Unity Faith and Order - Dialogues - Anglican Lutheran
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The Pullach Report 1972
- In spite of occasional contacts and a common awareness of great areas
of affinity of doctrine, worship and church life, Anglican and Lutheran
Churches have in the past lived largely in separation and in relative isolation
from one another. One painful manifestation of their separate existence
has been the absence of communio in sacris between Lutheran and
Anglican Churches (apart from that enabled by regulations concerning different
grades of intercommunion between the Church of England and various Scandinavian
- A new situation has been created by more frequent encounters in recent
times, both between churches and individual members of the two Communions:
the recognition of new, converging tendencies in their biblical and theological
thinking; the realization of their common task of mission and service in
the modern world; more frequent but still responsible acts of intercommunion;
and the encounter of Lutheran and Anglican Churches in union negotiations.
- This situation demands not only better mutual knowledge and understanding
and closer cooperation, it calls at the same time for a reconsideration
of the official relationships between Anglican and Lutheran Churches leading
to more appropriate expressions of our common faith, witness and service.
- This new situation, and in particular the involvement of Lutheran and
Anglican Churches in union negotiations, led to the proposal of official
conversations between the Lutheran World Federation and the Anglican Communion.
- In 1963 the LWF Commission on World Mission passed a resolution requesting
the setting up of a study committee for the preparation of worldwide Anglican-Lutheran
conversations. This proposal received the endorsement of the LWF Commission
on Theology in the same year.
- After further deliberations and following a decision of the Executive
Committee of the LWF in 1967 contacts with the Archbishop of Canterbury
were established which resulted in the appointment of an ad hoc Anglican-Lutheran
Committee by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the General Secretary of
the LWF. This Committee met in Berlin (November 1967) and elaborated a "Memorandum".
This Memorandum proposed that the Lambeth Conference and the Executive
Committee of the LWF should authorize "the appointment of a
representative 'Anglican-Lutheran Commission'". This recommendation
was accepted by the Lambeth Conference 1968. The Executive Committee of
the LWF, meeting shortly after the Lambeth Conference, considered the Memorandum
too and arrived at the same decision.
- In the Memorandum of 1967 it was stated that the "Anglican-Lutheran
Commission" should: "(a) conduct a worldwide Anglican-Lutheran
dialog; (b) consider other contacts and areas for practical cooperation;
(c) report regularly to their respective appropriate authorities".
This was accepted by the Lambeth Conference and by the LWF Executive Committee
- The Lambeth Conference recommended (taking up a suggestion of the Memorandum)
that the "conversations should begin by discussing the general mission
of the church in the world and only afterwards proceed to questions of
doctrine and order, though major issues should be faced as soon as possible".
The Lambeth Conference asked also that these conversations "should
be held on four occasions over a two-year period". The LWF Executive
Committee concurred in this recommendation. Because of these limitations
of time, the conversations had to be concentrated upon some fundamental
doctrinal points, but always in the context of the general mission of the
church in the world.
- After four meetings (at Oxford, September 1970; L0gumkloster, Denmark,
March-April 1971; Lantana, Florida, January 1972, and Munich, April 1972)
our group completed its work insofar as it was possible in the time given
to us. We submit our report including its recommendations to our respective
authorities. We are aware of its limitations. We have not attempted to
say everything that should or could be said in common.
- We have attempted to articulate lines of thought which are already
accepted in much of the past and present thinking of our Churches. This
implies that we tried to be as representative as possible of the traditions
and present developments in our Churches. We hope that the articulation
of current tendencies may itself advance and extend our ecumenical unity.
- We are aware that in every ecumenical conversation the delegates from
both sides develop an increasingly friendly relationship; understanding
develops, deep spiritual fellowship grows, and with it a strong desire
to express the maximum agreement possible. Those they represent are not
going through the same experiences, and there is always a danger that both
sides, or at least one, will prove to be so far ahead of their
constituency, that little good will come of the encounter.
- This is particularly true in the matter of language. Phrases have come
into currency and have worked their way into the life and thought of Lutheran
and Anglican Churches. In some cases the words correspond to those used
on the other side and mean much the same thing. Sometimes the words sound
similar, but mean something different. Sometimes the words are very strange
and foreign in the ears of another tradition in the life of the church.
- In conversations like ours each side becomes familiar with the language
of the other. Sometimes particular phrases become expressive of particular
points of agreement or disagreement, and thus a special language makes
articulate to the participants the spiritual or intellectual processes
in which they have been engaged. Their constituencies have not become familiar
with this language.
- We therefore think that our report needs a positive effort of understanding
on the part of both our Churches and we have tried to initiate this process
by adding to the report personal statements written by the two chairmen
of the delegations. We believe that all that we are saying and recommending
in our report will only be relevant if our Churches make serious attempts
to grow closer together at all levels of church life.
- Our conversations were not held in an ecumenical vacuum. Our Churches
are involved in conversations and negotiations with other churches. We
trust that our work will contribute to the comprehensive movement toward
greater unity which is apparent among all Christian churches.
