Full Text for Current State of German Theology (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER September 1971 Volume 35, Number 2 Current State of German Theology T I \ \ 0 for \ our Iiincl in\ itation to St. I-ouis! I consider it i! w.11 p:-i\ilcalli tr) be ;~lJo\\-eel to shal-c \\-ith !.ou some of my olfic.l-\.;ltion, (,I] tljc C;c%rnia~l thcoloyic.;~l anci ecclesiastical situation. \\ r 1,11o\\. tll;~~ it is btill (if intcrt-st for you-not onl!. hccailsc !.ou c;rti fitlcl 5011ic of \ 0111. I2uthcrnn sister-s\.nc~ls there, hut also because Gcrl~~,~ri\ i 5till olic, of the \vorld ccntkrs? in which new and intcr- c5tili~ tli~olo~ic~al b~l~ools of thought are crc.atec1. In themselves they ~iiigllt not 111;\lic' ill]\ 1.~11 positi\.e contribution for us. but the\. are of't~u~i cjuitc. ill t'l~~cliti:~l ;inel, thcrcfore, must be thorou~hly consiacred. 111 ~llt: ol~illio~i of 1,l~)c.rhard lluhncr, the Gctman theological situ;itiori 1.; ;I str.c~gylc. I)ct\\.ccn Bal-~ll and Bultmann: >lost of the ot1ic.r ~licolo~i,~~~~ C.,III 1)e incorl)oratc~cl ill this conflict. The \.en. fe\\ c.011 fc.55ional rc,prcsc$n t;tti\.c.s ilrci on tl~c outsidc of thc struyyle a~l(l Ii;~\.c lot c.orlt~.il)~ltccl to the c\.olution of tlic prcscnt thcoloyical th~~~~lit. In tlic cl~ilog to Hcin~ EolIi's cclitiotl of Sclllcicr~~lnc.I~c~-, 1;:tt-1 Ihl-111 co~i tributeel ;in :lutobiograph\-, one of his last contrib~l- tio~ls. llcrt. lie t;t;ltccl that 13ultmann incl his follorvcrs ha1.e not rc;111!. ;\(I\ ;IIIC'~~I IIILI~II be\.ond tlic principles of Schleierm;~clicr's s!stc111. 111 1:;lrth's illJgln&t, the\. arc still bound to the 19th ccn- t ur!. thcolog!-. 'Tllcrc is ;I clilcstio~~ on whether I3art11 here\ritIi also c11;lliqctl his 11ii11tl in I-c*garcl to his original iudgrncnt on Luthcra11 thcolog!. I~lu consitlcrcd 13ultmann and his folloivers rls "Luther- an" \\herl hc \\-rotc his n-ell-known htmklet: RnrJolf Blllt~ilnilri-eilt 17c~r.i~~r.li, I~JI zzl ~.erstcllen" in 19 5 2. Helmut 'I'hielicke in his first volunic of' 1jc.r- I:'~,a~igcdische Gltzl.ibe. Prolegoi~tcr~n ( 1968) tllil~ks t1i;lt Sclilc~ic.rr~iacl~cr's theological principles can already Ilc found in 1)cscartcs' ~~hilosoj)l~\-. Tl1iclicke. thercforc, clisting~~isllccl bet\\.cr.n Cartesian ;111(1 non-C:a;tesian t!.pcs of thcolog!.. In the first group 21-e such nlcn as I_cssing, Sclilciemiachcr, Bultmann, Tillich, ctc.. Our tosl; is ch\alu:iting Barth's theology. Docs his o\.erconccrn for ;lritl bclligctrrnt attitude to thc 19th ccntury, rcilll!. o11lv make him n cliiltl of this century, in spite of all his claims to the co~ltrar!.; Or c;Jn \\.c. tint1 something in his gigantic systern, which has to be con- sitlcrccl as a rcnll\. nelv ilnpulse for our day? As yo11 ]night know, Barth \\as consitl~rccl out of date in our coilntry. But this \\.as pre- m;iturc and pro~.cd to be an error. \Ve are not only thinking of the Scthcrlnncls :lnd other European countries, in ~\.hich hc is still con- sitlcrctl to hc the theological authoritv of our times, but ive arc also thinking of nlcn like lloltmann, whose theological thought is also Ixlsccl up011 this Siviss theologian's. It is interesting to observe, that nrvn likc Klaus Bockmiihl, IVIIO have clone research on Jlarxism in p;~st !,cars, arc. now dojng research on Barth. \\'e know that Barth's Atr n~lllri,ss to thc F~rrrilt) of Concordin Seminary, St. Lortis, Jlitso~tri, de1it.cri.d on ,Ira~ 12, J970, ~!stem rcflc.cts thc influcncc not unl!. of 1:1c.il 11i\; \\ illi:~111i 1 I(,r.~-iri;rll~~ a1~1 SorCrl J\jcrk~~g:r~rr(!, f~itt i~lso Cl~~-istoj>l~ l~l~~~:~!i:i~~~it. It-.. l,~~ttcr . . and 1:ag:lr. It nl~ist hc I-I~II that I 1; ilii '\i\j\s Socialistic l>crnocl-;ltic l'al.t\. in 193 5. 1-hcb !Ilc.:it. l::i/l!,!i.i,ilii iollo\\~rs of Uarth's thougllt arck thcoloqians \\.llr, '1;-i: c:r !I.,~.~: i!c.<,li oji~~~i to Jlarsistic ideas. Consi~Icr Hrlnlut (‘;oil\\-it/ct- {IS 11 i.tit~i.~<.ll,:i 'IIILI~ it might be l~ossihlc t1l;it Uartll clid opcn tl~c (1001- fo~. 1i~i5 II(~\\ ttc,r~c! it, Gcrmnn tl~eolog!, it1 \1llic11 a eel-tiiin un~lcl-~!,it:il~~~~ oi 111~- C;o\],ci is combineti \\.ith hlarsistic. iilc.:rs. It is scli-c\ iilc~lt. tl1;tt t I~L*w ~IIOLI(:II~S arc not against l!~~ltm;lnn's h;isic conccl7t i:)tl. i<~ii! 1:; IIIII', ii~lt 111-0- pologicnl basis is 21 rcstirtc~llcnt of tllc? ~c.lI'-t~~lil~~~.>~i?~~tliil~ 01 rn;ln, so typical for \\,cstcrll 1::ilropc. in thc scc.c?nci 11;1 If ol' tJ,c. l;t\t. c.c'!i t Llr! . \\'e do rlot \\ itllt to ncT ;IS ;lrl)itl-ators in I hi\ (It:(:! !)cat\\ i.i.'rl I:;rl.th nlltl 12illtmann, bcc.ausc. I1ot11 thcolo~ians ;II.(: ~:ot t.r,~,!-c.$c:!lt;lti\~ of our tl~eological lx>hitiot~. \\.c otlI\, \t.;111t to II~CI?~!OI~ (L t't:~,~ tl)ir~ys in yirssing. It is 11;1rtIl\ coi~ici~lcl~t;ll tl1;11 1)otil I:,I~I/~ .111(! 1:111t1!1;11111 togctlicr \\.jth Enlil Urull~~vr. F~.ic!tll.ic.h C;og,~rti:~i .!~~ci. to ;L tcrt;lin estcllt, 1';lul Tillich, also \\.c,~.c once part of :II(% <,~rl~c. ~I.OLI~,. t\Ilcn the 1)ialectal Thcolog!,, (tl~c "thc'olc)g\- of crisi,." :I% it 1, ,IS I~~II~c(I IIV Tillich) 11cg;ln its ;itt;lck oil tlic tlicolog\. of ti!(: t \I ctl: ic\. ,111 tlics& systenrs ha\,c the saIllcb ;In thropologic~;rl position. \~y;!ti\ ell.. it \\as f~ri~iulatucl by Barth. Its main lmrj,osc ;in(] ;rinl ;lrc :f!r or'ltoloi:ical insights. Bultmanlr, undcr tlic influcncc~ of I l~~iilc~gc~t-, I;IICI. c;iycrly dcmonstratc~l thc csistcntial mcnning of nlan's t.ii11l. i%tc,. I:irl.tli hntl dctinite socir~listic lCani~l~s. Gogarten joit1c.d 1111: "I>cLI~c.~I(~ ('llri~tc~~." This brought manr- of our Gcrili:l~i tcl-ritol-i;ll c,lli~rc.llc.~ right illto the hands of thc 3azis in thc thirtics. Yobcxl\- I~otficrcil to c]uc.