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The Indwelling Spirit and the Agency of the Church: A Lutheran Perspective on the Catholic—Methodist International Dialogue

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A Lutheran perspective on the Catholic–Methodist dialogue is complex, sometimes agreeing with one, sometimes with the other, and sometimes with neither. The dialogue is to be commended for integrating diverse elements and holding to the ecumenical goal of visible unity. While the dialogue discusses justification in language not typical of much twentieth-century Lutheran theology, its language is congruent with that of the Reformation itself. The most important issue raised from a Lutheran perspective by the dialogue is the interaction of human and divine agency in the mediation of salvation. Lutheran theology tends to distinguish sharply between divine and human agency and authority. The dialogue raises the question whether this distinction holds in such a sharp form in light of the incarnation and the outpouring of the Spirit. The issue comes to a focus in differing attitudes toward historical developments in the church.


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