vatican stamp reformation luther melanchthon
Protestantism

Reformation 500: Vatican postage stamp commemorates Luther and Melanchthon

The Vatican has issued a postage stamp to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. At the foot of the cross, Martin Luther holds the Bible (the fons et origo of his doctrine), and Philipp Melanchthon, Luther’s disciple, holds the Augsburg Confession (the original 28 Articles of fundamental Protestant belief). Wittenberg may be seen in the background. Luther and Melanchthon are depicted offering their labours to the crucified Christ.

This is really quite extraordinary.

The Vatican City State usually issues stamps featuring popes (living or dead), Christian iconography, or to commemorate significant (or not so significant) anniversaries pertaining to Roman Catholicism (encyclicals, martyrdoms, apparitions of Fatima, etc.). This is the first time that ‘heretics’ have been celebrated. The Vatican explains:

Five hundred years have gone by since 31 October 1517 when Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar and theologian, put up his ninety-five theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. Last year, on the occasion of his journey to Sweden for the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to God for the opportunity to remember such an important event “with a renewed spirit and in the recognition that Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us.” vatican stamp reformation lutherA joint statement that was signed during the visit noted in the past “that Lutherans and Catholics have wounded the visible unity of the Church. Theological differences were accompanied by prejudice and conflicts, and religion was instrumentalized for political ends. Our common faith in Jesus Christ and our baptism demand of us a daily conversion, by which we cast off the historical disagreements and conflicts that impede the ministry of reconciliation.” “All of us are well aware”, Pope Francis affirmed on another occasion, “that the past cannot be changed. Yet today…it is possible to engage in a purification of memory”, without “resentment” that “distorts”. The postage stamp issued by the Philatelic Office for the occasion depicts in the foreground Jesus crucified and in the background a golden and timeless view of the city of Wittenberg. With a penitential disposition, kneeling respectively on the left and right of the cross, Martin Luther holds the Bible, source and destination of his doctrine, while Philipp Melanchthon, theologian and friend of Martin Luther, one of the main protagonists of the reform, holds in hand the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana), the first official public presentation of the principles of protestantism written by him.

Setting aside the lower-case ‘P’ quibble for ‘Protestantism’, the Vatican explains that Luther and Melanchthon are portayed in a “penitential disposition”. The reformers would have had no problem with this, for they would have knelt daily at the feet of Christ to repent of their sins. But if this Vatican narrative is supposed to be some allusion to Luther and Melanchthon repenting of the biblical inspiration of Protestant fundamentals, it is a woefully misguided portrait.

Luther believed the Bible to be the sole source of authority: “Christ has opened the mind of those who are his, in order that they might understand the Scriptures,” he wrote. Passages may be literally historic or literally prophetic; there is the crudely literal or historical reading but also the life-giving spirit reading, and it is for the Holy Spirit to guide the believing ploughboy into all truth; not for any pope or ecclesial council to issue edicts of scriptural interpretation. Luther was a Joshua (6:1-20): the Pope of Rome had neither faith nor the Spirit. He was Anti-Christ.

Melanchthon developed the doctrine now known as ‘forensic justification’, which essentially posits that the declaration or pronouncement of righteousness is sufficient for salvation: the process of being made more righteous (through good works, for example) is continuing sanctification or regeneration, which is something quite different. At the point of repentance, the sinner is fully justified: the Roman Catholic Church erred in its understanding of salvation, and infects the minds of the faithful with impurities and abominations. Its teaching was Anti-Christ.

The Augsburg Confession was the theological cornerstone of what became known as Lutheranism. Thereafter it became the foundation of many other Protestant statements of faith and articles of doctrine (including the XXXIX Articles of the Church of England). The Luther-Melanchthon alliance moulded the direction of the entire Reformation (including the thinking of one Thomas Cranmer). Wittenberg was a sunbeam of divine truth, which lit the path to heaven’s door. It is quite remarkable that the Vatican should see fit to commemorate ‘heretics‘ and ‘ecclesial communities‘ in such a prominent and public manner.

God bless Pope Francis.

  • Arden Forester

    I’m not sure about lower case “p” being a quibble. I have never expressed any belief in the “Holy Protestant Church” as it never featured in any creed.

  • Royinsouthwest

    I think the issue of this stamp is a friendly and gracious gesture by the Vatican. Many years ago, when I was a boy I used to collect stamps. If this one had been issued for the 450th anniversary of the Reformation I would certainly have wanted to get it.

    • dannybhoy

      Lower case p is unimportant as Luther wasn’t trying to start a break away group, he was ‘protesting’ at what was going on in the Church he knew – and presumably loved.
      The point is that this is indeed a welcome gesture worthy of a Christian leader who recognises that indeed much more unites than separates us.
      Broadly speaking we see each other as “Catholics” and “Protestants”, and not as people who hold to the Christian faith, even if we disagree over interpretations. And of course those interpretations are important.
      I think it is pedanticism on both sides which really stops us getting to know each other as people rather than protagonists.Pedanticism that quibbles over every jot and tittle and delights in pointscoring. It becomes an intellectual exercise, suitable for a court of law, but not so much for those whom our Lord told to ‘love one another’.
      Certainly in our little corner of the world we have seen opportunities to interact with our Catholic community and we take them gratefully, because we want to get to know them as people like us.

