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Pope notes progress in Lutheran-Catholic dialogue over justification
CatholicNewsAgency ^ | Vatican City, Jan 19, 2009

Posted on 01/19/2009 9:19:29 AM PST by GonzoII

Pope notes progress in Lutheran-Catholic dialogue over justification

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2009 / 11:15 am (CNA).- On Monday morning, Pope Benedict XVI received an ecumenical delegation of Finnish Lutherans and Catholics on the Feast of St. Henry, patron saint of Finland. The Holy Father spoke with the group about the progress made on a joint declaration about justification.

The ecumenical delegation, which was led by Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Bishop Gustav Björkstrand on an annual pilgrimage to Rome for the Feast of St. Henry, met with the Pope at the Vatican.

Addressing the group in English, the Pope noted that "The Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland and Sweden continues to consider the 'Joint Declaration on Justification.' This year we celebrate the tenth anniversary of this significant statement, and the commission is now studying its implications and the possibility of its reception."

Pope Benedict also highlighted the progress the dialogue has made in taking "ever fuller account of the nature of the Church as the sign and instrument of the salvation brought about in Jesus Christ, and not simply a mere assembly of believers or an institution with various functions."

Noting that the group's pilgrimage to Rome coincides with the Pauline Year, the Holy Father took the occasion to make a foray into the Catholic understanding of St. Paul’s teaching on the Church. "St. Paul reminds us of the marvelous grace we have received by becoming members of Christ's Body through Baptism. The Church is this mystical Body of Christ, and is continuously guided by the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

"It is only based on this incarnational reality," he said in closing, "that the sacramental character of the Church as communion in Christ can be understood. A consensus with regard to the profoundly Christological and pneumatological (study of the Spirit) implications of the mystery of the Church would prove a most promising basis for the commission's work."



TOPICS: Catholic; Ecumenism; Mainline Protestant; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; lutheran; pope; vatican

1 posted on 01/19/2009 9:19:30 AM PST by GonzoII
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To: GonzoII

What’s to discuss? Just read the scriptures.


2 posted on 01/19/2009 9:23:03 AM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: GonzoII
Theologians tend to over think this stuff. Jesus surrounded himself with common people like fishermen and laborers. The smartest guy in the bunch was an IRS agent. The theologians were the bad guys because they twisted G-d's word to fit their own agendas.

Just believe that Christ is your savior and let G-d handle the rest.

3 posted on 01/19/2009 9:26:00 AM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: GonzoII

Citing Luther’s “dung hill” example for reference. I’ll expound if asked.


4 posted on 01/19/2009 9:27:21 AM PST by flying_bullet (El Conservo tribe member)
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To: April Lexington

“What’s to discuss? Just read the scriptures.”


Precisely!

When such groups “dialogue” it is to circumvent the Scriptures and manipulate peoples’ thinking from outside of the Scriptures - - - all the while talking about “Pauline” this and that.


5 posted on 01/19/2009 9:30:11 AM PST by John Leland 1789
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To: GonzoII

for later


6 posted on 01/19/2009 9:30:57 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: April Lexington
What’s to discuss? Just read the scriptures.

Which version? Which books?

7 posted on 01/19/2009 9:32:29 AM PST by frogjerk (Welcome|Goodbye to|from Free|Fairness Doctrine Republic!)
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To: frogjerk

King James or NIV. All of them. Its a complete set!


8 posted on 01/19/2009 9:33:13 AM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: April Lexington
King James or NIV. All of them. Its a complete set!

Why not the Vulgate or Douay-Rheims?

9 posted on 01/19/2009 9:35:04 AM PST by frogjerk (Welcome|Goodbye to|from Free|Fairness Doctrine Republic!)
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To: frogjerk
You don't need the Apocrypha, just the recognized cannon (recognized by the early church in Rome and codified into "the Bible.");

Actually, it is best to refer back to the original Hebrew and Greek because each version has translation problems.

10 posted on 01/19/2009 9:39:29 AM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: April Lexington

With due respect, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches beg to differ.


11 posted on 01/19/2009 9:39:48 AM PST by The Iguana
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To: The Iguana

Really! Who knew???


12 posted on 01/19/2009 9:41:46 AM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: April Lexington
You don't need the Apocrypha, just the recognized cannon (recognized by the early church in Rome and codified into "the Bible.");

The 4th Century Church recognized all of the books you are stating aren't necessary as the Canon.

13 posted on 01/19/2009 9:48:42 AM PST by frogjerk (Welcome|Goodbye to|from Free|Fairness Doctrine Republic!)
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To: frogjerk

Could you try that sentence again in English please?