\tiol~ the tenets of tllcil- thinking. Sobocl\ bothcrccl to nsl; I\-lictl~i'c silc:h tclicts \\.crc sountl. Thcsc tvncts l~ltcr forn1c.d tllc 1>;15(& fol- thc.ir cntirc systcm of idcns and thoughts. It is cluitc rcnial-1;;lI)lc. to o1)sc.l-\cp llo\v some t11c.ologians tr\ to combilie tl~c results of one tllcologici~l SI stc111 -c\.ith nnotl~cr. rill crnlnplt~ of this colifusion is tl~t, I)lttc,l~ tl1(sologian, 1. Spcrna \Vcilancl, in I~is rcmnrl;ablc p~t11lic;lt ioll ()~-;c>~/i~t IP. How ;s it possible to build ;I roof in the air, Ilol,inc th~t tllc: t)uiltling established under it mixht finr~lly find ;I foulltlntion to sitlll~ort it? Si1c.h inlagination is harcllv tJir real faith. It is ;In ill~lbio~~. 'rhesc dc\.elopmcn ts,. ho\vcvc.r, brought fol-tli sonlc or ller- etf'orts, whic.11 need cnrcful \\-atelling. 'They can bo vcr!. itlflucllti;~l in the ot~ncriil tll t.ologic:~l trentls, which affect ill!. area psi ti\-el\.. I lcre P n,ant to rnr>rltion a innn n.110 has hcen ;I scientist allcl 1:itcr on became n thcologian at Utrccht Univcrsit\,: r 17. I-OCII, a follo\ycr of Earth. His I>ublication Snk~illzrisotio~l can hc t,onsiilcrc~l as his opus Inagnunl. He is no\v professor in the ficld of of religion. Sobody n-110 tvants to bc considcrcd a svrious thcologian in German! can ignorc this publicatio~~. It is \\.rittcrl in it quite diffic~tlt Heicl~g~cr-tliction ;rnd discusses tllc probleni of \vIl;lt the term "theology" rcallv mans. To Locn's crcrlit, he raised the clues- tion-and trjcbd to ais\ver it to a certain extent-holy the difrrcnt branches of scierlces haye to be understood and holy fiir the!' \\'ere or are of influence 01) theological systems. 1 pcrsonall!- hc.lic\,c that his results are optin~isti~ as far as the rcl:\tions Ix>twccn scicrlce or Iillo\\ lL~lg(' ;111ci tIl~'(jl~g>. ;]I-c ~OIICCCIICC~. Still jt is c~n\~iction tI13t tlli' I\ i,l.l; gi\ ch illan!. s~~qystions and pro\.idc.s iinpulses that 111ig1-it c.Ic.'II- 111) tllc thc010gi~;11 licl~l ;IS far ;IS its tcncts, illusions, cate- (rot-ics i111~1 I:IC>~I~(KIS i11.v conce!r11~<1. \\-e hn\.c to ser whether these ,a I-alui~blc I l~o~!ql~t~ n.111 rc;illI>. bring into csistcncc a real reformation in t-llc ficlcl of tllc~nlogii~;~l tllo~~ght. Sc~ttnc: otlier pr01)lc~rns have to be1 ~vorkecl out, if \ve want to get back to ;I .olitl l);~sis, 1113011 whicI1 IYC ;]re able to judge the theological svstclms ot' our cl;l\.. Ilcrc real research has to be done. I want to state icr, Inodc'stlj. that my contributions on the relations bet\veen theoloS!- ,111tl scit~11c.c.. etc. n.crc. considel-cd cluite positivelv in my countr\, ancl th;it 1 I~ad tlic olyn)rtunit!. (luring the last n;onths to tcac.11 ;it !OLI~- 5l>r-itlglicld Sumin;~r), on the I- lat ti oils between theology ant1 c.~llt~rrc, ;IIICI tlirology and societ!.. Hcrc are a n.ealtli of materiels, tll:it hho\\- \\ I)\., at Iri~st, the thcologicnl trclld tluring the last two and n half cclltur~(:c \~.cnt the n.;,!. it clicl. Thc lijstory of theoloqv *- . can tci~cll us 11i;ln\. csl~csic~ices. \vl1icl1 Ive, ;IS responsible Lutheran thculo~ians, can ;~nci tlarc not ignore. 