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Americanizing The Lutheran Church

Pastor Larry Peters of Grace Lutheran Church in Clarksville, TN appeared on Issues, Etc. back in 2009 for a discussion on "Americanizing Lutheranism" as he put it and his interview with Pastor Todd Wilken was based on a blog post he wrote at the time.

Have you ever really stopped to think about the un-Biblical beliefs and practices that have either crept into your church or that have been walked in through the front door with a smile?

Specifically, what about the common ideals of the so-called "American Experience" and its influence upon the Lutheran Church?

What if I told you that a lot of the beliefs and practices that you take for granted are anything but orthodox much less consistent with our Lutheran Confessions?

Make no mistake, much of what is masquerading as "Lutheran" today is anything but. Sadly, as a result, we're finding more and more churches where the only thing distinctly Lutheran about them is that the name appears on the church sign out front.

You might be wondering what this has to do with our recent studies on Piety and Pietism. Well, it has everything to do with that series!

Here's an excerpt from Pastor Peters' piece to give you an idea what this discussion is all about...

Americanizing Lutheranism has become the excuse for ditching everything from the liturgy and our hymnody to voters assemblies, boards, and committees. Vestments that once separated the clergy and identified them for who they are have given way to the business casual attire of polos and khakis that make Pastors look like everyone. Ministry has turned from the Office tied to the Word and Sacraments to whatever people feel like doing for Jesus (from dancing to singing). Everyone who is anyone has a ministry and the Church and Pastors have none -- at least that is the way it seems.

The whole idea that in order to reach people we must become like them is a sacred cow in modern day Christianity that can be used to justify jettisoning nearly everything that is distinctly Christian. A Lutheran Church more comfortable in our American skin is not what Lutheranism needs. It will not help us reach people with the Gospel, it will not leave us stronger and more fully rooted in the Gospel and Scripture, and it will not serve Christ faithfully.

When we make as our goal the Americanization of the Lutheran Church, we forget this distinction between the language and culture of the assembly and the way we speak to the world outside the assembly of believers. We blur that distinction and we end up having nothing to offer the world but a pale imitation of the things we have learned from them. Is it no wonder that youth today find this kind of religion shallow and worthless? What the world is seeking from us is what the world cannot offer -- transcendence, mystery (meaning sacramental presence), redemption (vs happiness), and eternity. What we say in the marketplace must lead people into the assembly where these things are made present in the means of grace, the Word that bestows what it promises, the water that cleanses us clean from within, and the bread and wine that bestow heaven's food and life upon us earthly people.

Sadly, that's it in a nutshell.

And yet, instead of running from it, we continue to embrace such things with wide open arms.

This old episode of Issues, Etc. will help to explain why while also alerting you to be on guard against these types of things at all times.

AUDIO: Americanizing Lutheranism

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the goal of Americanizing the Lutheran Church must be abandoned and avoided at all costs.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. I want to applaud you and am glad I am not alone. I was originally from a ELCA Church and am now becoming a member of a LCMS Church. I hold a saddened heart to see how liberal and compromising other church's have become. I am grateful that the Word of the Lord has opened my eyes to become a Confessional Lutheran. Thanks Be to God!

    1. Thanks be to God indeed! Well, you're definitely not alone that's for sure. My heart continues to grieve just as yours does too. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Hope to hear from you again really soon.

      Grace And Peace,


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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