Full Text for The Leuenberg Concord (Text)

The Leuenberg Concord Translation by JOHN DRICIE-QMEK kience, The Bible, Evolution, :reation, And The FIood RAYMONDF. SURBURG rhe Outside Limits Of Lutheran ~onfessionalismIn Conte~nporary 3iblical Interpretation HORACED. HUMMEL Ille New Quest For The Sacred: The Witchcraft Craze And The Lure Of The Occult RALPHL. MOELLERING The Leuenberg Concord 'Translation by JOIIK ]I)RICIlt sirpported clrirrclies. The Arnoldshai,~ Theses dcn~o,rstrnted unn~rimity on the rloctrine of the Lord's Tlrpper. In tny book, The Lutheran World Federation Today (1971)1 reported thnt the E~inlr co~rr~~~tion received com~irittee report fnvorabl) of the LWF n szlpparting felloa~ship of the Llrtlternn nnd Reformed. Also i~rdicnted was the need for 11 'concord,' i.c., a stntement of ngreement betu-eetr the two commrrnions. This statement of ngreemeIrt has IIOILJ conzc into existence under the name of The Leurnberg Concord ttanred rrfter the to1t7n where these theses were preliminary nccepted. Leuenherg is a ~tvis: tou11t in the rncirrity of Basel. As these theses nre so intrortant, su~,eral other co~ttriblrtions scheduled for this issue of Thc Springfielder have been delayed for a future issue. Mr. John Dricknmer, a rndrmte of Cnpitlrl University in Columbus, Ohio and a first fear st7rde11t ot the Semtnnry Jrns trnn~lnted the nraterinl. Understanding the importa?tce ot the docrrme~zt nrtd t7ze prLss dendlines, he produced this translatio~r ns soon as the German docrrment ~cws mode nrnilnlrle. Theological comment on Leuenbcrg Concord connot be printed at this time. The Leuenherg Concord claims to embrace E~rropean churches. At the time of this lrritirrg, it is 711rclenr which chztrckes are included. Certainly all thc Germn~z stnie related ch~rrches and perhaps the Siriss churclres nre introlved. Though n Europenn document, it rill immediately nffect the Americnn scene ns Thesis 47 hopes thnt similar ngreentent cnn be 11.orked orrt on other continents and Thesis 48 looks for the in~~olvementof the L~rthernn World Federatiotr and the World Alliance, Thesis 49 indicated that Lathercrn-Reformed fellowship i! to provide impetus to fellowshrp 1c7rth stdl other denominations. As aJznt hos been drstrnctively regnrded ns 'Lzrtlreran' as laell as 'Reformed' for 400 years is in~~oll,ed, it is hoped that our pastors will gice their nttortion to a careful study of this document. The chairman tor Lutheran participants, Rishop Dr. Friedrich Hlrbner, tr7ns a150 a member of the -42 Hoc Conrnzitter on Lrttheran:Reformed Relations at the LIIIF's Fifth As~embl~ dpsnt Evinn. enclosed draft for a "Concord of Reformation Churches in Europe." The Preliminary Convention did, in addition to that, advise the continuation of the procedure for the establishment of ecclesiastical communion on the basis of the concord and assigned the administra- tive execution of this procedure to a Continuation Committcc, the mcmbers of mhich were chosen from among the delegates at the conve~~tion(see the list of participants). The draft for the concord is being sent to the churches for their opinions. Thus they have opportunity to advance wishes for altera- tions mhich they consider necessary. The expressed opinions do not yet imply any formal agreement, but it is desirable that the churches in expressing their opinions indicate whether there can be held out thc prospect of agreement to the concord. The legal situation with respect to the procedure for officially agreeing is varied in the par- ticipating churches. The churches are requested to bring also pro- cedural questions into their examination of the text of the concord. On thc basis of the positions thus arrived at the final text of the concord will be completed. For this purpose the Preliminary Convention is to be convened again if one or more of the churches desire this or if the Continuati011 Committee cor~siders it necessary. Otherwise the Continuation Committee will assume this task. After the completion of the final draft of the concord it will be submitted to the churches to deterniine whether they agree to the concord and whether they are able to declare their agreement by means of subscriptional ratification through plenipotentiary repre- sentatives. Whether a major convention will hare to be convened for the subscriptio~~al ratification of the declarations will have to be decided at a later time with consideration of the situation. In con-sideration of the in~portance of the concord for the participating churches it seems best that a period of about a !ear after the delivery of the final text be granted for the