Lutheran-Catholic dialogue shifts toward Confessional Lutherans

International Lutheran Council Editor Matthew Block’s “First Things” blog recently talked about the latest efforts in the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. LCMS President Matthew Harrison also re-posted it on his personal blog.

For those of us in the forums who follow inter-denominational dialogue, this kind of announcement is nothing new. We read about countless, rather fruitless dialogues where the parties involved sign what are, essentially, “Agree to Disagree in Unity” documents. But Confessional Lutherans aren’t the sort to sign such silly accords.

IMHO for the President of the admittedly insulated LCMS to make a public statement in support of the dialogue (or at least echo one made by another prominent Lutheran), it shows that both sides have real, earnest hope that these talks will lead to a more fruitful dialogue than past meetings. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us toward more perfect visible unity!


Wir haben einen Papst?


Can’t help it, I’m a little feisty today

Encouraging news. I have always felt that confessional Lutheran bodies are better positioned doctrinally and theologically to dialogue with the Catholic Church. And it isn’t just the social, moral, and sexuality issues we converge on, but I believe others, as well.


Frankly, until unity is restored with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, I don’t even understand the purpose of all of this. In Catholic hymnals, it says that the reason that Protestants cannot receive communion is because we believe in true unity, not just the appearance of unity where everyone goes back their respective beliefs after Mass. So while I pray for unity among all Christians, I believe that it is best to begin with those who are the the closest to our beliefs (the Orthodox).

I’m all for unity, but I’ll be darned if I have lutefisk on Fish Fridays…:stuck_out_tongue:

Just kidding. Almost 500 years of separation won’t disappear overnight, but yes, this is an amazing development. Praise the Lord.:gopray2:

You can have real dialogue with the LC-MS since they still hold to the truth of Holy Scripture and the historic creeds. I remember sitting in on one such discussion on soteriology when I was a theology student, and while our university representative was insistent upon the traditional Lutheran understanding, the Catholic representatives could respect that. The ELCA representative just vaguely agreed with whatever the others said.

Do confessional Lutherans have much of a presence outside of the US? I figure they’ve gotta be pretty small in other parts of the world like Scandinavia and Germany where the mainstream Lutherans are common. Especially so in Germany because isn’t that where confessional Lutherans generally fled? And because AFAIK the Evangelical Church in Germany is still more conservative at least with moral issues.

While not nearly as big as the LWF, the ILC has a worldwide presence. See the link.


Heh…have you ever spent much time talking with anyone who is Orthodox? :rolleyes:

I’m sure there are Orthodox who find dialogue with you every bit as maddening as you find dialogue with the Orthodox to be maddening.

Thanks for the link :slight_smile:

The groundwork has been laid over the past 50 years. The document says:

This task is so urgent since
Catholics and Lutherans have never ceased to confess together the faith
in the »one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church…0Communion.pdf

Francis’ met with the Lutheran World Federation and representatives from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity last month:

This year marks fifty years of theological dialogue, and the anniversary of the fifth centenary of the Reformation is approaching. The Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity has therefore published the text “From conflict to communion: the Lutheran-Catholic interpretation of the Reformation in 2017”. The Pope underlined the importance for all to “meet each other in dialogue on the historical reality of the Reformation, on its consequences and the responses that should be given to it. Catholics and Lutherans can ask forgiveness for the harm they have done to each other and for their guilt before God, and together rejoice for the nostalgia for unity that the Lord has reawakened in our hearts, and which makes us look ahead with hope”.

“In the light of the journey through these recent decades, and of the many examples of brotherly communion between Lutherans and Catholics to which we are witnesses, and comforted by trust in the grace that is bestowed upon us by the Lord Jesus Christ, I am sure that we will be able to continue along our path of dialogue and communion”, he continued, “also facing fundamental questions, as well as divergences that arise in the anthropological and ethical fields. Certainly, there are and there will be difficulties, which will require further patience, dialogue, and mutual comprehension, but let us not be afraid! We are well aware, as Benedict XVI reminded us many times, that unity is not primarily the result of our efforts, but of the action of the Holy Spirit, to which we must open our hearts with trust in order that it might lead us along the paths to reconciliation and communion”.

“Anthropological and ethical fields” do not separate some Lutherans from Catholics; urge LCMS to work for unity with Pope Francis.

Who says we’re not? The LCMS has been involved in all of the American Catholic - Lutheran dialogue sections save one. Our president sat right next to Bishop Lori in front of the Congressional committee hearing regarding the HHS Mandate. BTW, what is the ELCA’s stance on this attack on religious liberty?


Hold hands and kumbaya!?



You misread and immediately inflamed another poster.

“some Lutherans” was referring to the Missouri Synod.

I don’t think I inflamed a poster, but I apologize if I misunderstood. What did you mean by;
“urge LCMS to work for unity with Pope Francis”?


I know the LCMS participated in the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue but, in general the ELCA/LWF/Provoo Communion has led the way in ecumenism. The conclusions of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity is that there are no essential theological barriers to reunification.

If gender/sexual orientation separate most Lutherans/ Anglicans from Francis, then it is conservative Lutherans [LCMS/ILC] who need to be the first to return to Rome.

Understood. I would agree with your last sentence if I thought the bolded statement were correct. I am not aware that some of the issues between Catholicism and Lutheranism have been resolved, such as the Sacrifice of the Mass, infused v. imputed righteousness, requirements regarding the marian dogmas, to name a few.

If they are resolved, EC, what keeps the ELCA/LWF from returning to the historic teachings and practices on who is eligible for the priesthood, etc., in order to move the goal of unity to a conclusion?


I say great to see progress. I think more and more Catholics have been coming to the conclusion that we should only engage in ecumenism with the Orthodox, but I hope that positive developments can reverse that trend.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit