"Lutherans Today: American Lutheran Identity in the 21st Century" looks at one of America's largest Christian tradtions and the directions in which it is heading in the new millennium. Lutheranism has long retained a unique place on the landscape of American Christianity due to its ethnic, confessional and liturgical nature. The book presents new and original research on the many challenges Lutherans face in maintaining their identity in a pluralistic society. In a historical overview, Mark Noll finds that the struggle to maintain the Lutheran difference has existed since these descendants of the reformation arrived in America.
The book's other contributions suggest that the older divisions in Lutheranism based on ethnicity have given way to new divisions and dislocations based on doctrine, ideology, politics, sexuality, and new approaches to ecumenism and worship. The 12 chapters also chronicle changes among laity and clergy, such as greater religious individualism and a move away from centralized structure that will likely have consequences for Lutheran denominations in the years ahead. "Lutherans Today" provides a roadmap of the various movements and groups impacting American Lutheranism, including mega churches, the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, the liturgical evangelical Catholics, the Lutheran left, Word Alone, and the charismatic. Other topics, such as multiculturalism, Lutheran colleges, youth and ethnic ministry, and the political views of clergy, are addressed by social scientists, historians, journalists and other leading specialists in the field.