11. JOLI 11li~lit LC skeptical of the 1)ictur-e I tricd to sketch. Luthvran thcolog!. oftcn tlocs not \\.ant to argue, but it is more cawr to testify ? ;inti to c.ol1t'css. 'I'liis is true and good, and as I have written several tilncs, tlicolog\. is much more than merely a scientific reflection of the Lord's sn\-ing tlceds. It is a spiritual process inside the Christian Church, n;~mc.l!r, the talk with and of God in adoration and confession wit11 norcls niicl tlcctls. It is subject to the Lord's commandment as rcpostcd in \I;~tthc~v 7 8: 19f. and can never be understood as an end in itself. Theolog). is not by any ~nea~is a science, but it call, under certain limitations, use secular disciplines and sciences as auxiliary means if the\. are of rcnl help for attaining God-given aims. Here thrologiilils lin\.c to be better "scientists." They k11o1.rr what the true ass~lmptions, catcgorics and methods are, with which they work and 1~110 thc real authority is ~vhorn they must obey. Let me very briefly explain some theological terms, which sometimes make us feel a little bit uncomt'ortablc: the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Moly Scriptl~rcs nntl Trinity. They try to dcscribe with terms what is said in the Bible. \\re feel that those terms are not really adequate. But we cannot change them, for we do not have better words. Often the danger comes up, that we try to define them in a philosophical \vajr- positi~~cl!~ or negatively-and both ways are wrong. We feel that our language is too short and too limited, when we want to express in onc \\.ortl, \\-llat is revealed in our respective regards in God's reirelation. 'Those terms are nevertheless of highest value for us. They h2l.e to be understood theologically, i.e., we have to use them in full rcsponsibilitv, in which we stand under God. They have a cry heavy ethical content, because they teacli us, that \ve cannot use then1 as i~lstrumcnts for our own aims and svsterns, but that we art. hound to that, what God has said to us in His \Vord and in His re\,cl;~tion of Himself. Those terms belong to our true adoration to and to our faithful confession of Him as of our Lord and Saviour. I was tleeply iniprcsscd, \vlic.n one of nn. t'ric~nds, IIO\\. ~)t.oi'c:~so~- fc)r ~lussion-thntlo~y at tlic Cl~i\,crsity of 'Tucl)il~grl~. r01d c. It I nils forccd to rethlr~k the* tcl-ln "1-crbal ilispir;~tioli," ;I 1)1>1.;1\c. olicc hated. 'This nun is tlcc~l~l!. in\.ol\rccl in the C;c'rliiall tlic'ologic.;~l itlid ecclesiastical strugg1c.t;. He sees the nee-cssitv of ~-c.ircti~?g o~tl- lieu- liberal s!.stems. it has Ictl hin~ 1xrc.k to the ~tcrlnilii,loc,'\ of' tlic oItl Lutheran rlo.gn~nticians, !)f \\.hicli hc. is ncl\\- hcgilini~ig to tl;il~j; c%r-. highl!.. This is i~rnnzjng :IS hc \\.its not a ILi~thcl-a~l 1,ct'osc. Tlicolog!