Witnessing together in a broken world
New publication from five signatories of Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
(LWI) – On this year’s Reformation Day, The Lutheran World Federation shares with joy its commitment with other Christian world communions to proclaim “with common urgency” God’s liberating grace and hope for this world.
For this occasion, an anniversary edition of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) has been published in English and German.
“This joint publication conveys the urgency to translate the gospel, justification by faith, into the language of today, making it relevant both locally and globally,” says Prof. Dr Dirk G. Lange, LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations.
This joint publication conveys the urgency to translate the gospel, justification by faith, into the language of today, making it relevant both locally and globally
“The joy is palpable,” he adds, “when five world communions--Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed—who have signed the JDDJ - share a common understanding that the doctrine of justification is an ‘indispensable criterion that constantly serves to orient all the teaching and practice of our churches to Christ.’”
An expression of growing unity
Signed by the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church on 31 October 1999, the JDDJ resolved one of the key theological conflicts of the Reformation – the understanding of salvation. Since over 20 years, the historic agreement has become an exciting expression of growing unity among the churches, enhanced cooperation, and deepening joint service and proclamation. It is “an act of prophetic defiance that defies the polarization and lack of dialogue so rampant in today’s world,” notes LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge.
It was at Notre Dame University (USA) in 2019, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the JDDJ, that the historic agreement formally grew into a multilateral agreement among five equal partners. The five world communions declared their commitment “to witness more effectively together” in “a broken, divided and contentious world.”
And, as promised at the Notre Dame Consultation, a steering committee was formed with representatives of the five communions. The steering committee has met on a regular basis, initially in person and lately online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on the reception of the JDDJ in the life of the church, it is developing liturgical resources and a study guide for congregations that will help them orient their life and witness to God’s liberating grace and in service to the neighbour and world.
As a sign of this growing unity, the five world communions now offer the Anniversary Edition of the JDDJ in English and German as well as the Association Statements of the World Methodist Council, the Anglican Consultative Council, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Notre Dame Consultation Statement. French and Spanish editions of the JDDJ are forthcoming.
Prof. Lange comments: “As the churches move from conflict to communion, their journey witnesses to that unity that is their foundation. God’s justifying act unites, it dismantles barriers. It is communion.”
This historic agreement between Lutherans and Catholics was signed on 31 October 1999 by the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church. It effectively resolved one of the key theological conflicts of the Reformation--the understanding of salvation. It was later joined by the World Methodist Council (2006), the Anglican Communion (2016), and the World Communion of Reformed Churches (2017).