- Our report is now submitted to the authorities which have appointed
us and we hope that those authorities will transmit our report to the individual
Churches for their consideration and action. We ask all who receive this
report to base their decisions not only on the human efforts which we have
made but on their trust in the one, living Lord of the church, who wills
our unity and who will judge us one day according to our obedience to his
will and command.
II. Theological Considerations
A. Sources of Authority
- The Anglican and the Lutheran Churches hold that it is Jesus Christ,
God and Man, born, crucified, risen and ascended for the salvation of mankind,
in whom all Scriptures find their focus and fulfillment. They are at one
in accepting the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the sufficient,
inspired, and authoritative record and witness, prophetic and apostolic,
to God's revelation in Jesus Christ.
- Both Churches hold that through the proclamation of the gospel and
the administration of the sacraments, based on the same Scriptures and
empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christ is speaking to us and is active amongst
us today, calling us to live and serve in his name.
- Both Churches hold that nothing should be preached, taught or ordered
in the church which contradicts the word of God as it is proclaimed in
- Within both Churches different attitudes exist concerning the nature
of inspiration and the ways and means of interpreting the Scriptures, and
these attitudes run across the denominational boundaries.
- Both Churches agree in stressing the need and responsibility for a
continuing interpretation of the biblical texts in order to communicate
the gospel of salvation to all men in different times and changing circumstances.
- They teach that the whole church, and especially the ministry of the
church, has received the responsibility for guarding all proclamation and
interpretation from error by guiding, admonishing and judging and by formulating
doctrinal statements, the biblical witness always being the final authority
and court of appeal.
- The Anglican and the Lutheran Churches are at one in accepting officially
the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. These Creeds are used regularly in their
worship and in their teaching. They recognize the Athanasian Creed as giving
a true exposition of the trinitarian faith.
- They believe that these Creeds are authoritative summaries and safeguards
of the Christian faith. Their authority is established in the first place
by their faithful witness and interpretation of the biblical message and
in the second place by their acceptance and use in the Early Church. They,
therefore, hold a unique place among all confessional documents.
- The acceptance of these Creeds implies agreement between both Communions
on the fundamental trinitarian and christological dogmas.
c) Confessional formularies
- The Lutheran and the Anglican Churches developed and accepted a number
of confessional documents at the time of the Reformation. There are a great
number of direct historical and theological connections and similarities
between these documents.
- They did not regard these confessions as "foundation documents" of
a new church, but rather as means of safeguarding and witnessing to the
faith of the church at all times.
- They regarded these confessions as expositions of their final authority,
namely Holy Scripture. The confessions were aimed at a renewal and reformation
of the church making it as inclusive as possible, but guarding against
certain errors and misguided developments in late medieval Roman Catholicism
on the one hand, and against "enthusiastic" and extreme reforming
movements on the other.
- On the Lutheran side the confessions of the Reformation still occupy
officially a prominent place in theological thinking and training, in catechetical
teaching, in the constitutions of the individual Lutheran churches and
at the ordination of pastors. They serve as a link between the churches
of the Lutheran family.
- On the Anglican side the 39 Articles are universally recognized as
expressing a significant phase in a formative period of Anglican thought
and life. The significance attached to them today in Anglican circles varies
between Anglican churches and between groups within Anglican churches.
On the other hand the Book of Common Prayer has for a long time served
as a confessional document in a liturgical setting. Though liturgical revisions
vary among Anglican churches, the influence of the Prayer Book tradition
is still evident.
- Since confessional formularies are not a mark of the church their significance
lies in their expression of the living confession to the living Lord. Different
approaches to the authority of these formularies are possible between Communions
so long as they share a living confession which is a faithful response
to the living word of God as proclaimed in Holy Scripture.
- The Anglican and the Lutheran Churches are at one in regarding tradition
as a normal element in the life of the church.
- By the word "tradition" is meant the way in which the apostolic
witness (i.e. "tradition") has been transmitted from one generation
to the next, from one culture to the other. By the word "traditions" are
meant the ways in which the churches have developed their thinking, worship,
common life and attitudes to the world.
- Both Churches agree that all traditions are secondary to tradition
and that they, therefore, have to be tested by that tradition. If they
are in accordance with and expressions of this ultimate standard they are
to be regarded as important means of continuity. In order to serve this
purpose they should never become petrified, but remain open for change
- The attitude toward the tradition, especially over against the tradition
of the Early Church has found within both Churches different expressions
at different times and in different schools of thought.
- Anglicans do not make frequent use of the word "tradition" except
in a phrase like "churches of the Anglican tradition", which
is virtually a synonym for the "Anglican Communion". But during
the Reformation period (which for Anglicans extended from 1534 to 1662)
they called on the teaching of the Early Fathers in their apologies against
both Roman Catholics and Puritans.
- A positive appreciation of the patristic tradition, already apparent
in the sixteenth century, became more marked in the seventeenth, and made
its influence felt in Anglican spirituality, ecclesiology, and liturgy—the
Scottish liturgy of 1637 is an example of this. The Oxford Movement of
the nineteenth century saw a further phase in the appropriation of both
patristic and medieval traditions, and a new sense of the unbroken continuity
of the church's history.
