Our Wittenberg Statement reflects the concerns of participants at our 2017 Global Dialogue held last November in Wittenberg, Germany.
Observations of fundamental importance deserve to be memorialized in a statement. The 500th anniversary of an event in Wittenberg which, under the influence of dynamic circumstances, triggered the Protestant Reformation, was an occasion to reflect on the emergence of modern civilization with its structures of science, industrial production, private finance, nation states and international law and ideals of constitutional rule and human rights.
But, as participants noted in the Statement, the emergence of a social, economic or political system does not make it wise, just or perfect. Systems have advantages, to be sure; they meet needs and provide goods and services. But they have limitations and short-comings which only new human endeavors can correct or remediate.
Nonetheless, as reforms and innovations are advocated and adopted, there are still timeless aspects to our endeavors which seem beyond the reach of intentional modification. Reflection on Martin Luther after 500 years helps us spot what is lasting and what is only interim.
The morality of our contemporary capitalism stands on both timeless needs of human nature and incremental, short-term improvements to our structures for creating wealth and distributing it.
The Statement hopefully will serve to define a greater common understanding of what is fundamental and what needs to be addressed in our time through our ideals and efforts.