14 posted on 01/19/2009 9:54:25 AM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: GonzoII

I used to think that Lutherans were a lost bunch who would be difficult to bring back, then I started reading “Catholic Matters” by the late Father Richard John Neuhaus (himself a former Lutheran pastor), and it has changed my perspective there. Although I think that we are closer to the Eastern Orthodox in terms of what we believe, we are closer to Lutherans and other mainliners because they share a common culture, western culture.

Neuhaus didn’t see Catholicism as being against his Lutheran background, rather, he saw it as a fuller expression of it. I recommend his book to the other Catholics on FR, especially if they want to understand the mindset of our separated friends in Christ.


15 posted on 01/19/2009 9:59:04 AM PST by BaBaStooey ("Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." Ephesians 5:14)
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To: BaBaStooey

John Paul II was a media superstar...but in his own industrious way, this pope is moving us closer to reunification with the Lutherans, the Orthodox and the Anglicans than any other. He is a theologian of the first magnitude and with humility, prayers and a few strategic apologies, he could well orchestrate what 500 years could not (that is if he lives long enough).


16 posted on 01/19/2009 10:13:07 AM PST by johnnycap
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To: April Lexington
You asked: "What's to discuss?" According to Rome, there is nothing to discuss. Rome, has not, will not and can not move from it's position regarding Justification:

The Roman Catholic Church set forth its views on justification in the mid-sixteenth century at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent was Rome's answer to the Reformation, and much of its work was specifically designed to set Catholic doctrine in direct contrast to Protestant doctrine. Nowhere is the difference between Rome and the Reformers more pronounced than in the Council's handling of justification.

The Canons and Decrees of Trent represent the official position of the Roman Catholic Church to this day. All succeeding Catholic councils have uniformly reaffirmed the declarations made at Trent. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s proclaimed these doctrines "irreformable." All faithful Catholics are commanded and required to receive them as infallible truth. In order to understand Rome’s doctrine on justification, we must go back to the Council of Trent.

According to the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, which were upheld at the Vatican II, man is saved/justified by faith and works (doing good deeds and participating in the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church). (*All references below [Italicized emphasis mine] come from Rev. H. J. Schroeder, O.P., trans. Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978 pages 43, 45, 46 – in text entitled “Canons Concerning Justification” starting on p. 42, Italicized emphasis mine.)

“Justification is preserved by obeying the commandments and by good works, which also increase it. (7) In case it is lost—and it can be lost, not by venial, but by mortal sin and by unbelief—it can be regained by the sacrament of penance. (8) To get it, to keep or regain it, it is also necessary to believe the doctrines as thus laid down and to be laid down by this Council.” (the Council of Trent)

· Can. 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.”

· Can. 12. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.”

· Can 14. If any one says, that man is absolved from his sins and justified, because he firmly believes that he is absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.

· Can. 24. If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, let him be anathema.

· Can. 30. If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.”

· Can. 32. If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the goods works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase of glory, let him be anathema.”

According to Catholic theology, “anathema” means excommunication, “the exclusion of a sinner from the society of the faithful.” The Greek word anathema is also translated as “accursed” (Rom. 9:3; Gal. 1:8-9, NASB & KJV), i.e., “eternally condemned”. It is clear that Roman Catholic theology/Trent pronounces a curse of excommunication, of being outside the camp of Christ and DAMNATION FOR ALL ETERNITY if one believes that they are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone.

The official Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation is that the grace of God is infused into a baby at baptism -- making him/her justified before God (“Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2020). This justification can be lost through sin and must be regained by repeated participation in the seven sacraments found in the Roman Catholic Church. These sacraments increase the measure of grace in the person by which he or she is enabled to do good works which are in turn rewarded with the joy of heaven:

· "We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere 'to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ," (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1821).

· "Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification," (CCC, par. 2010).

Notice that justification by faith alone is denied and heaven is the reward for doing good works. This is the problem. The RCC does not teach the biblical doctrine of justification by faith. It teaches justification by faith and works.

“. . Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that ‘we too might walk in newness of life,’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church par. 977).

“Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy," (CCC, par. 2020).

According to Roman Catholicism even faith and baptism aren't sufficient in themselves for one to be saved. It says that baptism is only the first sacrament of forgiveness. Good works, according to Roman Catholicism, are also required and are rewarded with going to heaven:

“We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’ and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ,” (CCC, par. 1821).

The above quote clearly states that heaven is the “eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ.” Roman Catholic theology asserts that works are a predecessor to justification in direct contradiction to God's word which states ". . .that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rom. 3:28). What are the deeds of the Law? Anything we do in hopes of getting or maintaining our righteousness before God. In the CCC, par. 2010 it says:

"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification."

How does anyone merit for himself the underserved kindness of God's grace? Grace is by definition unmerited favor?

“Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it” (CCC, par. 2023).