- At all times, however, there has been a sharply critical attitude to
tradition if this implied an additional source for historical data supplementing
the history given in the gospels, or a source for a "secret" doctrine
additional to that given in the scriptural witness.
- In modern times there has appeared a desire to sit lightly to "the
traditions of men" if they were felt to obscure "the good news
for the new age".
- Lutheran theology in the sixteenth century considered ancient church
tradition as a kind of contemporary source of Christian truth and as a
proof for its own continuity. At the same time the Reformation demand for
a scripturally-based critical study of the Fathers was the starting point
for a nascent patrology.
- Within Lutheran Church and theology in later centuries early Christianity
was not primarily of dogmatic relevance but was studied rather as an important
ethical authority witnessing to the practice of the Christian life.
- Lutheran theology always tried to evaluate the patristic tradition
in the light of the biblical witness as it was interpreted in different
periods and schools of thought.
- In modern times the tradition of the Lutheran churches has become subject
to a highly critical examination calling for continuous reformation and
- Modern scholarship (exegesis, patristics) has in many ways served as
a means of convergence between different denominations. This also applies
to and has consequences for our evaluation of early tradition. But even
if there remain a number of different emphases in this field, they are
certainly not of fundamental importance but rather expressions of different
histories, ways of thinking and life, which should be a source of mutual
enrichment and correction.
- Within the Anglican and the Lutheran Churches the position, function
and character of theology have developed in a number of different ways.
- Both Communions stress the importance of theological reasoning and
both look back to a rich tradition of theological work.
- The different emphases in Anglican and Lutheran theological studies
arise from different historical situations, from different backgrounds
in philosophy and general thinking, and from different forms of theological
training, church order and church life. The lack of closer contacts between
the two Communions in the past may also have contributed to these different
- The stronger lines of communication within the field of theology, which
have developed during the last decades, have led to increasing contacts
and mutual sharing between theologians all over the world. The result is
a convergence of theological thinking which is marked by mutual enrichment
as well as by a widespread development of similar new theological schools
very often crossing all denominational barriers.
- Both Communions, therefore, are much more closely connected in the
field of theology today than ever before. Part of this closer relation
grows out of the fact that they face the same problems and tensions within
their theological thinking.
- Thus, remaining marked differences in the function and emphasis of
theology should be welcomed as an expression and sign of a legitimate variety
within the one people of God.
B. The Church
- The Anglican and the Lutheran Churches adhere to the traditional Nicene
characterization of the church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and
they believe that they are expressions of this church. This position was
reaffirmed by each Church at the Reformation and has been continuously
maintained as a specific definition of what the church is called to be
in the world.
- Because of different historical circumstances after the Reformation,
theologians within the two Churches have formulated their teachings about
the church differently. Nevertheless, there have been distinctive ecclesiological
attitudes in each Church that were present also in the other Church and
there have always been areas of agreement or approximation in their ecclesiological
- Both traditions agree that the unity of the church, God's
gift and our task, must be manifested in a visible way. This unity can
be expressed in different forms depending upon the particular situation.
Accordingly there can be various stages in the mutual recognition of churches,
in the practice of intercommunion and in the reciprocal acceptance of ministries.
The goal should be full "altar and pulpit fellowship" (full communion),
including its acceptance by the individual members of the Churches, and
structures that will encourage such fellowship and its acceptance.
- The two traditions confess with one accord the holiness of
the church as a gift of God's grace separating the church to himself as
a beloved and forgiven people, which by the power of his Spirit is inspired
and called to a life and mission which reflects among men God's own holiness.
Within each tradition and between the traditions there have been and are
differences of emphasis and interpretation concerning the practical expression
of this holiness in the church's life and mission. Such differences are
not mutually exclusive and need not prove divisive in the life of the church.
- In maintaining the catholicity of the church, Anglicans and
Lutherans confess together, that the fullness of the truth of the gospel
is committed to the church. Further, they recognize together the universal
outreach and inclusiveness of the church, extending to every nation, race
and social group. Finally, they seek to comprehend the wholeness of human
life in all its aspects under the dominion of Christ. Both Churches, however,
are aware of the danger of particularistic claims within their denominations. "Catholic
fullness" and "the pure doctrine of the gospel" may be misinterpreted
to represent the exclusive privilege of particular groups or parties. Fullness,
universality and wholeness belong only to the one body of Christ.
- In the concept of apostolicity there is common ground insofar
as all teaching, life and ministry of the church have to be in continuity
with the fundamental apostolic witness and commission to go out into the
world. It is the role which the succession of bishops plays within this
wider concept of apostolicity which is one of the main controversial points
between the two traditions. Consequently, section D in this report will
consider the apostolic nature of the church and its ministry.
- Today, there is a growing agreement about the way we speak of the church.
This is based on a renewed interest in biblical theology and ecclesiology
and this has coincided with a new awareness on the part of the church of
its situation and task in the contemporary world. Particular emphasis has
fallen on a dynamic concept of the church as the people of God. This implies
that all thinking about the church must start from and find its criteria
in the enabling presence and action of the triune God.
