Author Topic: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg  (Read 21287 times)

John Dornheim

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #30 on: October 18, 2007, 12:46:04 PM »


Yes, it would be silly if the ELCA needed yet another reason to come to that conclusion but the opening of this center seems to fit the bill. I am sure that another research center would be helpful somewhere in Germany. It would make more sense had someone taken the time to find that place.
I would think that if your reason to join an ELCA center would be to fight and argue, we'd say thanks but no thanks.
John Dornheim

  You guys want to teach something else, go right ahead, but why should the lcms have to compromise beliefs to join an elca study center? 

M. Staneck
Quote

I am not sure that it needs to.
John Dornheim

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #31 on: October 18, 2007, 12:54:55 PM »
It would seem that the Wittenberg Center(s) is/are neither "churches," nor "missions," nor evangelism projects, but study centers apparently focussed on the heritage of the Reformation. It would also appear that one center has been in operation since 1999, with the full cooperation and partnership of German churches. So I'm not sure how ecclesial fellowship would have been broached.

But now another center begins, started by the smallest Lutheran church in Germany that makes a point of not being in fellowship or cooperation with the rest of German Lutheranism, and partnered by the LC-MS.

Of course, this does not surprise me, though Peter perceives an "attitude" in my comments, which probably exists. I do not say there is no "rationale" for the second center; for I suspect the "rationale" is the perceived rift between the SELK and the others that mirrors the gap between the ELCA and the LC-MS. The other center, they probably say, isn't "Lutheran" enough; cannot offer "true" Lutheran stuff, and - horror of horrors! - just might have us rubbing elbows with members of that nasty union church which the LC-MS patriarchs fled lo those many years ago, while they were also fleeing service in the Prussian army.
O.k., fine. I know that (but it would be nice if some LC-MS folks admitted it). Surely you will still allow me to long for the possibility of cooperating in historical studies and commemorating the Reformation anniversaries together rather than in competing centers.

LutherMan

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #32 on: October 18, 2007, 01:05:59 PM »
It would seem that the Wittenberg Center(s) is/are neither "churches," nor "missions," nor evangelism projects, but study centers apparently focussed on the heritage of the Reformation. It would also appear that one center has been in operation since 1999, with the full cooperation and partnership of German churches. So I'm not sure how ecclesial fellowship would have been broached.

http://www.lcms.org/pages/wPage.asp?ContentID=158&IssueID=15

  A Mission Base in Wittenberg

In Wittenberg, only about 18 percent of the 50,000-some population claims to be Christian.

That’s the driving reason four Lutheran partners are working to open a multifaceted Lutheran ministry center in the heart of “Luther land.” Scheduled dedication date: Reformation Day 2008.

“It certainly will be a special Reformation Day, not just for the ministry-center partners but also for the people of the LCMS,” said Dr. Robert Roegner, executive director, LCMS World Mission. “They will know that their church body is assisting with bringing the Gospel to the uncommitted and unreached people of a city that, probably more than any other city in the world, has such historic importance for Lutherans.”

Along with LCMS World Mission, CPH, LCMS World Relief and Human Care, and the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK, which is the church body’s German-language acronym) are collaborating on the renovation of a 16th-century boys school into the new ministry center.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 01:08:06 PM by LutherMan »

ptmccain

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #33 on: October 18, 2007, 01:14:37 PM »
I introduced Bill Torgersen, a classmate from the olden times, at our national convention in regard to this center.  My dimmish recollection of the report and/or materials surrounding the effort is that the churches referenced, St. Mary's and Castle, are basically empty and used more or less as museums, and that there are very few Lutherans or Christians left in Wittenberg, meaning that most specifically Lutheran involvement there has had more to do with LutherTourism than anything else.  Ergo the Lutheran center is designed to bring living Lutheran community back as a main objective.  I could be overstressing here, because I'm doing it from memory.

Dave, you are correct and thank you. Pastor Torgersen's presence and remarks at our convention were a delight.

The use of the center will be for: diaconal ministry in Wittenberg, ministry and presence for the many English speaking tourists through Wittenberg who are extremely hard pressed to find anything in English about Lutheranism, a base to establish and maintaining a missional worshipping community of confessional Lutherans in Wittenberg. A friend recently brought back a copy of the Small Catechism, which I have not been able to find during my previous trips there. Further, the center will be a training and retreat center for all of the member churches of the International Lutheran Council and special focus will be on equipping and training Lutheran pastors and churches and workers from our partner churches, theological, missionary and diaconal training to be offered to the ever growing numbers of confessional Lutheran pastors and churches throughout the lands of the former Soviet Union, the Baltics, and Scandinavia.

