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"The Lutheran"—reports on theologians' admonition

by Betsy Carlson, Editor, WordAlone Network

January 24, 2003

The February 2003 print edition of “The Lutheran” magazine included a substantial article devoted to the “Admonition for the Sake of True Peace and Unity of the Church,” which was written by an advisory group of international theologians, formed by the WordAlone Network last year.

The article also is highlighted on the magazine’s homepage and the full text of the Admonition wa posted on the magazine’s “web extra” site and also on the WordAlone site.

The theological advisory board includes 13 U.S. theologians including Prof. George Forell and Prof. James Nestingen and 4 international theologians. More than 1,200 individuals have added their signatures to the document since it was presented at a November WordAlone continuing education conference. To add yours, go to:

Also in the magazine’s February issue is Dennis Bielfeldt's response to Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson's September 2002 column on “evangelical bishops.” Bielfeldt’s article is posted at

WordAlone members and friends are urged to write to “The Lutheran” editor David Miller to thank him for printing the Admonition story and Dennis' column, and to express support for the Admonition and Dennis' viewpoint.

Send 'Letters' and 'Reader's Viewpoints' to: Letters to the Editor, The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631-4183. Fax: 773-380-2751 Internet/Email:

The theologians’ admonition addressed a requirement that new ministers and bishops be ordained into an“episcopal succession” as defined by The Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA). “Episcopal succession” is accomplished by having only bishops ordain new pastors and having new bishops installed/ordained by three bishops in historic succession, one of whom must be an Episcopal bishops.

The theologians categorized the Episcopal requirements for ordination into “episcopal succession” as unnecessary or “indifferent (adiaphoron).” They wrote that by making “an adiaphoron into a theological necessity” the ELCA seemed to have contradicted its own confessional documents. However, the theological paper suggested the ELCA could remain true to the Confessions by giving equal standing to ordinations and installations of pastors and bishops done outside the new requirements. The theologians indicated that allowing exceptions to the requirements for pastors through a 2001 Churchwide Assembly by-law change was not sufficient.

The theologians wrote: "We ask the ELCA to amend its constitution and bylaws accordingly so that the constitution is brought back in line with its own confessional basis. Although this might be a difficult process, it is necessary for the sake of the truth of the gospel and the church's true peace and unity."