      • Maalaistollo

        Would I be pedantic if I were to suggest that ‘pedanticism’ should be pedantry?

        • dannybhoy

          Yes.
          Er. no.
          Umm actually you’re right. I just checked.
          A ‘pedanticism’ is an example of pedantry.
          For some strange psychological reason I always shy away from that word because it reminds me so of …pederasty. (I went to boarding school.)
          Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Jack knows a man who has a standing order with the Vatican for first day covers. Make him an offer he can’t refuse and Jack will pass it along.

      Back in 2000 back received the series of coins and first day stamp covers depicting the celebrations of the Birth of Our Lord. They are much treasured items.

  • I am tempted to resume the philately of my youth.

    • dannybhoy

      Philately will get you everywhere..

      • Anton

        Clem Attlee’s younger brother?

        • dannybhoy

          You’re trying too hard.. :0)

          • Anton

            I’m very trying.

          • dannybhoy

            If I was in a grouchy mood I would say that’s possibly very true.
            If I were being polite in an English sort of a way I’d say “Oh I’m sure you’re not!”
            But as a brother in the Lord,
            I would say you have a gift for analysis and exactitude which can sometimes be trying.
            However the fact that you admit it (and in the process expose my own casual sloppiness and assumption that everyone knows what I mean), is a blessing to both of us.
            Brother Anton..

          • Anton

            Here’a another delicious ambiguity:

            “I want to fight George Foreman badly” – Joe Bugner.

          • dannybhoy

            And he did didn’t he…

          • Anton

            He never fought Foreman. His best fight was his loss to Frazier. Bugner had everything but aggression.

          • dannybhoy

            Was Frank Bruno around at the same time as Bugner? I can’t remember. I do seem to remember Bugner’s career went downhill pretty quickly..

          • Anton

            Bugner lost to Bruno when Bugner was 37 and Bruno was 25. By then Bugner had made many comebacks.

  • IanCad

    Let us not forget; this is the Pope whose henchman, the late Anglican Bishop, Tony Palmer, declared the Reformation was over and Protestantism was, to all intents and purposes, redundant.
    The same Pope who but three years back portrayed himself as Joseph, and all the other churches as his erring bothers who must return to the fold.
    Tony Palmer may be pushing up daisies – Luther and Melanchthon have now been drafted to the cause. Big guns indeed! Be very, very wary.

  • Dominic Stockford

    “…much more unites us than separates us…”

    Which is wrong in so many ways. What separates us is the means by which we might be saved – a matter that is really, in the end, the only thing that does matter.

    As YG says, “it is a woefully misguided portrait.”

    • dannybhoy

      “What separates us is the means by which we might be saved – a matter that is really, in the end, the only thing that does matter.”
      But you don’t change that through arguments. As the last 500 years has proved..
      And anyway we believe Christ died for us on the Cross for our salvation, we beleve in sanctification, and I believe that we can lose our salvation. I would sum it all up in 2nd Corinthians 5:10. It is our Lord who knows our hearts and Him to whom we will give account of ourselves.
      And from what I read in the New Testament I doubt very much it will be on how well we argued..

      • Dominic Stockford

        You CANNOT change it through arguments, but the means of salvation is still fact – but Rome insists on unbiblical notions of salvation – so we do not have unity on the way in which God chooses to save us – the heart of the matter. And we can never pretend that Rome does not teach false notions when it comes to salvation – giving people false assurance instead of the truth.

        • dannybhoy

          Yes we agree, but there are devout Christian Catholics Dominic who love the Lord as they understand Him, and I would happily pray with such folk and work with them on projects that honour Christ – like our Churches Together carol concert.

          Frankly I don’t care which denomination people end up in, as long as they have a relationship of trust in Christ for salvation and working out that trust in their lives -sanctification. That is what should unite us, our being part of the Body of Christ.

          If people have ‘add ons’ or ‘penalty clause’ rituals, accept it. If they are happy to fellowship with you and work with you, then you can leave that with the Lord in prayer.
          As we both agree, arguing just doesn’t work.

          • Sir John Oldcastle

            The Bible says ‘don’t accept it’ (Revelation, last chapter). I don’t regard myself as wiser than the Bible.

          • dannybhoy

            John 16:13
            “However when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come.”

            But you keep chugging on old chap.
            My attitude is that you try the way of love, and try to build relationships. You don’t abandon the truths you believe, but you try and see the other person’s heart and motivation.
            Galatians 6:1
            2 Timothy 2:24-26
            James 5:19-20

        • Protestants actually don’t ” unity on the way in which God chooses to save us,” do they?

          • Anton

            Yes. Just not unity on the small print.

