Amid ceremonies this year marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, one of Protestantism’s leading branches has officially said it now agrees with the Vatican on the main issue at the root of its split from the Roman Catholic Church half a millennium ago.The Reformed noted that nothing separated them from the Lutherans. Hmmmm. I am not sure what part of the word agreement is being missed here but something is definitely being missed. When people agree to a common vocabulary but fail to agree with what the words in vocabulary actually mean, it is not agreement. It is an agreement that disagreement does not matter. There is no real reconciliation if we all get to use the same words but attach different meanings to them. Reconciled diversity is not communion or agreement. And, if Calvinists and Rome and Lutherans can all say they agree without addressing the historic differences between them, it is the most shallow and weak form of ecumenism which will bear no good fruit. Listen here. . .
The World Communion of Reformed Churches, holding its once-in-seven-years worldwide General Council in Germany, signed a declaration this week endorsing the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran agreement on how Christians might be worthy of salvation in the eyes of God.
The ceremony took place in Wittenberg, where in 1517 Martin Luther unveiled the 95 Theses that launched the Reformation and with it centuries of dispute about whether eternal salvation comes from faith alone — the position of the new Protestant movement — or if it also requires good works on Earth as Catholics argued.
This decision by the WCRC — representing 80 million members of Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting and Waldensian churches — marked another step in a gradual but remarkable reconciliation on this issue among Christians who once fought wars and declared each other heretics over just such questions.
The World Methodist Council formally endorsed the Catholic-Lutheran accord, known as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, in 2006. The Anglican Communion is expected to do the same later this year. [The Anglican Communion will probably do the same later.]
It is a great photo op but it is little more. Hail the agreement as something profound but that does not fix what is missing here. I do not want to disagree and would rejoice the day we could all come together and confess with one voice justification by grace through faith. Yet even then, if we cannot agree on the second part of it, sanctification, we remain distant and at loggerheads. I long for true ecumenism and for true unity, as every child of the Augsburg Confession should, but in this, because the Reformed, Methodist, Anglicans, and Romans say "we agree," it make me more hesitant than ever to sign on the dotted line and say it must be so. Pray for true agreement and for something more than an anniversary photo op.
True unity cannot happen without compromising deeply held conviction. Better to just agree we cannot agree period. Stick to the doctrines of Lutheranism and just be civil to those who disagree.
Is it still okay if Lutherans call the pope the Antichrist?
Can we forcefully protect our statues of Martin Luther and C.F.W. Walther from being torn down by Antifa or papist mobs?
I think Screwtape is finally on to something. He will imitate what the LORD did to the people who said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Screwtape’s new Master Plan: He will confound the Church's language so words no longer have a mutually agreed upon meaning and then confusion will reign supreme and weaken the faith of even the elect, if that were possible.
All that matters is that we love Jesus. The rest is just commentary.
No, it's not just commentary. To love Jesus together means we have to agree on who Jesus is, what he did, and what he did means for our salvation.
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