I meant to drop you a note after the Easter, 1996 issue of Let’s Talk. It’s when the Advent 1996 edition arrived that I realized I have been negligent.
I am referring specifically to the Leon Rosenthal article, “The Foundation: Finding Unity as Biblical People of Promise.” Considering the wretched history of Christian-Jewish relationships, our persistent and consistent anti-Semitism, and Luther’s unforgivable diatribe [Von den Juden und ihre Luegen], I take issue with Rosenthal’s affirmation that “A first requirement of dialogue is humility.” I believe with all my heart that our “first requirement” must be confession of sin and public repentance for 2,000 years of wrongdoing against our Jewish sisters and brothers.
Rosenthal even says that the ELCA statement concerning Luther’s anti-Semitic publication has never received wide distribution. Why not? Isn’t it important? Or is it just more anti-Semitism?
Back in the 1980s I did my D.Min. entirely on the theology of Baptism. My narrow (sacramental theology) focus was permitted at that time for D.Min. applicants, which I deeply appreciated.
But one of my discoveries was that, as Lutherans (not to mention other Christian persuasions) we have never spoken a word of repentance nor a request for forgiveness from our believer-baptist or Anabaptist neighbors (or their descendants) for our horrendous maltreatment of them during and after Reformation times–treatment that included murder “in the name of Christ!” The believer-baptism people have taken note of our failure to confess our wrongs, but we have never replied to them officially or specifically.
Confession and forgiveness is a foundational stance in the Christian life for us as individuals. Why not for us as church bodies? It certainly would appear to be the place to begin our dialogues.
Gerald L. Rygh
Vice Pastor, Our Savior, Aurora
I picked up a copy of the Easter 1996 Let’s Talk at the synod assembly and have enjoyed reading the articles in it. As a member of the MCS Lutheran-Jewish Dialogue I am very interested in issues dealing with ecumenism and dialogue.
We will print more from our congregation mission statement contest in a future issue.