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The Ecumenical Luther

by Bucher, Richard

Item #: 531112 / 2003 / Hardback / 222 Pages


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This book investigates Luther’s definition of doctrine and its application in three key ecumenical encounters:
  • Luther’s 1523 discussion with the Unitas Fratrum
  • his engagement in the eucharistic controversies and the 1529 Marburg Colloquy
  • his theological preparation for the proposed ecumenical council with the Church of Rome, the 1537 Smalcald Articles

Previous research has often noted the significance Luther attached to doctrine. However, Luther’s definition of doctrine and how this definition informed his dialogues with other Christian communities in the Reformation era has not been investigated. The manuscript argues that Luther gradually developed a doctrinal hermeneutic for determining whether a particular church teaching is an article of faith obligatory for all Christians. His doctrinal hermeneutic consisted of two canons (scriptural and evangelical) that served as interpretive lenses through which he judged whether a doctrine is necessary for salvation. Luther applied his doctrinal hermeneutic to ecumenical discussions to ascertain and insure that only articles of faith would serve as a basis for unity.

The author structures the work from the broad to the detailed

  • introducing the subject matter and describing the sources and methodology used in the book
  • analyzing the historical-theological development of Luther’s doctrinal hermeneutic. The focus is on Luther’s writings from 1518 to 1525 that reveal the development of his doctrinal hermeneutic in dialogue with the medieval theological tradition, Scripture, and his theological opponents.
  • demonstrating respectively the application of Luther’s doctrinal hermeneutic to the three cases mentioned above
  • advancing Luther research by identifying Luther’s method of defining articles of faith
  • shedding light on Luther’s ecumenical methodology


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