A New Lutheran Church

Paul McCain links to news about the new Lutheran denomination in formation: the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). It is being created by “confessional” Lutherans dissatisfied with the liberalism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). I was in seminary (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg) when the ELCA was formed. I was ordained as an ELCA pastor when the denomination was 18 months old. Some of my professors were concerned about the direction of the ELCA even then–they and their theological colleagues are at the core of CORE and NALC.

The history of Lutheranism in America is a story of mergers and splits, too complicated to rehearse here. Once it was thought that if you could just merge the various ethnic groupings, you could achieve Lutheran unity. But those ethnic groups had different approaches to theology and spirituality–even within themselves!

I don’t think the birth of the NALC will change the face of Lutheranism in America. I don’t think it represents as radical a break from the ECLA as either its organizers or ELCA leaders imagine. And for this reason: it still assumes use of the historical-critical method is fundamental to Biblical study. It remains “liberal” in its approach to the Bible, and to issues such as creation/evolution. Oh, they quibble with the details of what is relevant or not to us, and in what way the Bible is normative. This is why they are forming a new denomination, and not joining with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.