Americanization Process in the Second Generation: The German Lutheran Matthias Loy (1828-1915) Caught Between Adaptation and Repristinization

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Matthias Loy (1828-1915), a major educator, editor, author, church president, preacher, and Lutheran theologian, illustrates the dilemma of the second generation immigration in America. Born the fourth of seven children of impoverished German immigrants in Pennsylvania, Loy grew up torn between the European Legacy and the American Reality. His life as a major Lutheran leader in the Gilded Age indicates that struggle, seeking bilingualism (he wrote and preached in both German and English), personal and denominational success in the American Republic, combined with a determined Repristination of what he felt were the best elements of seventeenth century German Lutheran theology. The resulting synthesis made Loy not only one of the five most influential Lutheran leaders of his century, but a very rewarding study in the process of Americanization – not in the first generation (which often experiences ghettoization) nor the third (which is often “Americanized”), but the crucial – and neglected second generation – where the terms of engagement between the Old World Tradition and New World Innovation have to be negotiated.


“Few figures in American Lutheran history better deserve the epithet of “Renaissance Man” than the most remarkable Rev. Dr. Matthias Loy (1828-1915). To recite Loy’s many occupations is to invite verbal exhaustion. Loy was a poet and a polemicist, a preacher and a professor, a parish pastor and a college president, a synod executive and a church planter, an editor and a theologian, an author and a missioner, an admired mentor and an eloquent spokesman for Lutheran Orthodoxy … Unfortunately, Matthias Loy’s legacy has been neglected too long—that is why this volume is so welcome; that is why I rejoice that two contemporary scholars have attempted the complex but rewarding task of interpreting Matthias Loy and his theology to twenty-first century readers. Seldom in my teaching career spanning parts of two centuries have I had two more versatile students and colleagues than George Fry and Joel Kurz … I was delighted to see this duo meet the challenge of making Matthias Loy known to the various generations now engaged in ministry—not just the Builders and Boomers, but also the Busters and Millennials. If anyone can mediate that gap, it is these two. Readers, I think will find that this volume meets the requirements set by A. B. Alcott for a “good book,” namely, “one which is opened with expectation and closed with profit.” It could not be otherwise. Carefully studied, conscientiously crafted, superlatively documented, and skillfully penned, this text meets the demands Herman Melville set for a “might book”—“mighty writing,” but first, “a mighty theme.” George Fry and Joel Kurz are to be commended for their labors. This compelling pilgrimage through the life and mind of a major Lutheran theologian is to be heartily recommended.” (from the Commendatory preface) The Rev. Dr. Harold H. Zietlow, Professor Emeritus, Contemporary Theology and Missiology, Concordia Theological Seminary

Table of Contents

1. Ohio Lutheransim, 1800-1850
2. The Rise of Confessionalism in the Ohio Synod, 1812-1854
3. Matthias Loy: The Early Years, 1828-1849
4. Matthias Loy: Pastor, 1849-1865
5. Matthias Loy: Educator, 1865-1902
6. Matthias Loy: Editor and Author, 1864-1890
7. Matthias Loy: Synodical Leader, 1849-1860
8. Matthias Loy: Synod President, 1860-1878
9. Matthias Loy: Synod President, 1880-1894
10. Matthias Loy: Preacher
11. Matthias Loy: Theologian
12. Matthias Loy: Husband, Father, and Personal Life

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