Revelation: The Bride, The Beast, and Babylon
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What Reformation? Pope, Lutheran Federation Chief to Summit


What Reformation? Pope, Lutheran Federation Chief to Summit
Posted 06.16.2016

Apparently, the passing of five centuries is long enough to heal the substantial rift between one large branch of Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church from which it split.

Beginning in October, Lutherans around the world will mark the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s break with Rome. Luther, a Catholic priest, read the New Testament for himself and found the gospel of grace, a sharp contrast from the traditions of Rome, traditions that included a “purgatory” for souls from which redemption could be purchased.

In the years following Luther’s posting of his “95 Theses” on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, Germany, the back-and-forth between the young priest and the bishop of Rome intensified. Pope Leo X threatened Luther with excommunication if he did not recant. Luther was kicked out of the Roman church, and no love was lost between Luther and the pontiff: “I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist,” he said.

Well, what’s a minor spat among spiritual “cousins”? That might be worth asking, with the news that Lutherans and Catholics will inaugurate the year of celebrating the Reformation quincentenary together at an ecumenical service in Lund, Sweden, where the Lutheran World Federation, the umbrella organization for the world’s varied Lutheran communions, was founded in 1947. The celebrants of the service will be Bishop Munib Younan, LWF president, and Pope Francis, the linear successor to Pope Leo X.

“What follows Lund, what kind of dynamic might be started there, nobody knows,” Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, who chairs the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, or EKD, told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. The German cleric said Catholics and Protestants in Germany will also unite to mark the milestone Reformation anniversary.

Because Roman Catholics and Lutherans have, since the famed Vatican II council that ended in 1965, reached common ground on the question of how believers are justified—ironically the key issue behind Martin Luther’s departure from Catholicism—leaders such as Bedford-Strohm believe there should be no chasm between Rome and the Protestants, often referred to by popes as “separated brethren.”

While it’s certainly acceptable to behave civilly toward others, even those with whom we disagree theologically, there might be a danger in carrying this too far. Luther broke with Rome over important issues, and despite changes in rhetoric, there’s been no “reformation” of basic Roman Catholic beliefs about the Mass, confessing sin to another human who wears clerical garb, or imploring dead “saints” to intercede in our behalf. Bible prophecy still identifies the Roman pontiff as the “little horn” of Daniel 7 who will seek to “change times and law,” particularly about the Bible’s day of worship, the Sabbath. (See Daniel 7:25; Exodus 20:8–11.)

Discerning believers will want to exercise caution, even if their spiritual leaders do not. At a time when so many in the world “marvel after” a global religious figure, it’s clear that such wonderment can lead to spiritual deception in these last days.


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Revelation: The Bride, The Beast, and Babylon