Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Religious Studies

First Advisor

Carey, Patrick

Second Advisor

Dabney, Lyle

Third Advisor

Mattox, Mickey


The Election Controversy of the nineteenth re-shaped the face of confessional Lutheranism in America. The Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, the leading voice of confessional Lutheranism in America, bore the brunt of the dispute and ultimately dissolved. This dissertation examines the Election Controversy with special attention to the twentieth century attempts to resolve it in order to discover the underlying problems that have prevented the opposing sides from reaching a resolution. The dissertation is written from the viewpoint of the Wisconsin Synod, one of the synods involved in the controversy but often ignored in the discussion of it. The study is needed because contemporary observers do not have a good understanding of confessional Lutheranism and Lutheranism's historic emphasis on doctrinal purity. The dissertation demonstrates that the underlying causes of the controversy and the failures to resolve it were departures from Luther's approach to theology and from the historic Lutheran stress on doctrine and doctrinal agreement for the expression of church fellowship.

Included in

Religion Commons