Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, will hold its winter Lay Bible Institute Wednesday evenings, Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23, on the Seminary campus. The Institute will focus on the recently signed document between the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church— “Justification and Catholicism: Agreement or Not?”—and will be presented by Dr. Ronald R. Feuerhahn, Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. The four sessions will be held in Room 202 of Sieck Hall.
On Oct. 31, 1999, representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church signed the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.” Media reports described this event as a significant breakthrough in healing the division brought about at the time of the Reformation. Official statements from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod were highly critical of the document, calling it “a betrayal of the Gospel.”
Dr. Feuerhahn will explain the roots of the document in the Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogs, examine its content, evaluate the praise and criticism it has received and share implications of the document for inter-church relationships. The sessions will cover four fundamental questions, put clearly by the noted Roman Catholic theologian Avery Dulles. (1) Is justification the action of God alone, or do we who receive it cooperate by our reposne to God’s offer of grace? (2) Does God, when He justifies us, simply impute to us the merits of Christ, or does He transform us and make us intrinsically righteous? (3) Do we receive justification by faith alone, or only by a faith enlivened by love and fruitful in good works? And (4) Is the reward of heavenly life a free gift of God to believers, or do they merit it by their faithfulness and good works?
A professor at Concordia Seminary since 1986, Dr. Feuerhahn received his M.Div. degree from Concordia Seminary in 1963. He received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Cambridge, England, in 1992. For 13 years he served as a parish pastor in England, and for nine years he was preceptor at Westfield House, Cambridge, England.
To register for the Lay Bible Institute classes, call Debbie Roediger at (314) 505-7105 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The cost is $15 per person and includes course handouts and breaks. Concordia Seminary is located at 801 De Mun Avenue in Clayton, Mo.