- As the people of God growing out of the Old Covenant, the church lives
in the New Covenant and is sent by Christ to serve mankind. As the Body
of Christ, the church lives in an intimate relationship with him, the head
of the Body. Despite its frailty and failures, it is sustained by the faithfulness
of its Lord. At the same time, the church is constantly built up, renewed
and strengthened by Christ's actual presence and action, through Word and
Sacrament, in the Holy Spirit.
- The church, therefore, is the recipient of grace, a community and royal
priesthood of the people of God responding to this gift in corporate praise
and thanksgiving to God, and responding simultaneously as an instrument
for proclaiming and manifesting God's sovereign rule and saving grace.
Because the church is sent into the world to continue Christ's service
and to witness to his presence among all mankind in liberating men from
fear and false idols, in meeting human need, and in fighting against injustice
and discrimination, the nature and mission of the church belong inseparably
together. Mission and service presuppose an authentic fellowship of the
reconciled. A fellowship without mission is disobedient to the commandment
of its Lord.
- The fellowship of the church calls for a deep mutual sharing of the
spiritual and material gifts of God. Being a fellowship of those who are
at once sinful in themselves but made righteous in Christ, the church is,
nevertheless, a first fruit of the kingdom and, therefore, it prophetically
witnesses to the final joy of mankind which is to lose itself in wonder,
love and praise of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. So the church
is a pilgrim people, exposed to God's judgment and nourished on its way
by his grace which exceeds both our achievements and our desires or deserts.
C. The Word and the Sacraments
a) Relation of Word and Sacrament
- Both our Communions affirm in virtually the same words (Conf. Aug.
VII; Art. XIX) that the right proclamation of the Word and the proper administration
of the sacraments are essential and constitutive to the ongoing life of
the church. Where these things happen, there we see the church.
- To be obedient to the will of Christ the church must honor both Word
and Sacrament and must avoid emphasizing one to the neglect of the other.
- While there is some difference in the mode of Christ's action in Word
and Sacrament, both Word and Sacrament are occasions of his coming in anamnesis
of his first advent and in anticipation of his parousia. The Word imparts
significance to the sacrament and the sacrament gives visible embodiment
to the Word.
- Baptism, administered with water and the threefold Name, is the effective
means by which God brings a person into the covenant of salvation wrought
by Christ and translates him from darkness and bondage into the light and
freedom of the Kingdom of God. The baptized are grafted into the church,
adopted as children of God, brought into a relation with him which means
justification, the forgiveness of sins and exposure and the sanctifying
power of the Holy Spirit in the believing, witnessing and serving community.
- Faith is necessary for the right receiving of the sacrament. Infant
baptism, though not certainly attested in the New Testament, is conformable
to its doctrine and in particular to the emphasis on the divine initiative
in man's redemption. The faith of the parents, sponsors and the whole community,
is a pledge that the baptized infant will be brought to respond in faith
to what God did for him in baptism.
- The practice of infant baptism necessitates the provision of opportunity
for personal profession of faith before the congregation. In both our traditions
this has been associated with confirmation in which the bishop (in Anglicanism)
lays hands upon the candidate or the parish pastor (in Lutheranism) lays
hands upon the candidate or otherwise blesses him. We note the debate within
each communion about precise aspects of the theology and practice of confirmation,
including its relation to admission to communion. Since the points so debated
cut across the denominational lines, they ought not to be barriers to communion
c) The Lord's Supper
- In the Lord's Supper the church obediently performs the acts commanded
by Christ in the New Testament, who took bread and wine, gave thanks, broke
the bread and distributed the bread and wine. The church receives in this
way the body and blood of Christ, crucified and risen, and in him the forgiveness
of sins and all other benefits of his passion.
- Both Communions affirm the real presence of Christ in this sacrament,
but neither seeks to define precisely how this happens. In the eucharistic
action (including consecrations) and reception, the bread and wine, while
remaining bread and wine, become the means whereby Christ is truly present
and gives himself to the communicants.
- Both traditions affirm that Christ's sacrifice was offered once and
for all for the sin of the whole world. Yet without denying this fundamental
truth both would recognize that the Eucharist in some sense involves sacrifice.
In it we offer our praise and thanksgiving, ourselves and all that we are,
and make before God the memorial of Christ's sacrifice. Christ's redemptive
act becomes present for our participation. Many Anglicans and some Lutherans
believe that in the Eucharist the church's offering of itself is caught
up into his one offering. Other Anglicans and many Lutherans do not employ
the concept of sacrifice in this way.
d) Of the number of the sacraments
- Both our traditions recognize the uniqueness of the two gospel sacraments.
Of these alone is there in the New Testament a recorded command of Christ
to perform specific actions with material things, and to these alone is
attached a specific promise of his own action and gift annexed thereto.
- In both Communions there are those who would extend the term Sacrament
to other rites (e.g., absolution and ordination among Lutherans, and the
other five of the traditional "sacraments" by Anglicans). This
is largely a matter of nomenclature. Under the stricter definition there
can only be two sacraments; under a wider definition there can be others,
but when the wider definition is used the preeminence of Baptism and the
Lord's Supper is still maintained.
- Within both Communions some provision is made for the other "five
commonly called sacraments" according to need and local variation.
Where unction is practised it is not understood as extreme unction but
as a means of healing.
