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Why Follow Luther Past 2017? A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Inter-Religious Relations

by Kathryn M. Lohre

New Lutheran Publication on Interreligion

Luther (1533) by Lucas Cranach the Elder – Photo: Wikipedia

Twenty years have passed since the 1994 adoption by the Churchwide Assembly of the “Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to the Jewish Community,” which rejected Luther’s anti-Judaic writings and reached out in relationship to the Jewish community. This important act of addressing a difficult part of our legacy remains foundational to our work in Jewish-Christian relations and in interreligious relations more broadly, as well.

A new resource produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) seeks to explore the question: As we look toward the 500th observance of the Reformation, what of Luther’s legacy, then, is instructive with regard to interreligious relations? Entitled, “Why Follow Luther Past 2017? A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Inter-Religious Relations,” the resource lifts up four underlying principles of Luther’s theology as instructive.

The development of the resource by the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations modeled one of the key learnings, namely that “the common experience of individuals who have engaged in interreligious dialogue is that their understanding and appreciation of their own tradition is enhanced in the process.” Jewish partners were invited to review and offer input as part of the revision process, which strengthened the content and demonstrated an ongoing commitment to mutually accountable relations.

The hope is that the resource will be used by Lutherans to better understand our legacy and to “equip Christians to engage Jews and others in positive, constructive, and honest ways.” The resource is available for download here.