Sunday, April 12, 2020

Luther and the Reformation - What Happened?

More than seven years ago, when helping lead youth group at our home parish, I asked the question of the youth:  "What types of things do you want to learn?"  The number one topic where they desired more information was:  The Reformation -  what happened?  The really great news?  So did I!

With God's grace, I was able to read, listen, watch, and learn all about the events leading up to the reformation, such that I could present to these interested youth the truth, as I understood it.

Here goes:

In the Gospel of  John, Chapter 17, verses 21 &  22, Jesus prays to God the Father before His Passion: 

“…that they may all be one; even as You, Father,
Are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us,
So that the world may believe that You sent Me. 
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them,
That they may be one, just as We are one.”

Of the more than 2 billion Christians worldwide, there are currently over 33,0006 different Christian Denominations.  We most certainly are not one.

A quote from Roland Bainton's book, Here I stand, A Life of Martin Luther:
“As a young man in 1505, Luther was traveling from his home to the University. During this journey, he encountered a thunderstorm. Fearful for his life, Luther cried out in fear to St. Anne these words, 'Help me, St. Anne, and I will become a monk.'”7
Bainton further eloquently penned: 
“The man who thus called upon a saint was later to repudiate the cult of the saints. He who vowed to become a monk was later to renounce monasticism.  A loyal son of the Catholic Church, he was later to shatter the structure of medieval Catholicism. A devoted servant of the pope, he was later to identify the popes with Antichrist. For this young man was Martin Luther.”1
Brief Church History:
  • 33 AD  Jesus founds His Church -   Matthew 16:18:  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."  
    • A.D. stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for "Year of Our Lord," and it means the number of years since the time of Jesus Christ.
    • The Church is one because she has as her source and exemplar the unity of the Trinity of Persons in one God. As her Founder and Head, Jesus Christ re-established the unity of all people in one body. As her soul, the Holy Spirit unites all the faithful in communion with Christ. The Church has but one faith, one sacramental life, one apostolic succession, one common hope, and one and the same charity. CCC 813-815, 866
  • Between 33 and 36 AD – Conversion Paul (Saul) – Saul persecuted followers of Christ and had a major conversion on his way to Damascus, where Jesus said to him “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”  Paul becomes a Christian and proceeds to teach and preach all over (the Epistles or letters to Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippi, Corinth, etc.) 1
  • Year 64 AD – Peter and Paul are martyred -  Apostolic succession:  
    • CCC 857, 869:  The Church is apostolic in her origin because she has been built on “the foundation of the Apostles” (Ephesians 2:20). She is apostolic in her teaching which is the same as that of the Apostles. She is apostolic by reason of her structure insofar as she is taught, sanctified, and guided until Christ returns by the Apostles through their successors who are the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter.  
    • Matthias is elected to replace Judas – showing a hierarchy:  Acts 1: 26 says this: "And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles." John – elected replacement for Judas
  • 610 AD – Muslim faith founded by Muhammad  - descended from Abraham, Muslims claim their identity with Abraham through Hagar and Ishmael rather than through Sarah and Isaac. Muhammad sought to give legitimacy to Islam by identifying with Abraham and his other son, Ishmael.
  • 1054 – East / West Schism – occurred when a representative of the Roman pope excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople and the patriarch excommunicated the Roman pope in return. That dual excommunication caused a formal split within the Christian church, dividing it into the Eastern Orthodox Church based in Constantinople and the Western Catholic Church based in Rome.  Disagreement on  Greeks  denial of Filioque teaching (the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and son, Greek Orthodox holy only from Father) and denial of Primacy of Roman Pontiff.
    • Two attempts at reunion took place, one in 1274 at the Second Council of Lyons and the other in 1438–1439 at the Council of Florence. At both councils the Orthodox accepted the Latin papal claims and the doctrine of the Filioque, but the unions effected were mainly on paper. The masses of Christians, the monks, and the lower clergy were not ready for the healing of the schism.
    • On April 7, 1453, the Turks took Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire came to an end. The separation of East and West was accepted as a reality by both Orthodox and Catholics. 9