D. Apostolic Ministry
a) Apostolicity and apostolic succession
- The apostolicity of the church is God's gift in Christ to the church
through the apostles' preaching, their celebration of the gospel sacraments,
and their fellowship and oversight. It is also God's sending of the church
into all the world to make disciples of all nations in and through the
apostolic gospel. Thus apostolicity pertains first to the gospel and then
to the ministry of Word and sacraments, all given by the risen Lord to
the apostles and through them to the church. Apostolicity requires obedience
to the original and fundamental apostolic witness by reinterpretation to
meet the needs of each new situation.
- The succession of apostolicity through time is guarded and given contemporary
expression in and through a wide variety of means, activities and institutions:
the canon of Scriptures, creeds, confessional writings, liturgies, the
activities of preaching, teaching, celebrating the sacraments and ordaining
and using a ministry of Word and Sacrament, the exercising of pastoral
care and oversight, the common life of the church, and the engagement in
mission to and for the world.
b) The ministry
- In confessing the apostolic faith as a community, all baptized and
believing Christians are the apostolic church and stand in the succession
of apostolic faith. The apostolic ministry which was instituted by God
through Jesus Christ in the sending of the apostles is shared in varying
ways by the members of the whole body.
- The ordained ministry of Word and Sacrament is essentially one, though
it assumes a diversity of forms which have varied from New Testament times,
and which still vary according to local conditions and historic influences
down to the present.
- We feel ourselves called to recognize that all who have been called
and ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in obedience to the
apostolic faith stand together in the apostolic succession of office.
- It is God who calls, ordains and sends the ministers of Word and Sacrament
in the church. He does this through the whole people, acting by means of
those who have been given authority so to act in the name of God and of
the whole church. Ordination to the ministry gives authority to preach
the gospel and administer the sacraments according to Christ's command
and promise, for the purpose of the continuance of the apostolic life and
mission of the church. Ordination includes the prayer of all the people
and the laying on of hands of other ministers, especially of those who
occupy a ministry of oversight and unity in the church.
- "Episcope" or oversight concerning the purity of apostolic
doctrine, the ordination of ministries, and pastoral care of the church
is inherent in the apostolic character of the church's life, mission and
ministry. This has been embodied and exercised in the church in a wide
variety of forms, episcopal and non-episcopal. Both Communions have continuously
held and exercised oversight in accordance with their respective understandings
of church order.
- In the Lutheran Communion episcopacy has been preserved in some parts
in unbroken succession, in other parts in succession of office, while in
other parts oversight has been exercised in non-episcopal forms. In all
forms it has experienced the blessings of the ministry in the church.
- In the Anglican Communion episcopacy has been preserved in a succession
unbroken at the time of the Reformation and, rightly or wrongly, important
deductions have been drawn from this in relation to the organic continuity
and unity of the church.
- Both Communions are open to new forms in which episcope may
find expressions appropriate to the needs and conditions of the situation
d) Particular convictions and perspectives of each Communion
Statement of the Anglican participants:
- Anglicans treasure the historic episcopate as part of their own history
and because of their belief in the incarnational and sacramental character
of God's involvement with the world and his people. As God acts now in
and through words spoken, in and through bread and wine, and in and through
the reality of human community, so too he acts in the laying on of hands
in historic succession, providing for the ministry of Word and Sacrament
in the one church.
- They believe that the episcopacy in historic continuity and succession
is a gift of God to the church. It is an outward and visible sign of the
church's continuing unity and apostolic life, mission and ministry. They
hold this belief while recognizing that episcopacy has been and may be
abused in the life of the church, as have been the other media of apostolic
- Anglicans do not believe that the episcopate in historic succession
alone constitutes the apostolic succession of the church or its ministry.
The participants wish to declare that they see in the Lutheran Communion
true proclamation of the Word and celebration of the sacraments. How we
are able to make this statement while maintaining our adherence to the
importance of the historic episcopate we hope the Anglican personal note
(see section IV) will make clear. The Anglican Communion has been much
influenced and blessed by God through the Lutheran Communion's faithfulness
to the apostolic gospel. We, therefore, gladly recognize in the Lutheran
churches a true communion of Christ's body, possessing a truly apostolic
- Such recognition, if reciprocated by the Lutheran churches, implies,
according to the mind of the participants, official encouragement of intercommunion
in forms appropriate to local conditions.
- The Anglican participants cannot foresee full integration of ministries
(full communion) apart from the historic episcopate, but this should in
no sense preclude increasing intercommunion between us, which would give
fuller and more joyful expression to our unity in Christ, recognize and
deepen the similarities which bind us together, and provide the most appropriate
context for our common service of the one Lord.
Statement of the Lutheran participants:
- The Lutheran churches have practised full fellowship with each other
regardless of the forms of episcope (or even of the episcopate). With ecumenical
developments this freedom for fellowship has allowed Lutheran churches
to enter into fellowship with non-Lutheran churches with various forms
of church government.
- Since full fellowship has been retained between some Lutheran churches
which have not preserved the office and name of a bishop and other Lutheran
churches which have retained the historic episcopate in a form similar
to the Anglican and since the particular form of episcope is not a confessional
question for Lutherans, the historic episcopate should not become a necessary
condition for interchurch relations or church union. On the other hand,
those Lutheran churches which have not retained the historic episcopate
are free to accept it where it serves the growing unity of the church in
obedience to the gospel.