  • Dolphinfish

    Maybe the Vatican will now issue a stamp commemorating the 500th anniversary of Luther throwing out those books of the Bible that weren’t telling him what he wanted to hear.

    • Dominic Stockford

      David Mathis: “When you referred to James as an epistle of straw, you did not question its inclusion in the canon of Scripture, but sought to clarify its place with regard to expressing the gospel (in particular, justification by faith alone). When you said “straw,” you had in mind the apostle Paul’s categories from 1 Corinthians 3:12: “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw . . .” You were not ready to throw James out (you called him “St. James” after all), but were seeking to make distinctions about whether he unpacks the Christian gospel.

      James clearly does not lay out any extended exposition of Jesus’s person and work, like Paul does in Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians. That is certainly true. James’s short epistle is a call to Christian action, to living out the gospel we profess, not just believing it. James does assume massive truths, and that’s okay. No single biblical book or apostolic epistle — not even Romans — tells the whole story on its own, or provides all the essential details. God, his Son, his gospel, his world, and the Christian life are more richly complex than a single epistle.”

      James Swan: “This quote only appears in Luther’s original 1522 Preface to the New Testament. After 1522, all the editions of Luther’s Bible dropped the “epistle of straw” comment, along with the entire paragraph that placed value judgements on particular biblical books. It was Luther himself who edited these comments out. For anyone to continue to cite Luther’s “epistle of straw” comment against him is to do him an injustice. He saw fit to retract the comment. Subsequent citations of this quote should bear this in mind.

      If one takes the times to actually read Luther’s comments about James, he praises it and considers it a “good book” “because it sets up no doctrine of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God.” Rarely have I seen Luther detractors inform a reader Luther praises James, or respects God’s law. On the other hand, I have seen many Catholics insist Luther was either morally corrupt or an antinomian. Luther though insists James is worthy of praise because it puts forth Gods law.

      Some actually argue as if we think Luther was an infallible authority. Luther didn’t think he was, and I’ve yet to meet a Protestant who considers him anything more than a sinner saved by grace, imperfect, yet used by God during a crucial period in history.”

      • Dolphinfish

        Luther didn’t throw out James, though not for want of trying. His disciples wouldn’t accept him doing so. He’d already gutted the Old Testament, and was preparing to do the same for the New. They realized he was going nuts and if left unchecked they would end up with a Bible on the same order as Marcion’s. You could call it the first Protestant split. And he hadn’t even finished creating Protestantism.

        • Sir John Oldcastle

          At the time Luther DIDNT throw out James, Rome didn’t even know what it wanted in it’s Bible version. And Luther is the one to criticise? Don’t try that one on, it doesn’t wash.

          • Ray Sunshine

            The Catholic Bible has seven more books in the OT than Protestant Bibles have, or than the Hebrew Bible has. But as far as I know the 27 books of the NT are exactly the same in Catholic and Protestant Bibles, aren’t they?

          • Sir John Oldcastle

            And so?

          • Ray Sunshine

            You seemed to be making a connection of some kind between what Luther said or didn’t say about the canon of the NT, and something that Rome did or didn’t do in the same department, at the same time. Perhaps I missed your point.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Fishy seems to think that Luther’s opinion of the Letter of James (which isn’t what he said it was anyway) somehow turns him into a terrible and awful man, far from God. However, anyone trying to make that argument when Rome had no set ‘canon’ at all at that point in time is throwing stones from inside a glass house with closed windows.

          • donadrian

            The Synod of Hippo appears to have got it sewn up by 393AD.

          • Sir John Oldcastle

            Factually the Roman canon was not agreed and clarified by them until the Council of Trent.

  • Anton

    It is not hard nowadays to find Catholics saying “We are all Catholics now” and protestants saying “We are all protestants now”. One may even sometimes hear Catholics saying “We are all protestants now” and protestants saying “We are all Catholics now.” Personally, if I hear “We are all… now” in connection with the Reformation one more time, I shall scream.

    • CliveM

      If anyone mentions the ‘magesterium ‘ I shall scream.

      Or ‘sola scriptura’.

      • The Magisterium.
        Sola Scriptura.

        • Anton

          I knew you would… yielding to temptation can be fun!

        • CliveM

          I can’t say I’m surprised!

    • Dolphinfish

      After 500 years of Protestantism, it appears we are all back in the Roman Empire now. Apparently, even Rome.

  • Anton

    Germany issued stamps for the Reformation’s 500th year.

    http://evangelicalfocus.com/culture/2242/Germany_issues_Luther_Bible_commemorative_stamps

    What a shame that Britain did not.

    • betteroffoutofit

      I’m quite glad we didn’t! Don’t like to give too much credit to Luther, you see; our Protests and Reformation started way before him. He did provide Henry VIII with a useful context though.

  • carl jacobs

    There is a serious point that must be made, but for now let’s just enjoy the moment. How joyous is the sound of a 1000 RC apologists gnashing their teeth and bashing their heads in unison against a wall.