  • 1305 – 1377 - Avignon France Papacy:  Pope Clement V, a Frenchman settled in Avignon France in 1309, and lived very affluently.  There was unrest in Rome.  Pope Urban succeeded in moving the Papacy back to Rome for awhile.  Finally, Gregory XI did succeed (prompted by St Catherine of Siena) in the move back to Rome and died a year later. 1
    • For five months after the election the cardinals acknowledged Urban VI, but they gradually began to have misgivings. Displaying a lack of tact and moderation, Urban declared his intention of reforming the church and condemned the cardinals for their luxury and idleness.  They therefore turned against him and on one pretext or another abandoned Rome.
    • At Anagni on August 2, the dissidents published a manifesto in which they pronounced his election null and void, on the ground that pressure from the Romans had made a free election impossible.
    • Denouncing Urban as a usurper, they elected a rival pontiff, Cardinal Robert of Geneva, on September 20, and he took the name Clement VII.  Thus the church was divided in its allegiance to these two men, who promptly excommunicated one another.  Unable to drive Urban from Rome, Clement established himself at Avignon in June 1379.
    • Western European rulers were forced to declare themselves for either the Roman or the Avignon pope. France was the staunchest supporter of Avignon and was followed by Castile, Aragon, Scotland, and Savoy.
    • England, Portugal, Hungary, the Scandinavian states, and the Holy Roman Empire supported Rome. Devout people in these realms usually followed their king's lead. Thus, for example, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Colette favored Avignon, while St. Catherine of Siena and St. Catherine of Sweden favored Rome. 9
  • 1378 – 1417 Great Western Schism  - Two Popes, two College of Cardinals: Avignon and Rome, and in 1409 there were three Popes, one in Pisa.  Ended with the election of Pope Martin V, this schism lead to the reformation.
  • 1347 Black Death (Bubonic Plague) –“One-third of Europe’s population died – about 20 million people.”1   The good and holy priests stayed and cared for the sick and dying and thus were infected and died; those priests who did survive, survived because they did not stay to help the sick and dying, and remained to represent the Church.
Factors leading to Reformation- 
  • Political Factors – “The nations were gaining power and wanted the church to have less.”1
  • Philosophical Factors – 
    • William of Ockham’s (1287 – 1347) -  Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) a Bible-believing Christian, asserted that God was the one and only first cause and authority—facts which God had revealed to mankind in His Word, the BibleThis appeal to Scripture as authority was taken up and restated by Martin Luther in the Protestant Reformation a little less than two centuries later as the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). That is to say, the Bible is the supreme authority in all it teaches. All else, and particularly human conjecture, is subordinate to and corrected by the written Word of God.10 
    • John Wycliffe: 1330 – 1384 -  Denied the supremacy of Papacy and divine authority as well as scripture is to be interpreted each for himself
      • Wycliffe rejected transubstantiation, the Catholic doctrine that says the communion wafer is changed into the substance of the body of Jesus Christ. Wycliffe argued that Christ was figuratively but not essentially present. 11
      • On the Truth of Holy Scripture, he asserted that the Bible contained everything necessary for salvation, without the church's additions of prayers to saints, fasting, pilgrimages, indulgences, or the Mass
    • Jan Hus – 1372 – 1415 – 
      • "Hus found himself agreeing with many of the points Wycliffe had raised. For example, Wycliffe considered Scripture to be the supreme authority, not the pope. He also opposed the sale of indulgences, Church documents which supposedly shortened or terminated a soul's stay in purgatory." 10  
        • "An indulgence is the extra-sacramental remission of the temporal punishment due, in God's justice, to sin that has been forgiven, which remission is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ and of the saints, and for some just and reasonable motive.12  Click here and here for a better understanding of indulgences.  
        • "The financial scandal surrounding indulgences... involved indulgences in which the giving of alms to some charitable fund or foundation was used as the occasion to grant the indulgence."12
      • Hus also agreed with Wycliffe's plea for restraining clergy, who had become powerful landowners in Bohemia. Hus [correctly] denounced the sin of simony (the practice of using a church position to profit from selling pardons or church appointments.)
      • Hus, [inspired by Jacobellus] viewed by many as a proto-Reformer, himself demanded that Communion be distributed via both bread and wine.13 
      • Burned at stake in 1415. 1
  • Religious Factors – Church clergy needed to be purified of immorality…  The 1484 conclave was deplorable in the annals of church history.” 1
    • Remember, Popes are human too, and only infallible when speaking on Dogma (“To guarantee [God’s peop ble] the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error…Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals” (CCC 890).) 
