"We will resist..."
The following is a statement of protest and dissent regarding the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). It is issued by 14 Lutheran theological professors from Germany, America, Norway, and Denmark on December 22, 1999. —Haben Sie Fragen? Bitte, schreib Holger Sonntag.
December 22, 1999
- To His Eminence,
- The President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity
- Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy
- Vatican City
We, in our capacity as Evangelical-Lutheran professors of theology, feel the
obligation to bring to your attention the following declaration:
- The signing of the "Official Common Statement" (OCS) by the president of the
Lutheran World Federation, together with other representatives of LWF, is not
binding for the member churches, since the LWF does not have any doctrinal
authority. Neither are we, who as teachers have a share in the responsibility
for our churches, bound by the ratification of the "Joint Declaration on the
Doctrine of Justification" (JDDJ) "in its entirety", which is implied in the
signing of OCS, and the interpretation of JDDJ that goes with it.
- Rather, we declare that neither JDDJ "in its entirety" nor the "Annex to the
OCS" are reconcileable to the Confessions of the Evangelical-Lutheran Churches.
- Because of the special responsibilty we have as teachers of theology we will
resist every attempt to interpret or regulate the doctrine and preaching in our
churches along the lines of JDDJ as it has been interpreted in the light of OCS
(with its Annex). We rather contradict all attempts to reinterpret or undermine
Martin Luther's central biblical rediscovery of salvation and its expression in
the Lutheran Confession.
- We caution the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church and their pastors and
teachers not to consider dissident statements from the LWF as scriptural and
confessional expressions of current Lutheran doctrine and preaching.
- For the same reason we caution against the construction of additional
doctrinal agreements regarding the Lord's Supper and the ordained ministry,
which would be based on the alleged agreement in "basic truths regarding the
doctrine of justification". Rather we ask Roman Catholic Christians, in the
dialogues concerning the Lord's Supper and the ordained ministry, to take into
account the scriptural doctrine of justification in its fulness.
Our Lord Jesus Christ's high priestly prayer, "ut
omnes unum sint" (Jn 17:21), commands all who believe in Him to obey the
delivering and binding truth of the justification of the ungodly (Rom 4:5). At
the same time it prohibits church-political strategies according to the wisdom
of this world (1 Cor 1:20; Rom 12:2).
The unity of the true Church that is given in our one and
only Savior Jesus Christ is still hidden beneath our painful disagreements
because the churches do not hear and understand the Gospel of salvation in the
Son in one single, identical way. Therefore we are forbidden to sacrifice the
recognized truth which binds us in our conscience, even in the face of humanly
understandable urging in favor of a visible and institutional church union and
reasoning with a view towards evangelism, for which this kind of sacrifice is
said to be necessary.
The doctrinal condemnations that the Council of Trent directed against
central tenets of our faith - whether as a result of misunderstanding or a
correct interpretation - have no relevance before the judgement seat of God.
Therefore even their "correction" would be of no spiritual consequence for us
and our congregations.
Their true correction regarding the relations between the
churches is not to be achieved through conciling formulae. It could only be
achieved through a fresh understanding that accords with the Gospel. This
requires from all churches, which now de facto exist in particularity, the
renunciation of all preemptive and monopolistic claims to mediate salvation in
Christ. The paper that was signed on October 31, 1999 just as JDDJ itself bears
no trace of such a renunciation.
- "Moreover it be required in stewards that one be found faithful" (1 Cor
Hic iam quaeritur inter dispensatores ut fidelis quis inveniatur.
- Prof. Dr. Erik Aurelius, Lund, Universität Göttingen, Theologische Fakultät
- Prof. Dr. Jörg Baur, Universität Göttingen, Theologische Fakultät
- Prof. Dr. Gerhard Forde, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
- Prof. Dr. Leif Grane, University of Copenhagen, Teologisk Fakultet
- Prof. Gracia Grindal, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
- Prof. Dr. Bengt Hägglund, University of Lund, Teologiska Fakulteten
- Prof. Dr. James Kittelson, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
- Prof. Dr. Steffen Kjeldgaard-Pedersen, University of Copenhagen, Teologisk
- Prof. Dr. Gerhard Krodel, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA
- Prof. Dr. Inge Lønning, University of Oslo, Teologisk Fakultet
- Prof. Dr. James Nestingen, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
- Prof. Dr. Steven Paulson, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
- Prof. Dr. Tarald Rasmussen, University of Oslo, Teologisk Fakultet
- Prof. Dr. Joachim Ringleben, Universität Göttingen, Theologische Fakultät