A History of Luther Seminary: 1869-2019

A History of Luther Seminary: 1869-2019

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Church historian and Luther faculty member Mark Granquist provides a new and comprehensive history of Luther Seminary just in time for the celebration of the institution's 150th anniversary (1869-2019). Luther Seminary today is the product of the merger of number of seminaries over time. Granquist's search of Luther's past will provide an inside look at how Lutheran ministry was defined and formed. The path runs through the early university system, Orthodoxy, Pietism, and Rationalism, as well as the formation of Mission schools, and the beginnings of Lutheran theological education in North America. Granquist explores the confessional Norwegian Synod as well as the pietist Haugean tradition--the two bookends or twin traditions that would define and eventually become Luther Seminary. Chapters 4-6 explore each primary strand that formed the history of Luther. Chapter 7 focuses on unification and merger, concluding with the ELCA merger in 1988. The final chapter looks at more recent history, including internal unification, the challenges faced by the ELCA, and the major shifts in theological education in the early 21st century. Includes a gallery of photos chronicling Luther's history.


"This is an institutional history about challenges. Mark Granquist clearly and accessibly sorts through the theological challenges--regarding the Augsburg Confession, predestination, low and high church worship practice--and shifting institutional relationships that shaped the origin and early development of Luther Seminary. He then moves on to the social and financial challenges that have impacted it since the 1960s. Avoiding nostalgia and boosterism, he presents a picture of midwestern Lutheran diversity that many will find surprising, and some, uncomfortable. Written at a time when seminary education generally and Luther Seminary specifically are facing perhaps their greatest challenges ever due to declining enrollments, this book will be of great value to not only alumni interested in the history of Lutheranism but also anyone concerned with the question of how mainline Protestant seminary education will survive in the up-coming decades." --Jeanne Halgren Kilde, director of religious studies, University of Minnesota

"The history of Luther Seminary is not only long, it is also the story of multiple institutions each with its own characters, setting, and distinctive concerns. Granquist conducts his readers through the twists and turns of these intertwining stories with clarity. He highlights each school's relationship with its larger ecclesiastical (and often ethnic) community. At the same time, he points to the similarities of purpose and practice that allowed these schools to undertake the challenging process of combining their work. This complex story also illumines the ways in which the churches associated with these schools adapted to their ever-changing cultural context." --L. DeAne Lagerquist, Harold H. Ditmanson Professor of Religion, St. Olaf College

"This book does an admirable job of consistently integrating the history of Luther Seminary into the larger story of developments in the Lutheran community. Though these interactions are often complex, Granquist's account is readable, clear, and interesting. Readers come to see the remarkable changes experienced by the seminary during the last century and a half." --Darrell Jodock, professor emeritus, Gustavus Adolphus College

"A History of Luther Seminary: 1869-2019 is much more than the history of particular theological seminary. In this telling of Luther Seminary's story, Mark Granquist offers a primer on Lutheran theological education in America from the time of the first Lutheran immigrants to the New World, and he ushers readers into a centuries-long conversation concerning what ministers of the gospel need from their academic and pastoral formation. Anyone interested in how today's church prepares its leaders will be engaged by this story and inspired to continue that conversation." --Mary Hinkle Shore, rector and dean, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Lenoir-Rhyne University

"Luther Seminary traces its roots back to the mid-nineteenth century and Norwegian immigrants who sought a new life in the fertile soil of the Midwest. Lutheranism, whether churchly or pietist, is above all a theological movement in the church that demands an educated clergy with seminary training. In this regard, theological conflict is inevitable, part and parcel of Lutheran identity, with seminaries serving as the chief battleground. Predestination verses conversion, legalism verses antinomianism, congregationalism verses clericalism, liturgical formalism verses free expression in worship, and, most important of all, the evangelical impulse verses cultural accommodation--these are the battles. Luther Seminary has seen them all, its faculty often at the center of the fray. With sympathy, fairness, and candor, Mark Granquist tells the story of Luther Seminary as it has played itself out. His book is admirable and trustworthy." --Walter C. Sundberg Jr., professor emeritus of church history, Luther Seminary

About the Author

Mark Granquist is associate professor of church history at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of Lutherans in America: A New History (Fortress Press, 2015) and Scandinavian Pietists: Spiritual Writings from 19th-Century Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland (2015), and coauthor, with Maria Erling, of The Augustana Story: Shaping Lutheran Identity in North America (Fortress Press, 2008).

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Fortress Press (December 17, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 291 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1506456626
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1506456621
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 15.5 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.75 x 1 x 8.75 inches

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