In the Wall Street Journal (Tue, April 3, page A13) Barton Swaim writes a review of T.M. Luhrmann, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. In the review Mr. Swaim makes this interesting comment.
The second problem is that term ‘evangelical.’ There is an admission at the book’s outset that it’s hard to define, and occasionally Ms. Luhrmann amends the word with ‘experiential,’ suggesting that the Vineyard and associated groups are not typical specimens of evangelicalism. Most of the book, however, follows its subtitle in denoting its subjects simply as ’American evangelicals.’ But writing a book about American evangelicals and interviewing only Vineyardites is a bit like writing a travel book about the British Isles without leaving Inverness. However one defines the term ‘evangelical’–and it should include Reformed Presbyterians, Missouri Synod Lutherans, traditionalist Methodists and the majority of Baptists–a great many evangelical denominations and dispositions stand deliberately opposed to the kind of theological subjectivism, neo-Medieval spiritualism and pious self-absorption that Ms. luhrmann finds at the Vineyard.
Mr. Swaim includes Missouri Synod Lutherans within the category of American evangelicals, along with Reformed Presbyterians, traditionalist Methodists, and most Baptists.
It raises the question of how to categorize Missouri Synod Lutherans. I would say that we are catholic (small c) but not Roman Catholic, orthodox (small o) but not Eastern Orthodox, evangelical (gospel-centered) but not American Evangelicals. Yet this commentator in the Wall Street Journal includes us with American Evangelicals.
Is that a common outsider view of the Missouri Synod? What do you think of that categorization?