The Conservative Reformation And Its Theology -- By: Caspar Rene Gregory

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 032:126 (Apr 1875)
Article: The Conservative Reformation And Its Theology
Author: Caspar Rene Gregory


The Conservative Reformation And Its Theology1

Caspar Rene Gregory

The Lutheran church is to a great extent unknown, ignored, and misunderstood by the numerous Protestant churches of other names in America: its strength is unknown, its influence is ignored, and its doctrines are misunderstood.

When contrasted with all the other Protestant churches of America combined it seems small; but lay it by the side of the German and Dutch Reformed churches in our land, and it takes a good place, having more than double their united strength; or compare it with the Episcopal, the Congregational, and the main body of the Presbyterian church, and it proves to be larger than any one of them. In Germany, though the union of the Evangelical churches in Prussia removes the possibility of exact numerical comparison with the Reformed church, no one can doubt its superior strength, and it counts its hosts in Norway and Sweden, in Denmark, in Russia, and in Hungary. An impression rests on many minds that it is an inferior branch of the Protestant church, while the statistics seem to indicate that it is stronger than any other division.

The influence of the Lutheran church is immense. Its mere size and its wide diffusion necessitate this, for it carries everywhere not only the Augsburg Confession, but better yet, the German hymns, the richest in the world, and, best of all,

an open Bible. In our own land it has, to a large extent, kept in the background. Its foreign origin, its foreign tongue in many places, and its conservative ways have served to keep it from notice, though it is daily becoming more domesticated, using our language more, and entering a more active sphere. But in its own home, and forth from its own home, Germany, it wields a strong arm. In theology, in church history, and in biblical studies there is nothing to compare with it for activity, strength, and success. Few theological students are aware of the debt they owe to Lutheran work; and even of those who have a certain familiarity with the men and their books, few recognize the fact that they are Lutherans. The doctrines which are said to be misunderstood will be referred to later.

It is important that we should know the Lutheran church, because it gives us another side of the Reformation and another type of church life. While we are one with it in essentials, there is still a difference between us and it, a difference of such a nature that we can learn much from the Lutheran church. Its religion and piety are of a different cast from ours. A pious joy and happiness reign in it, to which we are comparative strangers. The Germans have a word which finds n...

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