National Lutheran News

Lutheran theologians confront challenge of fundamentalism

Lutheran World Federation tackled the topic in March

Fundamentalism provides an overarching narrative, in which people find meaning for their lives, says Chicago Lutheran theologian Barbara Rossing. The comment came during remarks she addressed to seminar participants in a March Lutheran World Fed-eration (LWR) meeting in Höör, Sweden.

“Our challenge,” Rossing said, “is to counter [fundamentalism] with a compelling counter-narrative of how God is at work in the world, fostering justice, inclusivity and peace.”

Rossing teaches New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. The theological seminar was held prior to the March 2007 Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council meeting and 60th anniversary celebrations in Lund, Sweden.

The seminar was convened to discuss “Funda-mentals for a Lutheran Communion in the Face of Fundamentalism.”
The session provided an opportunity to lift up a number of Lutheran theological fundamentals against the backdrop of increasing fundamentalism in many spheres of life.

Girma Mohammed, an Ethiopian Lutheran pursuing doctoral studies at the Free University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, cautioned that the “categories of fundamentalism against liberalism don’t fit in Africa. They take on a new meaning in the inculturation debate.”

Professor Günter Thomas, who teaches ethics and fundamental theology at Ruhr-University in Bochum, Ger-many, insisted that what were needed were theological re-sponses to Christian fundamentalism. “Fundamentalist theology tends to keep God apart from the ambiguities and complexities inherent in human history. We are challenged to spell out what it means that God is incarnated in the history of a human being, including in suffering and death.”

The LWF is a pan- Lutheran organization working for common Lutheran interests on five continents.