LCMS Places Newspaper Statement About 'Joint Declaration'

December 8, 1999

The following release is forwarded from LCMS News. President Barry has chosen the highest possible ground of churchmanship, public confession of the truth about Jesus Christ. We thank God for such a confession.


The following release was issued today by the Office of the President of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, Dr. A.L. Barry:

A statement from The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod appears (as a full page) in today's issue of USA Today, the nation's largest daily newspaper.

The statement will appear tomorrow in 15 major metropolitan daily newspapers in Chicago (two newspapers), Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Saint Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Toledo.

The statement seeks to offer clarification and provide correct information about the recent signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

The text of the newspaper statement follows this message. A typeset version of the statement, suitable for use in parish newsletters, will be posted to the LCMS President's Office Website on Thursday afternoon. Notice will be sent about the availability of this item on Thursday.

The statement is being mailed to each LCMS congregation, with a letter from the Synod's President, Dr. A. L. Barry, in which he encourages every LCMS congregation to distribute the statement to its own members and then consider placing the statement in their local newspapers.

Those who wish to have a detailed, theological analysis of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification may download analyses of the document prepared by the faculties of both of the LCMS' seminaries. That document is available at:

The text of the statement follows.

A Comment on Lutheran-Roman Catholic Relations

You may have heard that a declaration was signed that claims to resolve a key difference between the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church. What you may not have heard is that more than 45 percent of the Lutheran church-bodies in the world did not support the declaration.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is the oldest and second-largest Lutheran church-body in the United States. We would like to explain why we could not support the declaration.

We rejoice that we have much in common with our fellow Christians in the Roman Catholic Church. Because of what we have in common, we are committed to working toward true reconciliation of our important differences. We could not support the declaration because it does not actually reconcile the difference between us concerning the most important truth of Christianity.

What is that truth? God loved the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life in our place and to die for our sins. God declares us to be totally righteous and completely forgiven because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God gives us eternal life as a free gift through trust in Christ alone.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that something more than trust in Christ is necessary for us to be saved. It teaches that we are able to merit, through our works, eternal life for ourselves and others. We believe this teaching obscures the work of Jesus Christ and clouds the central message of the Bible.

Therefore, despite what has been reported in the public media about the Lutheran-Roman Catholic declaration, very significant differences remain in regard to how we understand salvation, a fact that the Roman Catholic Church acknowledges.

We pray for genuine reconciliation of differences among Christians. Our church is intent on working for the day when the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed with one voice. We will continue to work toward true reconciliation.


A Statement from the Office of the President
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
International Center
1333 South Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63122-7295