Lutherans and Reformed are worshipping together in Austria!

Hi

for all still intersted and especially for my friend JonC who simply couldn’t believe that Presbyterians and Lutherans are worshipping together in Austria in this post:

This is the reason why they do so: They signed the so called Leuenberg Agreement.

Would that also be a possibility for “reunifying” Reformed Christians/Presbyterians and Lutherans in the US?

Would you sign that agreement?

I find this hopeful, but the language seems a bit optimistic and slippery… sadly the way much European ecumenism has over the last few decades.

From what I read, it seems these “Reformed” churches have come to a much more Lutheran understanding of Baptism and the Eucharist, leaving behind a heretical position on the nature of Christ. If the Calvinists can confess the real power and necessity of Holy Baptism, and the real presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist received by all (by faith unto salvation and forgiveness of sins, but without faith unto their own damnation) then a significant hurdle has been cleared. Also, if predestination is understood not to predestine anyone to hell, but rather as a mystery of God by which the elect praise God for their salvation in Christ, another great hurdle is cleared.

However, I wonder why the Sacrament of Holy Confession and Absolution was not mentioned, since that is a confessional Sacrament for Lutherans that I don’t think Calvinists retain. Misunderstandings about the exercise of the Office of the Keys in the pastoral office could be a big issue, and relevant to the worshipper in the pew as well as the pastors. Also, I don’t think most Calvinists baptize infants… which would be a huge issue for Lutherans, and reflects a different understanding of the Sacrament itself.

There is much to be thankful for in this document, if it is honest and forthright. However, I could not sign an inter-communion document with Reformed churches, without also settling the many other areas of concern that seem to be right below the surface (and added as a list of future theological discussion points at the end of this document.) However, historically, European Lutherans and Calvinists have been quicker to form Union churches and sweep doctrine under the rug… confessional Lutherans have been a bit leary of these movements, because they have often resulted in a decline of sacramental theology and practice. Perhaps this one will be different.

Grace and peace to you.

What he said. :thumbsup:

In reading, I was quite concerned with paragraph 37.
Jon

The issues of the Sacraments were definantly a move towards Lutheranism but not entirely. On Christology I thought that all along any way. The issue of predestination seemed to move towards the Formula of Concord’s, a central Lutheran confession, confession regarding this issue, which is not entirely Reformed, since we would place election withen the context of the Covenant of Grace. I don’t know if I could sighn it honestly. I mean I beleive in certian forms of ecumenicalism, joining this site is one of them, but reducing our differences in that way seemed unconfessional in my opinion.

WorkerPriest already said everything I would have in response to your post. To reiterate, no, I would not sign any kind of a mutual agreement with a Calvinist church unless they rejected that which disagrees with our Confessions.

You know, Esdra, you might find interesting that ELCA Lutherans also worship with Presbyterians here in America.

Jon

ELCA Lutherans are in full communion, — attending one another’s services, exchanging clergy, etc. —*with the United Methodists, Presbyterians, Reformed Church, United Church of Christ and the Episcopalians here in the U.S.

However, I wonder why the Sacrament of Holy Confession and Absolution was not mentioned, since that is a confessional Sacrament for Lutherans that I don’t think Calvinists retain. Misunderstandings about the exercise of the Office of the Keys in the pastoral office could be a big issue, and relevant to the worshipper in the pew as well as the pastors. Also, I don’t think most Calvinists baptize infants… which would be a huge issue for Lutherans, and reflects a different understanding of the Sacrament itself.

Actually, I have never heard of the Sacrament of Holy Confession and Absolution when I was in a united Evangelical Church (with more Lutherans than a few Reformed).
Can it be that only Confessional Lutherans teach that? Like the SELK in Germany (=Old Lutherans)?

There is much to be thankful for in this document, if it is honest and forthright. However, I could not sign an inter-communion document with Reformed churches, without also settling the many other areas of concern that seem to be right below the surface (and added as a list of future theological discussion points at the end of this document.) However, historically, European Lutherans and Calvinists have been quicker to form Union churches and sweep doctrine under the rug… confessional Lutherans have been a bit leary of these movements, because they have often resulted in a decline of sacramental theology and practice. Perhaps this one will be different.