expression of agreement. The subscriptional ratification of the declaration of agreement-if neces-sary at a major convention-will be possible only after that. Ecclesi- astical communion in the sense in which that term is used in the concorcl will come to exist among the agreeing churches only wit11 the subscriptional ratification of the declaration of agreement. If individual churches which have been requested to agree to the con- cord can express this agreement only later, then they belong to the ecclesiastical comil~union from the moment of their declaration of agreement. They [the churches] are receiving in the enclosure the draft for a concord of Reformation churches in Europc with the request that they take a position OII the text by March 1, 1973. \Ye ask that they observe that their stated position should express whether there can be any prospect of an agreement and whether the convening of the Preliminary Convention is desired for the completion of the final draft. Provision has been made for the Preliminary Convention or the Continuation Comrnittcc, in possession of the expressed posi- tions agreed upon by the individual churches, to complete the final text of the concord before the end of hlarch, 1973. -- The Lezrenberg Concord --24 3 TVe are pleased that thc work on a concord of Reformation churches has progresscd so far and express the hope that the goal being striven for will be reached. For the Participal~ts in the Preliminary Convention (Signed) (Signed) PROF.DR.XIAX GEIGER BISHOP DR. F. IIUBXER (President) (President) Draft LatJrera~z-Reforj?zed Dialogues at n Ez~royean Level Prelintinar~ Coiz17entiotz in Leztenberg/Bnsel, September, 19 71 Concord of Ref~r~nationChurches in Ezirope 1. The Lutheran, Reformed, and United (the latter having pro- ceeded from the former two) churches which are agrccing to this concord as well as the pre-Reformation churches related to them, i.e., the TValdensians and Bohcmian Brethren on the basis of their doctrinal dialogues with one another confirm n common understanding of the gospel, which makes ecclesiastical communion possible for them. 2. For in this the! derive their understanding of ecclesiastical com- munion from the criteria of the Rcformation. According to them, agreement in "the correct doctrine of the gospel" and in "the correct administration of the sacraments" is necessary and sufficient for the true unity of the church; for the church is founded on Jesus Christ alone, who gathers and sends her through his gift in proclamation and in the sacraments. I. The Road to Corrz~nz~nio~~ 3. In view of substantial differences in the nature of theological thinking and ecclesiastical activity, and despite many common features, the reforming fathers for the sake of their faith and conscience did not consider themselves to be in a position to practice ecclesiastical communion. With this concord the par- ticipating churches acknowledge that since the Reformation their relationship to one another has changed. 1. Co~nvion Feat~tres ilt the Brenk-up of the Keforvzatiolz 4. From a historical distance, it can be more clearly recognized what basically the churches of the Rcformation had in common despite all the antitheses: they proceeded from a new, liberating, and certainty-giving experience of the gospel. By standing up for the truth of the gospel, which they comprehended, the Reformers came to be united in their opposition to the ecclesi- astical tradition of that time. In agreement they therefore con- fessed that life and doctrine are to be measured against the original and pure testimony in Scripture to the gospel. In agreement the! testified to the free and unconditional grace of God in the life, death, and resurrcctiori of Jesus Christ for everyone who believes this pron~ise.In agreement they con-fessed that the activity and form of the church arc to be deter- 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. mined only on the basis of thc mandate to deli~er this testimony in thc world and that the word of .the Lord remains superior to every human configuration of the Christian congregation. There- with they, in commori with the whole of Christendom, acceptccl and confessed anew the confession, expressed in the symbols of the ancient church, of the triune God and of the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. 