Conversations locally in Wittenberg have been cordial, constructive and productive. If there are "hard feelings" they are not in Wittenberg. The SELK/LCMS center and its officials have been invited to make use of the historic facilities, which, as Dave has properly noted, are truly more along the lines of museum piece.

As for theological differences. The fact simply is that the EKiD is not a Lutheran church, it is a union/merger church between Lutherans and Reformed, which set both Lutheran and Reformed Confessions side-by-side as equally true and valid confessions. This is not the faith confessed in the Book of Concord. Some may choose to believe and hold this to be the true and best way for their to be an ongoing and genuine Lutheranism in Germany. The SELK and The LCMS regard Lutheranism to be that which is confessed in the Book of Concord, affirming what is therin affirmed and rejecting what is therein rejected. This is a fundamental and deep difference. Last week the VELKD area bishop from Saxony was here in town attending German days at our seminary and he affirmed, quite openly, that there is no, per se, historic confessionally Lutheran congregation in Wittenberg and has not been for a very, very long time, since the time of the Prussian Union, to be exact. After the Prussian Union fell apart what emerged was not a revitalized Lutheranism in Wittenberg, but a union church of Reformed/Lutheran mixture. The land churches are members of the EKiD and subscribe to their theological position of union/merger/equality between Reformed and Lutheran Confession of faith.

Simply put the choice is either: confess what is confessed in the Book of Concord and reject what is rejected in it, or set it aside and regard it as "one among equals" when it comes to confessing the Christian faith.

This does not mean that there are going to be street battles in Wittenberg.

Cordial and polite coexistence can, and will, be taking place, but theological union and merger will not. And that's ok.

With a population of 45,000 in the town of Wittenberg and only 2% active in any church, well, as we in Missouri say: "Time is short and hell is hot" and there is plenty of work for everyone to do!

From the SELK web site   http://www.selk.de/

What we believe
The SELK is a confessional Lutheran Church. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament are indeed the revelation and the inspired Word of God. We believe that the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, as they are contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, are the true explanation of God's Word. These Confessions are:
the three ecumenical Creeds (the Apostolic, the Nicene and the Athanasian), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, its Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Small and the Large Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther and the Formula of Concord.

You can read a version of Dr. Luther's Small Catechism in modern German when you click here.

The Word of God contains Law and Gospel, both of which are to be clearly distinguished. The Law shows us how we are supposed to be according to God's will and that we always fail in fulfilling His will as long as we live in this world. The Gospel shows us Christ, who has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, and grants us forgiveness so that we are acceptable in God's eyes.

»For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.« (John 3:16, NIV)

Regarding the Sacrament of the Altar we confess:
»It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.« (Dr.Martin Luther, Small Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar)
 

Where we are
Congregations of the SELK can be found in most parts of Germany, from Flensburg in the North to Konstanz in the South, from Aachen in the West to Goerlitz in the East.

It is part of our history and heritage that the SELK is located more in some parts of Germany than in others. We do have about 40.000 church members in almost 200 congregations.Most of them are in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Hesse. About 140 pastors serve in the congregations.

The SELK is an independent church body. It does not recieve subsidies from the state but rather it finances itself by the offerings of its members. The SELK does have its own seminary for the education of pastors. This seminary is located in Oberursel, north of Frankfurt. The SELK also has its own mission society and a couple of institutions to care for the needy, such as hospitals or nursing homes.

The SELK is not a member of the Lutheran World Federation, because we believe that altar and pulpit fellowship equals church fellowship. Together with other confessional Lutheran church bodies, the SELK forms the International Lutheran Council, ILC.

If you want to know the location of a SELK-congregation in Germany, please contact the church's headquarters.


A little bit of history
Independent Confessional Lutheran Churches developed in Germany, especially in Prussia, Saxony, Hannover and Hesse in the beginning of the 19th century. The main reason for this was the forced union between Lutheran and Reformed Churches into an "evangelical" church. Mainly the ideas of the civil leaders were the reason for the enforcement of this union. These tendencies finally led to the "Evangelical Church in Germany" today, which is a union of Reformed and Lutheran Churches with full altar and pulpit fellowship. Many Lutherans rejected what they considered to be the end of Lutheranism in Germany.

The main reason for their thoughts was the convition that there cannot be different doctrines that exclude each other in one church body. The major example is the difference in the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar between Lutheran and Reformed theology. The confessional Lutherans were persecuted at this time by the state. Many of them were not allowed to have church services or get their children baptized or confirmed according to the liturgy of the Lutheran Church. In some areas of Germany, it took decades until the Confessional Lutherans were granted religious freedom.

