A common liturgy for Catholics & Lutherans on Reformation Day

Catholics and LWF Lutherans have released a common liturgy to be used for joint services, with both a Catholic and a Lutheran celebrant, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 1517.  (Both conservative Lutherans and conservative Catholics will find unity in the response of being appalled.) [Read more…]

Liberals, conservatives, & Lutheran-Catholic dialogue

Mathew (one “t”) Block, the communications manager for the Lutheran Church Canada (with which the LCMS is in fellowship) has an interesting post at First Things on the 50 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue.  He does so from the perspective of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), the organization of conservative Lutherans, which has started a dialogue with Rome of its own, clarifying how the liberal Lutheran World Federation is not fully representing the Lutheran tradition in its own talks, and how ILC churches agree with Rome (and not the LWF) in not ordaining women and rejecting same-sex marriage.

Beyond the Lutheran/Catholic issues, the post sheds light on world Lutheranism in the relationship between the ILC and the LWF.  For example, I learned that not only Ethiopia’s 7.2 million member Mekane Yesus (“place of Jesus”) is pulling away from the LWF and is trying to get its theological act together with the help of the ILC, so is Tanzania’s 6.5 million member  Lutheran Church. [Read more…]

Top Lutheran stories of 2015

So what were the biggest stories or most important developments in confessional Lutheranism for 2015?  I have come up with 6, which I give after the jump.  We really need 10.  Can we come up with 4  more? [Read more…]

Bonhoeffer on Christmas

Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for plotting against Hitler, is in vogue today.  Much of what people are so excited about in his writings is simply Lutheran spirituality.  Michael Gerson writes a fine column about Bonhoeffer’s reflections from a Nazi prison on Christmas.  What Bonhoeffer is saying–the inversions, the paradoxes, the repudiation of power (of great interest in a postmodern apologetic)–is an application to Christmas of Luther’s theology of the Cross. [Read more…]

More on the Pope’s openness to communion with Lutherans

As we blogged about, Pope Francis recently visited a Lutheran church in Rome, where, in answer to a question, he expressed openness to allowing Roman Catholics and Lutherans to commune together.  An article on the subject and an interview with the pastor of the Roman Lutheran congregation have been published in the National Catholic Register.  The interview is excerpted here after the jump.

We conservative Lutherans agree with conservative Catholics in being opposed to any kind of intercommunion between the churches.  We both agree that communion requires full doctrinal agreement.  The pastor here is of the Lutheran World Fellowship/ELCA variety, which believes otherwise and that ecumenical unity trumps just about every other consideration.

But I found two things interesting in this discussion.  First, the interviewer does not have a clue about what Lutherans believe about Holy Communion.  He uses “the Real Presence” to describe the Catholic view, assuming that Lutherans don’t believe in that, even though the term is a Lutheran concept!

More significantly, though, the Pope is acknowledging that Lutherans have the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, that the Lutheran sacrament is valid.  I don’t know that a pope has ever acknowledged that before.  And if the Sacrament is valid, that means the Lutheran pastoral office is valid, which, as the pastor says, has long been a key issue. [Read more…]

The Pope’s coming accord with evangelicals

Pope Francis believes that the Reformation is over, that the breach with Luther and later Protestants has been healed.  This is thanks to the Joint Declaration on Justification worked out between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.  (Conservative, confessional Lutherans reject that document.)  Moreover, Pope Francis has deep ties to Latin American evangelicals and charismatics.

As reported in the Catholic Herald, he has written a document declaring an end to the hostilities between Catholics and evangelicals, which he plans on issuing on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. [Read more…]


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