- The Lutheran participants in these conversations recognize the churches
of the Anglican Communion as true apostolic churches and their ministry
as an apostolic ministry in unbroken succession, because they see in them
true proclamation of the gospel and right administration of the sacraments.
As would be true for any church which proclaims the gospel in its purity
and administers the sacraments properly the participants regard the historic
episcopacy as it has been retained in the Anglican Communion as an important
instrument of the unity of the church.
- The Lutheran participants in these conversations recommend to the member
churches of the Lutheran World Federation that they work for a still closer
fellowship with the churches of the Anglican Communion, including at the
present time intercommunion. Where it is expedient for furthering the mission
of the church and where it can happen without disturbing already existing
relations with other churches, Lutheran churches must be free to manifest
a mutual recognition of ministries through the exchange of ministers or
through full church union.
- Our conversations have given the participants renewed opportunities
to enter into each other's traditions of worship and spirituality. Both
sides have been impressed with the similarity between their respective
heritages of liturgical worship and also with the close similarity between
the movements for liturgical reform in both Communions. The deep reverence
and liturgical care with which their common services of the Eucharist have
been conducted remain among the most cherished memories of the experiences
which the delegates have gone through together.
- Both traditions emerged after the Reformation from the same matrix
of medieval Catholic worship. In both a similar course of events influenced
the development of liturgical tradition. In later Lutheran developments
the main Sunday service became frequently a purely preaching service while
in Anglicanism a separation between eucharistic and non-eucharistic worship
services took place.
- Now, in both churches, the Holy Communion is coming back into the center
of the picture as the principal worship service of each Sunday. In the
Lutheran churches there is a marked re-appropriation of traditional liturgical
forms of worship and in Anglicanism there is a noticeable tendency to reintegrate
Word and Sacrament, particularly by the use of the sermon in many more
celebrations of the Holy Communion. Both traditions use increasingly spontaneous
and informal modes of prayer and praise in the setting of traditional liturgical
- Is it fanciful to see in these contemporary movements a stirring of
the Spirit, whereby our two Communions may more obviously glorify God with
one heart and one mouth?
A. Intercommunion and Fellowship
- The degree of mutual recognition of the apostolicity and catholicity
of our two Churches indicated in the report justifies a greatly increased
measure of intercommunion between them. Both Anglican and Lutheran Churches
should welcome communicants from the other Church and should encourage
their own communicants to receive Holy Communion in churches of the other
tradition where appropriate and subject to the claims of individual conscience
and respect for the discipline of each Church.
- An anomalous situation exists in Europe. The Church of England should
no longer make a distinction in the intercommunion arrangements made for
various Lutheran churches, but should extend the arrangements for Sweden
and Finland to include all Lutheran churches in Europe. The many years
of contact with Sweden and Finland have made a useful introduction to the
communion and fellowship which would thus be extended and which should
b) Joint worship
- In places where local conditions make this desirable, there should
be mutual participation from time to time by entire congregations in the
worship and eucharistic celebrations of the other Church. Anniversaries
and other special occasions provide opportunity for members of the two
traditions to share symbolic and ecumenical worship together.
c) Integration of ministries
- In those countries where Anglicans and Lutheran churches are working
side by side for the spread of the gospel, or where there are churches
with close relationships with our two Communions (we have Africa and Asia
especially in mind), there is felt a need for more rapid movement towards
organic union. We endorse this. It is our hope that our report, with its
encouragement of intercommunion and its recognition of the apostolicity
of both Churches and their ministries, might facilitate progress towards
a true integration of ministries. Whatever steps may be taken towards such
integration, nothing should call in question the status of existing ministries
as true ministries of Word and Sacrament.
B. Organizational Contacts
a) Continuation committee
- Our authorizing bodies should appoint a small continuation committee
to follow up our conversations by making regular reports to them on reactions
to our present report and on implementation of its proposals; by stimulating
further developments; and by preparing a full report for the parent bodies
after not more than four years on possibilities for further steps toward
b) Staff consultation and observers
- The Lutheran World Federation and the Anglican Consultative Council
should encourage regular contacts between their staff members, and arrange
attendance of observers at each other's assemblies, liturgical commissions,
and conferences where appropriate.
C. Ministries and Exchanges Abroad
- Clergy serving their own nationals abroad should realize their importance
as ecumenical ambassadors and do their best to make contact with churches
and Christians of other traditions among whom they are living. The local
churches should welcome such clergy into their fellowship. While the existence
of churches for the benefit of ethnic and linguistic groups is fully understood,
the development of churches within foreign populations by proselytization
should be discouraged.
b) Tourists and travelers
- The vast increase in tourism and all kinds of international travel,
and the probable entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community,
provide an opportunity for greatly increased fellowship between Christians
of our two traditions. Special pastoral provision should be made and an
educational program embarked upon to prepare church people to avail themselves
of opportunities for spiritual fellowship with Christians of other countries.
