Is the problem with LCMS Lutheranism its German Idealist, in particular, Kantian, Philosophy?

Hi Gary,
I too am a former LCMS Lutheran. I just saw your blog for the first time.

I wanted to quickly explain something that you may have heard before, though maybe in a different form. Yes, at the end I have some unsolicited advice, but hopefully it isn’t what you thought it was.

LCMS Lutheranism is not the same as early Lutheranism, or Scandinavian Lutheranism. The main differences can be summed up in that LCMS Lutheranism is a flavored with the eyes of German Idealist philosophy–mainly Kantian, but also Hegelian. Many traditional Lutherans today use “common sense”–but their common sense may not be what most Americans would use. Also, LCMS publications (and homiletics for pastors) are influenced German idealist philosophy. This is partly due to their distinct German culture, and partly because the LCMS was founded back in the Second Great Awakening when it was in vogue.
There is an Achilles heal to this practice, and that is an inherent philosophical tension between the words, meanings, and thought patterns used by LCMS Lutherans (particularly those educated in the system or raised by churchworkers), and your typical American.
But most LCMS Lutherans, even of the most in-cultured sort are still able to function in American culture. They actually have a dual system and can work off of both as need be.
But the tension between them leads to an overcompensation of the weaker form of thought—think of collective narcissism as a manifestation of that at the group level.

Another example of a religion that relies heavily on German Idealist thought patterns is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Every single Watchtower is loaded with it. Like the LCMS, they were less strict for a period prior to 1970, and became more strict at the same time the LCMS did. This is the same time American culture became more postmodern, and adherents of both felt similar increases in tension.

I am not terribly surprised that you lost your faith within the course of a year. When people are raised with a separate system of thinking, it is liable to collapse all at once when the “wine-skin” busts. I mean this with reference to what Jesus described with the wine-skins in Matthew 9. If the skins are the metacognitive level thought patterns and related practical epistemology, then the wine would be the more basic level information.
Perhaps you have already encountered or explored other forms of Christianity, but at the time that you explored them, you were still mostly thinking as a Missouri Synod Lutheran with respect to religion. My question is, what if you went and explored other forms of Christianity​ again, now that you are a non-Christian?

I think you might perceive things somewhat differently if you can perceive your experiences in a way that is freed from the LCMS-German Idealist colored glasses. I am not saying that you will become a Christian again—what I am suggesting is that you may pick up different things that in the past you were led to overlook.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s