically brothers in arms. You are hot and bothered about charity and Santorum is hot and bothered about chastity. Buyt you both want to restrict freedom and pass laws to “make people good”. Next time you throw some barb at Santorum, go take a look in the mirror.

    Gary @31:
    “You see here’s my problem, too many Christians are disgruntled about expending real effort to make this world a better place unless doing so results in conversions. Blah.”

    How do you figure that? Does the fact that Christians frequently try to do both mean that they respect one or the other any less?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Did Eastern Orthodoxy cause Communism?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Did Eastern Orthodoxy cause Communism?

  • Steve Billingsley

    Todd @ 36
    Exactly
    Fallen human nature caused all of this. It has a great ability to take whatever religious disguise it needs to take and corrupt it. And we are all susceptible to it.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Todd @ 36
    Exactly
    Fallen human nature caused all of this. It has a great ability to take whatever religious disguise it needs to take and corrupt it. And we are all susceptible to it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, maybe hockey and curling caused Canadian “socialism” then? :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, maybe hockey and curling caused Canadian “socialism” then? :)

  • formerly just steve

    Bob, #26, why do I get the feeling your first line was simply a gratuitous intro to your second line which is all you really seem to care about?

  • formerly just steve

    Bob, #26, why do I get the feeling your first line was simply a gratuitous intro to your second line which is all you really seem to care about?

  • Bob

    Kerner,

    No, Rick and I are not brothers. That’s BS.

    You don’t really believe that laws don’t restrict freedom, do you? Drunk driving laws, no smoking laws are two off the top of my head.
    Laws often reflect a common morality. And that’s good. I don’t want a drunk snuffing out my kid’s life. What about you?

    FJS,

    I don’t want to see people being controlled by any church. That’s why I’m vert glad that Lutheranism has been a secularizing influence. I don’t care to go back to the Middle Ages and the rule of the Church.

    No thanks to disease and peasantry and corruption.

  • Bob

    Kerner,

    No, Rick and I are not brothers. That’s BS.

    You don’t really believe that laws don’t restrict freedom, do you? Drunk driving laws, no smoking laws are two off the top of my head.
    Laws often reflect a common morality. And that’s good. I don’t want a drunk snuffing out my kid’s life. What about you?

    FJS,

    I don’t want to see people being controlled by any church. That’s why I’m vert glad that Lutheranism has been a secularizing influence. I don’t care to go back to the Middle Ages and the rule of the Church.

    No thanks to disease and peasantry and corruption.

  • fws

    bob @ 40

    ah the good old old old days of the middle ages ruled by the church with peasants desease and coruption. back when things were so much simpler……

  • fws

    bob @ 40

    ah the good old old old days of the middle ages ruled by the church with peasants desease and coruption. back when things were so much simpler……

  • Bob

    fws,
    :)

    Yeah. I really miss sleeping in the same room with barnyard animals.

    Just call me modern, I guess.

  • Bob

    fws,
    :)

    Yeah. I really miss sleeping in the same room with barnyard animals.

    Just call me modern, I guess.

  • formerly just steve

    No matter that the Dark Ages really weren’t all that dark compared to the rest of the world. As long as we can lump it all under a big simple umbrella term so people don’t have to think about it critically, we’re good to go.

    Ironic, really.

  • formerly just steve

    No matter that the Dark Ages really weren’t all that dark compared to the rest of the world. As long as we can lump it all under a big simple umbrella term so people don’t have to think about it critically, we’re good to go.

    Ironic, really.

  • Gary

    Kerner @35– “How do you figure that?”

    Uh, just another guy throwing out his observations.

    “Does the fact that Christians frequently try to do both mean that they respect one or the other any less?”

    Pretty much. As that’s a broad generalization, I’m sure you can cite a few exceptions, but to me it appears to mostly hold up. SOME Christians try to do both, but even so, one effort or the other is usually held in less esteem than the other.

  • Gary

    Kerner @35– “How do you figure that?”

    Uh, just another guy throwing out his observations.

    “Does the fact that Christians frequently try to do both mean that they respect one or the other any less?”

    Pretty much. As that’s a broad generalization, I’m sure you can cite a few exceptions, but to me it appears to mostly hold up. SOME Christians try to do both, but even so, one effort or the other is usually held in less esteem than the other.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I don’t want to see people being controlled by any church. That’s why I’m vert glad that Lutheranism has been a secularizing influence. I don’t care to go back to the Middle Ages and the rule of the Church.

    No thanks to disease and peasantry and corruption.