Specialized chaplaincies (e.g., seamen's missions) also provide occasions
for international spiritual fellowship.
- More frequent exchanges of theologians and scholars should be much
encouraged. Theological students and younger clergy can learn much and
give much by spending a period of their early ministry and study in the
context of a church other than their own.
D. Joint Local Mission and Social Witness
a) Shared facilities and ministries
- In areas where the presence of one or more churches is very small,
one ministry might serve.more than one communion by incorporating smaller
groups into the parish life of larger, although in various ways allowing
the smaller groups to remain in touch with their own communions. Isolated
clergy of any communion should be welcomed into meetings of clergy of larger
churches so that the clergy of many churches might meet as one body. Sharing
buildings and pastoral services may provide good opportunities for mutual
service and fellowship.
b) Social witness and evangelism
- Joint action for mission, social witness, and education is recommended
wherever relevant and possible. This might include the interconfessional
running of educational institutions such as colleges or schools for the
handicapped, and cooperation wherever possible; joint work for the alleviation
of illiteracy; joint preparation and publication of Christian literature;
and the sharing of facilities on university campuses, for youth centers,
and in new industrial areas and housing estates.
c) Discussion and dialog
- There should be in all regions some form of continuing interchurch
discussions by official joint delegations and local groups on the various
ways in which our two traditions may move closer together and on the forms
of unity into which God may be calling us. These should include consideration
of the theological convictions which may still tend to separate us (e.g.,
the proclamation of the gospel, the historic episcopate).
- It is our hope that our present discussions will have elucidated many
of the issues relevant to our relationships. We submit our report in the
hope that it may be made available to all our member churches and contribute
to closer fellowship among us in Christ our Lord.
IV. Personal Notes by the Two Chairmen
A. Personal Note by the Anglican Chairman
However close and intimate has been the fellowship in a joint consultation
such as ours—and it has indeed been close—the time comes when
the joint report has to be submitted to each constituency separately. In
order that its message may be clearly understood and fairly considered
the highlights of the report can be pointed out, and in this note I am
trying to do that for Anglicans, using the language and idioms to which
they have become accustomed.
In the report, an attempt is made to widen the scope of the phrase,
and hence of the meaning of "apostolic succession". Anglicans
would not, if asked, have imagined the only meaning of that phrase was
succession of ministers by ordination of bishops in the "succession".
They would have wanted to include faith in the apostolic gospel (expressed
in the Creeds), acceptance of the Scriptures (which anchored the patristic
church to the apostolic church) and the acceptance of the gospel sacraments.
But as a fact of history these other forms of continuity (focussed in the
Lambeth Quadrilateral) have been taken as marks of "catholicity" rather
than of "apostolicity". The adjective "apostolic" happens
to have been attached to the continuity of the ministry. It can
only be widened in its application by a conscious effort to merge apostolicity
into catholicity, and vice versa.
In Anglican relations with Lutherans special importance has been placed
on the presence or absence of episcopal succession in various branches
of Lutheranism. Much common ground in other matters has always been recognized.
But since 1662 at least the Anglican churches have normally insisted on
episcopal ordination as a necessary basis for communio in sacris. See,
e.g., the Preface to the Ordinal, 1662:
"No man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest,
or Deacon in the Church of England, or suffered to execute any of the asaid
functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto,
according to the form hereafter following, or hath had formerly Episcopal
Consecration or Ordination." There have been all kinds of exceptions
and variations, but the basic norm has not been in doubt. So it has happened
that the Church of England (for instance) gradually entered into full communion
with the Church of Sweden in the sense that from 1888 to 1954 successive
steps were taken until, in the latter year, communicants of the Swedish
Church were given an unqualified right of entry to Anglican communions
in England. Members of the Church of Finland received virtually the same
permission in 1935 (with some limitations in the decisions of the Lower
House of the Canterbury Convocations). Denmark, Norway and Iceland (not
having "the succession") were given in 1954 what may be called "hospitality
rights"-rather different in kind from rights springing out of the
status of the home church concerned.
The theology and ecclesiology underlying Anglican thought and practice
in these matters has become the subject of many inevitable questions. A
few can be mentioned.
- It is seen more and more to be an accident of history (i.e., something
that depended upon the availability or otherwise of Reformed bishops in
good standing with their monarchs in the sixteenth century) that in modern
times Sweden and Finland find themselves on one side in the matter of succession,
and the other Lutheran churches on the other. Neither the Churches of Sweden
and Finland nor those of the other countries concerned, wish this one matter
to be decisive in their relations with us. They rather stress their common
obedience to the gospel as they saw it in the sixteenth century, which
led to them all having a Reformed ministry, whether episcopal or otherwise.
- The extent of "the spread" of the succession in Lutheran
churches is very difficult to define. It is fairly easy to assert which
churches possess it. It is not nearly so easy to assert which churches
do not possess it.
- It is clear that owing to the size and theological self-confidence
of the Lutheran churches any kind of "bargaining" on behalf of
Anglican views of episcopacy is inappropriate and would certainly be unfruitful.
Ecumenical relations have to be settled between the churches as they
are. This does not preclude either church from observing tendencies
already at work in the other, which may indicate a likely growing together
and mutual sharing of theological insights and historical benefits.
