A number of years ago, I wrote a blog post in response to an open letter that Carl Braaten wrote to then ELCA presiding bishop Mark Hanson. To my utter astonishment, that post started turning up whenever anyone search for "Carl Braaten" on Google. As of today, it is the third result Google offers, and I've seen it as high as number one (maybe just for me, I don't know what Google does behind the scenes). In any event, this was the top search result that led people to my humble blog until it was recently surpassed by "Can Jesus Microwave a Burrito?" (The Internet is a strange place, and Google models that strangeness well.)
Anyway, for some time now, I've been intending to offer something useful to those who stumble across my blog looking for actual information about Dr. Braaten, but it turns out that such information really has been hard to find. Recently, I enlisted the help of Dwight at Versus Populum, who was able to provide me with enough information to offer the rough biography that follows. I'll also be posting this at Wikipedia, which had a very terse entry, so if anyone knows more and would care to elaborate, please go there and do so.
So, without further ado.....
Carl Braaten has been one of the leading theologians and teachers in the Lutheran church for the past 50 years. He has authored and edited numerous books and theological papers, including Principles of Lutheran Theology (Fortress Press, 1983), Mother Church: Ecclesiology and Ecumenism (Fortress Press, 1998) and In One Body Through the Cross: The Princeton Proposal for Christian Unity (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003).
Along with Robert Jenson, he has been an influential figure in developing and restoring the catholic roots of American Lutheranism.
Braaten was born on January 3, 1929. His parents were Norwegian-American pietists, who served as missionaries in Madagascar, and he received his early spiritual formation in that context. After finishing high school at Augustana Academy, a Lutheran boarding school in Canton, South Dakota, he attended St. Olaf College, Luther Seminary, Heidelberg University and Harvard Divinity School. where he studied under Paul Tillich and earned his doctoral degree. He was ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1958.
At that time, he began serving a parish in Minneapolis and teaching at Luther Seminary. In 1961 Braaten, together with Robert Jenson, Roy Harrisville, Kent Knutson, James Burtness and others, founded the journal Dialog, which he continued to serve as editor until resigning in 1991. In 1962, Dr. Braaten accepted a position at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he taught as Professor of Systematic Theology until 1991 and where he is still recognized as Professor Emeritus.
In 1991, Braaten and Jenson founded the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology and established a new theological journal, Pro Ecclesia.