Det kirkelige embedes væsen og opgave. Lutherske bemærkninger til en økumenisk kontrovers


  • Peder Nørgaard-Højen


The article comments the Lutheran-Catholic controversy on the nature and mission of the ordained ministry from a Lutheran perspective. This controversial issue does not cease to cause severe difficulties between the confessions, although the notorious divergencies between Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism are in fact less significant and compelling than the actual quarrels in this area suggest. The different function of the concept of the priesthood of all believers does not prevent both confessions from agreeing on the necessity and mission of the ordained ministry, and – all detailed differentiations notwithstanding – even their visions of ordination as the ecclesial authorization to life-long proclamation of the Gospel in word and sacraments have so much in common that it appears to be difficult to maintain them as good reasons for abiding by the separated churches. The Catholic understanding of apostolic succession as episcopal succession over against the Lutheran as a succession in doctrine implies a corresponding difference in the view of the episcopal of-fice that – perhaps more than many other controversial issues – threatens to divide Lutherans from Catholics. However, the question may be raised if the actually prevailing agreement regarding the crux of the matter is not so substantial that it should not be allowed to cause further divisions, but rather express the necessity of a means, by which the church is maintained in the truth of the Gospel. Such insight, in turn, paves the way in both churches for considering together the possibility of a universal church ministry, and provided the necessary conversion and will to unity it ought certainly be possible to fulfill the common mission of all churches within the framework of different, but reconciled and therefore not divisive structures and theological systems.