- A clearer understanding of the pluralist nature of New Testament Christianity
(especially in relation to the ministry) makes all claims to exclusiveness
embarrassing to maintain. Hooker's objection to presbyterian exclusiveness
in the sixteenth century can easily be turned on Anglicans, if they press
their views of episcopacy with the like rigidity.
There is a great difference between setting up "a united church" and
setting up new relations with existing churches, which in many parts of
the world (not in all) are geographically and nationally separated. The
rules for courteous and Christian relationships are not identical with
those which must govern organic union. A greater flexibility is possible
in the former situation than in the latter.
The acceptance of the possibility of full intercommunion (a phrase which
itself is capable of many gradations of meaning) with churches which have
varying degrees of attachment to the apostolic succession in the traditional
Catholic or Anglican understanding of those words, need not imply the slightest
retreat on the Anglican side from a firm attachment to it. Among Anglicans
there are, and will be, variations in the theological understanding of "the
succession", but as an agreed rule of practice it is still universal
in the Anglican world. Anglicans will retain it, in the hope that one day
it will be acceptable to all Christians, and as a means of grace which
they, for their part, intend, with God's help, never to lose. They need
not, however, make it the sole touchstone of ecumenical fellowship with
churches holding a different set of priorities. Detailed questions as to
the exact implications of intercommunion will demand different answers
in different circumstances. Conscience must always be respected, and by
both sides. But our delegation was clear that we ought now to greet the
Lutheran churches as real sister-churches in the family-life of Christ's
universal church. This is the call and challenge of our report.
B. Personal Note by the Lutheran Chairman
In conversations between separated churches statements about points
of agreement and points of disagreement have often played an important
This comparative method may help the participants in such conversations
to a better understanding of the historic background and particular tradition
of other churches. But this method is not sufficient in any genuine ecumenical
conversation. For in order to be properly evaluated on both sides all points
of agreement and disagreement must be examined and judged in the light
of a supreme authority accepted by both parties. Only if the points of
agreement are examined and judged in the light of such a common, supreme
authority will the two Churches be able to decide whether those agreements
manifest their common faith in the same Lord or only conceal a basic disunity.
And only if the points of disagreement are examined and judged in the light
of that same supreme authority may the two Churches decide whether those
disagreements are only "adiaphora" which do not preclude a growing
unity between them, or whether they are manifestations of an essential
disunity which presents a permanent obstacle to any complete unity between
the two Churches. Expressed in the traditional Lutheran language; the only
necessary condition to full church fellowship is agreement on the truth
of the gospel (CA VII).
In this report Lutherans and Anglicans have together stated that both
Churches are at one in accepting the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments as the sufficient, inspired and authoritative record and witness,
prophetic and apostolic, to God's revelation in Jesus Christ, and that
Jesus Christ, God and man, born, crucified, risen and ascended for the
salvation of mankind is the living word of God in whom all Scriptures find
their focus and fulfillment. This statement is not to be understood as
expressing only one point of agreement among many others, but it describes
that basic criterion, accepted by both Churches, which alone makes their
conversation possible and meaningful, not only when "agreements" are
stated, but also when remaining "disagreements", e.g., concerning
the historic episcopate, are expressed.
To Lutherans this fundamental unity about the "sources of authority",
expressed in the use of the same Scriptures and Creeds and in the recognition
by both sides of the heritage from the sixteenth century Reformation, not
only in theology, but above all in worship, is of decisive importance.
The fact that points of disagreement as to the meaning and importance
of the historic episcopate still persist cannot diminish the value of that
fundamental unity, but it may lead the Lutheran churches to reconsider
their traditional conviction that all questions of church order, including
the historic episcopate, are "adiaphora", of secondary importance.
If this is so, does it necessarily mean that all forms of church order
equally serve the church's witness to the truth of the gospel? Is the absence
of the historic episcopate in some Lutheran churches only motivated by
faithfulness to the gospel, or have other motives been at work? In considering
such questions, the Lutheran churches do not abandon their conviction that
the true preaching of the gospel and the right administration of the sacraments
cannot be linked up with one specific type of church order, but they submit
the conviction to a reexamination in the light of the gospel, expecting
that the Anglican churches will do the same with regard to their traditional
conception of the historic episcopate.
Among various possible ways in which the distinctive doctrines of the
two Churches may be reexamined, Lutherans should be committed to continuing
conversations with Anglicans as one way. In such conversations the commitment
to the gospel also needs further exploration. Although the present conversations
affirm the importance of justification and forgiveness of sins, future
conversations should say more clearly and fully that the gospel proclaims
the unmerited grace, whereby God declares men righteous through faith in
Jesus Christ. By elucidating the doctrine of the gospel the authority of
the Scriptures will become understood more specifically and differences
in teaching will be judged more accurately.
If both Churches maintain their fundamental unity in the recognition
of the same supreme authority, then all unsettled disagreements remain
only to be overcome through fresh obedience to that supreme authority.
By no means should they be allowed to remain, unchallenged and undisputed,
as permanent obstacles to that growing unity which both Churches recognize
as the will and command of their one Lord.