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In the Image of Evangelicalism

In the Image of Evangelicalism

(p.107) Chapter 5 In the Image of Evangelicalism
The Megachurch and the Mainline
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on a new type of Lutheranism, a hybrid of sorts. It was heavily influenced by American evangelicalism and the therapeutic and pragmatic culture of American society. It retained certain theological and liturgical features of the Lutheran Church's religious tradition, but those elements had been subtly and not so subtly changed in the borrowing process. This chapter focuses on congregations that are blending Lutheranism with the revival tradition and evangelicalism by engaging in what it calls “selective isomorphism”—borrowing elements from non-Lutheran traditions that could easily be incorporated into their services and that dovetailed with their own understanding of what is essential and what is non-essential within Lutheranism. The process of change at these congregations resembles the kind of adaptations that market and ecological theories emphasize, in which churches adopt the rituals, forms of worship, or theology of successful newcomers or define themselves against new players in the market by cultivating specialized identities to serve a small market niche.

Keywords:   Lutheranism, religious tradition, evangelicalism, Lutheran Church, congregations, revival tradition, selective isomorphism, rituals, worship, theology

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