U. V. Koren the Citizen: Lincoln, Liberty, and the Lutheran Ethos
By Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D.
Presented for the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod Historical Society, 19 June 2010.
Dr. Ulrik Vilhelm Koren (1826-1910) was the seventh Norwegian Lutheran pastor to immigrate to America and the first Norwegian Lutheran pastor to serve west of the Mississippi River. This paper surveys the life of Koren the citizen. First, we examine his reflections concerning Abraham Lincoln. Next, we consider his participation in the slavery debate. Finally, we situate his convictions within the context of his confessional Lutheran theology. Along the way, we will discover that Koren—a theologian known for his unwavering stance against doctrinal compromise—was no extremist; rather, he praised and practiced careful judgment, often leading to moderately expressed, but firmly held, social positions.