Lutheranism Is Still Luther
The Structure of Lutheranism, by Werner Elert, tr. by Walter A. Hansen (Concordia, 1962, 547 pp., $10.95), is reviewed by Robert Preus, Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.

By the “structure” of Lutheranism Elert means its confessional dynamic as this developed through the epochs of history and influences man’s life. In this volume, therefore, the author seeks to describe Lutheranism not merely according to its confessions, but by its inner dynamic and spirit. This is an immense undertaking even for such a large volume as this: it requires a vast knowledge of all the literature and history of Lutheranism’s first 200 years and a critical sifting of the evidence to discover the true nature of Lutheranism. The author is eminently qualified for the task.

Perhaps it is not an oversimplification to say that for Elert the paradigm for the structure of Lutheranism is Luther. Where the Lutheran confessions and later Lutheran orthodoxy follow his theology, his concerns, his spirit, they are recognized with true appreciation; where they fail to reflect Luther, and even where they address themselves to areas beyond his concern, they are condemned with faint praise or frankly criticized. There is real merit in such a thesis as Elert propounds. Certainly the basic structure of Lutheranism can be traced to Luther’s insight into such crucial matters as sin, freedom of the will, and in particular the impact of the Gospel, and Elert offers magnificent discussions of these fundamental themes. But just as the Lutheran confessions were composed by more men than just Luther, so a description of the structure of Lutheranism is more than just a tracing of Luther’s theology ...

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