Some people find it confusing that Lutherans are involved in many different “full communion” relationships, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson said in a panel discussion on ecumenism in Brazil. “I always say that’s because our confessions call us to seek deeper unity in the church but allow greater flexibility when there is agreement on the gospel [with other churches],” he said.
Hanson, also president of the Lutheran World Federation, examined dimensions of ecumenism with Brazilian church leaders during the Fourth Conference of International Black Lutherans in São Leopoldo, Brazil, Oct. 11-17. (Look for a story in The Lutheran's January 2006 issue.)
Hanson offered “four lenses” through which to look at ecumenism—ecclesial, spiritual, missional and wider ecumenism.
“The ecclesial lens is really the prevailing lens of the past 50 years that has defined our agreements in the gospel,” he said. “[Through those agreements in the gospel] we begin to address our differences in theology and in context. [This] has led to the establishment of councils of churches, bilateral dialogues and now full-communion agreements.”
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