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Mighty Fortress

Title: A Mighty Fortress: American Religion and the Construction of Confessional Lutheranism.

Inaccessible until May 8, 2020 due to copyright restrictions.

Name(s): Brasich, Adam S., author
Corrigan, John, 1952-, professor directing dissertation
Ruse, Michael, university representative
Kelsay, John, 1953-, committee member
McVicar, Michael J., committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Department of Religion, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Doctoral Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2017
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (363 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This dissertation focuses on the beliefs and practices of confessional Lutherans in North America (particularly those of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod) as a form of religious conservative intellectual and material production. Confessional Lutheranism distinguishes itself from other variations of conservative Protestantism through its appeals to sixteenth century sources of religious authority and the construction of historical memory, cultural practices, and material culture. Confessional Lutherans view American religion through the lens of the Book of Concord, which, since it derives authority from the eternal Word of God, is equally applicable to twenty-first century America as it was to Germany in 1580. Since the Lutheran Confessions simply rearticulate the Bible, theology cannot progress beyond the statements made in the documents. Therefore, confessional Lutherans have judged American religion and found it wanting based upon sixteenth century standards of orthodoxy. The impact of this confessionalism is not solely theological or intellectual. Rather, it deeply impacts religious culture and practice. Liturgy, hymnals, and church architecture are defined not only by orthodoxy but by their difference from contemporary evangelical trends. As much as confessional Lutheranism is positively defined by quia subscription to the Confessions, negatively it is defined by its suspicion towards conservative American evangelicals. Through a close analysis of the Book of Concord’s role in confessional Lutheranism, theological critiques of evangelical approaches to worship and emotion, controversies regarding ecumenical participation, and descriptions of material culture in the form of hymnals and church buildings, this study describes how confessional Lutheranism is constructed in relation to other versions of American Christianity. While confessional Lutheranism’s theological isolationism may seem to sequester the community within an intellectual ghetto, confessional Lutherans are very aware of their religious surroundings and react to them. This dissertation also shows how this community’s strict adherence to their Confessions relates to American Protestant questions of authority. The Confessions’ role as a theological norm separates them from American evangelicals, who have more nebulous sources of authority. Finally, this study demonstrates the continued importance of theological orthodoxy in American religious conservatism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Confessional Lutherans separate themselves religiously from conservative evangelicals based upon theological principles. This demonstrates that one cannot reduce religious conservatism to voting patterns and political analysis. Theology continues to matter.
Identifier: FSU_SUMMER2017_Brasich_fsu_0071E_13985 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Religion in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester 2017.
Date of Defense: June 19, 2017.
Keywords: Church architecture, Confessional, Conservative, Lutheranism, Restorationism, Walther
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: John Corrigan, Professor Directing Dissertation; Michael Ruse, University Representative; John Kelsay, Committee Member; Michael McVicar, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Religion
Religions -- History
United States -- History
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Brasich, A. S. (2017). A Mighty Fortress: American Religion and the Construction of Confessional Lutheranism. Retrieved from