Last Sunday was the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul, two different and yet unified confessors of the Christian faith. Also on that day, one of my former students joined our church by adult confirmation, a rite that includes the vow to suffer all, even death, rather than renounce the teachings of the evangelical Lutheran church. I loved how our pastor not only explored what it means to “confess” the faith, but also how he tied Teresa’s confession to that of Peter and Paul. [Read more…]
Newt Gingrich grew up Lutheran! So did Ron Paul. So did Michele Bachmann. And Jon Huntsman, though a Mormon, went to a Lutheran school in Los Angeles.
That Paul and Bachmann used to be Lutherans is common knowledge, but I did not know about Gingrich. (The article, below, says that he grew up in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, which has three ELCA congregations, not that that body existed back then. Paul also was raised in a non-LCMS congregation, as I recall, but perhaps someone else knows the details. Bachmann was a lifelong member of the Wisconsin Synod until very recently, when she left that church body because her opponents were making much of its teaching that the pope is the antichrist. Paul is now a Baptist. Gingrich left Lutheranism in college to become a Baptist and recently converted to Roman Catholicism. Huntsman, of course, was never a Lutheran, but in any Lutheran elementary school he would have studied the Small Catechism.)
I thank my friend Aaron Lewis for alerting me to these facts and for going to the trouble to find sources for the information (below).
So what are we to make of the fact that four of the seven Republican candidates for the presidential nomination have some sort of Lutheran backgrounds?
Aaron finds a common theme: “It could be that their proclivity for constitutionalism could go back to the ad fontes mood of the Small Catechism.”
Maybe. On the other hand, I’m dismayed at the prospect of voting for anyone who can not be trusted to keep his or her confirmation vows! (“Do you as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, intend to continue steadfast in the confession of this Church, and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?” That confession, by the way, is earlier defined in the rite as holding to the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God and as agreeing with the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as taught in the Small Catechism as being drawn from those Scriptures.)
Probably the ELCA doesn’t use that kind of vow anymore. I don’t know what the different churches that merged to form that body in 1988 did in the old days. Does WELS have that confirmation promise? We Missouri Synod Lutherans do, as does the ELS. We don’t need to discuss again whether requiring such a life-long promise is a good practice. But surely if someone makes that commitment, it is a commitment! To say it is “just a ritual” or “just something we make kids do” is to beg the question: A promise is a promise, and it is wrong to take it lightly.)
Anyway, what do you make of all of this Lutheran background of the candidates? (To me, this is not Lutheran triumphalism but rather the opposite!)
Do you see any trace of a Lutheran influence in any of the candidates? Are they testimonies of the need for better catechesis than they perhaps received? Or does this just show that Lutheranism more or less lets people have whatever politics they want?