In its inaugural issue, O. P. Kretzmann described The Cresset as “a small lamp set on the wall of the Church to find things of value in the surrounding darkness.” First published in 1937 by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's youth ministy The Walther League, The Cresset was founded to introduce culturally isolated German Lutherans into the American mainstream, to international affairs, and to arts, culture, and science.
Kretzmann became president of Valparaiso University, an independent Lutheran University in Northwest Indiana, in 1940, and The Cresset became a publication of the university in 1951. While its original mission was to look out at the culture from the church, as German Lutherans became increasingly involved in broader American culture, The Cresset learned to speak also to that broader culture. The Cresset developed a new audience, an audience comprised of Lutherans and other Christians who shine the light of faith into the world, lest it forget all that is of value in the church.
As a former editor once wrote, the function of The Cresset is “…not to prescribe doctrine, but to relate doctrine to life, to search out the elusive but vital connections between Christianity and culture.” In the pages of this journal, you will find essays and commentary on literature, art, education, politics, and popular culture. We believe that Christians must be engaged with their culture, that—in fact—the Christian faith is integral to our culture, that much of the world around us is best viewed and understood through the lens of faith.
The Cresset was founded by O. P. Kretzmann, and he held the title of Editor until his retirement in 1968; however, day-to-day responsibilities for the journal fell to the editors listed below.
Otto A. Dorn (1937-1941)
The Rev. Thomas Coates (1941-1947)
The Rev. Jaroslav J. Pelikan (1947-1948)
John H. Strietelmeier (1949-1969)
Richard Lee (1969-1972, 1978-1981)
Kenneth F. Korby (1972-1978)
James Nuechterlein (1981-1988)
Gail McGrew Eifrig (1989-2002)
Thomas Kennedy (2002-2005)
James Paul Old (2005-2016)