2. Altered Prcszlppositiorzs of the Preseilt Ecclesinsticnl Sitztntio~z For the Reformation churches in a four hundred year history, especially coming to terms theologically with the questions of the new era, historico-critical Scripture research, and the cccle- siastical renewal movement has becon~e very efiective. Thesc factors led thc churches to new and similar forms of though,t and life. This development was reinforced through the coming to terms with the challenges of the ncnr era, which also led to nen- antitheses running crossivise through the confessions. It was simply no longer possiblc to meet the intellectual and social demands in the new era with the thought fonns of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This caused the churches, especially since the re~iral movements in the nineteenth century, to actual- ize the biblical witness in a ilerv way for the present, as the Reformation confessions did. In this n-ay they learned to sep- arate the fundamental witness of the Reformation confessions from their historically conditioned thought forins and to accept it [the witness] in a new form with respect to the challenges of the present. Because and in so far as the confessio~ls testify to thc gospel as the living word of God in Jesus Christ, they do not close off the path to continued obligator? vitness to the same but rather open it and demand that it be travelled in the freedom of faith. 11. The Co~~znzolt of the Gospel U~zdersta~1dilzg The subscribed churches describe their common understanding of the gospel by the follom~ing. 1. Jzrstijicntiolz ns the ~llessage of the Free Grtrce of God a) The gospel is the salvation message concerning Jesus Christ. The Reformation fathers expressed the correct understand- ing of the gospel in their doctrine of justification. b) In th~s message witness is born to Jesus Christ as the One who has become man, through :hvhom God has connected Himself with man; as the One who was crucified and rose again, who took the judgment of God upon Himself and therein manifested the love of God for the sinner; and as the One who is coming, who opens to the world its future. c) Through His word in the Holy Ghost, God calls all men to conlersion and faith and attributes his righteousl~ess [Gerechtiglzeit] in Jesus Christ to the sinner who has faith. He who trusts the gospel is justified for Christ's sake before 215 Tlzc Leuenberg Concord God and is libcrated for service. He lives in daily conver- sion and renen~al together with the congregation of God in service to others, in the certainty that God will consum- mate his Lordship. Thus Goct creates new life and sets the beginning of a new humanity in the middle of the world. d) This message makes the Christians free for responsible service to the world. They should stand up for earthly justice [Gereclztiglzeit] and peace arliong individuals and among peoples. This demands of then1 that they with other me11 seek for rational and objective criteria and participate in thc application of the same. They do this in confidence that God will uphold the world and in re5ponsibility before his court of justice. C) \\!id1 this ullclerstanding of the gospel we accept the com- n10n conviction of the Refori~iation confessions that the exclusive salvation-mediatorship of Jesus Christ is the cen- ter of Scripture and that justification as the message of the free grace of God is the standard for all proclamation by the church. 2. Procla~~rntiorz,Baptis.nt, the J,ordJs Slipper The gospel is testified to for us basically through the word of the apostles and prophets in the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testaments. The church has the task of passing on this gospel not only through the oral word in the sermon and in exhortation of the individual but also through Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Through proclamation, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, Jesus Christ is present in the Holy Ghost. Thus justi- fication in Christ is imparted to a person, and thus the Lord gathers his congregation. a) Bal~tisl~r In Baptism Jesus Christ through his word grants us forgiveness of sins and eternal life. He renetris us through his Holy Ghost and calls us into his congregation. God calls us daily out of the old life to follow Christ. h) Tlze Lord's Srryper In the Lord's Supper, Jesus Christ, the risen One, bestows him- self in his body, given into death for all, and his blood through his proll~ising \vorcl with bread and wine. Hc grants us thereby forgiveness of sins and liberates us to a new life out of faith. He causes us to experience anew that we are members of his body. He strcngthens us for service to persons. When we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we proclaim the death of Christ, through n-hich God has reconciled the world to him- self. We confess the presence of the risen Lord among us. In the