Q & R: Lutherans and Wesleyans have been ignored for too long!

A note from a Lutheran and a Wesleyan. More after the jump …
From a Lutheran …

Q: First, thank you for sharing your writings and thoughts. I am exceptionally grateful for your “A Generous Orthodoxy.”
In fact, when given the opportunity to lead a small group this past spring at a small progressive Lutheran church…, I chose this book. I am not a life-long/cradle Lutheran; rather my religious upbringing is quiet eclectic – raised in a conservative Christian home I was baptized Southern Baptist …, became a member of a Mennonite Brethren church …, and attended a fundamentalist non-denominational church … during my high school years. Given this background, plus a few years of being anti-Christian for perhaps all too obvious and typical reasons, I appreciate your willingness to seek out the best in the various branches of Christianity. Still, I cannot help but notice that there not a section on “Why I am Lutheran.” I am certainly not criticizing; my small group and I were simply curious.

From a Lutheran (cont’d) …

I have considered possible answers; for instance, maybe the “wheat” – to use your terminology – of being Lutheran is the constant sense reforming, which in turn is quiet similar to being emergent, and at the risk of being redundant you felt obligated to discuss such concepts under the “emerging” umbrella rather than the “Lutheran” umbrella. Another possible answer I reason, is that, as you do mention, Lutherans have a keen sense of understanding Jesus as the WORD. A whole chapter on this might not be plausible.
Regardless, I would love to hear your insight and reasoning.
Please, please do not take this as just another unhappy customer finding the smallest thing to complain about. I am not complaining; again, I am curious.
Thank you for your time, your words, your “pastoring” to me in many moments of spiritual dissatisfaction.

R: Thanks so much for your note. I was with several of my favorite Lutherans a few weeks back (including Pat Keifert, one of the smartest people I know) … so I feel especially motivated to respond to your question. I really like your comment about “constant reforming” among the Lutherans, and I hope that spirit will keep going strong in the coming years thanks to people like you and your congregation. Some intrepid Lutherans have been the among earliest participants in the missional/emergent conversation, and I think that trend will continue in the future.
I wish there would have been space in the book for a whole chapter on Lutherans … several of my favorite theologians alive today are from your community, and you have gifts that we all truly need. As do the Wesleyans …
From a Wesleyan …

Q: I just finished your wonderful book on the spiritual practices, and found it to be tremendously helpful and inspiring.
I also thought you’d be interested to know that there was a solid ecclesiastical voice spearheading the abolitionist movement beyond the Quakers – – and that was the Wesleyan Methodist Connection (which is now the Wesleyan Church.)
These guys were abolitionist Methodists – and were the first church in America that officially declared themselves abolitionist. Although the Quakers were at the heart of the movement, I don’t believe they had an official stand on it. I am grateful for such giants as Orange Scott and Luther Lee, who were brave enough to step away from the Methodist Church at a tremendous personal price.
Luther Lee, by the way, preached at the first ordination service of a woman in America – and the first women’s right to vote conference was held at the Wesleyan Chapel inSeneca Falls.

R: Thanks for this! I have a chapter in my upcoming book that tells the ugly story of how the Bible was used to defend slavery … and the beautiful story of how it was used to abolish slavery. (I hope it will be used in the latter way for the next abolition movement – the movement to abolish nuclear weapons.) It seems to me that people who love the Bible ought to be the first to learn what we can from this part of our theological past, especially from heroes like Orange Scott and Luther Lee. Although I haven’t read it, I understand Luther Lee was one of the people who wrote a book countering the more-common pro-slavery Bible interpreters in the decade before the Civil War. Preachers like Scott and Lee who spoke against slavery were often run out of town in riots … which makes a few flames on the internet seem like a small thing today!