    • Popes had mistresses and children
    • Nepotism – electing family into papacy
    • Absenteeism – one pope entered the cathedral for the first time at his funeral
    • Selling indulgences and other unjust means of obtaining money from laity
    • Lavish lifestyles
Introduce, Martin Luther - 
  • November 10, 1483, Martin Luther was Born in Eisleben Germany. His history was that of strict discipline by his father, and Luther became a Monk. During a storm in 1505, fearful for his life, Luther calls out to St. Anne for help and in return for his safety, promises to become a monk; contrary to his father’s wishes for him to become a lawyer.
  • Luther struggles with scrupulosity – Due to his scrupulosity, he was driven to despair. "The reality is that Martin Luther suffered from scrupulosity, which is a tendency to see sin where it does not exist, or to see mortal sin where only venial sin exists. In psychological terms scrupulosity can be defined as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder geared toward religious matters. Anxiety can fill the mind of the scrupulous to such an extent that everything they do appears to them as sinful...
  • Martin Luther describes his own scrupulous conscience as an Augustinian monk in his Commentary of the Epistle to the Galatians (1535), saying that:
'When I was a monk I tried ever so hard to live up to the strict rules of my order. I used to make a list of my sins, and I was always on the way to confession, and whatever penances were enjoined upon me I performed religiously. In spite of it all, my conscience was always in a fever of doubt. The more I sought to help my poor stricken conscience the worse it got. The more I paid attention to the regulations the more I transgressed them…'"
  • Luther teaches Sola Fide  - Justification (one of the things God does for us by His grace) by faith alone vs. Justification by both faith and works.
    • Sola Fide - Luther taught that this is "doctrine by which the church stands or falls.”  Luther believed that his (not the Church's) interpretation of St. Paul’s teaching is correct. 
      • When using the term “faith alone,” it is describing how we are justified. The idea is that in order to come to God, be forgiven, and be declared righteous, you don’t need to do anything to earn your place before God except have faith in Jesus Christ. 8 
      • Luther's interpretation (justification by faith alone) had never been taught, ever, in the almost 1,500 hundred years since Christ, a novum. Luther's interpretation was based on the following epistles:
        • Paul to the Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
        • Romans 5:1 - 5 "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
        • Galatians 2:16 - "Yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified."
    • Throughout scripture we find that faith and works (obedience) are inextricably combined.  You cannot have faith without works.   In each of these examples, what would have happened had they not obeyed (performed works)?  Faith and works, in our walk with the Lord, cannot be separated.   
                          Old Testament Demonstrating the Dependency on Both Faith and Works:
        • Genesis 2:15 – 17 – Adam & Eve "Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.'”  They had faith, but did not obey, perform the work..
        • Genesis 6:13 – 14 -  Noah built an Arc -  "Then God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.  Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.'"  Noah and faith AND performed the works (obeyed).
        • Genesis 12:1-4 -  "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, And from your relatives.  And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse.  And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.'  So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him."   Abraham had faith, and he performed the works (obeyed).
        • Genesis 22: 1-2   "Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”  Abraham obeyed God, lead his son, Isaac to offer him to the Lord.  Abraham had faith, and he obeyed - performed the work.  
        • Genesis 26:2-3  -  The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you.  Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.  Isaac had faith and he obeyed - performed the work.
        • Deuteronomy 4:39-40 NIV - "Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time." Keep His words and commands - obey.
        • Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NIV "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse the blessing if you obey the commands [(obedience)] of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known."  Again, obedience  = works, and works are performed in faith.
        • 1 Samuel 15:22-23 NIV -  But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."  Obedience is paramount, with faith.
        • Proverbs 3:1-6 NIV -  My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands [obey] in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  Keeping commands is obedience, done with faith.