joy that the Lord has come we await his coming in majesty. Agreement in View of the Corzdenznatiolzs of Doctrine irz tlze Reforlmztiolt Ern The antitheses, which since the Reformation era have made ecclesiastical comn~union between the Luthcran and the Re-formed churches impossible and have led to mutual expressions of censure, had to do with the doctrine of the 1,ord's Supper, Christology, and the doctrine of predestination. T1.e take the decisions of the fathers [of the Reformation] seriously but can today jointly add the following to them: 1. The Lord's Szlyyer In the Lord's Supper Jesus Christ, the risen One, bestows him- self in his body, given into death for all, and his blood through his promising word with bread and mine. He gives himself without reserr-ation to all who receive the bread and wine, to those who believe for salvation, to the others for judgment. \Ve cannot separate the communion with Jesus Christ in his body and blood from the act of eating and drinking. An interest in the manner of the presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper which disregards this action is in danger of obscuring the mean- ing of the action of the Lord's Supper. Where such agreement exists the previous censures nith rc-spect to the doctrine of the Lord's Supper have lost their appli- cation. 2. Christology In the true Rlari Jesus Christ God himself has given hinlself to lost mankind for salvation. In the word of promise and in the sacraments he makes Jesus as the crucified and risen One present for us. In faith in God's self-disclosure in His Son, n-e see oursel~~es, jn view of the breakdown of traditional thought forms, conlmonly entrusted with the task of reaffirming the integrity of the divinity and humanity of Jesus (Reformed tradition) and the total unity of the Person (Lutheran tradition). Tl'e can therefore no longer continue to apply the former cen- sures. 3. Predesti~~ntio~i In the gospel the unconditional acceptance of the sinful mai1 by God is promised. He who trusts in it may be certain of salvation and praise God's election. Election can therefore be discussed only with respect to the call to salvation in Christ. Faith does indeed learn by experience that the message of salvation is not accepted by all, but it considers nevertheless the mystery of God's operation. It testifies at the same time to the earnestness of human decision and to the reality of God's universal will for salvation. Scripture's testimony to Christ forbids us to suppose that there is an eternal decree of God for the definite condemnation of certain persons or a certain people. T'lhere such agreement exists the pre~ious censures with re-spect to the doctrine of predestination have lost their applica- tion. 4. A Co~zclz~sion Having ascertained this, we are not judging thc censures ex- pressed by the fathers [of the Reformation] as inappropriate. They are today, however, no longer applicable to the doctrine ?'he Letrenberg Concord 24'7 of the partners \in the ecclesiastical con~rnunion] . '1hus the!. are no obstacle to our ecclesiastical conln~union. 5. Difflerel~cesill Clzurcll Life In our congregations there exist considerable differences with respect to the form of divine serviccs, the impressions of piety, and the ecclesiastical regulations. These differences are often more strongly felt in the congregations than in the traditional doctrinal antitheses. Nevertheless, we are not able on the basis of the Ke\v Testament and the Reformation criteria for ecclesi- astical communion to see any church-dividing factors in these matters. JV. 'The Estab1isla11~e11.t and Xealizatioi~ of Ecclesiastic~zl C~III- ~ilnII~OII I\'ith the ecclesiastical communion between the churches of the various confessions that separation which arose in the six- teenth century and has continued to the present is abolished, communion in nord and sacrament is granted, and the greatest possible agreement in testimony and service to the world is being stri~ en for. 1. Tlze Establislzli~e~it of Ecclesiastical Coit~~t~n?iio?z On the basis of tlie agreed inter-church consensus, tlie churches declare in their obhgatory relationships to tlle confessions which oblige them or nith consideration of their traditions: a) The subscribed churches agree in the understanding of the gospel as it was expressed in Part 2. b) The doctrinal censures expressed in the confessional writ- ings no longer haw reference to the present state of doctrine in the mrious cliurches. Such differences as still exist in ecclesiastical doctrine, order, and mode of life hale no di- ~isi\e significance. C) The undersigned churches recognize one another as the church of Jesus Christ in granting pulpit and altar com-munion. This includes the mutual recognition of ordination ancl the possibility of intercelebration. \\'ith this declaration ecclesiastical communion has been estab- lished. 