In his address Benedict makes a number of key points regarding Luther. First, there is Luther’s “burning question”, as Benedict puts it: “what is God’s position towards me, where do I stand before God?” This remains the central question of life today, even though many people don’t realize it.
Second, there is Luther’s Christ-centered spirituality. For Luther, “This God has a face, and he has spoken to us. He became one of us in the man Jesus Christ – who is both true God and true man,” explains Pope Benedict. According to Luther, Christ is the interpretative center of the Bible, notes Benedict, which presupposes “that Christ is at the heart of our spirituality and that love for him, living in communion with him, is what guides our life.”
Benedict clearly thinks on both of these points Luther is right and that calling attention to this fact is important for all Christians today.
Benedict XVI and Luther begin with some common ground. Unfortunately, in the points where B16 finds common ground with Luther, the world around us has moved on. The burning question before us is NO LONGER "where do I stand before God." In effect, the burning question expressed by modernity has become "is God relevant at all?" The vast majority of folks in the world are not so sure and even those who think He exists are not at all sure that He has much to do with daily life or their own personal identity or destiny.
Secondly, while Luther correctly and B16 affirms that this God has a face -- His incarnate Son Jesus Christ -- we live in a time in which spirituality is divorced from religion and religion is divorced from Scripture and Scripture is divorced from its core message. The world and even a goodly portion of the so-called Christian world no longer sees Christ as the heart of our spirituality and living in communion with Him to be the goal of life. We live in a time when the vantage point of B16 and Luther has given way to a spirituality which exists for me, which is defined by me, and which is effective only for me.
How ironic that a brief moment of convergence between Luther and the current occupant of the Chair of St. Peter might come at a time when the world considers this commonality both outmoded and irrelevant.