      • New Testament Demonstrating the Dependency on Both Faith and Works:
        • John 14:15-18 NIV- "If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."  Obedience is what the Lord commands, done in faith.
        • John 14:23-24 NIV - Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."  The Lord even equates love with obedience (works).
        • John 15:7-14 NIV -  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.13
        • The Lord can do no work in us without faith, indeed.  Without faith, we are lost, but we cannot deny God what He asks of us - obedience.  We are called to obedience, Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will be done).  And these acts of obedience are born of our faith, through love.   Faith and works (obedience) cannot be separated.  
    • 1684 - Luther removes books from bible that oppose his Novum, or new teaching of 'justified by faith alone'.
      • “The canon of Scripture is the list of 73 books that belong to the Bible. The earliest writings of the Bible were likely composed in the 10th century B.C. The writing of Scripture continued until the first century A.D., when Revelation was complete.
      • Luther adopted the Jewish list, putting the Deuterocanonical books (These include 1 and 2 Maccabees, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, Sirach, and Wisdom, and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel) in an appendix. He also put the letter of James, the letter to the Hebrews, the letters of John, and the book of Revelation from the New Testament in an appendix. He did this for doctrinal reasons, they did not agree with his teaching.14
      • Scripture Removed That Did not Agree With Luther's Justification by Faith Alone:
        • James 2:14-26: "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
        • Gospel Mt 5:13-16 :Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth…Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds[works] and glorify your heavenly Father.” 
        • Romans 2:13 - "...for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified."
        • Romans 4:1-4:  What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
  • Other biblical supports for faith and works or faith and obedience: (letter of law not spirit)
    • Galatians 5:6 - "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
    • 1 John 5:3 - "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
    • Ephesians 4:28 - "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."
    • Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
    • Honestly, even the demons had faith, knowing that Jesus was the Holy One of God."  Surely faith alone cannot, in its entirity, save.
      • Mark 1:24 - "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!"   They believed (knew He was the Holy One of God).
      • Luke 4:34- "Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!"  They had faith (knew He was the Holy One of  God).
      • Mark 5:6-7 - "When he [the demoniac] saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God's name don't torture me!"  Again, the demon knew He was the Son of the Most High God - had faith.
  • Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone is the source of religious authority)  “The idea of sola scriptura is one that is very prevalent in Protestant denominations. Sola scriptura is the notion that scripture alone is the foundation of faith, and contains all revealed truth in Christianity.   A common misconception that our Protestant brothers and sisters hold is that since Catholics do not hold scripture alone as the source of religious authority, we therefore do not know the bible, and do not promote the importance of reading and applying the teachings of sacred scripture to our lives. However, this understanding of Catholicism is not correct.  
    • The teaching authority of the Catholic Church is obtained both from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Our Protestant brothers and sisters tend to overlook the importance of Sacred Tradition in an effort to hold scripture as their sole basis of faith. Catholics do observe Sacred Scripture with high importance, as it is the inspired word of God. It is actually through the eyes of Apostolic Tradition that scripture can be most fully understood, because they are so closely tied.  The Second Vatican Council on Divine Revelation, says:
"Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end.” 
    • The composition of the New Testament in fact, was not begun until nearly two decades after Christ’s death, and the books were slowly completed during the span of about fifty years. During this time, Christianity was based solely on tradition. That is, the teachings that were passed down from Christ’s apostles, which were received from the lips of Jesus, or through divine revelation or inspiration. The Second Vatican Council on Divine Revelation, says: 
“For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the Divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.”  
    • Christ instituted His Church as the authentic authority to interpret scripture, and to transmit, instruct, and explain the essential tenets of Christianity. It is in this way that the teaching authority of the Catholic Church utilizes both Sacred Scripture as well as Sacred Tradition to guide the faithful.”15
  • Protestant support for Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone):
    • Revelation 22:19: "And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll."
    • John 20:31 - "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).16  
    • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equipped, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17). 16
  • Biblical support for Scriptura and Tradition:
    •  John 20:30 - Note John 20:31 (above) refers to the things written, however, the verse immediately before it (30), "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book;”
    • Matthew 23:2-3: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;  therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them."
    • John 21:25:  "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written."
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:15:  So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.'
    • 2 Timothy 2:2:   "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

