Derailed: Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue

When we read the Lutheran Confessions, we note that Lutherans haven’t outright denied the power of the sacraments or limited the number; only that Lutherans refocus the sacraments back to Christ, rather than human actions. The Confessions simply use a slightly different definition. A Sacrament, to us, is something that is 1)instituted by Christ 2)for the forgiveness of sins and gifting of Grace and 3)uses a visible element. Most Lutherans number Baptism and Holy Communion here, and many include Holy Absolution. Marriage, Ordination, Last Rites and Confirmation are still a part of our church, and can still be considered to deepen the Grace received at Baptism - in other words, that we don’t call it a sacrament doesn’t mean we necessarily think any less of these good and holy rites of the church or their necessity in Christian life - they do bring the Word to His people, after all.

The numbering of Sacraments would not be a barrier to reunification, in my understanding. The difficulty would come rather in the idea that the sacraments must be understood via some sort of interdependent sacramental theology. This is foreign to Lutheranism, where we approach each sacrament on its own terms and in its individual context.

But in a way that sounds selfish don’t you think? Where people in the higher ups, don’t want to see the truth, especially that being 1 helps us Christians send a stronger message to the world. Instead of having 44,000 or whatever the number of Christian Churches.

The LWF is not in any place to get into any sort of talking position with either the Orthodox or the the Catholic Church, as long as they disagree so starkly with biblical sexuality and moral issues. There is not going to be anything more than “let’s play nice” type agreements.

I am not so sure this is unfruitful, either. As much as I would like unity to occur, unity has to happen in the context of Truth

1 Cor 11:18-19
I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

What is happening is that it is becoming more and more clear that those who have departed from the Apostolic faith will continue to drift and fragment further, while those who are attempting to cling to the Apostolic faith will continue to build on our common foundation and work toward the Unity that Christ desires.

If is extremely unlikely that Lutherans will seek unity with Orthodox considering the issue of female ordination. Lutherans continue to focus on the Gospel not the Law or some man made interpretation of what constitutes a man or woman servant of God. There is more important work for Christians than creating barriers by clinging to medieval notions of God’s Will.

Yes, I wonder this often.

Amen! :thumbsup:

I agree, if you are speaking of LWF. Dialogue with ILC Lutherans may be more fruitful at this point.

Be clear, EC. You speak only for the liberal Lutherans here. Confessional Lutherans will remain steadfast in our teachings and can never “ordain” women. More importantly, we do not focus solely on the Gospel (or rather, appeal to a sort of Gospel Reductionism to support modern errors); no, we preach Law and Gospel in equal strength and with constant tension. One does not exist without the other.

You realize, my friend, that the exact same issue applies to Pope Francis and the Catholic Church? Pope Francis is no more inclined to allow female ordination than the Orthodox. He isn’t allowed to.

There is no barrier on this issue, other than that set up by those communions and synods that choose to ordain women contrary to the historic teaching of the Church Catholic.


This is so well stated, Don. :thumbsup:


I think the fact that Confessional Lutherans have held to this Apostolic standard is one of the fruits whereby we know that the HS is at work in this communion. Those that are drifting into changed pressured by the culture are not held back by the Holy Spirit, so lose connection with the faith that was passed down to us from the Apostles.

Unfortunately, the Lutheranism that holds to those ideals is, for all intents and purposes, non existent in America. Confessional Lutheranism is an extreme minority among even, ironically enough, the confessional church bodies much less the ELCA. I’m not at all confident that we have the means to hold back any kind of secularization or heresy. I am not convinced, though, at least on a theological level that the alternatives (Rome or Orthodoxy) are an improvement. Certainly an improvement on an institutional level, though.

Just to add to what Jon stated…pronouncements by previous popes limits a current pope, or future pope, for that matter, on faith and morals. As St. JP II has detailed the CC response to the ordination of women (and according to then Cardinal Ratzinger, is almost an ex-cathedra statement), Pope Francis and future popes will not go against what JP II already said against the ordiniation of women.

Your last sentence sadly highlights the fallacy that much of the mainline seems to adhere to.

Because it is the old way of doing things it must be wrong. Because it is a new way of doing things it must be right.


Well, my first thought here is that you’re not really speaking for Lutherans in general here, just for the ELCA et al … But I see someone beat me to that already. :blush:

But that aside, I actually greatly appreciate your saying ^^ this. So often in ecumenical dialogue one side’s message is “We want to unite it with you but you don’t want to unite with us. Why are you being so unecumenical?” or words to that effect (sigh). Thank you for a refreshing change. :slight_smile:

That’s because most ecumenism consists of, “You know, we could heal all these schisms and divisions, if we can just agree that you were wrong.” :whistle:



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