The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted overwhelmingly last week to approve a declaration of unity with the Roman Catholic Church in an endeavor to “enumerate the many points of agreement between Lutherans and Catholics”—a move that some state is contrary to biblical Christianity.
The declaration “seeks to make more visible the unity we share by gathering together agreements reached on issues of church, Eucharist and ministry,” the document outlines. However, it is called “on the way” because “dialogue has not yet resolved all the church-dividing differences on these topics.”
The publication outlines 32 “Statements of Agreement” between the ELCA and Roman Catholics, such as “esteeming highly the spiritual benefits of union with the risen Christ given to them as they receive his body and blood in Holy Communion” and believing that “that all the baptized who believe in Christ share in the priesthood of Christ.”
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton noted to the assembly following the vote that the declaration comes 500 years after Protestants separated from Roman Catholicism.
“Dear sisters and brothers, let us pause to honor this historic moment,” Eaton said. “Though we have not yet arrived, we have claimed that we are, in fact, on the way to unity. After 500 years of division and 50 years of dialogue, this action must be understood in the context of other significant agreements we have reached, most notably the ‘Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification’ in 1999.”
As previously reported, the Protestant Reformation, which resulted in the counter-Reformation by the Jesuits, was sparked by a monk and scholar named Martin Luther, who served the Roman Catholic Church in Wittenburg, Germany. Continue Reading.
Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.
All the theses disputed the claims by the Catholic Church of having divine powers to act on matters of sin.
On the Pope and priests forgiving sin, he wrote ”
5) The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
6) The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
The Catholic Church became rich by offering indulgences. Here is the doctrine of salvation in the catholic church simplified. Say you have a child, and that child steals sugar from the local shop. Say the child realizes his guilt and repents of his sin and asks for forgiveness. According to the catholic church, while the sin (the act of stealing) could be forgiven, you still not to take back the sugar or the value thereof to the shop.
The same example can be used to define Indulgences. The catholic church believes though your sins might be forgiven, the guilt of that sin is not taken away. Indulgences were thus bought to be used to ‘cleanse’ that.
It is defined as “a partial remission of the temporal punishment, esp. purgatorial atonement, that is still due for a sin or sins”
In other words, that guilt is taken away by some form of temporary punishment. Now since they need a place to put people during this temporary punishment, they called it purgatory. People would pay money to buy certificates and their loved ones who were going through ‘temporary punishment’ in heaven are forgiven and taken to heaven directly! Absolutely DISGUSTING!
On this Martin Luther wrote;
46)Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
47)Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
48)Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
49)Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
You can read all the theses here
It is surprising that though the Catholic Church has not changed her position on this matter, the Lutherans have.
…this is the religion which Protestants are beginning to look upon with so much favor, and which will eventually be united with Protestantism. This union will not, however, be effected by a change in Catholicism; for Rome never changes. She claims infallibility. It is Protestantism that will change. The adoption of liberal ideas on its part will bring it where it can clasp the hand of Catholicism. –Review and Herald, June 1, 1886