    Popes can be wrong, you know!

    He’s not speaking excathedra!

    We don’t have to listen to him!

    All we have to do is smile.

    • Chuckling more like over the “joy” a cheap stamp causes in protestant ranks. You do know the Vatican issued a 2.55€ stamp today celebrating the 450th Anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis de Sales – the spiritual enemy of Calvin.

      • carl jacobs

        Didn’t know. But really why should I care one way or the other. To me the Pope is just Simon Cowell in ecclesial garb.

        • The significance is that the Vatican is placing Luther above Calvin. As a Calvinist you’ve nothing to smile about. As for Anglicans, they’ve never been able to work out whether they favour Luther or Calvin anyway, so they’ll miss the point.

          • carl jacobs

            That might make a difference to me if a) I cared about ranking the Reformers into some kind of hierarchy and b) I cared about Rome’s opinion of said ranking.

            This is amusing to me precisely because it doesn’t affect me. But here again we have the Pope contradicting settled teaching. The heretic Luther on a Vatican stamp. It’s truly hilarious.

            I have a particular Catholic friend at work to whom I am going to mention this stamp. He won’t be amused, I guarantee you.

          • Then do pass along Jack’s insights too. You do know it’s sinful to take pleasure in causing others distress?

          • carl jacobs

            I delight when the purveyors of the RC gospel stomp all over their own arguments. There is no sin in this.

          • Then you don’t see the delicious irony in the joint release of stamps today commemorating both the reformation and counter-reformation, the different depictions of Luther (penitential kneeling) and Saint Francis de Sales (calmly smiling with pen in hand) or the differential in values assigned them.

          • carl jacobs

            All people are going to see is Luther on a Vatican stamp. Rationalizations about stamp values won’t make a bit of difference.

          • Ray Sunshine

            As for Anglicans, they’ve never been able to work out whether they favour Luther or Calvin anyway,
            If you get an Anglican cornered and insist that he has to choose between Luther and Calvin, surely he’ll go for Cranmer every time.

          • Dominic Stockford

            He/she ought to – though it should be noted that Cranmer and Calvin were great friends.

  • Ian G

    If you look at envelope as well as the stamp, you will see that the choice of upper or lower case is purely a matter of design dependent on the fonts being used.

    • Yeah, sure.

    • Ray Sunshine

      Unlike the words “Città del Vaticano” at the bottom, set in upper and lower case, they used all caps for the “V CENTENARIO …” at the top. This meant, of course, that there was no need to make what might have been a difficult decision on whether or not to capitalise the words “riforma protestante”.

  • andrew

    How long before Francis issues stamps celebrating the heresy of gnosticism and….. Islam? After all we’re told the Muslims believe in Jesus as a prophet, no matter how erroneous their views may be. And if we’re in the business of celebrating errors a stamp commemorating Muhammad’s view of Jesus (and God) won’t be too far on the horizon.

    • Anton

      Complete with a drawing of Muhammad on the stamp?

      • dannybhoy

        In what position?

        • Anton

          Maybe just the fresco of him in the main church in Bologna.

  • Francis throws a bone the protestant revolution and people are jubilant. It’s true then, protestants really, really crave recognition by the Vatican for all their heresies, invalid orders, competing churchlets and ecclesiastical communities.

    Consider this: A 2.55€ stamp was issued today celebrating the 450th Anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis de Sales. This saint “lived his ministry with a strong will to save the Church of Rome from the Calvinist Reformation,” the explanation reads. It goes on to say, “It is for the love of God that he brought back to communion with the Catholic Church many of the faithful who had separated themselves from it.”

    What did Luther get? A 1€ stamp depicting him “in a penitent attitude.”

    • andrew

      Now you say it, pretty clear to me the Vatican wins the propaganda and narrative war on this issue, hands down.

    • magnolia

      Doesn’t a E1 stamp get more circulation than a E2.55?

      Isn’t a penitential kneeling at the foot of the cross a position of great honour?

    • carl jacobs

      It’s true then, protestants really, really crave recognition by the Vatican

      The only thing I crave from the Vatican is a Pope who does grevious damage to the RC apologetic. And this Pope has performed admirably.

  • Anton

    It’s progress that the Vatican gets money from stamps than indulgences.

    • dannybhoy
      • carl jacobs

        I’ve seen that painting before. It’s called “Roman Catholic reacts to latest Papal pronouncement” isn’t it?

        • dannybhoy

          Exactement..

          • dannybhoy

            Although some say he was on pilgrimage to Rome and realised he’s lost his way…

    • Dolphinfish

      Tell us all you know about indulgences, Anton. You can write it on the back of the new Vatican stamp.

      • Anton

        Yes, there isn’t much to say, is there?

    • carl jacobs

      When a stamp onto the letter sticks, a soul from purgatory … kicks?

