Fortress Press

Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity

Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod

A Conflict That Changed American Christianity

James C Burkee (Author), Martin E. Marty (Foreword by)


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Watch James Burkee discuss his new book, Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod

Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod follows the rise of two Lutheran clergymen—Herman Otten and J. A. O. Preus—who led different wings of a conservative movement that seized control of a theologically conservative but socially and politically moderate church denomination and drove "moderates" from the church in the 1970s. The schism within what was then one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States ultimately reshaped the landscape of American Lutheranism and fostered the polarization that characterizes today's Lutheran churches.

Burkee's story, supported by personal interviews with key players and church archives sealed for over twenty years, is about more than Lutheranism. The remaking of this one Lutheran denomination reflects a broader movement toward theological and political conservatism in American churches—a movement that began in the 1970s and culminated in the formation of the "Religious Right."

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451465389
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 288
  • Publication Date October 1, 2013


"A riveting account of a perfect storm that did not have to happen, a storm that was reinforced by the political and cultural dynamics of the turbulent 1960s. This massively researched book tells the fascinating story of the destructive clash between scheming conservatives and elitist liberals in the Missouri Synod wars of the 1960s and 70s, with the vast majority of laity and pastors caught between them. An infinitely sad but instructive story indeed."
—Robert Benne
Director of the Roanoke College Center for Religion and Society

"James Burkee has done a commendable job of providing not only a rich measure of historical background and perspective on 'Seminex,' a controversy of the 1970s that continues to impact the Missouri–Synod as a Lutheran church body, but also a case–study example of the Christ–and–culture battle line that runs through all of American Christianity."
—Jon Diefenthaler
LCMS District President

"For many reasons, this could not have been an easy book to write–and perhaps no one besides James Burkee could have carried out the task so successfully. With a critical eye and a sympathetic heart, Burkee illuminates the mechanics of America's rightward turn of the 1960s and 70s through the history of one of its great churches. This is a crisply told story of institutional transformation with profound implications for the entire nation."
—Chris Beneke
Associate Professor of History
Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts


  Fortress Press interview with James Burkee;   Adobe Acrobat Document

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  Chapter 1;   Adobe Acrobat Document
  Foreword;   Adobe Acrobat Document
  Introduction;   Adobe Acrobat Document
  Preface;   Adobe Acrobat Document
  Contents;   Adobe Acrobat Document

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