ASK FATHER: Publications to help Lutherans come into the Church in 2017?

From a reader…


I was raised Lutheran and most of my family (4 siblings) still are (one sibling has gone Evangelical). I pray daily for the conversion of all my siblings and their families to the Holy Catholic Church but I am wondering if in the year 2017 I can’t do more. Are there any publications in the works that you know of geared toward these “separated brethren” that might give them some nudge back toward the Church? My older brother and his wife are planning a trip to Wittenberg to “celebrate” the “Reformation”–ugh. I would like to give all my siblings something provoking, but not off-putting, this next year that might just get them to stop and reflect a moment.

I think I’ll open this one up to the well-informed and often deeply helpful readership.

Meanwhile, I wonder how the Pope of Christian Unity would have handled the 2017 anniversary observances of the destruction of Christian Unity and the shredding of the fabric of Christendom.

The moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. drforjc says:

    This is a pretty good book of conversion stories:

    Contains chapters by former Lutherans, including ELCA, LCMS, WELS.

  2. acardnal says:

    There is a book available about eleven Lutherans who converted to the Catholic faith: “There We Stood, Here We Stand : Eleven Lutherans Rediscover Their Catholic Roots”

  3. discens says:

    Two books come to mind, written in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Both are very long but the contents are full enough to make it easy to locate particular themes and topics.

    The first is St. Robert Bellarmine’s famous controversies of the Catholic faith (directed against most of the Protestant groups of the day). A recent translation is available at Amazon in hardcopy:

    The second is Francisco Suarez’ Defense of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith against Anglicanism (directed therefore expressly against Anglicanism but incidentally against all the Protestant groups). A recent translation, in two volumes, is also available at Amazon, both in hard copy and as an ebook:

  4. awlms says:

    I recommend all Lutheran’s that I meet, and all other Protestants as well, that they really take a good look at the personality of Martin Luther, aside from any of his writings or doctrines. I can’t imagine any sane person not recognizing some serious psychological eccentricities in his personality, such as his excessive repulsion from actually celebrating his first Mass after ordination, to his obsessive compulsive use of the sacrament of penance, where it is taught (even by Protestant sources) that he sometimes went to confession on a daily basis, and using even up to 3 hours duration for the confession, at that. So, the psychological assessment of Luther should not be ignored by anyone interested in how he could have developed the doctrines that he did at that time of Christian history. He was a highly abnormal Christian, as compared to any Church Father, or Catholic Saint, in history.

    So, considering the abnormality of his personality, in comparison to the great majority of other Christians, I think that there might be a little less culpability for him than might be from another person who was not afflicted with such psychological/psychiatric disorders. I’m not letting him off the hook for all that he did to damage the holy faith, but he seems to have been duped into thinking that ‘sola fide’ was true, just because it gave him some physical, and mental, consolation from his excessive scrupulosity and fear of committing sin. He didn’t seem to realize that not all people were as spiritually scrupulous (i.e. ..need confession every day), as he was. But he directed his Protestant doctrines towards ALL Christians, even psychological healthy Christians, thinking possibly that these doctrines might heal them also, not understanding that others were not as obsessive/compulsive as he was.

    So, I would study up on this psychological aspect of Luther, in order to understand him in the full context of his life…and not just at the theological/doctrinal level. After studying this side of Luther you might be able to bring it up in a nice way to any relatives, or Protestant friends, and then describe the contrasting the ‘healthy’ way to be a Catholic Christian during Luthers time. Healthy examples of Christian spirituality can be found with saints such as St. Francis of Paola, who lived during Luther’s lifetime and who gave excellent examples of holy Christian faith and living at that time in Church history.

    A good source for this psychological study of Luther can be found in this excellent book, written in 1913, here:

  5. anilwang says:

    This isn’t quite what was asked for, but there is a high quality blog by former Calvinists who joined the Catholic Church named Called to Communion. ( ).

    While it isn’t by Lutherans, many of the issues like Ecclesiastical Consumerism, the nature of grace, and what happened at the Fall are common to all Protestants. It’s by design, quite friendly to Protestants and it’s possible to print out articles to give to your family.

  6. kiwiinamerica says:

    No, there aren’t any publications which help Lutherans to enter the Church. That’s coz we don’t proselytize, ‘kay? It’s solemn nonsense. Leave these wonderful Lutherans right where they are, you rigid, self-absorbed Promethean, neo-Pelagians!

