By Roger Drinnon
The Synod’s burgeoning relationship with the Lutheran Church in Norway (LCN) took another step forward with the signing of a protocol agreement at Concordia University Chicago, in River Forest, Ill., during the March 6-7 LCMS Northern Illinois District Convention.
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison and LCN Acting Bishop Rev. Torkild Masvie signed the document, which formalizes the relationship between both church bodies based on mutual doctrinal stances stemming from the Word of God.
“We give thanks for this recognition of the fellowship that our Lord and Savior Jesus has created within His church,” said Harrison.
In November, Harrison declared the Synod was in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCN, following a series of doctrinal discussions begun in 2011, consultation with the Synod Praesidium and approval from the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), in keeping with Synod Bylaw 126.96.36.199.2 (c).
Masvie said he is thankful to be associated with the LCMS as an “international counterpart to a Lutheran liberal theology.”
“It is not without reason that many mission churches that are the fruit of Norwegian missionary work now seek closer connection to the LCMS, whether Mekane Yesus church in Ethiopia or the Lutheran Church in Kenya,” Masvie said in a press release.
“A well-known hymn by the Norwegian hymnwriter Petter Dass ends with the words, ‘Men opp skall rinne, som solen skinne, Gud’s rike,’” said the Rev. Daniel Preus, LCMS third vice-president. “The author proclaims that on that day when valleys and mountains and peaks disappear, God’s kingdom will rise like the shining of the sun. It is a joy to know that as we await the day of our Lord’s return, we do so in fellowship with others who embrace the same Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions as we do,” said Preus. “To find a unity in faith with Norwegian Lutherans in a land that is profoundly challenged by secularism and a rationalistic view of Scripture can be attributed only to the grace of God.”
Preus’ high school alma mater is Kristelig Gymnasium, a private Lutheran school in Oslo — Norway’s capital and most populated city.
The Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the CTCR, also applauded the growing relationship “that God has given us in the confession of the Gospel, as our two churches support each other in proclaiming Jesus Christ alone as Savior in increasingly challenging cultural contexts both in Norway and in America.”
Bylaw 188.8.131.52.2 (c) states, “When a small, formative, emerging confessional Lutheran church body (identified as such by the President of the Synod as chief ecumenical officer) requests recognition of altar and pulpit fellowship with the Synod, after consultation with the Praesidium and approval by the commission, such recognition may be declared by the President of the Synod subject to the endorsement of the subsequent Synod convention.”
So the next step for the LCMS will be ratification of church fellowship at the 2016 Synod Convention, which by that time will culminate nearly five years of discussions and relations between the two church bodies.
Roger Drinnon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.
Posted March 13, 2015