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Lutherans and Romanists on the “Path to Full Communion”

Lutherans and Romanists on the “Path to Full Communion”

On Oct. 30, 2015 the news service of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America announced the release of a document entitled “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist.[1] The introduction explains that the declaration draws on 50 years of dialogue between Papists and Lutherans and “commends 32 agreements on church, ministry, and Eucharist for ecclesial recognition . . . Further . . . it identifies the remaining differences and sketches some possible way forward.”

The stated goal of the declaration is to “move us significantly forward on the way to full communion.” The document calls attention to 2017 as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, an anniversary not to be celebrated as God’s work of purifying his Church, but rather an anniversary that signifies “deep divisions” that “now calls us to the continued work of reconciliation for the sake of the gospel and our witness and work in the world.”

The 118 page Declaration makes two things abundantly clear. One is that the Roman Catholic Church is not interested in making any fundamental changes to her doctrines or practices. This is not surprising as Rome has made this abundantly clear for (nearly) 500 years since the onset of the Reformation. Secondly, the Declaration demonstrates that the ELCA is an apostate denomination, which explains why she is interested in reconciliation with Rome.

Hypothetically Reformed churches are not opposed to reconciliation with Rome, if she were willing to be Reformed. But Rome continues to repudiate the Reformation. Therefore, the ELCA’s work to reconcile with Rome demonstrates that the denomination is no longer Reformed in any meaningful way. The denomination is even willing to recognize the pope’s legitimacy and even the primacy of the Pope. The document states, “the bishop of Rome bears witness to the Christian message in the wider world . . . A question still to be fully explored is how he may bear this witness on behalf of both Lutherans and Catholics (emphasis mine).”

The document uses many euphemisms to describe this reconciliation process between Rome and the ELCA. The two sides are moving forward. They are setting aside church-dividing issues. They are cooperating for the sake of a unified witness. But none of this can cover up the fact that at the end of the journey there is only one destination—Rome. The ELCA is almost there.


[1] I must give credit to Christian News which published the news release in its Nov. 9, 2015 edition. In this edition CN also published without comment an article by a Roman Catholic priest explaining the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Why would CN publish an article promoting purgatory without any comment even though the publisher is opposed to the doctrine? I believe that the publisher views purgatory as an absurd doctrine that demonstrates how corrupt Rome is. Therefore, he let the priest demonstrate the folly of Rome without seeing the need to comment. If the publisher’s intent was to expose the absurdity and corruption of doctrine in Rome, and therefore the folly of Protestant churches engaging in ecumenical talks with Rome, he succeeded completely.


Our blog writer is Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, MI. If there is a topic you'd like Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us

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