- is a spiri t~~i~l proccss \I i thin the \\-hoIcb C 11 11 rcll . I'l~ccc- fore, an intellectunl play \\.ith certain iclcas and philosol~liic~s. ]>s?clic~- logical thought or social i1~1d cultural mo~iicnts in tl~ic ficltl ccillliot hc limited to a certain tliuologic;~l Ic\~el--e.g., 3s ail i~c~;lclcli~ic tl~colo~!., ctc.-but must bc' cff'ectivc in thc life o! thc C:liurc,li. \\.c cii1111ot dircct the Spirit. \\'hen tl~eologic.;~l svstcn1~ begin to ~n,~~iil)~~l,~tc, thc Spirit's \.chiclc.s, the C'liurcli \\ill th& begin to brclil; (ion rl. \\‘lien scientific theology q~~cstioiis tllc truth of (;'hrist's Go5l)cl ;11i(1 tlilrs Christ and His sa\,ing tlevtls thcmsc~l\.cs, tllc C;osi~.,l Ic.a\cs nothing to be bclic\~cd, ant1 pcoplc. \\.ill lose: theis interest alitl IC;I\L> tI~e cliurcll. Or else the), \\ill csstahlish gi-o~lps ilricl pal-tic's ill 01-c1c.r to at tack thcir opponents \\.i thin tllcir svnods. '1hc.s~ pol;~si/,rt ioris \\-ill automntic:~llp lead to tllc toti11 clest&ction of the rcspccti\~t 15nlpil-ic Churches. It has bee11 said that the prcsclit cI~~~rch-st.s~ic.titrc in German Protcstnntism \\.ill break do11.n ~\.ithi~i tlic ncsl tell !ci~rs. Cllristia~~i t?' II~IS 11ee1i a lninori ti. \\.i thin thc I'rotcstnn t ]x)l>~~l:~tion for Inan\. clccadcs, but custoni ak.1 the stiltc am1 tc1rritori;ll chul-c11- structures prr\.cntctl the111 fro111 Icn\.ing. Thc rn;ln,. il~t~l-t-~iptiol~s of thc Snzi period, thc \\.ar, i~ntl the follo~\-ing tlcci~tlc prc\cntccl clari- fication. \\'hen the Pratc~stant s\.nods did not rcfor~n thcis str~lcturcs aftrr the last a, hilt bro11:ht forth onI! :I i-cstor:~tion, ;111rl \\llcn the aho\rc mentioned thcolog~cal systenls ;~ntl thcir cstrcmc t'ollo\\.crs \\.ere tolerated and reinstated, most nf thc people turnctl ;\\\a?. Thc number of confirmands ill the casturn zo11e this \ciir IS 6-8 j~c.1. cent. illore than 350,000 mcn11)c~rs left thc pcol~lcls' c:hurc~hc.s in \\-cstcrn Germany in 1969, :~ncl the numbcr is increasing. Thc a\.clr;lgc cll11rc11 attcndancc is ahout 0.5 per cent in northcrn German!- a~icl about 3 per cent in southcrn Gcrinany. Ail inc~-cnsilig I~LIII~~CI- of ~~coplc refuse to pa!. tlie "church-tax." Books arc. publishc~cl against Christi- anit\. ancl man!' eclitiol~s nrc printed to meet thc demand. 7'lic\. arc prol;lotcd by big and f;llnous publishing houses. (1 \\.i111t to ~iic~itioi~ two important books, onc \\,ri tttw bv a cul t~~ral-Protestan t C:Iiristinn, who comes from thc groups aro~lnd Otto Dihclius; l-Ialis-Cicorg \.on Studnitz: 1st G'ott Jfitlrrlrfel-?"'the othur one i1 ver! \.OUII~ thco- logian, rvho receired his doctor's degree at tlic \larhuri Cni\'crsi ty with a clissertntion on C;~gi~rtcn's theology and left Chrjstianit~ in ortler to become n 1\Iarsistic economist; Joacliiln Kahl : Dns I:le~rd dcs Christerrtzl~ns, wlcr: PInj~r1o)~cr ftir eiuc Hrtrncr~litcrt oll~lr Gott.) Jlnrs- istic groups are foulldcd with the declared nini to destroy tllc S~IIO~~ from