    • Luther heads to Rome and sees corruption, selling indulgences and immorality of Papacy.

    • October 31, 1517 – Luther writes and distributes his “95 Theses"
      • The 95 Theses are a set of propositions that Martin Luther proposed for academic debate. As the name indicates, there are 95 of them. They deal primarliy with indulgences, purgatory, and the pope’s role with respect to the two.
      • Not all the Theses oppose Church teaching. Below are some examples of Luther’s theses and where they agree with Church teaching, as shown in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): 
          • "Thesis 1: When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
          • CCC 1431: Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. 
          • Thesis 2: This word [i.e., Christ’s call to repent in Mark 4:17] cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
          • CCC 1427: Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” [Mark 4:17]. In the Church's preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and) fundamental conversion. 
          • Thesis 3: Yet it [i.e., the call to repent in Mark 4:17] does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
          • CCC 1430: Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures, and works of penance."18
      • Pope Leo X responds to 95 Theses with Exsurge Domine June 15, 1520
        • In 1520, Pope Leo X published a bull known as Exsurge Domine (Latin, “Arise, Lord”) in which he rejected 41 propositions taken from the writings of Martin Luther up to that time.
        • However, only a few of the rejected propositions came from The 95 Theses. Most were based on things Luther said in other writings.
        • The Exsurge Domine rejected the following Theses along with propositions, which are formulated from things Luther said, but they are not verbatim quotations:
          • Proposition 4. To one on the point of death, imperfect charity necessarily brings with it great fear, which in itself alone is enough to produce the punishment of purgatory and impedes entrance into the kingdom.
          • Thesis 14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
          • Thesis 15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near the horror of despair.
          • Proposition 17. The treasures of the Church from which the pope gives indulgences are not the merits of Christ and of the saints.
          • Thesis 56. The treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
          • Thesis 58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
          • Proposition 38. The souls in purgatory are not sure of their salvation, at least (not) all; nor is it proved by any arguments or by the Scriptures that they are beyond the state of meriting or of increasing in charity.
          • Thesis 19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
          • Thesis 18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
    • Exsurge Domine said the following about the rejected propositions:
    • All and each of the above-mentioned articles or errors [i.e., all 41 of them], as set before you, we condemn, disapprove, and entirely reject as respectively heretical or (aut) scandalous or (aut) false or (aut) offensive to pious ears or (vel) seductive of simple minds and (et) in opposition to Catholic truth.18
  • January 3, 1520 - Luther excommunicated when, after confrontation at the Diet of Wurms, he would not recant:
    • At Wurms, Dr. Ecken questions Luther  “Do you wish to defend the books which are recognized as your work? Or to retract anything contained in them?   Luther responds: 
      “…I stand convicted by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us. On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen. Martin Luther19
    • In truth, Luther's 95 Theses were meant to begin a debate about practices such as selling indulgences and were not intended to found a new church. Both sides mishandled the crisis that followed, leading to the final split.20  Luther would not recognize the Lutheran church today.  
    • Luther did uphold some key teaching that, due to private interpretation and many splits since his departure from Rome have been lost.  He believed in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, though still under the species of bread and wine.
    • Luther also believed and taught the following on Mary, mother of Jesus
      • “Christ was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb.
      • Christ was the only son of Mary.
      • He believed in Mary’s Immaculate Conception which was not Dogma in the Catholic Church till 1854.
      • She is full of grace, fully without sin.
      • He affirmed her assumption into Heaven." 21
    • 1530 – Luther founds Lutheran Church
    • 1531 – Zwingli founds new protestant church in Switerland, independent of Luther
    • 1531 - Our Lady of Guadalupe appears in Mexico, 10 million Indians converted.
    • 1534 – Further splits After Luther, King Henry VIII English reformation
      • King Henry VIII – married to Catherine of Aragon (the first Queen), wanted to divorce her because she had not produced a male heir and was enamored of Anne Boleyn, seeking marriage to her.  The pope would not allow an annulment.  He had St. Thomas More executed and started his own church, to which he declared himself the Supreme Head - the Anglican or Churhc of England.  
    • Other denominations after split:
      •  Anabaptist
      • Baptist
      • Presbyterian
      • Puritan/Separatists
      • Calvinists
      • Adventists
      • Pentacostals
      • Methodists, etc.

Presently, of over 2 billion Christians, (1.2 billion of whom are Catholic), there are over 33,000 different Christian denominations. 

The night before Jesus was to undergo His passion, and be crucified for us, He prayed to God the Father… for you and me in the Gospel according to John, Chapter 17:

“Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,..”

Again, there are currently over 33,000 different Christian Denominations…  we are most certainly not one.

In Summary:
Each of us is taught that our faith is the truth, and thus, for each person, it is their truth.  To judge somebody for their truth is not our place, Matthew 7:1 “Do not be judged so that you will not be judged”.   However,  I believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, handed down from Jesus to Peter, and lives on today through Apostolic Succession.  As my Act of Faith states:

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy catholic Church teaches, because in revealing them you can neither deceive nor be deceived.

We are called to love and be a light of truth.  Our protestant brothers and sisters love our Lord, no more or less than we do.  What they have been taught, is their truth.  

If you, like me, feel blessed beyond measure to have been born and raised Catholic, simply thank God and your parents; defend your Church if She is under attack or being misrepresented; if inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach about Her, do so…  as St. Francis of Assisi says, “Share Christ wherever you go, and if necessary – use words.” And, above all, choose love  - 

“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”  - Colossians 3:14
As Blessed Fulton Sheen teaches:
"There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church."

