Lutheran, Orthodox Propose "Mutual Confession"
1/10/1997 12:00:00 AM
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (ELCA) -- A U.S. dialogue of Lutheran and Orthodox Christians has a recommendation that would "acknowledge our mutual confession of the faith." The Dec. 16-18 meeting here concluded with the proposal that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) use the original Nicene Creed in its worship services.
The Nicene Creed is a confession of the Christian faith dating back to A.D. 381 and was formulated by a church council held in Nicaea (now Iznik, Turkey). It lays out the doctrine of the Triune God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- that is widely accepted across the Christian faith.
Orthodox traditions reject a later addition of the Latin word "filioque," meaning "and the Son." The original version of the Nicene Creed speaks of the Holy Spirit "who proceeds from the Father," without the addition, "and the Son."
Representatives of the ELCA and the Orthodox Churches in America, eight from each tradition, make up the dialogue recommending that the ELCA Church Council implement a 1990 resolution of the Lutheran World Federation.
The LWF resolved "that churches which already use the Nicene Creed in their liturgies may use the version of 381." The dialogue adds that in the Lutheran tradition "there is confessional warrant for this recommendation in Article I of the Augsburg Confession."
LWF, a communion of 122 member churches and 12 recognized congregations, represents 56 million Lutherans worldwide, including the ELCA's 5.2 million members.
"The action proposed by the consultation would bring the two historic Christian churches closer in their profession of faith in their worship," said the Lutheran co-chair, the Rev. Paul M. Werger, retired bishop of the ELCA's Southeastern Iowa Synod.
The Orthodox co-chair, Bishop Maximos (Aghiorgoussis) of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, pointed out that "this is by no means the final word." The delegates committed themselves to continued dialogue on the nature of the Triune God, "focusing particularly on the procession of the Spirit." This will be the dialogue's topic when it meets in November 1997.
In other matters, the commission discussed 1997 proposals for sharing communion and ministries between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church and between the ELCA and three churches of the Reformed tradition -- the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ. They considered the potential implications this movement might have for the continuing Lutheran-Orthodox dialogues.
The dialogue is in "Round III" of talks that began in the 1960s. Round II, from 1983 to 1989, resulted in the 1992 publication of "Salvation in Christ." Round III on "faith in the Holy Trinity" began in 1994 under the auspices of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas and the ELCA.
For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News Service, (312)
AHAFFTEN@ELCA.ORG; Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Dir., (312) 380-2955 or
FRANKI@ELCA.ORG; Melissa Ramirez, Assist. Dir., (312) 380-2956 or