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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






08 February 2006

Lutheran-Catholic Accord


Q: I found this quote: “Lutherans have realized that most of what Luther asked and pleaded with the Roman Church about has been changed. Therefore, they are now in ongoing Ecumenical Discussions with Rome that are proving to be beneficial to both groups, not just one group.” Does this sound right to you?

A: Rome has addressed many of the moral excesses decried by Luther and others. The Bible is no longer such a mysterious book to Catholic laity. Yet contrary to some recent declarations, major differences remain. Recent papal statements by John Paul II and Benedict XVI reinforce Rome’s faulty understanding of forgiveness and justification and continue the unbiblical practice of invoking and worshiping the saints. Catholicism now embraces such sinful beliefs as salvation apart from Christ for the Jews and for morally upright people who haven’t heard the Gospel while tolerating teachings on evolution and the origin of life which are contrary to Scripture. Penance and purgatory remain parts of Roman dogma and popes still issue indulgences.

Yet these disagreements don’t mean that Lutherans should flee dialog with Roman Catholics. If we are convinced of the truth of our teaching, should we not do everything possible to share and proclaim it among those with whom we differ? Luther’s heirs need not surrender sound doctrine in order to work toward understanding and agreement with any other confessions. But we should announce agreement only when it truly exists.

Rome truly benefits not from Lutherans compromising a right understanding of justification but only by joining in believing, teaching, and confessing the truth: “Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. (Augsburg Confession, IV)” Lutherans believe that no saints in heaven and no works on earth can replace our Savior’s atoning sacrifice. Ecumenical fellowship without doctrinal agreement is contrary to this saving truth.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Edward Ott said...

a very interesting article.

09 February, 2006 19:29  
Blogger FM483 said...

This was a well stated treatise on Roman Catholicism. Whenever I interract with my Roman Catholic family members I emphasize Jesus Christ and Him alone. It took many years of deprogramming of my mind to eliminate heresy and replace it with Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of my faith. Therefore I am patient with others who are still kept in what Martin Luther referred to as a "Babylonian Captivity".

13 February, 2006 12:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roman Catholicism does NOT allow salvation for Jews apart from Jesus Christ. That is not the meaning of Nostra Aetate, which is just a sort of confusting and ambiguous document the Jews wheedled out of Vatican 2 in order to spread the lies that they're up to now on this very topic.

I acknowledge that some big honchos have muddied the waters by suggesting this very thing, but, they are not able to change the fact that Christ as universal redeemer for all peoples is a keystone of the Christian faith; these dissenters (herertics?) can't undo what St John Chrysotsom wrote in Adversus Ioudaios (Homilies against Judaizing Christians) nor can they rewrite the words of St John and the Acts of the Apostles.

So it is erroneous to say that Catholicism allows the Jews redemption without Christ. That is not the orthodox magisterium of the Church even if a "chorus of bishops" in the USA says it is. And they dont; basically what you have is a bunch of rabbis and their current Ganelon Cardnl Schoenborn confusing the issue.

22 July, 2008 09:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would add this to my previous comment. Roman Catholics do not "worship" sainst. We revere and respect them.

But the writer is correct that this is not "Biblical." It is part of the Hellenic culture of Greece and Rome (and Northern Europe in pagan times too, like Luther's German ancestors) to revere heroes, such as Ulysses or Siegfried or what have you. That is not a bad practice but a good one. We should have heroes. The saints make good heroes.

As for praying to them for intercession, I simply have no problem with that either, in that I believe they are more humble objects who merely reflect the brilliance of Christ's glory and redeeming power.

Since I had a comment about Jews, I'll add this. The hatred of some Protestants for the reverence shown towards saints in Catholicisms and Greek Orthodoxy, is a whole lot of Jewish iconoclasm at the root. "Xrysostom" ought to reread the Homilies against the Judaizing Christians and consider whether or not the antagonism of Protestants to the saints in not an error of Judaization.

BTW I am a convert from Presbyterianism to Roman Catholicism so I was steeped in the mishmash justifications for this hatred of saints by the "Reformers."

22 July, 2008 09:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Third comment.

Lets be frank, the Reformation was more a consequence of the German princes wanting to get out from under the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor, than it was of any genuine issue of theology.

That's my ten cents and I think European history since the Reformation has been a total horrific disaster and we would have all been better off if the 30 years war and all the consequent horrors would never have happened. All of this because of Johan Tetzell's greed? What a shame.

22 July, 2008 09:44  
Blogger Tessa said...

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Ruth

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02 April, 2009 22:51  

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