The relationship between Lutherans and the Reformed can be compared to the one between Jacob and Esau: an intense struggle of sibling rivalry. The two came into existence at almost the exact same time and held a huge amount in common. But on two or three crucial issues they could not see eye to eye. An initial harmony turned into a complete breakdown. Politics more than theology dictated their relations in the centuries to come.

However, since the second half of the twentieth century, there have been more declarations of church fellowship between Lutherans and Reformed than Lutherans have managed with any other Christian family. The seminal statement in this regard was the Leuenberg Agreement of 1973, which addressed the three issues seen to be most divisive in the 16th century: the nature of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper, christology, and predestination. The LA declared that the current-day churches’ beliefs on these matters were no longer church-dividing, and thus it should be possible for the respective parties to enter into full communion with one another. Since the signing of the LA, almost 100 European churches have joined the resulting fellowship, called the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, including now Methodist, Brethren, and Waldensian churches, and even some Latin American churches have signed on. On the basis of LA, other Lutheran-Reformed fellowships have been established, such as the Formula of Agreement signed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ. Since the establishment of the CPCE, Lutherans and the Reformed have continued to work together on topics of common theological concern.

In addition to the significant regional work of the CPCE, the LWF conducts an international dialogue with the World Communion of Reformed Churches (a merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council). The most recent joint statement produced by the dialogue is Communion: On Being the Church.

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