    LOL,

    Church rule is what civilized Europe. Northern Europeans were barbarians before Christianity. Peasantry and corruption represented an improvement over cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide. Here in the USA, we have criminals and corruption, but people keep coming here because it is still far better than where they come from. I hate to break it to you, but there are no perfect people or institutions.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I don’t want to see people being controlled by any church. That’s why I’m vert glad that Lutheranism has been a secularizing influence. I don’t care to go back to the Middle Ages and the rule of the Church.

    No thanks to disease and peasantry and corruption.

    LOL,

    Church rule is what civilized Europe. Northern Europeans were barbarians before Christianity. Peasantry and corruption represented an improvement over cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide. Here in the USA, we have criminals and corruption, but people keep coming here because it is still far better than where they come from. I hate to break it to you, but there are no perfect people or institutions.

  • Bob

    So you’re (seriously) defending the medieval church? Really?

    Over what we have today? Seriously?

    Uh, the fact that there are no “perfect” people or institutions is pretty much a no brainer. But that doesn’t mean each era is interchangeable in terms of progress.

  • Bob

    So you’re (seriously) defending the medieval church? Really?

    Over what we have today? Seriously?

    Uh, the fact that there are no “perfect” people or institutions is pretty much a no brainer. But that doesn’t mean each era is interchangeable in terms of progress.

  • fws

    ah yeah . forgot about the animal smells. I was raised in the Dakotas. how COULD I have forgotten that part?

    and the author says we can thank Lutheranism for those fond memories being ONLY memories?

  • fws

    ah yeah . forgot about the animal smells. I was raised in the Dakotas. how COULD I have forgotten that part?

    and the author says we can thank Lutheranism for those fond memories being ONLY memories?

  • formerly just steve

    I smell equivocation. Apples? Oranges? Anyone???

  • formerly just steve

    I smell equivocation. Apples? Oranges? Anyone???

  • Bob

    fws,

    But did the animals sleep in the same room with you?

  • Bob

    fws,

    But did the animals sleep in the same room with you?

  • Cincinnatus

    Bob, expand your horizons sometime.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bob, expand your horizons sometime.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So you’re (seriously) defending the medieval church? Really?”

    Over pagan barbarism, yes. As a necessary step to even greater improvement, yes. The church founded the universities that gave us modern science and thought.

    “Over what we have today?”

    No, over pagan barbarism.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So you’re (seriously) defending the medieval church? Really?”

    Over pagan barbarism, yes. As a necessary step to even greater improvement, yes. The church founded the universities that gave us modern science and thought.

    “Over what we have today?”

    No, over pagan barbarism.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Does Lutheranism lead to secularism? yes

    Lutheranism aka Christianity improves society. Once improved, people forget how they got here and think that this is just what people do all on their own. It isn’t. But idolatry is just something our flesh is prone to. Secularism seems a form of idolatry.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Does Lutheranism lead to secularism? yes

    Lutheranism aka Christianity improves society. Once improved, people forget how they got here and think that this is just what people do all on their own. It isn’t. But idolatry is just something our flesh is prone to. Secularism seems a form of idolatry.

  • Gary

    sg, the trick part is, depending on how you define the term “secularism,” I might strongly agree with you, in which case I’d be inclined to acknowledge your last post (52) as brilliant!

    But then you’re just as likely to settle on a definition of secularism that is miles apart from what I think the term means, in which case I’d disagree w/ you in the strongest possible terms.

    This is exactly what I meant in the last paragraph of post 29.

  • Gary

    sg, the trick part is, depending on how you define the term “secularism,” I might strongly agree with you, in which case I’d be inclined to acknowledge your last post (52) as brilliant!

    But then you’re just as likely to settle on a definition of secularism that is miles apart from what I think the term means, in which case I’d disagree w/ you in the strongest possible terms.

    This is exactly what I meant in the last paragraph of post 29.

  • fws

    Can someone here give me some concrete examples of a “drift to secularism” that is not about the ELCA and gay marriage? That would help me tremendously in evaluating the truth of what sg , gary, and the others are saying here.

    Thanks!

  • fws

    Can someone here give me some concrete examples of a “drift to secularism” that is not about the ELCA and gay marriage? That would help me tremendously in evaluating the truth of what sg , gary, and the others are saying here.

    Thanks!

  • fws

    Bob,

    I slept in the same room with them at times. Or we all slept together outdoors sometimes…. why do you ask Bob?

  • fws

    Bob,

    I slept in the same room with them at times. Or we all slept together outdoors sometimes…. why do you ask Bob?

