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"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

Your Eminence,

We, in our capacity as Evangelical-Lutheran professors of theology, feel the obligation to bring to your attention the following declaration:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. "Moreover it be required in stewards that one be found faithful" (1 Cor 4:2).

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 Fakultet
  • 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