Poland: Freedom ‘for’ Responsibility towards the Neighbor

Dr Jerzy Sojka. Dr Thilo Fitzner
Dr Jerzy Sojka. Dr Thilo Fitzner

Dr Jerzy Sojka is among the seven theologians in the LWF study group on Lutheran engagement in the public space. He reflects on the Polish context and expectations about the process.

Why is it important for the LWF to engage in this theological study process?

We as Lutherans need not only practical activities in public space in the form of church statements on specific topics or their involvement in social projects of various kinds. There should always be an element of Lutheran witness in the world, and it is necessary to think about the basis for such witness. We need to search in God’s Word and in the theological roots of our identity to discover ideas that can be helpful in answering the question as to how we should bear our testimony today.

What do you expect from this process for the LWF member churches in your region?

From the perspective of the churches from mid-eastern Europe, which were liberated from the communist system only 25 years ago, it is an important process in order to learn how churches can participate in the pluralistic debate from the Lutheran standpoint. A possibility to confront different perspectives and experiences of LWF member churches will definitely be helpful in shaping further church activity in this region. Being, like the Lutheran church in Poland, mostly really small minority churches, it is very important to find out about the experiences of other churches that are a minority not only among other denominations, but also religions. Together we can learn from each other not only how to develop our involvement based on the Lutheran identity, but also how to build bridges that allow for cooperation with other groups in society (representatives of other confessions or religions, charity organizations, state institutions etc.) in the fields where it is possible.

What do you see as important theological insights that should be articulated in this process?

The question of freedom is a very important one among the theological ideas that are shaping Lutheran identity. The churches from mid-eastern Europe have experienced various kinds of limitations to their activity as a result of the way the communist system—generally unfriendly towards religion—worked in their countries. However, for 25 years now, they have been free. It is important to shape this freedom not only as “a freedom from …” but also as a freedom for responsibility towards our neighbor. We are free from worrying about our salvation, which we receive as a gift, by grace alone, through faith. This gives us strength to be there for others and, being grateful for this gift, undertake the responsibility to care for our neighbors.

Dr Jerzy Sojka is a lecturer and adjunct professor in the chair of Systematic Theology at the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw, Poland. Since 2011 he has been a delegate of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland to the Dialogue Committee of the Polish Ecumenical Council, and its secretary. He is also secretary of the board of the LWF National Committee in Poland.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.