  • fws

    Bob @ 49

    You should probably know that that was the period I was forced to listen to lots of Lawrence Welk and accordion music as well. From that you can assume that it was a rather painful period of my life and one I think I was probably trying to forget…..

  • fws

    Bob @ 49

    You should probably know that that was the period I was forced to listen to lots of Lawrence Welk and accordion music as well. From that you can assume that it was a rather painful period of my life and one I think I was probably trying to forget…..

  • fws

    Now on a serious note:

    Lutheranism makes no distinction at all, not in any vocation, especially not the churchly ones, between one vocation being more holy than another.

    A Lutheran would even say that the term “holy matrimony” is a misnomer. There is nothing at all more holy in the vocations within that government/ordo/estate than in any other. Nothing at all.

    Futher, Lutherans specifically and categorically reject that there is to be a sorting out of the sacred and the profane (ie common place) activities in life. When Lutherans say that “God always works through means” this is not to be limited to the elements in the Blessed and most Holy Sacraments. This is about the fact that God works his Fatherly Goodness and Mercy in all three articles of the Creed in, with and under the Old Adam of all men who are having that Goodness and Mercy driven out of them by the extortion of the Law.

    Whatever we can see or do that is Goodness and Mercy is the Law extorting it out of our Old Adam. So there is no difference at all here between christian and pagan in anything we can see or do. None at all.

    “secular” has no meaning then to a Lutheran then I propose. A word only has meaning if there is something to contrast it to. “sacred”? nope. What is the different in Lutheranism between sacred and secular as to anything at all we can see or do?

    For Lutherans, what is sacred is alone the Works of Another and the invisible faith that hides ALL we can do within those works. So sacred is about nothing we can see or do.

  • fws

    Now on a serious note:

    Lutheranism makes no distinction at all, not in any vocation, especially not the churchly ones, between one vocation being more holy than another.

    A Lutheran would even say that the term “holy matrimony” is a misnomer. There is nothing at all more holy in the vocations within that government/ordo/estate than in any other. Nothing at all.

    Futher, Lutherans specifically and categorically reject that there is to be a sorting out of the sacred and the profane (ie common place) activities in life. When Lutherans say that “God always works through means” this is not to be limited to the elements in the Blessed and most Holy Sacraments. This is about the fact that God works his Fatherly Goodness and Mercy in all three articles of the Creed in, with and under the Old Adam of all men who are having that Goodness and Mercy driven out of them by the extortion of the Law.

    Whatever we can see or do that is Goodness and Mercy is the Law extorting it out of our Old Adam. So there is no difference at all here between christian and pagan in anything we can see or do. None at all.

    “secular” has no meaning then to a Lutheran then I propose. A word only has meaning if there is something to contrast it to. “sacred”? nope. What is the different in Lutheranism between sacred and secular as to anything at all we can see or do?

    For Lutherans, what is sacred is alone the Works of Another and the invisible faith that hides ALL we can do within those works. So sacred is about nothing we can see or do.

  • Tom Hering

    Secular = God is not acknowledged. Not the same thing as God being absent.

  • Tom Hering

    Secular = God is not acknowledged. Not the same thing as God being absent.

  • Tom Hering

    I don’t see how Lutheranism has caused anyone to fail to acknowledge God.

  • Tom Hering

    I don’t see how Lutheranism has caused anyone to fail to acknowledge God.

  • fws

    Tom @ 58

    Further to what you say is this:

    God will make his will be done even in an antinomian Judge who has no fear, love or trust in God nor any respect at all for his neighbor.

    What makes this happen is:
    the Law of God nagging at him withhout ceasing, and…
    that Law can even be completely dead to the very Love and Mercy that God intends to be the fruit that the nagging and accusing Law is to produce.

    God is still in control. God’s will will still be done. This is irregardless of what mankind thinks!

    Luke 18 The story of the Antinomian Judge that is nagged into doing the Will of God by a conscience dead to love.

  • fws

    Tom @ 58

    Further to what you say is this:

    God will make his will be done even in an antinomian Judge who has no fear, love or trust in God nor any respect at all for his neighbor.

    What makes this happen is:
    the Law of God nagging at him withhout ceasing, and…
    that Law can even be completely dead to the very Love and Mercy that God intends to be the fruit that the nagging and accusing Law is to produce.

    God is still in control. God’s will will still be done. This is irregardless of what mankind thinks!

    Luke 18 The story of the Antinomian Judge that is nagged into doing the Will of God by a conscience dead to love.