In 1972 most of the Confessional Lutheran Church bodies in Germany formed the SELK. In 1991 the Evangelisch-Lutherische (altlutherische) Kirche [Evangelical-Lutheran (Old-Lutheran) Church] in the former GDR joined the SELK (this wasn't possible before). So nowadays almost all of the Confessional Lutheran Churches in Germany are joined together in the SELK.

 
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 01:23:23 PM by ptmccain »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #34 on: October 18, 2007, 02:46:57 PM »
Pastor McCain explains:
The fact simply is that the EKiD is not a Lutheran church, it is a union/merger church between Lutherans and Reformed, which set both Lutheran and Reformed Confessions side-by-side as equally true and valid confessions. This is not the faith confessed in the Book of Concord.
...The SELK and The LCMS regard Lutheranism to be that which is confessed in the Book of Concord, affirming what is therin affirmed and rejecting what is therein rejected.
... After the Prussian Union fell apart what emerged was not a revitalized Lutheranism in Wittenberg, but a union church of Reformed/Lutheran mixture.
... Simply put the choice is either: confess what is confessed in the Book of Concord and reject what is rejected in it, or set it aside and regard it as "one among equals" when it comes to confessing the Christian faith.

I comment:
As I expected.
Another question: Should tourists or Lutherans from the majority churches in Germany happen to appear at a worship service (that "true Lutheran Gottesdienst" cited upstream), will they be quizzed about their affiliation and denied the Sacrament should they be from the ELCA or the EKD?


Matt Staneck

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #35 on: October 18, 2007, 03:15:26 PM »


Yes, it would be silly if the ELCA needed yet another reason to come to that conclusion but the opening of this center seems to fit the bill. I am sure that another research center would be helpful somewhere in Germany. It would make more sense had someone taken the time to find that place.
I would think that if your reason to join an ELCA center would be to fight and argue, we'd say thanks but no thanks.
John Dornheim

  You guys want to teach something else, go right ahead, but why should the lcms have to compromise beliefs to join an elca study center? 

M. Staneck
Quote

I am not sure that it needs to.
John Dornheim

then fair enough

M. Staneck
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

LutherMan

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #36 on: October 18, 2007, 03:58:49 PM »
Another question: Should tourists or Lutherans from the majority churches in Germany happen to appear at a worship service (that "true Lutheran Gottesdienst" cited upstream), will they be quizzed about their affiliation and denied the Sacrament should they be from the ELCA or the EKD?
You already know the answer to this question so why ask it?  You have made your contempt for LCMS/ILC close(d) communion practice crystal clear many times over and we have all heard your story about your travelling parishoner and her sons who were turned away from the Sacrament on Christmas Eve in an LCMS parish...

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #37 on: October 18, 2007, 04:50:28 PM »
Someone writes (re my question about the eucharist at the LC-MS Wittenberg Center):
You already know the answer to this question so why ask it?

I respond:
No, I do not know the answer. Perhaps things are different in the SELK, or perhaps things are different in this "mission" setting, or perhaps, perhaps, there could be a lot of "perhaps."

Someone:
You have made your contempt for LCMS/ILC close(d) communion practice crystal clear many times over

Me:
"Contempt" is not the right word. "Sorrow" would be a right word.

Someone:
 and we have all  heard your story about your travelling parishoner and her sons who were turned away from the Sacrament on Christmas Eve in an LCMS parish...

Me:
Well, maybe not all have heard it. There are some new people here. And does this not bother people, that Lutherans should be denied the Sacrament on Christmas?

LutherMan

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2007, 05:00:10 PM »
I come from an WELS/LCMS background-one parent from each synod and was baptized, confirmed and reached adulthood in the WELS.  Geography was the impetus that eventually placed me in the LCMS, although it's no longer the reason I remain Missouri Synod.  When my mother was dying, my siblings and I were gathered around her bed, and the WELS pastor brought the Sacrament to my siblings and mother, but I was rightly excluded because of my confession.  I have also been to Christmas and Reformation services in WELS parishes since I became LCMS and it would never occur to me to ask for them to bend their communion policy for me, so I rightfully sit the Sacrament out.

Mike Bennett

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #39 on: October 18, 2007, 05:02:09 PM »
I don't think two Lutheran Wittenberg Centers are too many for the place where Brother Luther nailed the theses to the door (or didn't, as the case may be).  

Sometimes it's a privilege to arrive in a good place later rather than sooner.  Because I only came to Chicago as a college student (though it was in the dark ages) I missed learning in my youth that if you like one Chicago baseball team you have to despise the other.  Because I only came to the Lutheran Church after the 1970s, I missed learning that if you're one kind of U.S. Lutheran you have to despise the other kind.  

