Lutherans and Orthodox search for common language of faith

5 Dec 2023

A recent meeting of Lutheran and Orthodox theologians in Estonia highlights “new impetus and commitment” to resolving centuries old controversies


Lutheran-Orthodox meeting in Tallinn

Participants at the 16 –19 November meeting in Tallinn preparing for the 18th plenary session of the International Joint Commission on Theological Dialogue between the LWF and the Orthodox Church. Photo: LWF

Members of dialogue commission make progress towards shared understanding of the action of the Holy Spirit 

(LWI) - Lutheran and Orthodox theologians met in Tallinn, Estonia, for a third time this year preparing the 18th plenary session of the International Joint Commission on Theological Dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Orthodox Church.  

The mid-November meeting was hosted by the Roman Catholic Bridgettine sisters at the Pirita monastery, a fifteenth century foundation that was restored in the 1990s following the end of Soviet rule in Estonia. The session was organized by the LWF with the support of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

“Our gathering, co-chaired by Metropolitan Kyrillos of Krini and by Bishop Johann Schneider, marked the third time that we have met this year,” noted Prof. Dr Dirk Lange, LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations. “This new impetus and energy among members of the Commission demonstrates our commitment to the exploration of critical questions of faith and the search for a common language to express these insights,” he said. 

The Holy Spirit, the Church and the World 

The Commission is discussing the overarching theme of “The Holy Spirit, the Church and the World” and has been focusing this year on the ‘Filioque’ controversy between the Eastern and Western churches, as well as the role of the Holy Spirit in and beyond the Eucharist context. In Tallinn, Lange said, “participants explored more nuanced perspectives on the ‘Filioque’, differentiating between a theological understanding of the Trinity and the way in which that Trinitarian relationship is revealed in our world.” 

Commission members also met with Archbishop Urmas Viilma of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, president of the Estonian Council of Churches, to learn more about the long history and witness of the Christian churches in the region.  

The next meeting of the Commission will take place from 24 to 31 May 2024 in Cairo, Egypt, hosted by the Orthodox Church. It will look ahead to the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea and the publication of a common statement in 2025. 

LWF/P. Hitchen