Posted by: Johnold Strey | December 19, 2008

Fair and Balanced Segment on American Lutheranism

In the interest of saving time during this busy pre-Christmas season, I’ll keep this short.  Earlier this week, “Issues, Etc.” had a segment on American Lutheranism that I thought was very well done, especially in respect to the relationship between the LCMS (Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod) and the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod).  Discussions about the two synods often paint a perfectly rosy picture about one, and a hellfire-and-brimstone picture of the other, based either on the affiliation of the one giving the information, or the axe that the presenter has to grind.  As a refreshing change of pace, guest Martin Noland and “Issues, Etc.” host Todd Wilken presented a picture of LCMS and WELS that was quite fair and balanced in this listener’s opinion.  The main LCMS and WELS discussion comes about half way through the segment. You can listen to it here:

“Lutheran Church Bodies in America” — Issues, Etc. — Monday, 12/15/2008



  1. Thanks for the link! I have to agree it was a pretty fair and balanced picture of the major Lutheran church bodies in America.

    On a historical note, one correction should be made. In the description of how WELS became Confessional Lutheran, Noland described WELS’ transition as coming primarily from WELS contact with Walther and his free conferences, where Wisconsin Synod leaders were pointed in the right direction as opposed to their pietistical leanings.

    Though Walther did play an important role in the early transition to confessionalism, I think that’s still giving too much credit to Walther. By that time men like Johann Bading, Adolf Hoenecke, Philipp Koehler and the men of the Northwestern Conference among others were already very confessional and were making strides as the new generation of leaders replacing the wishy-washy pietists like Muehlhaeuser and others from the mission societies.

    There was an excellent article on “The Wisconsin Synod’s Debt to C.F.W. Walther” by Prof. John Brenner in Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly Vol. 104:1 (Winter 2007). It can also be found on the WLS Essay site (

    On a different note, thanks, Johnold, for your excellent posts and a have a blessed Feast of the Nativity! We’re using a modified version of your Carol Common Service on Christmas Day. See you at the Savior’s manger-bed!


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