Lutheran theologians seek to chart a course for the future

By agency reporter
March 31, 2009

Theologians from across the globe have been gathering in Augsburg for a major consultation of Lutheran churches. Lutherans are the third largest Christian confession after the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

“It is an overwhelming experience to see so many people here from all over the world, and all of them are Lutherans,” declared Dr Bernd Oberdorfer, professor of Protestant theology at the University of Augsburg, in his opening address before the international gathering of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). “This displays in a wonderful way that the Lutheran church is a worldwide community.”

The LWF Department for Theology and Studies (DTS) has been responsible for the gathering a global consultation entitled ‘Theology in the Life of Lutheran Churches: Transformative Perspectives and Practices Today,’ in collaboration with the Institute of Protestant Theology of the University of Augsburg.

The 25-31 March 2009 meeting, with over 100 participants, is the culmination of a series of seminars and publications in the framework of the DTS study programme ‘Theology in the Life of the Church,’ which has been ongoing since 2004.

For Lutherans, coming to Augsburg in some sense means “coming home,” Oberdorfer observed. In his welcoming address, the theologian retraced the political and theological history of the city of Augsburg, with particular emphasis on the period of the Reformation. He felt the consultation afforded a wonderful opportunity to search for “common answers to what it means to be Lutheran in the world of the 21st century.”

According to DTS director the Rev Dr Karen Bloomquist, the Augsburg meeting is “probably the largest, and certainly the most diverse, gathering of theologians that the Lutheran World Federation has ever held.”

The challenge confronting contemporary theologians, Bloomquist went on to say, is to truly practice theology within the Lutheran communion. The consultation hopes to bring participants to “engage in genuinely mutual ways and to communicate with each other across contextual differences, and thus to work together in reconfiguring Lutheran theology for the future,” she said.

In his opening presentation, Dr Hans-Peter Grosshans, Professor for Systematic Theology at the University of Munster, affirmed, “I want to argue that perhaps there is not the one Lutheran perspective all over the world, but that there is one theological endeavour which binds and holds Lutherans together all over the world.”

More information on the LWF/DTS consultation ‘Theology in the
Life of Lutheran Churches: Transformative Perspectives and
Practices Today’ is available at

The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 79 countries all over the world, with a total membership of over 68.5 million.

The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

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