  • carl jacobs

    So this has all been truly fun but we should remember that Francis is no ally. His validation of Luther – and that is what he has done – is not done in service to unity in the Gospel. If Francis was a serious Catholic, he would condemn us. If he was a serious Protestant, he would not be Catholic. Instead, Francis is the Catholic version of the modern liberal religionist. His vision of unity seeks to transcend doctrinal difference as irrelevant. Instead it roots itself in the alleged common goodness of man. The difference over Justification is to him the difference between Little Endians and Big Endians. Unity (you see) is to be found in the good works of a good heart – which (you see) is all God really cares about. And how fortunate is man that all men are capable of meeting that standard if only they try.

    The Reformation was not a big misunderstanding. Neither was it an irrelevant argument over insignificant trivialities. It was a conflict over the difference between Truth and Falsehood. Francis is not seeking to bridge the gap between Catholic and Protestant misunderstanding. He is seeking to abolish the reason for the argument. If a man justifies himself, he has no need of justification. He has only to declare to God “See how good I am.” This is the gospel behind the stamp. Don’t be deceived by his sweet words.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Excellent words. Thank you.

  • Inspector General

    Inspector Towers is shortly to issue its own £20 stamp featuring the Devil shaking hands with Len

    Taking orders now…

    • Cressida de Nova

      LOL

      • Anton

        In case my reply to you about perfume mystified you a few threads back, hunt for your typo in what I was replying to!

        • Cressida de Nova

          Hmmm…I dismissed it as yet another Antonesque strange comment. I was wondering how you would even know about such things…seemed very out of character.

  • Cressida de Nova

    The stamp is a condemnation of Protestantism. Both heretics on their knees are displaying their heretical texts This is sacriligious and an insult to the Son of God on the Cross.Both ends of the sepulchre garment are pointed at each heretic which is symbolic … Jesus is condemning them to the fires of hell. I do think the Pope standing next to Luther covered in what looked like something other than chocolate was a little excessive. It is a South American thing evidently.

  • carl jacobs

    All this stuff about who is featured on stamps, and what stamp values are associated with particular stamps and whether letters are capitalized is just a Catholic version of Kremlinology. People find meaning when they seek for it – whether it’s there or not.

  • Inspector General

    Who said the Reformation is over?

    Leading Scandinavian church votes to use gender neutral terms when referring to God

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/11/24/leading-scandinavian-church-votes-to-use-gender-neutral-terms-when-referring-to-god/

    • dannybhoy

      The Defamation rumbles on..

      • Inspector General

        The ‘church’ is headed up by a LGBT supporting high priestess.

      • Inspector General

        The defamation, dear fellow, is aimed at those who hold true to God’s intention for man. That there be man, that there be woman. And nothing in between other than weak stock who deserve our pity.

  • John

    Which state would commemorate Pope Leo X and his tasty little line in special deals for years off purgatory? Too late for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

    • carl jacobs

      Your Pope would seem to disagree. You remember the Pope, right. He’s the guy you keep telling me is essential to settling disputes because private judgment will lead us all astray.

      Are those official Vatican stamps btw or just the imaginings of a weblog owner?

      • The infallibility of the magisterium or the Pope’s teaching office doesn’t actually extend to the workings of Vatican philatelic bureau. This is all on a par with the well intentioned error of Saint Pope John Paul II kissing a copy of the Quran.

        • Anton

          Rome graciously permits you to differ from your former Pope about that action, but does it permit you the criteria by which to form your opinion?

          • Concerning Christian Unity: Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism and Saint Pope John Paul II’s That They May Be One.

            Concerning Interfaith Relations: Vatican II, Declaration on religious freedom, Declaration on the relationship of the Church to non-Christian religions and Pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world.

        • carl jacobs

          Yes, I said you would say that. But his authority does extend to the (infallible) dogmas implicitly expressed in the stamps. And this stamp didn’t happen without his approval.

          But are you saying you are free to ignore the Pope unless he speaks ex cathedra?

          • What dogma is expressed in this stamp?
            Jack doesn’t ignore the Pope. When he speaks, one listens.

          • carl jacobs

            You mean beside the entire argument over Justification as encapsulated in the Council of Trent? Luther is was declared a heretic and condemned. Now he is rehabilitated.

          • Think you’ll find present day Lutherans are watering down their doctrine in order to have it approved by Rome.

          • carl jacobs

            Are you referring to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification? Liberal Catholics and Liberal Lutherans agree to compromise on Justification. There is a shock.

          • carl jacobs

            Listening is not the same as obedience and submission. Listening still allows to final judgment to rest with you. So I will ask again. Are you free to ignore the Pope when he doesn’t speak ex cathedra?

          • As Jack said, one listens. As for agreeing, it really depends on what he’s talking about and in what context. One doesn’t have to accept the imagined symbolism behind this stamp that Luther was perhaps right about Justification – or, at least not as wrong as once thought.

          • carl jacobs

            Hrmmm. Looks suspiciously like private judgment to me. You determine the context. You decide whether the subject and context requires you to submit.