the jnsicle. Satan's masses are held in churcl~cs, sci11~t~1rc.s of Christ are ruined in famous church-buildings, etc. E\.cr\boh IV~O SOWS the wincl, will rcap the whirlrvind. This is the cur-cnt state of Protestantism in our countr!. toda!.. \Ve (lo ]lot l;rio\\- \\.llat the future \\.ill bring. \\'e only Icno\\r if C;cniian 1'1-otc.st;i~l t is111 collal>scs, then \\ orld Protestantisnl \\-ill also siltfcr: ~~liclcl- tlicscr conscq~ic~~ccs. For tllc \\-est Germail Protestant s\.notls ~LI\ ;I Ili~h pc3rcx-ntagc. of the cispcnses of ecclesiastical alliances, I , f \ I t. Jt \\.o~iltl t)c tlifJicult for these IVOI-Id-\~ide groul~h lo 1'11nctioll \\.ithout tlic fi~l~~nc'ial support of tlic Gennan s\-notls. Tt I\ ill l~c cjiiitc c\.iclcnt for tliose \\-I10 tlid 11ot notice it until totla!. tllat t11c f'iil~io~ib ~iio(lel for ii illi ion bct\\.cen different Protestant ca~ifcssions as f:orn~ctl in thc "E.varigt~lisc'lie Kirchc in I)eutsohland" is not only u~~i~blc to \\.or];, but \\.ill also bring about the final ruin of 1'1.otc~tii1iti~nl. 'IIlis is not :i ~>oIellli~al remark. Thc facts of our prc'sclllt. situ;~tioll bllo\\- this clcarl!. 111 the- Ii~st 1~1.1 of this essay, ilttcntio11 \\.ill bc ~i\.~n to the pietistic "C'c.)nt'cssillg \lo\-c~iic~nt: \o Other Gospc.1" or tho "Clii~rcll 9. P C;;ltllcri~l~s to BII~Ic~ ;1i1(1 Confessio~~. 1-heir origin can bc csl>lni~iccl agi~itist tl~c l~;lr.l;y-oi~~itl nlatc.rial l>ro\icIctI in the first parts of this C'SS;I\'. '1-llcse groul>s ;Ire not thc first ones to contend for the true untlcrstarltling of tht: (;ospc>l and its uncot~clitional ~lcccptancc \\-ithin tlic tcrritoriiil cllurchcs. Thcrc 11i11.c been such mo\-emcnts dating 1);lcli 150 \.c:lrs. 'rllc Lutheran Free Churches in Gcrn~n~~>. ;Ire succcsso~.~ Of S(jlilt5 of tllese JIIOVCIIICII~S. Thc net\ factor in thcsc t\~o 11c\\-I\. formctl groups is that the!. I-calize. that: it is impossible only ~~eg;~ti\.cl! to opposcl doctrineI\r false de~elol>ments \\.itl~in tl~colog!. illid cl~urcli politics. For this is a negative position, rcsirlting j11 110 bIcssings. Tl~csc. t~vo movcn1cnts kno\\. that the!. lli~\.e to act in a lx)siti\c ~iianlicl-. The!- recogni~c, that thcv might bc the cells of Gcrn~iin I'r~tcstilntisrn of tomorron.. I'licy nliellt just bc that island \\-hc.~-c thc remriilt~ts of I'rotcstnnt C:hristiilnit! \vi11 find a havcn ilfter tl~c (Icstruction of prcscnt church-str~ictures. 'l-IIC "(.'o~lfessing ;\Iovcnlcnt: So Other Gospcl" and the "Church <;;I thcrings" ;)I-c groups insitlc thcir territorial churches. I'hcy do not ol>lwsc the s\.noctical machincry as such, but they positi\.el>. con- fcss their faith ~thro~i~l~ different ch;lnnels, including evangelism. 