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The Luther Decade Begins: Roman Catholic Cardinal Urges Return to Faith of Luther

September 21st, 2008
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Luther95
The state church in Germany, in cooperation with government agencies and institutions, is launching the "Luther Decade" — a celebration of all things Luther, culminating in 2017, the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 theses. Of particular interest will be a special exhibition in Halle, featuring the archeological finds from recent decades in Mansfeld and Wittenberg. This is a remarkably unique opportunity for all who continue to cherish and hold fast to Luther's doctrine to help people understand that we are not celebrating a man, as much as we are celebrating the Word of the Lord, which endures forever, and celebrating the renewal and reformation of the Church with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the ever living Gospel of which Luther was but the herald and messenger. I'm already very concerned by what I've heard and read from the mouths of the leadership of the liberal Lutheran churches and worldwide Lutheran church organizations. Try as they might, however, the message of the Gospel is irrepressible.

So far, the best comment I've heard has come not from Lutherans, but from Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity who was quoted as saying that:

he also hoped
Protestantism would return to the faith of Martin Luther, "who would
have been deeply averse to all of today's liberal tendencies". 
[See rest of the ENI story below].

Sadly, the leadership of the Lutheran World Federation will, in all likelihood, not will not speak a word of judgment and condemnation against the liberal theology, which Kasper rightly says, Luther would have been "averse to." They will, in all likelihood, not reject and condemn the open embrace of homosexuality, abortion on demand and dreadful deviations from the Biblical revelation and witness in all areas of Christian theology, which is the root cause for the state of theological corruption in the German state churches.

But as Kasper also rightly notes, wherever Luther's hymns and commentaries on the Bible sound forth, there we have the "spiritual power" of the Gospel of Christ shining brilliantly through!

Confessional Lutherans will want to do all they can to make sure the
Gospel of Christ is sounded loudly and clearly at this event, and the
solid doctrine of God's Word proclaiming that Gospel is crystal clear.
We can expect much more emphasis to be placed not on the Reformation,
per se, but on Luther as a cultural figure, a great man in the history
of Western thought. But as long as they let Luther's words be heard,
the Gospel will sound forth, as it did then, as it does now. This is, in fact, not a "Luther decade" but the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation of the Church, which is always an opportunity for repentance of sin and return to true and genuine trust in Christ and His Word.

ENI Story Follows

Frankfurt/Wittenberg, Germany — (ENI)–Roman Catholics can learn
from the 16th-century Protestant reformer Martin Luther, the Vatican's
top official for Christian unity, has said, as Protestant churches in
Germany prepare to launch a 10-year series of events leading up to the
500th anniversary in 2017 of the Lutheran Reformation.

In a recent interview published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper,

Cardinal
Walter Kasper encouraged Catholics to read Luther's commentaries on the
Bible, and his "hymns full of spiritual power", the German Protestant
news agency epd reported.

"One will then discover a Luther who is
full of the power of faith, whom one cannot simply make Catholic, whom
we find provoking and even alien in many respects, but from whom even
Catholics can learn," said Kasper, who has been president of the
Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity since 2001.

Germany's
biggest Protestant grouping, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD),
is to launch its Luther Decade on 21 September with a service at the
castle church in Wittenberg, where Luther is said to have nailed his 95
theses to the door on 31 October 1517. It was this event that set in
train Luther's breach with the Roman Catholic Church.

Mark
Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
and president of the Lutheran World Federation, will preach at the
service as a representative of world Lutheranism.

A series of
events, seminars and exhibitions are planned for the Luther Decade,
which will continue until 2017 and is intended to remember "the
epoch-making significance and impact of the Reformation", the EKD said
on its Web site (www.ekd.de).

Kasper
said he hoped Catholics would "get to know Luther better and not just
interpret him from his polemical writings, still less from a few
sentences taken out of context". The cardinal said he also hoped
Protestantism would return to the faith of Martin Luther, "who would
have been deeply averse to all of today's liberal tendencies".

Tomorrow
(September20), Lutheran Bishop Johannes Friedrich of Bavaria will take
part in a ceremony to break the ground for a Luther Garden in
Wittenberg, about 62 miles south of Berlin.

Churches worldwide
are being encouraged to adopt one of the 500 trees planned for the
230-meter-long site. Churches are also being asked to plant a tree
themselves to denote a link with the birthplace of Luther's Reformation.

The
EKD notes that the September 2008 starting date for the Luther Decade
has a specific historical background in that Luther arrived in
Wittenberg for the first time in the second half of 1508. He then
taught as an Augustinian monk in the newly-founded Wittenberg
University.

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Categories: Lutheranism
  1. September 21st, 2008 at 08:43 | #1

    Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and president of the Lutheran World Federation, will preach at the service as a representative of world Lutheranism.
    I would have preferred Bishop Obare to Bishop Hanson. :)
    McCain: I’m sure Martin Luther would too!

  2. October 8th, 2008 at 17:39 | #2

    Good blog, thanks for keeping it up.

Comments are closed.