The question behind the reflections here is that of the particular understanding of authority (Verbindlichkeit) in the Reformed tradition in comparison to the Lutheran tradition. There is a broad common ground between the two traditions regarding the uniqueness of the principle of Scripture as the unsurpassable guideline for theological insights and ecclesiastical decisions. Confessions and tradition are of secondary character and always need to be revised anew in the critical light of Scripture. They serve the church as temporarily binding decisions in terms of human answers to God’s address to His people in the gospel. Beyond this shared basis, the Reformed tradition is more concerned with the provisional character of the church’s confessional writings. The difference between the contemporary act of confession and the confidence in the wording of the confessions handed down indicates a different stress in the Reformed and the Lutheran traditions.
The scope of this volume is how churches experience themselves and their mission in their context. The discussions in this volume provide ample material to substantiate the claim that the church should not be an
ecclesia incurvata in se ipsa, (a church curved into itself) but welcoming and directed not only to personal needs but to social needs as well—but not bound to what people often feel the needs are and delving deeper to the real roots of sin and selfishness, be it personal, social or national. Contextualization in itself is part of the mission of the churches, but it is on the edge: should the church adapt to its context and lose both its identity and witness or should it find a way between the Scylla of easy adaptation to the changing contexts of this world that is passing and the Charybdis of a preservation of forms and identities of bygone times that have lost the freshness of the message of liberation of bondage, conversion and freedom, freedom to be what the church is called to be, a sign of hope, peace, reconciliation, justice and love?