I think it is honest and forthright. In Austria the Reformed Churches of Austria and the Lutheran Church of Austria have signed this Agreement and are now in full communion with each other.
I think there are no Confessional Lutherans in Austria. - At least I know of no official movement like in Germany (SELK - see above).

[Grace and peace to you.

And to you! :slight_smile:
[/quote]

[quote=[URL=“http://www.leuenberg.net/daten/Image/Konkordie-en.pdf”]Leuenberg Agreement
[/quote]

]Paragraph 37. b) The Continuing Theological Task
The Agreement leaves intact the binding force of the confessions within the participating
churches. It is not to be regarded as a new confession of faith. It sets forth a consensus
reached about central matters, one which makes church fellowship possible between churches
of different confessional positions. In accordance with this consensus the participating churches
will seek to establish a common witness and service and they pledge themselves to continue
their common doctrinal discussions.

What exactly are concerned about here?

The common service?
Concerning that: That’s also my struggle: the type of worship is entirely different between Reformed Christians and Lutherans. What happened in Austria is really quite a Reformed type of service/worship in the United Churches (most of the parishes are united here; Although there are only 13,766 Reformed-Evangelicals in Austria. See here. Most of them in the 9 Reformed Parishes, the rest in the various United ones.)

Note: H.B. = Helvetic Confession = Reformed Christians
A.B. = Augsburg Confession = Lutherans

I am in general (as this was mentioned here) not sure if the Reformed-Evangelical Church in Austria is that Calvinistic…

I think they are more followers of Zwingli and Bullinger.

If I am not erroring, Calvin and Zwingli Bullinger and the other German-speaking Reformators of Switzerland also didn’t really work together - just like the the Swiss Reformators and Luther and his collegues also didn’t.

That’s great! :slight_smile:
With even more Churches than the Evangelical Church A.B. (=Augsburg Confession) here. :wink:

And is there also an Agreement, similar to the Leuenberg Agreement? Or how does this work, as these Churches are also quite different. (From theology, from the understanding of the Eucharist and from their type of service/worship)?

I’m not sure how great this development is here in the States.

From a perspective of peace, it might be pleasant. However, these kinds of arrangements have contributed to the dilution of the partner church bodies. From a historical, confessional perspectve, I don’t know that anyone could persuasively argue that the churches of these arrangements hold any likeness to their confessional roots. The ELCA disregards Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, so in what sense are they really Lutheran? The Episcopal Church likewise disregards the Holy Scriptures and the 39 Articles, so in what discernable way are they really Anglican? The PCUSA has made similar drifts from their Confessions and the Scriptures… and on down the line.

What I think functionally happens with these things in the US, is that folks without any firm understanding or conviction regarding their historic confessions, join with others who have likewise little understanding or conviction regarding their own, and form a new hodge-podge communion based on something else… perhaps a Hegelian synthesis of sorts, or perhaps just a new unwritten “confession” that largely driven by political or emotional sensititivities. Whatever they are, they aren’t the historic Reformation churches in many respects.

I don’t mean to throw stones from a glass house… my own LCMS is flirting with disaster by drinking liberally from the wells non-denom pentecostalism, slowly transforming into the “schwarmer” so condemned by our Confessions. I think one can see similar movements within Roman Catholicism, too, and the internal divisions are legion. At least our historic confessions give us a place to stand, and discuss real theological issues (hence it’s easier for a confessional Lutheran to talk with a Roman Catholic that adheres to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, because we can honestly examine our similarities and differences.) Mushing together without truth, seems somehow dishonest to my ears. I would rather have a real Baptismal unity in Christ rooted in Faith, Hope, and Love, with someone I disagree with, than have a phony man-made “unity” based on some passing social fad.

Grace and peace.

I think someone from the German SELK would definitely agree with you! :wink:

Actually my dad is just that type of person you described before. He wants all Christians to unify.
And you think, if this’d happen they are not really what they pretent to be (i.e. Luthern, Presbyterian, Anglican etc.?)
In Austria (and Germany) there are many alliances where several Baptists, Anabaptists and even Pentecostals are joined together. My dad said he’d want that for whole Christianity! Every parish is for its own, but they come in questions of doctrine etc. together in a big alliance.
What do you think of that? Like the Evangelical Alliance in Austria. Have a look at this Agreement here.
And I think if all Christians would really reunite, the agreement granting this’d probably like the one above. I say one thing: unity in diversity!