This is the root of the problem is this: Roman Catholic theology asserts that God's grace is granted through baptism and infused into a person by the Holy Spirit. This then enables him or her to do good works which then are rewarded with heaven. Basically, this is no different than the theology of “Christian” cults which maintain that justification is by grace through faith and your works whether it be baptism, going to “the true church,” keeping certain laws, receiving the sacraments, or anything else one is required to do in order to gain acceptance with God and entrance into “heaven” or “paradise”.

Because the Catholic view of justification is a cooperative effort between God and man, this justification can be lost and regained by man's failure to maintain sufficient grace through meritorious works. Roman Catholicism teaches that works are necessary in order to “re-attain” justification.

According to Catholic theology, penance is a sacrament by which a person, through a Catholic priest (CCC, par. 987), receives forgiveness of the sins committed after baptism. The penitent person must confess his sins to a Roman Catholic priest, in turn the priest pronounces absolution and imposes acts of Penance to be performed.

“Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as 'the second plank (of salvation) after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace,” (CCC, par. 1446).

The Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, c. i) declared regarding Penance:

“As a means of regaining grace and justice, penance was at all times necessary for those who had defiled their souls with any mortal sin.”

Acts of penance vary, but some of them are prayer, saying the rosary, reading the scripture, saying a number of “Our Father's” or “Hail Mary's” prayers, doing good works, fasting, and other such things. Is it by doing these “acts of penance” that the Catholic is able to regain his justified state before God.

The Council saw justification as a process whereby the sinner is actually made righteous. In other words, Trent said justification entails the whole process of sanctification. According to the Council, justification is “not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts by which an unrighteous man becomes righteous.”

Furthermore, according to the Council, justification is a lifelong process that extends beyond this life and into the next. Therefore, according to Roman Catholicism, Purgatory is necessary to blot out the full debt of eternal punishment:

· Can. 30. If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.

According to Roman Catholicism, there is no guarantee that anyone will persevere in the process, and some may fall away and be lost forever. But “those who, by sin, have fallen from the received grace of justification may be again justified . . . through the sacrament of penance.”

<p>

In other words, according to the Roman Catholic church, good works are absolutely necessary in order to preserve justification, and when believers sin, they must regain their justification through a religious ritual or through the supposed pains of purgatory. This is an unmistakable denial of sola fide: “by faith alone”.

Like you said… “What’s to discuss?”

17 posted on 01/19/2009 10:33:00 AM PST by Jmouse007 (tot)
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To: Jmouse007
The Council saw justification as a process whereby the sinner is actually made righteous.

So did Paul. So does God; God enacts reality by his declaration, so trying to say -- as Luther did -- that God can declare the sinner "righteous" without actually making him righteous is nonsense.

18 posted on 01/19/2009 10:38:20 AM PST by Campion
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To: GonzoII
Pope Benedict also highlighted the progress the dialogue has made in taking "ever fuller account of the nature of the Church as the sign and instrument of the salvation brought about in Jesus Christ,

What you guys don't get is that if the scriptures agreed with your pope, there would be no religion besides yours...

Your church/religion is NOT the instrument of salvation...Never was...Never will be...

People don't get salvation from your church or anyone's church...No one joins a church to receive salvation...

People receive salvation and THEN are added to the church...Do yourself a favor and read some scripture...

and not simply a mere assembly of believers

That mere assembly of believers is what constitutes the 'Body' of Christ...

19 posted on 01/19/2009 10:46:54 AM PST by Iscool (I don't understand all that I know...)
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To: Iscool

People don’t get salvation from your church or anyone’s church...No one joins a church to receive salvation...

People receive salvation and THEN are added to the church...

...uh, yeah, sure bud...whatever you say...


20 posted on 01/19/2009 11:47:56 AM PST by IrishBrigade
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To: Iscool; GonzoII; Campion; johnnycap

“What you guys don’t get is that if the scriptures agreed with your pope, there would be no religion besides yours...”

Sure there would, I. We’d still have Mohammedanism and Buddhism and Judaism, in fact we’d still have the hundreds, maybe even thousands of little ecclesial groups which are generically called “protestant”. None of them teach the same “religion” as that taught and preserved for 2000 years by The Church. Why, aside from some Jews, the “religions” I’ve mentioned don’t even worship the same God as those of us in The Church do.

As for scripture agreeing with the pope, or better said from an Orthodox pov, The Church, well, as I have said before, The Church decided what was “in” the Canon and what was “out” and it made that determination based on Holy Tradition. The Church teaches so much of scripture as agrees with what The Church has always and everywhere believed, not the other way around (for example, the NT is riddled with apparent Arian and Nestorian thought, not to speak of Adoptionism, etc. The Church does not teach those heresies.). That notion is a 16th century innovation dreamed up by prideful and disobedient people who were mad, perhaps justifiably so, at a pope. The result of that innovation has been theologically “unfortunate” as it has given new life to old heresies and heresies never turn out well for humanity.

