The Seminary website lists the following bio for Dr. Root:
Professor of Systematic Theology at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. He served as Dean from 2003-2009, after having earlier served on the faculty from 1980 to 1988. He is also Visiting Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, where he served as Research Professor and sometimes Director from 1988 to 1998.
He also has taught at Davidson College in Davidson, NC and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH. Since January 2006, he has been Executive Director of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology.
Root is a native of Norfolk, Virginia. After attending public schools in Chesapeake, Virginia, he studied at Dartmouth College (B.A., summa cum laude), and Yale University (Ph.D. in theology). He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Wittenberg University (Springfield, OH) in 2002 in recognition of his contribution to the unity of the church.
Root is a member of the US and international Lutheran-Catholic dialogues and has served on the US Lutheran-United Methodist dialogue, the Anglican-Lutheran International Working Group, and the Angican-Lutheran International Commission. He was the Faith and Order Commission Observer for the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. He served as coopted staff at the 1990, 1997, and 2003 Assemblies of the Lutheran World Federation and the 1993 World Conference on Faith and Order and was a consultant at the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
He served on the drafting teams that produced the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and Called to Common Mission, which established full communion between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church. He is the author (with Gabriel Fackre) of Affirmations and Admonitions (Eerdmans 1998) and editor of Justification by Faith (with Karl Lehmann and William Rusch, Continuum 1997), Baptism and the Unity of the Church (with Risto Saarinen, Eerdmans 1998), and Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword: Preaching, Teaching, and Living the Bible (with James Buckley, Eerdmans, 2008).
What is significant is that Dr. Root was a voice against the devolution of the ELCA from confessional Lutheran identity and practice and was a strong figure in the fight for those within the ELCA against the actions of the CWA in August 2009. His departure surely weakens the position of those who believe that you can stay in the ELCA and make a difference.
There have been those in Missouri who left for Rome or Constantinople because they became convinced that Missouri was not serious about being the Church her Confessions claim her to be. There is no one reason or argument for those who have left but the common conviction of those leaving was that Lutheranism no longer offered a viable choice.
While I would disagree with that conclusion, I am not insensitive to the issues and struggles within Lutherans to remain true to the documents which confess who they are, what they believe, and how they practice that faith in their liturgical life. My point is this, what good is a Lutheranism detached from her confessional statements, a Lutheranism which no longer has confidence in her answers, or a Lutheranism no longer assured that God comes to us in Word and Sacrament to accomplish His saving will and purpose?
The battle in Missouri is one that detaches style and substance from each other to allow us to believe like Lutherans while worshiping like evangelicals, evangelizing like fundamentalists, and practicing our piety like the local contemporary Christian radio station. The battle in the ELCA is the same -- but the parameters are different. The ELCA believes that you can worship faithfully in the form of the Mass with its attendant ceremonies and even have Bishops but that you don't have to believe the things these imply. So you commune with folks who believe in the real absence of Jesus and you adopt as mission the cutting edge social justice movement of the day.
What happens when Lutherans cease to be Lutheran in faith and practice? They start shopping for another version of Christianity that lacks the thing that attracts them most. So some head to Rome for authority and liturgical tradition (though sloppily and lazily practiced in the local parish) and some head to Constantinople for antiquity (though somewhat isolated and ethnically frozen) and others head to the mainstream of Protestantism or the pulsing heart of evangelicalism in search of social justice or relevance. And this is what has been happening.
We cannot afford not be the Lutherans our Confessions claim we are (in practice as well as belief). The emptiness that is left is unsatisfactory to those on every side and will eventually die -- either by attrition in which the last left simply turn out the lights when they pass on or by becoming an empty shell that has an exterior but no heart or mind or soul or by exchanging Lutheran identity for whatever seems to be the prevailing (and therefore successful) theological fad of the moment.
Is there another choice? Well, yes, we could try being the Lutherans we are. I am not suggesting that we repristinate a specific era or epoch of Lutheranism (though Lutheran Orthodoxy appeals to me) but taking our theological identity, heritage, and conviction and living it out within the present moment. That means for Missouri we must get over the idea that theology began and ended with the 100 years between 1847 and 1947 and for the ELCA it means getting over the idea that this is just history and nothing more. We Lutherans ought to be vibrant, strong, and liturgical -- with our passion for the early church fathers, our commitment to catholic faith and practice, our penchant for reform and renewal, and out history of educating our people through catechesis and Bible study. Couple that with the great history of Lutheran compassionate ministry and it would seem that we would be a powerhouse... if we wanted to be... the Lutherans we say we are...