          • How many more times, Carl? A Catholic does not have to agree with every word that comes from a Pope’s mouth. One has to show him and his office respect. This stamp reflects a pragmatic policy on the part of the Vatican to move closer to the Lutheran Church. That’s all. It’s not a doctrinal or dogmatic statement about Luther or his heresies.

          • carl jacobs

            So then. You are free to ignore the Magisterium at your own discretion. Like for example when it comes to contraception – which is not in any sense fixed by an infallible document.

          • Is that how you interpret that? What part of “doctrinal or dogmatic statement” did you not understand?

            And Humanae Vitae whilst not an infallible document in itself, it is a summation of the constant and indefectible teachings of the ordinary magisterium of the church i.e. it’s infallible.

          • carl jacobs

            Humanae Vitae is fallible but (some of) the teachings in Humanae Vitae are infallible? But that is no different from Unam Sanctam. So when was this declared?
            Do you have some authority to establish this assertion, or is it the private judgment of Jack? Maybe you could refer me to the infallibly declared infallble list of infallible RC teachings and show me which parts of Humanae Vitae are infallible. Because I have never seen that list. To my knowledge no one else has seen it either. And you are the only Catholic I have ever heard say that some teachings in Humanae Vitae are infallible.

          • Where did Jack say: “some teachings in Humanae Vitae are infallible”?

          • carl jacobs

            Yes … sorry about that. I put the response in the wrong place.

          • Yes … which just confirms Jack never said “some teachings in Humanae Vitae are infallible.”

            You do know what the word indefectible means?

          • carl jacobs

            What exactly am I supposed to read in this statement, then?

            i.e. it’s infallible.

            The pronoun (i.e. ‘it’ which would be the world that you wrote) can only refer to Humane Vitae in that sentence (which you wrote).

            But we’ll let that go. So what you are saying then is that the summation isn’t infallible but the (unspecified) teachings themselves are infallible? That seems somewhat … lawyerly … but OK. So what are these constant indefectable teachings and where is the authoritative declaration that the teachings themselves are infallible such that you (personally) must (by your own admission) submit to the Pope in this matter. Because I am not going to accept your tacit assertion that teachings passively acquire that kind of authority simply by being taught over time. You cannot by private judgment determine which teachings are authoritatve and which are not. You must be told. Explicitly.

            Unless you have some positive authoritative declaration, you have just given every Cathoiic leave to use contraception. Otherwise, you should assume that every teaching of the RCC is authoritative just in case. And you have no leave to dissent.

          • “So what you are saying then is that the summation isn’t infallible but the (unspecified) teachings themselves are infallible?”

            Er … no.

            What Jack said is that Humanae Vitae is infallible not because the Pope was speaking ex-Cathedra but because he was giving a summary of constant Church teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church – which is without fault. Christ Himself gave this authority to the Peter and the Apostles and guaranteed she would be free from error.

            “Because I am not going to accept your tacit assertion that teachings passively acquire that kind of authority simply by being taught over time.”

            The teachings in Humanae Vitae concerning the conjugal act have been constantly taught by the Church and the faithful needed to be reminded of these teachings in the 1960’s due to the contraceptive pill and the abandonment of these truths by the Lambeth Conference in 1930. A constant truth doesn’t have to be dogmatically stated. It’s only when there is conflict or confusion this becomes necessary – as with the ordination of women.

          • carl jacobs

            And is it your private judgment that determines when a teaching has been constantly taught? You haven’t addressed the basic point. You have to be told these things. You don’t learn them by osmosis. Where are you told?

          • One reads the documents, Carl.

            One could just obey the Pope. According to the teaching of Vatican II, the authority of the Pope and the Bishops is not limited to infallible teaching. The duty of obedience is not restricted to definitions of faith: “That religious assent of mind and will is due in a very singular way to the authentic Magisterium of the Sovereign Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra: this implies the respectful acknowledgement of his supreme teaching authority and the earnest adherence to his statements, in conformity with his manifest thought and desires, as well as with the deductions possible, especially because of the nature of the document or the frequent repetition of the same doctrine or the mode of expression.”
            [No Carl, this does not extend to ambiguous footnotes in Papal Exhortations which a Pope refuses to clarify, or to off-the-cuff comments to journalists. These are not “authentic” acts of the Magisterium.]

            Pius XII specifically stated, in the Encyclical “Humani Generis” (“this question is no longer open to the free discussion of theologians.” Paul VI did not innovate in this matter. Without wishing to go further back into history, from the time of Pius VI, the teaching of the Holy See has never varied in this matter. In a particularly solemn manner, Pius XI propounded it in the Encyclical “Casti Connubii”; Pius XII, as well as John XXIII, taught it consistently. Vatican Council II did not touch this question and set it aside for the Sovereign Pontiff, but affirmed its underlying principle: ” …sons of the Church may not undertake methods of regulating procreation which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law.”

          • carl jacobs

            No possible ambiguity in that mass of magisterial legerdemain. Evidently a non-infallible declaration in a kind-of, kind-of-not infallible document is sufficient to preclude further theological inquiry.