But still, one can't escape all occasions for sin.  Instead of being contemptuous of the other kind of Lutheran, I find myself contemptuous of those who are.  No better off after all, I suppose.  :'(

Mike Bennett

“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

frluther1517

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #40 on: October 18, 2007, 05:05:17 PM »
Charles-

While I vaguely remember the story you have shared before.  What bothers me more is that people expect to receive the sacrament in a place they are not welcome to receive.  To walk into a WELS, LCMS, RCC or Orthodox parish expecting to receive the eucharist bothers me more.  It bothers me because it makes the eucharist an individual entitlement, without respecting the doctrine, and teachings of the ecclesial communion that is celebrating it.  It is uncharitable to demand to receive something that the parish is not allowed to give.  It seems to me selfish to expect a pastor/priest to violate the teachings of their church, so that one can take communion.  I think discerning the body really comes into play here.  

Mike Bennett

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #41 on: October 18, 2007, 05:21:39 PM »
Charles-

While I vaguely remember the story you have shared before.  What bothers me more is that people expect to receive the sacrament in a place they are not welcome to receive.  To walk into a WELS, LCMS, RCC or Orthodox parish expecting to receive the eucharist bothers me more.  It bothers me because it makes the eucharist an individual entitlement, without respecting the doctrine, and teachings of the ecclesial communion that is celebrating it.  It is uncharitable to demand to receive something that the parish is not allowed to give.  It seems to me selfish to expect a pastor/priest to violate the teachings of their church, so that one can take communion.  I think discerning the body really comes into play here.  

Why would one be so boorish as to attend a religious service and spit in the eye of one's hosts by presuming to impose one's own standards in place of the hosts' standards?

I've received communion in Episcopal churches, where the stated eucharistic hospitality policy permitted it (this was before CCM).  I've attended RC masses several times, where I am not permitted to commune, and would never have considered presenting myself to commune, though I'm sure they'd have assumed I was a visitor.  At my brother's tiny Carpatho-Russian Orthodox church, where I am known to the priest and a fair number of members, it would clearly be offensive nearly to the point of belligerance to present myself to commune.  I can't even begin to imagine.  Why should a WELS or LCMS congregation be such a ripe target for a place to strut one's rudeness on Christmass Eve?

Mike Bennett
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #42 on: October 18, 2007, 05:44:06 PM »
While I vaguely remember the story you have shared before.  What bothers me more is that people expect to receive the sacrament in a place they are not welcome to receive.  To walk into a WELS, LCMS, RCC or Orthodox parish expecting to receive the eucharist bothers me more.  It bothers me because it makes the eucharist an individual entitlement, without respecting the doctrine, and teachings of the ecclesial communion that is celebrating it.  It is uncharitable to demand to receive something that the parish is not allowed to give.  It seems to me selfish to expect a pastor/priest to violate the teachings of their church, so that one can take communion.  I think discerning the body really comes into play here.  
Is it not the Lord's Supper, rather than a WLES's Supper or LCMS's Supper or RCC's Supper or Orthodox Supper? Do we not come at the invitation of the Lord?

I believe that Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 11 that when the Lord's Supper is used to divide believers -- the body of Christ, it is being misused.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

navyman

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #43 on: October 18, 2007, 06:03:03 PM »
The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) includes 23 church bodies, comprising the vast majority of Protestants in Germany. The Independent Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK) has about 200 congregations and 35,000 members.

Someone with the proper standing in the LC-MS should explain the need to begin another "Wittenberg Center" there, rather than seek cooperation with the Lutherans and other Protestants already operating a center for study, research, and other projects.

Seems to me it's rather like a mission agency coming to a town that already has Lutheran churches, a major Lutheran organization and the majority of the population as Lutheran Christians and starting up another parish. (Of course, that could never happen. ;D ;D)


Someone with the proper standing in the LC-MS should explain the need to begin another "Wittenberg Center" there, rather than seek cooperation with the Lutherans and other Protestants already operating a center for study, research, and other projects.


How is this possible, when the two don't even believe in the same Lutheran Doctrine, Theology, or the difference in Scripture acceptance, the  difference in the Confessions, and the understanding of the AC?

Does the ELCA push for gay acceptance and gay ordination in Germany and the EU?  Do they accept feminist theology like we do?  Or is this the founding another new Lutheran ID, in Germany and else where?

Don Whitbeck

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #44 on: October 18, 2007, 06:06:51 PM »
It is possible to study history, discuss theology, engage in social service projects, do theological and historical research, drink a few beers and engage in some sightseeing without having to agree on doctrine or without trying to impose one's views on another. Why couldn't a joint "Wittenberg Center" allow this to happen?