ELCA NEWS SERVICE
November 17, 2006
ELCA Council Adopts Lutheran-Orthodox Statement
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted "A Lutheran-Orthodox Common Statement on Faith in the Holy Trinity" and suggested the statement be used for guidance and conversations throughout the church and in ecumenical settings.
The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies. The council met here Nov. 11-13. Assemblies are held every other year; the next is here Aug. 6-11, 2007.
The statement emerged from the third round of the Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue in 1998. It was placed on the Web site of the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations section of the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop as information and shared with the ELCA Conference of Bishops, an advisory body of the church.
This year the Conference of Bishops received and affirmed the common statement and asked that the council formally adopt it.
According to background materials presented to the council, the statement affirms a common commitment to and understanding of the theology of the Nicene Creed. The Council of Nicaea adopted the creed in 325, and in 381 it was reaffirmed by the Council of Constantinople.
"The statement represents a breakthrough on one of the major theological controversies that contributed to the split between the Eastern and Western churches during the 11th century, namely the phrase in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father 'and the Son,'" the background materials said. The phrase "and the Son" in Latin is "filioque."
"That phrase 'and the Son' was added to the Nicene Creed unilaterally by the churches of the West around the 11th century. It has been a source of division between the churches of the West and the Eastern Orthodox churches since the formal break between them in the year 1054," said the Rev. Randall R. Lee, executive, ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, in an interview with the ELCA News Service.
Lee explained that the common statement says that it is appropriate, particularly in ecumenical conversations and worship, to confess the Nicene Creed without the phrase because the creed was originally adopted without it. In addition the Lutheran World Federation has said it is "appropriate" to cite the Nicene Creed without the phrase.
"It's a very important matter to our Orthodox sisters and brothers, and we are hopeful that the council, by taking this action in receiving the work of the dialogue, will further our future conversations with the Orthodox as we all strive to make manifest the visible unity of the Church," Lee said.
The ELCA's new worship book, "Evangelical Lutheran Worship," contains a footnote to the Nicene Creed that says it is appropriate to confess the creed without the phrase.
Lee also noted that the Roman Catholic Church has not yet officially acted on the use of the filioque phrase.
"This is a contribution that Lutherans make to the ecumenical movement and our conversation with the Orthodox," he said.
The full text of "A Lutheran-Orthodox Common Statement on Faith in the Holy Trinity" is at http://www.ELCA.org/ecumenical/ecumenicaldialogue/orthodox/trinity.html on the ELCA Web site.
Hear comments from the Rev. Randall Lee on the Web at:
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
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