WRF Member Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher Discusses "When a Pope Really Understands Luther"
(Bonn, 03.11.2016) I have often referred to the signing of the document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” by the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance in 2011 as a crucial event in the history of the church. Now I was allowed to witness another event in Lund of at least equal importance. I am neither Catholic nor Lutheran.
But what has happened here paves the way for all Protestant churches and confessions. And the presence of Orthodox representatives, even of the ancient oriental churches, such as the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Aphrem II, proves that the results are perceived even by uninvolved third parties.
In Lund the Reformation year was opened not only by the Lutheran World Federation, but also by the Catholic Church, represented by the Pope. The event took place in the Cathedral of Lund in front of 450 invited guests, including King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, the Swedish Prime Minister as well as other members of the government, national and international representatives of the Catholic Church and of the Lutheran Churches. Also present were leading representatives of the so-called Secretaries of Christian World Communions, that is to say the leaders of almost all Christian international denominations and umbrella organizations (from the Orthodox churches to the Salvation Army), among which the two largest, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), were represented by their Secretary Generals and a second delegate each. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The core concerns of Luther, sola gratia along with his call for reform, were acknowledged as ground breaking by all participants. The Pope said: “The spiritual experience of Martin Luther challenges us to remember that apart from God we can do nothing. ‘How can I get a propitious God?’ This is the question that haunted Luther. In effect, the question of a just relationship with God is the decisive question for our lives. As we know, Luther encountered that propitious God in the Good News of Jesus, incarnate, dead and risen. With the concept “by grace alone,” he reminds us that God always takes the initiative, prior to any human response, even as he seeks to awaken that response. The doctrine of justification thus expresses the essence of human existence before God.” Especially in modern Protestantism there are many who have not understood Luther as well as this statement and surely it also reminds us, that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . [To read the complete article and to view the accompanying pictures, click on the link above the article]