Key Terms:
Consubstantiation: Luther explained the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist in that “the substances of bread and wine remained present alongside the new substance of Christ’s Body and Blood.” 1

Transubstantiation:  CCC 1376 “The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: 'Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.'”206

Sola Scriptura:  Bible Only - contains all of the material one needs for theology and that this material is sufficiently clear that one does not need apostolic tradition or the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) to help one understand it. In the Protestant view, the whole of Christian truth is found within the Bible’s pages. Anything extraneous to the Bible is simply non-authoritative, unnecessary, or wrong—and may well hinder one in coming to God. 

Sola Fide: Justification by faith alone - Faith and no works may be described as the Lutheran view. "Esto peccator, pecca fortiter sed fortius fide" was the heresiarch's axiom, and the Diet of Worms, in 1527, condemned the doctrine that good works are not necessary for salvation ( – Catholic encyclopedia)

Faith and Works:  Faith shown by works has ever been the doctrine of the Catholic Church and is explicitly taught by St. James, ii, 17: "Faith, if it have not works, is dead." The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, canons xix, xx, xxiv, and xxvi) condemned the various aspects of the Lutheran doctrine, and from what has been said above on the necessity of charity for "living" faith, it will be evident that faith does not exclude, but demands, good works, for charity or love of God is not real unless it induces us to keep the Commandments; "He that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected" (New – Catholic encyclopedia)

Apostolic Succession:  is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church is held to be derived from the apostles by a continuous succession, which has usually been associated with a claim that the succession is through a series of bishops.
CCC 813-815, 866 The Church is one because she has as her source and exemplar the unity of the Trinity of Persons in one God. As her Founder and Head, Jesus Christ re-established the unity of all people in one body. As her soul, the Holy Spirit unites all the faithful in communion with Christ. The Church has but one faith, one sacramental life, one apostolic succession, one common hope, and one and the same charity.

Scripture and Tradition:
What is Tradition?  In this discussion it is important to keep in mind what the Catholic Church means by tradition. The term does not refer to legends or mythological accounts, nor does it encompass transitory customs or practices which may change, as circumstances warrant, such as styles of priestly dress, particular forms of devotion to saints, or even liturgical rubrics. Sacred or apostolic tradition consists of the teachings that the apostles passed on orally through their preaching. These teachings largely (perhaps entirely) overlap with those contained in Scripture, but the mode of their transmission is different. 

They have been handed down and entrusted to the Church. It is necessary that Christians believe in and follow this tradition as well as the Bible (Luke 10:16). The truth of the faith has been given primarily to the leaders of the Church (Eph. 3:5), who, with Christ, form the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20). The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit, who protects this teaching from corruption (John 14:25-26, 16:13).  - -

Private Judgment of scripture:  Each individual has the final prerogative to decide for himself what the correct interpretation of a given passage of Scripture means, irrespective of what anyone—or everyone—else says. If anyone or even everyone else together could tell the believer what to believe, Scripture would not be his sole authority; something else would have binding authority. Thus, according to sola scriptura, any role Tradition, a Magisterium, Bible commentaries, or anything else may play in theology is simply to suggest interpretations and evidence to the believer as he makes his decision. Each individual Christian is thus put in the position of being his own theologian.  James Akin - © 1996 by James Akin. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 1996 by James Akin. All Rights Reserved – Courtesy of EWTN

Scrupulosity: is a psychological disorder characterized by pathological guilt about moral or religious issues. It is personally distressing, objectively dysfunctional, and often accompanied by significant impairment in social functioning. It is typically conceptualized as a moral or religious form of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), although this categorization is empirically disputable. Wikipedia

1. Luther’s Sermon on Matthew 19:13-15. “What Luther Says,” 1:485-486 (entry 1440). 
3. Let Your Sins Be Strong: A Letter From Luther to Melanchthon. Translated by Erika Bullmann Flores.
5. M. Reu, Luther’s German Bible: An Historical Presentation Together with a collection of Sources (Ohio: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1934) 174-175 [link]
14. EWTN Copyright 2013 - Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 5/1/2005
15. Catholic Company
16. Catholic Answers
19. Excerpts from his account of the confrontation at the Diet of Worms
20. Catholics, Lutherans jointly to mark Reformation anniversary”

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