The Wittenberg Trail

Three differences between Lutheranism and Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and virtually all other Protestant denominations

Three differences between Lutheranism and Roman Catholic, Orthodox,...

This class is on ‘ The Lutheran Difference’. Pastor Mark is teaching from and expounding on a piece written by the late Dr. George Forell.

Dr. Forell maintained that there were three main differences that distinguished Lutherans from almost all other Christian denominations.




Listen in to hear what these 3 differences are:

click here> Three distinct differences in Lutheranism

Views: 348

Comment by Suzee on August 4, 2012 at 9:23am

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the Son of God: Are Mormons Christian?" the president of Brigham Young ... what the LCMS would regard as some of the major theological differences between the Lutheran ...

Comment by Luiz Silva on August 5, 2012 at 10:31am
Great explanariam! Thanks!
Comment by Luiz Silva on August 5, 2012 at 10:34am
Great explanation! Thanks!
Comment by Suzee on August 14, 2012 at 5:07pm
Comment by Suzee on August 14, 2012 at 5:34pm

Permit me to emphasize at this time the fact that Lutherans, or at least people who call themselves Lutheran, signed this document and in this context continue to talk about more recent events and how they relate to our church situation today. The Church of Rome has not changed its position on Purgatory, merits of the saints, prayers to the saints, indulgences, the place of human works in the meriting of salvation, works of supererogation, the mass as a sacrifice of Christ by the priest for the sins of the living and the dead. Nowhere will you find any indication that Rome has changed its positions on any of theses teachings, all of which impinge directly on our understanding of the doctrine of justification.

Neither has Rome has changed its definition of the word ‘grace’. And it’s extremely important to point this fact out. Because in the Joint Declaration the participants all claim that they agree that sinners are saved entirely by God’s grace. However, they have completely different definitions of the word grace. Lutherans define grace as the free and undeserved favor of God, whereby without any merit or worthiness on our part, He declares sinners righteous and just in his sight for the sake of the all-sufficient life, suffering, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. According to the Lutheran view, justification is forensic and takes place outside of us. It is not something that happens in us. It is rather a declaration of God upon us. "For the sake of what my Son Jesus Christ has done as your substitute, keeping all my law perfectly on your behalf, bearing your sin and guilt, while on the cross, enduring God’s wrath upon your sin, dying your death and rising again to life, because of what he has done, I declare you just, righteous in my sight, innocent of all guilt." This is the Lutheran view of grace and justification.

This is not by any means the Roman view of grace and justification. The Roman view of grace teaches that through His suffering, death and resurrection Jesus Christ merited grace for mankind. Grace is a power or virtue or quality which is infused by God, poured by God, so to speak, into the sinner. This grace, which is a quality or power from God, is an action whereby God pours into the human heart the gifts of faith, hope and charity and thus gives humans the ability to please God with their good works and thus merit His favor. Thus justification takes place, according to the Roman view within the human being. And grace, in the Roman view does not exclude works but makes possible those works which merit salvation. To put it very simply, Lutherans believe that the work of Christ is mans justification (objective justification); Rome believes that the work of Christ makes possible man’s justification. Grace, according to the Roman view makes it possible for human beings to do those works which merit God’s favor and aid in attaining salvation. Grace comes from God but works also merit salvation. Lutherans reject all works as meriting salvation. Lutherans believe St. Paul who says, "Therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight." Romans 3:20. Lutherans believe St. Paul who says, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." Romans 3:28 Lutherans agree with St. Paul who says, "…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." Galatians 2:16 Lutherans believe St. Paul who says, "By grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 As you can see, the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics have very different definitions of the word ‘grace.’ And the classical Roman view is not biblical.

But the Joint Declaration, which claims that Lutherans and Roman Catholics have arrived at consensus on the doctrine of justification, scrupulously avoids defining the word ‘grace.’ Why? In order that agreement may be declared, an agreement which both parties know very well does not exist. As Robert Preus noted in his book, Justification and Rome, the participants in the Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogues appear to have tacitly agreed to a dialogue process which involved massive equivocation, in order that an artificial and entirely misleading consensus might be declared.44

Thus, the objective of the dialogue process was not that the participants might together arrive at the truth. The objective was to declare agreement, even if such a declaration had to ignore the fact that words were being defined differently. The objective of the dialogue process was not to promote doctrinal harmony in the church which is the body of Christ and thus hidden from the eyes of the world. The objective of the dialogue process was to declare doctrinal harmony to all the world, knowing that such a declaration was not based on agreement on the truth, but on a common commitment to an objective. In other words, we wish to be united; therefore, we will declare ourselves to be united.

Perhaps you consider my assessment of the intentions of those involved in the dialogue process too harsh. Then please listen for just a few moments to official Roman Catholic theology on this subject. During the very midst of the dialogue process, about a year before the Joint Declaration was signed, around the time the ELCA declared their commitment to the Joint Declaration, the Roman Catholic Church stated, "eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merit."45 Let me repeat that. "Eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merit." These words are not ambiguous. They may be false doctrine, but they are certainly easy enough to understand.

The historic positions of Lutheranism and Romanism are well-known to and understood by any serious theological students. Even confirmation students in our Lutheran churches, if they have good pastors, know not only their own teaching on the topic of justification, but that of the Roman Catholics as well. This is because Rome, like the Lutheran Church, has clearly stated its position in the past. Consider, for example, Rome’s declarations at the Council of Trent – very relevant to our discussion today. Let me share some of them with you.


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