On this 500th anniversary of the legendary nailing up of theses by Martin Luther, that spark the revolt that tore Christendom apart, and on this anniversary of the signing of the Joint
Today we will hear Avery Card. Dulles 1999 essay in First Things about the Joint Declaration On The Doctrine Of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.
This essay is really helpful in understanding the differences of belief between Catholics and Lutheran about justification, which means, what we believe about how we are saved. As Dulles puts it from the start:
One of the central themes of the New Testament, if not the central theme, is the way to obtain salvation. To be on the right road is, in New Testament terminology, to be justified. The corollary is that unless we are justified we are unrighteous and are on the road to final perdition. In other words, justification, as a right relationship with God, is a matter of eternal life or death. If it is not important, nothing is.
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I mentioned that all students of theology, all seminarians and priests should have this fantastic reference…
Also read St. Thomas More’s Dialogue Concerning Heresies (Mary Gottschalk’s modern English rendition), where the saint (who was a contemporary of Luther) very clearly, concisely and thoroughly refutes key Lutheran doctrines. It should be required reading for every Catholic and every would-be Catholic.
Perhaps today we should also say a prayer to St. Wolfgang, one of the good German bishops.
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Thanks, Father! Only, the good Cardinal was too kind when writing ‘the TWO churches that split Christendom.’