Thanks for starting this thread, Mary. I’m looking forward to seeing other’s viewpoints on this. It requires a very complex answer. The more I learn about the document, the more merit I find it to have. However, I do understand the objections some hold.
In an oversimplified nutshell, the document is too vague and could be interpreted to imply that humans are, to some degree, able to reach out to God. A core tenant of Lutheranism is that God does all the saving.
At other times imprecise theological language renders JDDJ problematic, says the LCMS. In particular, “the example that is most important and far-reaching, has to do with the document’s use of faith, especially the preposition used to designate faith’s role in the justiﬁcation of the sinner.” Lutherans have normally expressed the role of faith by means of the preposition “through,” i.e. “through faith.” “They spoke this way in order to indicate that faith was an instrument, a means through which sinners receive the justiﬁcation of God, that is, faith, as opposed to works.”But whereas Lutherans speak of salvation by grace through faith, JDDJ speaks of justiﬁcation “in faith.” LCMS notes that occasionally JDDJ uses the phrase “by faith,” but nowhere in the document does the phrase “through faith” appear.16 Such a shift in language is “dangerous” because it fails to state clearly “the instrumental nature of justifying faith.” That is to say, for Lutherans the “cause of our faith is outside of us, not ‘in faith,’ not in us.” The danger of speaking of salvation “in faith” is that “we rob Christ of all the glory in the justiﬁcation of sinners and we deprive sinners of the maximum comfort which can only be gotten when Christ is the sole cause of salvation”
It also notes that humans are sinful, but does not clearly talk about the actual nature of humanity (i.e. “Total Depravity,” from the Lutheran perspective). To be fair, that was not the purpose of the document - but some in the LCMS find the “why” humans require justification to be a major point that has to be addressed before we can move on to the “how.”