Lutherans called to “robust moderation” to counter extremism and offer hope

LWF President Bishop Younan to 2015 Council: we need to taste the hope that strips me of my selfishness. Photo: LWF/Helen Putsman

LWF President Younan’s address to 2015 Council meeting 

GENEVA, 18 June 2015 (LWI) - Proclaim Christian hope that leaves no one behind, the President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan urged Lutheran leaders in his opening address to this year’s LWF Council meeting.

Speaking today in Geneva, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) called on the worldwide Lutheran communion to engage in “robust moderation” to counter growing extremism.

The Council, which meets 18-22 June, is the LWF’s governing body between assemblies.

In his address focusing on this year’s theme, “Hope Does Not Disappoint,” Younan noted that while Christians are called to nurture and sustain hope, it can be a difficult task amid increasing violence today, perpetrated in the name of religion. Still, he said, hope neither disappoints nor separates Christians from the world.

“It does not disappoint us. It also does not disappoint our neighbor. We do not leave anyone behind. Our global communion’s commitment to holistic mission and prophetic diakonia means that we seek the flourishing of all communities,” he emphasized.

The LWF president said the world today is experiencing turmoil, in which different extremist groups inflict, tolerate and justify human suffering to achieve illusionary objectives and totalitarianism. He urged Lutherans to offer a strong defense of religious and political moderation that vigorously challenges such approaches.

Wisdom and clarity of Lutheran doctrine

“It is our responsibility to confront false messages of eschatological hope with the wisdom and clarity of Lutheran doctrine and biblical interpretation. Reformation history gives tools for engaging in this urgent project,” Younan remarked.

Lutherans also need to affirm a community in which neighbors are cared for, food is shared, gifts are honored, homelands are preserved, and all have the right to worship in their own way, the ELCJHL bishop said. “In this vision, we taste the hope that strips me of my selfishness and focus on my interests alone. This hope grounds me in a communion with a vision for the world. It makes me part of a larger whole where I am comfortable with differences and diversities,” he emphasized.

In order to further this vision, the LWF president urged Lutherans to work to understand the causes of extremism.

Belonging to the Lutheran communion makes one both a global citizen and an interdependent Christian, Younan stressed. “My identity as an Arab Palestinian Lutheran Christian is directly connected with African spirituality, with the Asian appreciation of mystery, with the heritage of European enlightenment, with American inventiveness and ingenuity, all alongside Latin American liberation. Each of these strands have supported and informed me in the Communion to say that a Lutheran today is no more an individual designation.”

The president’s address will be discussed in plenary and at Council committees.

There are more than 100 participants in this year’s meeting. They include include Council members and advisers representing LWF member churches around the world and other officials, invited ecumenical guests and staff persons.

 

Council 2015: more information