'The\- ha\.e consitlcretl the possibjlit!. of establishing thcir own s?.nods, if nccc.ss;~l-!.. The! \\.ant their grouI>s to have a churchlv structure even though thcr. arc only groups and not official churches. The first timc that the 1,~ltheran Free S!;nods tried to establish a real ancl permanent contact \\.it11 these groups, espcciall!; \\.ith the Lu thcran "Church Gatherings," it \\-as rnIr privilege to represent our s!.nods in their praesicliiitn. These 'Gnthcrings' haire contacts in other countries. Tl~e!; are allictl \\.ith similar groups in Scandina\,ia, and they hope to find goucl relations to confessional Lutheran groups and s!.nocls jn tile U.S.A. and ~Iustralii~. The\. have experienced that there is not much hope for thcir cnusc iis far as ivorld alliances as \\.CC: or I-\\-I: arc con- ccrncd. Thcs~r federations care first of all for the institution of the dcno~nina tion ant1 ha1.c Ii ttle interest 11-i th con Ecssionally concerned groups. The!- center their actil-ity on the churc11's political structures ant1 not \\-here it shoultl bc, narnel\, co~lfc.shjon ;i~tl t l~c i 11 i~:.c.i~'s real life. 1'erson:ilitics inside those fcdcrations 11119llt r~.qr! t thik 5t.l~~ of &airs. But it is axiomatic that fcderntions o!: c11\11.~11c~ ;!rcb i()11- cerned about thc structurcs and not thc pr-inc-iplcs. It sho~~ltl be notcti that tlic 'Chul-ch C;;\t.llc~.illgs' ,lnd t11c 'Con- fessino ,1Io\,ement' h:n,e not lilcrgctl. 'The:\. tlu not i'\.cbl1 \\.Lint to P estnbl~sh a church fc.llo\\.ship \\.ith cach othcr-. '1-IIC fi1c.t is t11i11 111crc is no agreement 011 ccrtain confessional points, c.?., t11c ~~i~clc~r>t;~rltIing of the sacraments. In othcr words, tlic~se two nlo\.t.l1lcnts tlo not. \\i111t to repeat on a s1nalle1- scalc the l~acl erpcrit~nct's of tllc I.l\i 1). \\'c are of the con\.iction that on]!. tlic ;~bsol~tc oncLnt'ss in f:~ih~ is t11tb rc';~l basis for one church-body or c~cclcsinstical group, if it is to IN* ';c.[i\.c. and effecti\,e in its co~nmunitics. r\.cr\- compro~i~ix~, in 111ii ~.csg;ll.rl, ivcakens both sides. \\'e also know, that thcrc arc othcr lc\-cls. i~pull \illicI~ co(i)1~.r,1- tions are possible betn.ccn gi-OLI~S, ~\.llich otl~t'~\\.is~ clo 11 Il'l\.~ church felloivship \vith cilch othcr. rl'hcreforc the 'Confcs5i1lg \Io\.c- mcnt' and the 'Church Gatherings' work togcthcl- its clos~~l\ i15 j~ohsiblc, whenever possible. A final \\-orcl on thc situation of thc L~itl~cran l'rcc S\ notls ill Germany: They established church fcllo\vship \\.i th each otl1c.r in 19-17/49. They have tried since then to conich into a closcl- rcl;\tioll- ship with each other. They hope to merge n.ithin thc. nest t\\ o \cats, These rrttcnipts to unite prevented our s)nods fro111 bcing ilcti\ c in a way which is necessary for the Germany of tocia!.. For mc, it bcc;1111e clear that \ye \voulcl lia\.e been more obcdient to ~hc 1-01-(I, if we would have conccntrated our efforts on His pri~n;ir\. cc~nl~~~iincl- ment, to do mission Ivork, th;in on so man!, 11uln;ln trhrlitions ;~ncl personal ambitions, which still hindcr a cluicxk ullio11 of our cli~irch bodies. Some in these newl!. formed groups