Protestant Texts on Ethical Decision-Making

Leuenberg Documents 3

The first conference of the delegates from the churches participating in the Leuenberg Church Fellowship (LCF) held in Sigtuna in 1976 recommended the participating churches for further theological work to deal with central issues of the Reformation named in the Leuenberg Agreement itself. Besides the issues of ministry and ordination (cf. Leuenberger Texte 2) it concerned the issue of the doctrines of the ‘Two Kingdoms’ and the ‘Lordship of Jesus Christ’. Two regional groups delegated for that purpose worked on the issue from 1978 till 1986. In the present volume the outcomes of this theological work are documented as well as further texts on the decision-making in ethical questions such as questions about Christian testimony in the contemporary world and the responsibility for peace in the present time which were dealt with in different regional groups. With this volume we continue our bilingual series (German/English) which in the meantime has proved its worth for the LCF texts.

The core question of all the texts contained in this volume is that of ethical action in the world. Proceeding from the reflection on the sustainability of the Reformation models, which find confessional emphases in the ‘Two-Kingdom’ and ‘Christ’s Lordship’ doctrines, but nevertheless do not constitute any ‘doctrinal models specific to confessions, still less church-dividing’, it becomes clear that we do have a basic theological consensus as regards Protestant responsibility in the world. The two conceptions are on mutually censoring and complementing terms. Both are guided, however, by the comprehension that the God revealed in Jesus Christ is the Lord of every single domain of the world and secular life. The doctrine of the ‘Two Kingdoms’ checks the theocratic misunderstanding of the doctrine of the ‘Lordship of Christ’, while the latter raises the critical question of the former letting Christ’s life split into two domains which have their own laws, thus leading them to a double morality.

In this connection, I would like to draw the attention of the readers to the theological discussions which were carried out by a joint study group of the United and Lutheran churches in the former GDR and resulted in a very similar outcome. It was published in 1980 under the title of ‘Kirchengemeinschaft und politische Ethik. Ergebnis eines theologischen Gesprächs zum Verhältnis von Zwei-Reiche- Lehre und der Lehre von der Königsherschaft Christi’. The texts of the present volume specify the complementing character of the two doctrines with regard to the questions of ethical decision-making as raised by, for example, the discussions about peace in the eighties. This compilation of texts concludes with the proposal, presented by the Federation of the Evangelical Churches in the former GDR at the beginning of 1989, for an up-to-date interpretation of CA 16 about the question of ‘just’ war and the evaluation of the reactions from the churches participating in the Leuenberg Church Fellowship. Also included in this collection of texts is the up-to-date interpretation of CA 16 with new wordings proposed by an ad-hoc group of the Evangelical Church of the Union.

Wilhelm Hüffmeier (hg./ed.)

ISBN 3-87476-319-6

1997 Verlag Otto Lembeck Frankfurt am Main

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