Original Research - Special Collection: James Alfred Loader Dedication

Confessional Lutheran commitment in the International Lutheran Council – A conservative contribution of Lutheranism to the Ecumenical Age

Werner R.A. Klän
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1984 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.1984 | © 2013 Werner R.A. Klän | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 April 2013 | Published: 30 September 2013

About the author(s)

Werner R.A. Klän, Systematic Theology, Lutherische Theologische Hochschule, Germany; Department of Church History and Church Polity, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The contribution of confessional Lutheran churches, especially those affiliated to the International Lutheran Council of the ecumenical movement was regarded more or less as marginal, compared to the mainstream Protestant churches. Rooted in the 16th century Reformation, relating to the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church as comprised in the Book of Concord (1580), these churches in the 19th century rediscovered what might be labelled ‘confessional identity’. Looking at the European scene as a paradigm of secularisation (in spite of necessary differentiations), it is observed how traditional faith, trying not to sever its biblical and confessional roots, approached and reacted to ‘modern’ developments in society and the church. A historical survey, combined with a systematic reflection on Lutheran identity in a post-Christian context, served to diagnose the problems of Christian responsibility in a globalising world. Through the changes and challenges that confront Christianity at the beginning of the 21st century, the confessional Lutheran churches – affiliated to the International Lutheran Council – came to face their ecumenical responsibility. The mission of the Church ought to be reconsidered in terms of its biblical foundation, its historical identity, its confessional self-understanding, and its ecumenical obligation.

Keywords

Lutheranism; confessionalism; ecclesiastical identity; ecumenism; International Lutheran Council

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