Review: Radical Lutherans/Lutheran Radicals ed. by Jason A. Mahn

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2019

Journal Title

Lutheran Quarterly







The five contributors to this book (professors at ELCA colleges or universities) make the case that a Lutheran Christian can be a political "radical." While these authors may not agree on precisely what that term implies, one gets the impression that they generally view market economies and current liberal-democratic structures with deep suspicion and hold that these institutions need to be thoroughly reformed. The penultimate chapter, for example, favors socialist and liberationist ideas (most of which were conceived in the mid-nineteenth century, given wider currency in the 1960s and 70s, and have now become institutionalized in liberal Protestant church bodies). The book's thesis is that "radical Lutherans" (that is, those who repeatedly return to the gospel root [radix] of the Christian faith) "ineluctably become Lutheran radicals: those freed by God's gracious word to engage in social and political reforms that are often subversive of 'the way things are'" (4). The book thus seeks to underscore [End Page 233] a deep connection between God's justification of sinners and the actions of justified sinners toward establishing earthly justice, as such is envisioned typically by socialists and liberationists.