Standard 20th Century Lutheran Theology


Some people have asked me about point number 3 in the Augsut 27 post. I have elaborated what I mean in a presentation I did at Concordia/Ft. Wayne in January 2008, which can be found here.  The first part of this presentation is on another topic; the discussion of “Standard 20th Century Lutheran Theology” begins on p. 5.  I would emphasize that when I say in this presentation that my thoughts are tentative and in need of further research, that is what I mean.
Michael Root


6 Responses to “Standard 20th Century Lutheran Theology”

  1. Lance Henderson Says:

    Dr. Root,

    Quick Question: Does the Finnish School (Saarinen, Mannermaa) seem to come as a reaction or consequence to this Standard 20th Century Lutheranism? It seem to have not, but is an almost novel school reaching over that Lutheranism and drawing on something older.

    Keep up the good work. We’ll keep reading

    • lutheranspersisting Says:

      I think the Finnish school is one of the most promising developments in recent Lutheranism. I think it is in some ways a reaction against some trends in what I call Standard 20th Century Lutheranism. Would that more of their writings were in English (or not as horribly expensive as Olli-Pekka Vainio’s recent book on justification).
      Michael Root

  2. The Black Eagle » Deconstructing 20th Century Lutheranism Says:

    […] the second post on his new blog, Dr. Michael Root offers a perspective on Lutheranism in the 20th Century and the answers to the […]

  3. Kurt Strause Says:

    For me the most dis-heartening aspect of the ELCA’s recent social statement on sexuality was the total absence of any serious engagement with our ecumenical dialogue partners in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. Ecumenism in the ELCA is reduced to a compartmentalized department. The once-vibrant promise of ecumenical engagement as enriching and guiding our respective church lives is sadly dormant, and the recently made decisions will ensure it remains so for a long time.

  4. Dwight Penas Says:

    Michael, your talk/article is wonderfully eye-opening. It helped me understand what I haven’t been able to put my finger on in much of current Lutheranism. I find myself regularly criticized for not understanding the legalism of my theology. When I criticize Foerde-esque theological principles as antinomian, I’m told that I just don’t get it, do I? And there’s no further explanation after the rebuke. Of course, the rebuke is overlaid with a healthy dose of “simul’s”

    What galls me most in this “standard” modern Lutheran theology is the degree to which is just simply ignores the bulk of Scripture. When you take out the grand passages that deal with living as the new, Spirit-infused people of God to be a sign to the nations of the Lordship of the True Lord, you’re left with about 15 verses from Romans and little else.

    What galls me about your talk is that it forces me to turn my reading to more “classical” Luther and Lutheranism studies. That, for me, will be hard work. But I don’t see how I can avoid it.

    So, thanks — and thanks a lot.

  5. Jack Kilcrease Says:

    Dr. Root, I do not find the Finnish school very convincing in light of the fact that they largely ignore Luther’s background in Occamism. To me it seems that their entire goal is to make grace a kind of predicate of our being and ground the divine-human relationship in ontological likeness in the manner of Thomism. Mystical union in this schema seems to replace created grace. In any case, Occamism had rejected that route for the establishment of the divine-human relationship and rested everything on the Divine promise of the “pactum” long before Luther came along. To my reading, Luther took up this position as well and his understanding of deification and mystical union must be read in light of this. In that case, I would suggest that mystical union in Luther is intended to confirm divine trustworthiness (the chief problem of the young Luther and the Occamist system) and not to establish the divine-human relationship on the basis of ontological likeness.

    In any case, I read your speech a while back and I do agree with you that Lutheran theology over the last century has taken things in an existentializing direction which is not very well in accordance with the tradition prior to the beginning of he 20th century. When I was at Luther Seminary (before I joined the LCMS), people seemed to confuse what Gerhard Forde said, with what Luther said or what the Lutheran Confessions said.

    That being said, I cannot agree with several claims you make. To say that the theologia crucis was not central to Luther’s thinking because there is a mention of the phrase only a few times in his writing does not work. I would be very much willing to debate that point with you. Similarly, I think that your approach (mainly in your other writings, but present here as well I think) of emphasizing all the articles of the faith in the regula fide is fine, it just must be understood that all of these articles are understood from the perspective of the Biblical gospel of justification by faith. That approach to me seems most consistent with the LC and Luther, as well as the mission of the Church as Christ established it.

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