  7. Mike of Arkansas says:

    Were I a Lutheran convert to Catholicism, it would be sufficient to know that I could forgo a Diet of Worms.

  8. NomenDeiAdmirabileEst says:

    It might be a bit dense for your relatives, but perhaps you might find some good material in “The Catholic Controversy: A Defense of the Faith” by St. Francis De Sales. It’s essentially a philosophical treatise on why Protestantism is theologically unsound. His arguments are solid, but many will fall on deaf ears today since some of his premises, which might have been taken for granted by Catholic and Protestant alike in 16th century Switzerland, need themselves to be defended. It’s still a good resource to have though.

    I would also recommend the writings of C.S. Lewis. It may seem counter intuitive since Lewis himself never became Catholic, but I have met very few Catholic converts from Protestantism for whom C.S. Lewis did not play some role (I myself am a convert from Lutheranism, aided in part by one of Lewis’ arguments in “Mere Christianity”). Most Protestants seem comfortable with Lewis, precisely because he was himself a Protestant. Yet his easy-to-read writings brilliantly undermine the central Protestant doctrines of sola fidae and sola scriptura, presenting a paradigm that is much more Catholic than Protestant. Some I have even used in defense of Catholic tradition against the innovations of our Church’s mainstream.

  9. VAcatholicdude says:

    I would recommend Louis Bouyer’s “The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism”. It is not fire-breathing polemic but a more gentle book that starts out by praising what he sees as what was good about the Reformation and the Reformers. He then gradually transitions to what he sees are the significant shortcomings of the Protestant movement. He was a former Lutheran who converted to Catholicism.

  10. PTK_70 says:

    I don’t know what could be more winsome than “Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux.

    But this post, together with the one about the best 20th century Catholic novels in English, got me thinking: might there be value in starting up Catholic-Lutheran book clubs or reading groups, in this or that town? Of course, there would have to be parameters (i.e., stay away from polemical works, works by Luther himself, etc) and the pastors of each community would probably need to be involved in at least a peripheral way. Are there books that Lutherans might put forward which could be profitable for Catholics? Perhaps Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship or one of Lewis’s books……

  11. Mojoron says:

    I married a Lutheran and she got me back into the Church after being vacant for 30 years. Her whole family is Lutheran and I can wager a guess that most, if not all, know nothing of Martin Luther despite the catechetical prowess of Lutheranism that continually slams the Catholic Church, so attacking Martin is probably not a good idea. I have had discussions with Lutherans about Mary and her Holiness and that Luther also loved Mary, at one time, and that doesn’t seem to register. I also point out Mary’s apparitions, and they mostly come back with, “She only appears to Catholics.” So even though Lutheranism is supposed to be a close sister religion to Catholicism, many centuries of bad faith and bad information are hard to overcome. But saying that, I always point my heretics to Scott Hahn’s books that describe his journey to Catholicism. Also, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, who used to be a Lutheran minister has several books on his conversion. Good Luck.

  12. Marc M says:

    There are a lot of good works of dense theology here, but that’s not everyone’s cup. I second Scott Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. He wasn’t Lutheran, but the story of his family’s journey touches on the fundamental points of dispute- sola scriptura and sola fide. It strengthened my confidence on my way back, and opened my wife to further conversation, ultimately leading to her conversion.

  13. originalsolitude says:

    Fr Z
    I shared your sentiments about the ecumenical celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, until I was tasked with editing the 2017 ecumenical booklet that the Holy See prepares, for local use. I dreaded the task but accepted it in obedience. I prayed and read the booklet and my heart was softened. I now understand why Pope Francis agrees to grace the celebration. He is truly a pastor with a heart like Jesus. It doesn’t mean that I will participate in the local celebrations. I don’t have to. But the Pope does. As Catholics we can afford to be merciful, actually we must be merciful, and we lose nothing by being humble and joining in prayer with our Lutheran brothers. Here is the link to the Vatican booklet.

  14. Mariana2 says:

    awlms says:
    “I recommend all Lutheran’s that I meet, and all other Protestants as well, that they really take a good look at the personality of Martin Luther”

    Unfortunately, they may have an argument handy. What I used to say, in my Lutheran days, was that we Lutherans believe in God, not in Luther.

    What converted me was Thomas Howard’s On Being Catholic. Wonderful book!

    Mike of Arkansas,

    LOL, Diet of Worms!

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