7/27/06

World Methodist Council signs on to "Joint Declaration"

The World Methodist Council, representing over 70 million Wesleyan Christians world-wide, has officially "signed on" to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, a document produced in 1999 by a team from the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation that claims to have reached agreement on the principle doctrinal controversy that sparked the Reformation in the 16th century.

When I discovered this document in seminary (we read it for our systematics class) I was amazed to have not heard of it sooner since it claims to have bridged the most important theological gulf that was thought to exist between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutherans. If so, it is surely one of the most important theological documents of the last half millenium!

I have read the Joint Declaration a couple of times and really need to devote more study to it. It is extremely intricate and complicated (perhaps, at times convoluted). Various Roman Catholic thinkers as well as more strict confessional Lutherans are skeptical that we have really arrived at a doctrinally coherent agreement on the doctrine of justification. Conservatives on both sides feel that their own church conceded too much on the issue.

Wesley's own theology of salvation (or see also here) probably falls somewhere between what we ussually associate with Lutherans and with Roman Catholics. If we actually can come to consensus on Justification that would go a LONG way toward healing the fragmentation of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I am still unsure what influence or authority this decision by the World Methodist Council even has for The United Methodist Church. We are a member of it, but according to the Book of Discipline, only the United Methodist General Conference (meeting again in 2008) can speak for our Church; so perhaps that gathering will endorse it. The Lutheran World Federation and the World Methodist Council account for about 140 million of the world's 600 million or so Protestant Christians.

The official theological statementof the World Methodist Council, should be read along with the actual Joint Declaration document (above) for a clearer picture of the theological consensus that has been reached.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

the initial errors in the first paragraph have been duly corrected.

7:10 PM, July 31, 2006  

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