2. The Xealizaticu of Ecclesiasticul Contn~li~aiora Ecclesiastical conimunion is realized in the life of the church and congregations, requires of them common performance of testimony and service and a striving for the strengthening and deepening of the achicvcd communion. a) Testitrzol~) trlzd Service Thc gospel of Jesus Christ gains in credibility in the world when the churches unanimously witness to it. Thc gospel liberates and obliges the church to cornmon service. This service is of value for nlan in his neecls and for the elimination of the causes of those needs. The quest for justice [Gerechtigkeit] and peace in the n orld increasingly requires from the church the assump- tion of common re~~onslbility. - - b) Colztilzzred TIieologiral Activity 11s an inter-church consensus the concord allolrs the obligatory force of the confessions in the participating churches to con- tinue to exist. The achieved central agreement obligates the churches to enter into continuing doctrinal dialozues. The common understanding of the gospel, on which the ecclesi- astical comnlunion is based, must continue to be deepened, examined, and pcrn~anently actualized. In the future the task of the dialogues is to clear up doctrinal differences, nhich among the participating chuiches are not divisive (c. g. hermeneutical understa~lding of Scripture, con- fession and church, law and gospel, baptismal practice, pasto- rate and ordination, church and society, the doctrine of the two hingdoms, and the royal lordship of Christ), and to considel- any nexv problems nhich emerge. On the basis of thcir common lleritagc the Reformation churches IIIUS~co~neto terms with tendencies towards thcological polari- zation which become mutually discernible. The problen~s in- volr-ed in such tcndencies are more serious than the doctrinal differences which once formed the basis for the latheran-Keforll~ed opposition. It will be the task of the comrnon thcological activity to defiilc the gospel over against distortions. c) Orga~zizatiol7nl Co~zclz~sio~zs Ecclesiastico-legal settlement of individual questions between churches and within churches is not prohibited through the declaration of ecclesiastical communion. Thc churches will nevertheless take the concord into consideration in these settle- ments. It is gencrall) true that the declaration of pulpit and altar con~munion and thc mutual recognitioi~ of ordination do not affect the regulations ~vhich are valid in the churches for ap-pointment in the pastoral office and for the exercise of the pastoral office. The question of a merger of indi\.idual participating churches can be decided only in the situation in which the churches live. In the examination of this question the following points of r,iew should be taken into consideration : A unification nhich adversely affects the liring multiplicit? of the modes of proclamation, of the liturigical life, of church order, and of the service activity as of the societ'il activity would contradict the essence of the ecclesiastical communion entered into by this declaration. On the other hand, however, in cer-tain situations the service which the church renders commends legal mergers for the sake of the material relationship between witness and church order. Organizational consequences of the declaration of ecclestiastical communion are not permitted to have a negati~e effect on minority churches. Their freedom of decision must he fully respected. The Leuenberg Concord 249 46. d) Eczintelzical Aspects In establishing ecclesiastical communiorl amon themselves thc Reformation churches are acting out the ob!igation to work for the unity of the church of Jesus Christ. They understand sudl an ecclesiastical communion in the European sphere as a contribution to this goal. -47. They expect that the overcoming of their previous separation will have an effect on the churches ~vhidi are confessionally related to them in Europe and on other continents, and they are reacly to consider together with thcm the possibilities of more extensive ecclesiastical communion. 4s. This expectation applies also to the relationship of the Lutheran TTTorld Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to one another. 49. Thus they hope that the establishment of ecclesiastical com-munion among one another will give a new impetus to meeting and ~vorking with other churches.