The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted overwhelmingly last week to approve a declaration of unity with the Roman Catholic Church in an endeavor to “enumerate the many points of agreement between Lutherans and Catholics”—a move that some state is contrary to biblical Christianity.
The “Declaration on the Way” was approved 931-9 during the denominational assembly at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. According to an official press release by the ELCA, members stood and applauded following the vote.
The declaration “seeks to make more visible the unity we share by gathering together agreements reached on issues of church, Eucharist and ministry,” the document outlines. However, it is called “on the way” because “dialogue has not yet resolved all the church-dividing differences on these topics.”
The publication outlines 32 “Statements of Agreement” between the ELCA and Roman Catholics, such as “esteeming highly the spiritual benefits of union with the risen Christ given to them as they receive his body and blood in Holy Communion” and believing that “that all the baptized who believe in Christ share in the priesthood of Christ.”
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton noted to the assembly following the vote that the declaration comes 500 years after Protestants separated from Roman Catholicism.
“Dear sisters and brothers, let us pause to honor this historic moment,” Eaton said. “Though we have not yet arrived, we have claimed that we are, in fact, on the way to unity. After 500 years of division and 50 years of dialogue, this action must be understood in the context of other significant agreements we have reached, most notably the ‘Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification’ in 1999.”
As previously reported, the Protestant Reformation, which resulted in the counter-Reformation by the Jesuits, was sparked by a monk and scholar named Martin Luther, who served the Roman Catholic Church in Wittenburg, Germany. Continue Reading.
Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.
All the theses disputed the claims by the Catholic Church of having divine powers to act on matters of sin.