New publication explores global perspectives on Lutheran identities
Common foundations, diverse cultures and traditions
(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has published a new resource to explore the diverse theological identities of Lutherans across the communion of churches.
We Believe in the Holy Spirit: Global Perspectives on Lutheran Identities is the title of a new publication in the LWF Documentation series, No. 63. It is a compilation of papers that were first presented in a 2019 LWF global consultation held under the same name. The authors—church leaders, youth, theologians, lay and ordained practitioners in local communities and ecumenical guests—explore the Holy Spirit’s work to call and equip the faithful for vocation through the ministry of the church today and into the future.
Writing in the Preface, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge commends the volume to member churches, theological institutions, pastors, and lay members “who want to explore the Trinitarian grounding of our Lutheran tradition and our baptismal vocation to participate in God’s mission.”
LWF Program Executive for Identity, Communion and Formation Rev. Dr Chad Rimmer reflects on the timeliness of exploring Lutheran identities particularly in the current times when identity is often used as a prescriptive tool to exclude. “Against the current backdrop of social, political and economic exclusion, ethno-nationalism and ecological disintegration, Lutherans have a liberating word to share about reconciling diversity,” he says.
“In baptism, God graciously identifies each of us as a beloved creature with a diversity of gifts that belong to God’s work of renewing the face of the Earth,” says Rimmer. He has co-edited the LWF resource with Rev. Dr Cheryl M. Peterson, Associate Dean for Academics, Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, United States.
At the heart of the essays and Bible studies in the publication is an affirmation that the Bible, sacraments, catechism, confessional writings and ministry are common marks of the Lutheran tradition. However, faith is expressed through a diversity of languages, cultures, forms of worship, spirituality, service and public witness around the world. The authors point to different lived realities that shape these complex identities.
Lutheran identities are dynamic – never prescriptive or exclusionary: always growing new fruit of Christian liberty. The lived experience of faith, broadly defined as spirituality, shapes our Christian identity and engagement with the world
“Lutheran identities are dynamic – never prescriptive or exclusionary: always growing new fruit of Christian liberty. The lived experience of faith, broadly defined as spirituality, shapes our Christian identity and engagement with the world,” co-editors Rimmer and Peterson write in the book’s introduction.
“Maintaining unity in diversity is never easy. It is for unity that Christ prayed, and it is why the LWF is committed to strengthen our shared narratives about the theological identity of the communion, while witnessing in our diverse contexts,” Rimmer adds.
The authors represent all the seven LWF regions, and the presentations are organized in three chapters exploring the topics: The Holy Spirit as Gift and Promise; The Church as Holy Communion; and Transformed and Freed.
By LWF/P. Mumia