Esdra,

I think the issue comes down to what we mean, when we say “unity.”

As many Christians teach, there is a fundamental unity of Christians, by the simple effect of their baptism uniting each individual to Christ-- as each individual is united to Christ, each becomes united to each other in some respect, by grace through faith in Jesus. This is a mystical unity, and not entirely apparent all the time, but should be showing up in the way Christians love each other as Christ has loved them. Hence, I am called to love my Baptist and Roman Catholic brethren, among others, even when I disagree with them.

There’s also an organizational unity which is always observable from a human perspective. Where there is one bishop, and the faithful are found in unity with the bishop, who in turn has unity with his fellow bishops, there is an organizational unity. This unity should reflect the true unity found by Christians united to each other in Christ.

However, organizational unity often reflects schisms, sins, and errors. Lutherans and Roman Catholics are not organizationally united, because they believe each other to teach error concerning the Apostolic Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the working out of that Gospel in the lives of the faithful. Until that confessional, doctrinal schism is healed, organizational unity is a sham. One might point out, that within many church bodies where organizational unity is achieved, it may mask serious schisms in faith and practice just below the organizational surface. For instance, Roman Catholics are deeply divided over many issues that threaten their doctrinal unity internally, just like many Lutheran and Anglican communities. When organizational and confessional unity are not in harmony, a breech will eventually show up in the organization.

My contention is, that unity finds some kind of common confession eventually. Something has to give, if multiple confessions of the truth in conflict with each other, are merged into one organizational unity and truth is retained. What the ecumenical movement has been a bit light on, is defining what is changing, and what is new… they want everyone to believe that they are still what they were (old confessions) while becoming something new (new declarations/understandings/doctrines/practice, etc.) It’s just not intellectually honest.

If Christians really want to work out their differences, they have to acknowledge that they exist. Competing truth claims need to be put to the test, bad ones left behind and better ones embraced. That’s much harder work, and the reason many people gave up on the ecumenical movement as a whole. At some point, I find it harder, but more honest, to identifiy what makes my confession of Christ distinct, so that I can engage in loving and respectful dialogue with those of other confessions.

Historically, the role of the ecumenical council achieved this unity of faith and practice. Oh, that it may return again…

Peace to you.

Hi

it’s really a pleasure talking/writing with you. You really are quite knowledgeable.
I maybe translate your last two posts into German, as my dad may be interested in them, but sadly enough can’t speak English! :wink:

OFF-Topic: Just curious: Why do you write parts of the rosary into your signature?

Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven… especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

The pleasure is certainly mine, Esdra.

As for the Rosary, I have a particular fondness for it. Meditating on the life of Christ and His saving work for mankind, is a pleasure I wish I could indulge more frequently. Remembering the role of the Blessed Mother in that economy of salvation is heartening for me, too, and helps this Lutheran balance his natural inclinations to focus on the Crucifixion, with both the Incarnation and Ressurection, including the very real communion of the saints.

Blessings to you.

Originally Posted by Paragraph 37. b) The Continuing Theological Task
The Agreement leaves intact the binding force of the confessions within the participating
churches.
](“http://www.leuenberg.net/daten/Image/Konkordie-en.pdf
) It is not to be regarded as a new confession of faith. It sets forth a consensus
reached about central matters, one which makes church fellowship possible between churches of different confessional positions. In accordance with this consensus the participating churches will seek to establish a common witness and service and they pledge themselves to continue their common doctrinal discussions.

Hi Esdra,
The part I highlighted is my concern, regarding leaving each participating body’s confessions in tact. In so far as those confessions may have divergent views regarding doctrine, it is difficult to see how this is then unity. The document may represent a convergence on a number of things, and that is great (thank God!) if we are not speaking of a compromise that dilutes Augsburg, but that is not precisely unity, at least in terms of pulpit and altar.
A good example might be the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the CC and the Lutheran World Federation. The participating bodies see it as a convergence, but they are not yet at altar and pulpit unity.

Jon

Well said.

Jon

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