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Lutherans Call Decide Charge ‘reprehensible'; Attack Anti-semitism

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The National Lutheran Council here made public today recommendations adopted at a Consultation held in Denmark under the auspices of the Lutheran World Federation on the question of the Christian Church and the Jewish people. The recommendations urged the Lutheran churches “to examine their publications for possible anti-Semitic references, and to remove and oppose false generalizations about Jews.”

“Especially reprehensible are the notions that Jews, rather than all mankind, are responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, and that God has for this reason rejected His covenant people,” one of the recommendations stated. It emphasized that the examination and reformation must also be directed to pastoral practices and preaching references. “This is cur simple duty under the command common to Jews and Christians: ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,’ “the recommendation stressed.”

Declaring that “anti-Semitism is an estrangement of man from his fellow men” and that it is also a “denial of the dignity and equality of men,” the recommendation urged the Lutheran churches to pledge themselves “to work in concert with others on practical measures for overcoming manifestations of this evil within and without the Church and for reconciling Christians with Jews.”

URGE CONGREGATIONS TO OPPOSE AND PREVENT ANTI-JEWISH MANIFESTATIONS

Terming Christian anti-Semitism “a spiritual suicide” and “a rejection of Jesus the Jew,” the recommendation urged the Lutheran World Federation and its member churches “to oppose and work to prevent all national and international manifestations of anti-Semitism.”

The Lutheran Consultation also called upon all Lutheran congregations and people “to know and to love their Jewish neighbors as themselves; to fight against discrimination or persecution of Jews in their communities; to develop mutual understanding; and to make common cause with the Jewish people in matters of spiritual and social concern, especially in fostering human rights.”

The findings of the Lutheran Consultation pointed out that “it is a Christian responsibility to seek respectfully to understand both the Jewish people and their faith; therefore responsible conversations between Christians and Jews are to be desired. Such conversations presuppose the existence of common ground on which Christians and Jews may meet, as well as points of difference.”

“The conversations,” the findings continued, “may be carried on through organized institutes, or by individuals and groups. The conversations do not assume an equating of the religions, nor do they require that Christians abstain from making their witness as a natural outgrowth of the discussions. Similarly, Christians will listen gladly as Jews explain their insights of faith.”

PROBLEMS OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN ISRAEL DISCUSSED

In making public the findings of the Lutheran Consultation on the question of the Christian Church and the Jewish people, Philip A. Johnson, vice-chairman of the Consultation, said today:

“The Consultation was an occasion for serious searching of heart on the parts of Lutherans present; The very painful aspects of the history of Christian-Jewish relationships were honestly and repentantly faced. But there was also a searching and reaching out for new and more positive relationships which, under God, could bring us closer together as human beings, as co-laborers in the cause of righteousness, and as those who share a rich spiritual heritage, called by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to serve Him.”

The Lutheran Consultation in Denmark also discussed problems of the Lutheran Church in Israel; It reported that a large number of Lutherans are found among visitors in Israel, and therefore recommended the establishment of a Lutheran “tourist chaplaincy” in Israel, with the chaplain to learn Hebrew.

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