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Word and Faith in the Formation of Christian Personhood «coram Deo»

Gerhard Ebeling’s Rejection of the «Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification»

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Scott A. Celsor

By the end of the twentieth century, ecumenism’s deteriorating state had become evident. This deterioration can be attributed to many causes, however, the erstwhile German ecumenist Dr. Gerhard Ebeling’s rancorous, public debate among theologians in Germany in 1998 over the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification remains a contributing factor in its decline.
Through an investigation of Ebeling’s systematic theology and his lifelong examination of the theology of Martin Luther, much of which is based upon German texts not translated into English, Scott A. Celsor identifies the hermeneutical and ontological concerns at the heart of Ebeling’s objection to the Joint Declaration. Consequently, this book provides scholars with ardent historical insights into the bitter, public debate in Germany over the Joint Declaration in addition to critical insights into the hermeneutical and ontological objections that some evangelicals still lodge against it.
This, along with the accompaniment of an extensive bibliography dedicated to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, make this text an ideal, advanced introduction for graduate seminars on ecumenism, the doctrine of justification, and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification as well as philosophical theology in general.
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Chapter Four: The Hermeneutical Justification for Gerhard Ebeling’s Rejection of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

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CHAPTER FOUR

The Hermeneutical Justification for Gerhard Ebeling’s Rejection of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

 

Now that Ebeling’s understanding of the task of ecumenism, the foundation and function of the church, the relationship of word and faith, his anthropology, and his understanding of the doctrine of justification have been investigated, I am now in a better position to explain why he rejected the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The main text that will be used in explaining why he rejected the Joint Declaration is a translation of the first letter of protest against the JD that was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on January 29, 1998. This is a good text to begin with, because it clearly states the basic facts of what he, as a signatory of this letter, was in disagreement with in the JD. For supplementary evidence, occasionally a translation of the “revised letter of protest,” published in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, will be referred to. This revised letter responds to the emendations made by the “Annex to the Official Common Statement” to the Joint Declaration after its somewhat problematic evaluation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.1 Since this study has been limited to those facets of Ebeling’s theology that were mentioned above, only paragraphs one, two, three, and five of this letter of protest, which deal with those facets, will be dealt with. The basic method that will...

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