Dialogue with the Lutheran Church-Canada
The Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) was formed in 1988 when the Canadian congregations of the St. Louis based Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) formed an autonomous church with three district offices (Edmonton, Regina, and Kitchener). In relation to the text of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the position of the LCC is similar to that of the LCMS which issued its evaluation in 1999. In it, questions are raised about the possibility of claiming a genuine consensus if the language, elaborations, and emphases differ. It does not serve the cause of dialogue, the report maintains, “to operate on the principle that two or more contradictory statements can all be true. Such thinking does not take the history of Lutheran/Roman Catholic differences seriously enough, nor does it sufficiently honour the integrity of each side. Did the two sides really intend the statements that they made in the 16th century and since then, to amount to ‘salutary warnings’ as the JD suggests?” (p. 7) The text goes on to assert that the JD does not settle unresolved issues on justification, grace, faith, and original sin. Further detail is provided in evaluations by Concordia Theological Seminary of Fort Wayne, Indiana and Concordia Seminary of St. Louis, Missouri.
Initiated in the fall of 2013 with four participants on each side, the Lutheran Church-Canada/Roman Catholic Dialogue meets twice a year. In 2014, it was agreed that this dialogue committee would focus on four topics: Justification, the Eucharist, theology of Ministry, as well as Scripture and Tradition. The group would then specialize in an area in need of further exploration. This dialogue is considering hosting a collaborative symposium to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. At the international level, a parallel dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC) was initiated on Oct 7-8, 2015. Information is available on the website of the ILC.
Members of the Canadian dialogue commission have expressed the hope that they will be able to move beyond the stage of getting to know one another, to spell out and confront some differences openly and honestly, and that a deeper understanding of both traditions will lead to lasting friendships. The group questions at what point both churches will be informed of the dialogue and is wondering if it could benefit from some form of interaction with other dialogues sponsored by the CCCB.