  • fws

    sg @ 45

    Yeah sg I see that. People are leaving sweden, norway, japan and brasil and such countries empty , desperate to escape the wretched conditions in those countries to the paradise called the United States of America.

    That is so very obvious isnt it?

    In a parallel universe and reality that is…..

  • fws

    sg @ 45

    Yeah sg I see that. People are leaving sweden, norway, japan and brasil and such countries empty , desperate to escape the wretched conditions in those countries to the paradise called the United States of America.

    That is so very obvious isnt it?

    In a parallel universe and reality that is…..

  • Tom Hering

    Frank @ 60, I feel footnoted. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Frank @ 60, I feel footnoted. :-D

  • fws

    tom @ 62 what a nice thing to say.

  • fws

    tom @ 62 what a nice thing to say.

  • Anthony Sacramone

    Protestantism, and more specifically Lutheranism, desacralized space. No more pilgrimages. No more special devotional amulets. No more weeping or bleeding statues. No more religious callings that elevated one on the great mystical ladder to heaven. No more magic, as it were: and by that I mean no more quid pro quo manipulation of God in an effort to wring from him blessings. Lutheranism’s emphasis on the Cross as the locus of the forgiveness of sins, and the forgiveness of sins as the crux of the Gospel, left Christians free to pursue this-worldly blessings through hard work, thrift, and personal responsibility. So long as gratitude remained at the heart of this activity — gratitude to God for this new-found liberation that was bought at Calvary — Lutheran culture remained intensely Christ-centered without necessarily being overtly “pious,” i.e., without wearing its faith on its sleeve for all the world to admire. The minute cultural Lutherans began looking at the work of their hands as strictly their own doing and forgot the source of their freedom, secularism was inevitable, and less and less room was made even in the culture for any expression of Christian faith, even the church and its sacraments, as some kind of intrusion into a sphere not properly its own (a misunderstanding of the Two Kingdoms). So what is the church for in a secular post-Lutheran land? Ironically, as a kind of “sacred space” in which postmodernists indulge in a kind of nostalgia for a dark age of magical “belief” and ritual. The Lutheran emphasis on the real presence in the sacraments should have been a bulwark against this kind of marginalization of the church and its duties, but evangelicalism insisted on “finishing” the Reformation by reducing everything to a mere witness to the outside world rather than as God’s witness to us of his faithfulness to his promises. My opinion, anyway…

  • Anthony Sacramone

    Protestantism, and more specifically Lutheranism, desacralized space. No more pilgrimages. No more special devotional amulets. No more weeping or bleeding statues. No more religious callings that elevated one on the great mystical ladder to heaven. No more magic, as it were: and by that I mean no more quid pro quo manipulation of God in an effort to wring from him blessings. Lutheranism’s emphasis on the Cross as the locus of the forgiveness of sins, and the forgiveness of sins as the crux of the Gospel, left Christians free to pursue this-worldly blessings through hard work, thrift, and personal responsibility. So long as gratitude remained at the heart of this activity — gratitude to God for this new-found liberation that was bought at Calvary — Lutheran culture remained intensely Christ-centered without necessarily being overtly “pious,” i.e., without wearing its faith on its sleeve for all the world to admire. The minute cultural Lutherans began looking at the work of their hands as strictly their own doing and forgot the source of their freedom, secularism was inevitable, and less and less room was made even in the culture for any expression of Christian faith, even the church and its sacraments, as some kind of intrusion into a sphere not properly its own (a misunderstanding of the Two Kingdoms). So what is the church for in a secular post-Lutheran land? Ironically, as a kind of “sacred space” in which postmodernists indulge in a kind of nostalgia for a dark age of magical “belief” and ritual. The Lutheran emphasis on the real presence in the sacraments should have been a bulwark against this kind of marginalization of the church and its duties, but evangelicalism insisted on “finishing” the Reformation by reducing everything to a mere witness to the outside world rather than as God’s witness to us of his faithfulness to his promises. My opinion, anyway…

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Has Lutheranism caused secularism?

    It’s a Ph.D. dissertation, nuff said.

    Related to her Ph.D. dissertation is the argument or claim that state church Lutheranism in Germany provided the oxygen enabling the fires of Nazism that consumed Germany prior to and during World War II.

    I believe there are works promoting and arguing against that claim.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Has Lutheranism caused secularism?

    It’s a Ph.D. dissertation, nuff said.

    Related to her Ph.D. dissertation is the argument or claim that state church Lutheranism in Germany provided the oxygen enabling the fires of Nazism that consumed Germany prior to and during World War II.

    I believe there are works promoting and arguing against that claim.


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