            It’s a simple question, Jack. What authoritatively tells you the authoritative teachings of the Catholic church? As in those teachings that can’t be ignored even if you decide that said particular teaching in said particular context shouldn’t be binding.

            Question: When is private judgment not private judgment?

            Answer: When it’s exercised by a Catholic.

          • Never heard of the Catechism of Trent or the Catechism of Saint John Paul II?

            One learns through membership of the Catholic Church. You ask questions and research the Vatican website which contains the Encyclicals. At the edges of theology there’s plenty of room for discussion and speculation, and even disagreement. The core teachings of Trent lay out the parameters on dogma. Moral teachings are based on the precept that one cannot do evil to attain a good and Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers provide the basis for particular doctrines.

            There are three kinds of magisterial statement, three levels of authoritative teaching which establish the “the order of the truths to which the believer adheres.” They are (1) truths taught as divinely revealed, (2) definitively proposed statements on matters closely connected with revealed truth, and (3) ordinary teaching on faith and morals.

            (These were all spelled out) by Vatican I, Vatican II, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and a series of documents produced during the pontificate of John Paul II: That Holy Father’s 1998 Apostolic Letter, Ad Tuendam Fidem (ATF); two accompanying documents issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that same year: Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity on Assuming an Office to Be Exercised in the Name of the Church (PF) and the explanatory Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fide (DC); and the CDF’s 1990 document, Donum Veritatis, subtitled Instruction On The Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian.

            http://catholicism.org/the-three-levels-of-magisterial-teaching.html

            The linked document goes into some detail on all this if you’re genuinely interested. That said, most Catholics will consult their Catechism f they’re in doubt and/or discuss matters that trouble them with their priest.

          • Jon of GSG

            “Christ Himself gave this authority to the Peter and the Apostles and guaranteed she would be free from error.”

            Would you mind giving me a reference for the “without error” part of that? I’ve just done a web search and come up empty-handed.

          • Jesus assured the Apostles and their successors, “He who listens to you listens to me, and he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16). Jesus also promised to guide his Church into all truth (John 16:12–13). His Church teaches only the truth in matters of faith and morals.

            Christ endowed the Church with infallible teaching authority. The Scriptural references are: Matt. 28: 18-20; Matt. 16:18; John, 14:,16, 17; I Tim. 3: 15;

          • Jon of GSG

            Thank you for taking the time to get those for me (or perhaps you know them by heart).
            I realise this is a big subject, and i don’t want to provoke an endless debate, but none of those last references seems to imply infallible teaching to me, not even when taken all together. Presumably there is more to it than those quotes – the Church has built that doctrine on more than that?

          • carl jacobs

            Ummm … right here.

            And Humanae Vitae whilst not an infallible document in itself, it is a summation of the constant and indefectible teachings of the ordinary magisterium of the church i.e. it’s infallible.

    • Rhoda

      What a strange picture; reminiscent of medieval gargoyles and hardly pointing to Christ as a true church or Christian should.

  • Quite a lot of communicants and commenters are missing the soteriological point of this post: on 3rd January 1521, Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, by which Martin Luther was excommunicated. By the issuing of this stamp (look at the symbolism), Pope Francis effectively re-incommunicates him.

    • carl jacobs

      Pope Francis effectively re-incommunicates him.

      Yes, I’ve been pointing that out to Jack. Repeatedly. And with great delight.

      • Well, no, you haven’t.

        • carl jacobs

          It certainly has been my intent. That’s why I said that Pope Francis had validated Luther. That’s why I said the Pope had trampled all over settled teaching. I thought you understood. The subject is the status of Luther as determined by the RCC. There was not a Catholic in the world in 1560 who would have denied that Luther was a heretic burning in Hell. Now he is on a stamp approved by the Pope. That’s what this is all about.

          • He was a heretic and died excommunicated. The Church has never definitively taught any particular person is in Hell – not even Judas.

            What it’s all about is Pope Francis’ attempts to reunite the Body of Christ by emphasising what we agree on and downplaying disagreements. Luther hasn’t been “validated”.

          • carl jacobs

            Quibbles. You just say that a man who dies outside the Catholic church in mortal sin goes to hell.

          • Sure, but do you know what’s involved in committing a mortal sin?

          • carl jacobs

            Yes. For one thing, it involves not being in submission to the Pope. That being the part of Unam Sanctam you still consider infallible. And this was surely well understood and settled by 1560. And Luther was in no way in submission to the Pope.

            This is not controversial. Catholics today will tell me this very thing and they didn’t invent it out of whole cloth. They know what the RCC taught.

          • A mortal sin requires that all of the following conditions to be met:
            – Its subject matter must be grave.
            – It must be committed with full knowledge (and awareness) of the sinful action and the gravity of the offense.
            – It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent.

          • carl jacobs

            Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

            There is no amount of sophistry in the world that will allow Luther to escape that infallible pronouncement.