We believe that The Church through the Mysteria is indeed God’s ordained instrument of salvation/theosis. Christians have always believed that. A relatively small group of theological revolutionaries came up with another idea 500 years ago, again because they were mad at a pope, and prideful.

“Do yourself a favor and read some scripture....”

The same scripture you read that was defined by The Church for The Church’s purposes and with and by The Church’s methods and efficacious only by The Church’s understandng...that scripture?

“and not simply a mere assembly of believers

That mere assembly of believers is what constitutes the ‘Body’ of Christ...”

Only within The Church, where the assembly of believers is a liturgical community, assembled around the bishop and focused on the Eucharist. Nothing else is The Church, which is the Body of Christ.


21 posted on 01/19/2009 11:48:00 AM PST by Kolokotronis ( Christ is Born! Glorify Him!)
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To: Iscool
That mere assembly of believers is what constitutes the 'Body' of Christ...

This is the Catholic Church.

22 posted on 01/19/2009 11:50:00 AM PST by Petronski (For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. -- Cdl. Stafford)
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To: April Lexington

The books you say are not necessary were included in the canon by the Church in the 4th Century.


23 posted on 01/19/2009 1:21:18 PM PST by frogjerk (Welcome|Goodbye to|from Free|Fairness Doctrine Republic!)
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Catholic ping!


24 posted on 01/19/2009 1:32:45 PM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: April Lexington
What’s to discuss? Just read the scriptures.

God is one and truth is one.

Find me just two "scripture readers" who actually agree on what they mean, then get back to us.

Until then, there's plenty to discuss.

25 posted on 01/19/2009 2:49:49 PM PST by marshmallow ("A country which kills its own children has no future"- Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
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To: April Lexington
Actually, it is best to refer back to the original Hebrew and Greek because each version has translation problems.

But that doesn't solve the translation problem.

When the Old Testament is quoted in the New (including when it is quoted by Jesus, as in Luke 4:18) it is generally not the Hebrew as recognized today in Judaism, but the Greek of the Septuagint. Which varies substantially from the Hebrew.

Which is why the teaching authority of the Church is so valuable. There will be disagreements in translation, and they will either be resolved by someone in authority, or they will be personally "wrested", as St. Peter said.

26 posted on 01/19/2009 3:09:29 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse (TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary - recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother
resolved by someone in authority...

The Pharisees had the same problem...

27 posted on 01/19/2009 4:31:22 PM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: Jmouse007

This is why Jesus said... “few will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”


28 posted on 01/19/2009 4:33:13 PM PST by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: April Lexington
Lots of people have that problem. Denominations split over that problem.

The Pharisees didn't have a solution, but Jesus did. Matthew 16:18; John 21:15-17.

29 posted on 01/19/2009 5:46:40 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse (TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary - recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother

Well, that depends on which Hebrew or Aramaic canon you use.

The Dead Sea scrolls, for instance, are a lot closer to the LXX than was previously thought possible.


30 posted on 01/19/2009 6:06:28 PM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: GonzoII
I figured this would happen. The JDF, in which the current Pope played a major part, was very close to a good document. But when someone in the Vatican added the Appendix, it basically made it all into a PR stunt. Now, some synods still signed it, but the more conservative ones did not.

What will be interesting is who is invited to the table. Will it be the liberal or conservative Lutherans. I suspect the former.

31 posted on 01/19/2009 6:10:01 PM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: April Lexington; frogjerk

Not quite complete, April, Maccabees I and II are missing.


32 posted on 01/19/2009 7:19:40 PM PST by baa39 (Mater Dei, ora pro nobis.)
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To: IrishBrigade

Without the Chuch, how would people know the Gospel?


33 posted on 01/19/2009 9:51:16 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
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To: Kolokotronis

Bravo, bravo, well stated Kolo. I ran up against this Freeper Iscool on another theological thread with basically the same argument on his/her part for sola scriptura as you are dealing with here. I made most of your same argument. Believe me, you are wasting your breath. However, I love your argumentation, so continue anyhow so the rest of us can read it and benefit from it.


34 posted on 01/19/2009 10:53:49 PM PST by flaglady47 (Four years of captivity, no relief in sight)
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To: Campion
You are wrong, neither God's word or the apostle Paul viewed Justification as a process but as something that takes place the moment one puts their faith in Christ alone for their salvation:

Biblical Christianity holds that men are totally depraved and are justified before a holy God as a gift by His grace through faith alone, completely apart from works (Romans 3:19–28 [Rom. 3:20, 3:24, 3:28], 4:3, 4:5, 5:1, 5:9; and Ephesians 2:8–9).

35 posted on 01/21/2009 8:09:09 AM PST by Jmouse007 (tot)
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