The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Our Reformation moment

Can we learn to speak and live the gospel in the 21st century?

Lutherans aren’t usually considered to be cutting edge. Like author Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, our stereotype is that of quiet Christians who don’t like change and inhabit the small towns of both geography and faith. Something of a throwback to the early 20th century, we are portrayed as humble people who preserved a 17th century tradition of liturgy and theology but are best known for choral singing and potlucks.

Imagine my surprise when church futurist Leonard Sweet told me that Lutherans are best equipped to reach postmodern generations—they just don’t realize it.

As he points out, Lutherans have reformation built into their DNA. Lutherans have preserved the premodern emphasis on the relational mystery of the eucharist, while embracing the modern focus on the word (part of the postmodern synthesis of faith). And our Lutheran theology pivots on a doctrine of radical, unconditional grace—a crying need of the postmodern faith journey.

The problem is that we have forgotten our heritage or have made it unbelievably boring.

Words like transformational, emergent and postmodern are often treated as simply the latest fads in church and theology. Such movements come and go, usually without much Lutheran participation. Many of us aren’t sure what these words even mean.

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February issue


Embracing diversity