          • Perhaps then you should stand by the side of Christ on Judgement Day to assist Him in case He gets things wrong.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s the RCC and the RCC alone that cares about submission to the Pope. There is no terror for Luther in his rejection of Roman error. But Rome must (ostensibly at least) remain consistent with its own temporal judgments even if those judgments have no eternal weight.

          • Francis may believe Luther was not a heretic. But just consider his “reasoning”:

            I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct. But in that time, if we read the story of the Pastor, a German Lutheran who then converted when he saw reality – he became Catholic – in that time, the Church was not exactly a model to imitate. There was corruption in the Church, there was worldliness, attachment to money, to power…and this he protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and because he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err. He made a medicine for the Church, but then this medicine consolidated into a state of things, into a state of a discipline, into a way of believing, into a way of doing, into a liturgical way and he wasn’t alone; there was Zwingli, there was Calvin, each one of them different, and behind them were who? Principals! We must put ourselves in the story of that time. It’s a story that’s not easy to understand, not easy. Then things went forward, and today the dialogue is very good. That document of justification I think is one of the richest ecumenical documents in the world, one in most agreement. But there are divisions, and these also depend on the Churches. In Buenos Aires there were two Lutheran churches, and one thought in one way and the other…even in the same Lutheran church there was no unity; but they respected each other, they loved each other, and the difference is perhaps what hurt all of us so badly and today we seek to take up the path of encountering each other after 500 years. I think that we have to pray together, pray. Prayer is important for this. Second, to work together for the poor, for the persecuted, for many people, for refugees, for the many who suffer; to work together and pray together and the theologians who study together try…but this is a long path, very long. One time jokingly I said: I know when full unity will happen. – “when?” – “the day after the Son of Man comes,” because we don’t know…the Holy Spirit will give the grace, but in the meantime, praying, loving each other and working together. Above all for the poor, for the people who suffer and for peace and many things…against the exploitation of people and many things in which they are jointly working together.

            (In-flight press conference from Armenia; June 26, 2016)

            Clear? He actually contradicts himself and slips from doctrinal agreement into working and praying together.

          • ardenjm

            Well of course it is truth in so far as it is a positivist doctrinal statement: the Pope is guarantor of the Magisterium of the Church and thus ensures that the Truth of the Faith of the Church by which we are graced to believe in Our Lord and Saviour is communicated fully. Not only is the munus docendi thus articulated but the Pope is likewise the office holder who gurantees the right ordering of the two other munera: governing – the Pope has authority in matters of Faith and Morals. Sanctifying: what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
            This is due to his Episcopal Office and his role as successor of St Peter.
            You might like Pope Urban’s pompous high falutin’ language but the reality he describes is one found in Our Lord’s teaching and essentially is the same since Our Lord first taught it through to today.

          • Anton

            Urban? Boniface VIII, surely?

          • ardenjm

            Yep. My bad.

          • Anton

            Don’t underestimate them… people have told me here with what I take to be a straight face that this thunderbolt of Boniface VIII’s is reconcilable with post-Vatican-2 views that even some nonbelievers may go to heaven. The trick is that we are subject to the decrees of, ie owe allegiance to, the Roman pontiff, even if we aren’t aware of it. My last response was to ask what Pope Boniface would have made of that view of his decree.

          • carl jacobs

            Did any member of the (infallible) Council of Trent think that?

          • Have you read the documents of Vatican II pertaining to this?

          • Anton

            Yes. At least one Catholic I know has claimed that they are deliberately ambiguous, so let me ask you, since you are Catholic: is my summary correct that even some nonbelievers in Christ end up in heaven according to the Catholic church today? Please include an unambiguous Yes or No in any reply.

          • We have covered all this before, Anton.

            “Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does divine Providence deny the help necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, but who strive to live a good life, thanks to his grace.”

            (Lumen Gentium, no. 16)
            The teaching is that they might be saved – if their unbelief is through no personal fault and they have lived, through grace, according to the precepts of their conscience. Even those without a conscious and explicit knowledge of Christ may still be united to him in a way known only to God.

            The Bible speaks of a merciful God who wants all to come to repentance and to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). God has established the Church as the means by which all people can come to him. But the question then arises about those who never hear of Christ’s salvation through the ministry of the Church. Are they thereby excluded from salvation even though their ignorance is no fault of their own?

            God’s ultimate purpose is not condemnation but salvation. This salvation normally comes through the ministry of the Church as people embrace Christ and the Church he founded. But what about those who are hindered from hearing the gospel through the Church’s ministry? If an explicit and conscious knowledge were absolutely necessary, then children who die before they can understand the gospel would be lost. This also applies to people who are mentally disabled and don’t have the capacity to understand the gospel through ordinary use of language. Or again, what about those in world history who never had the chance to hear the gospel?

          • ardenjm

            Luther got a stamp. Whoop de doo.
            The joint declaration on Justification is the significant document – and a more honest one.
            With gestures like these, Pope Francis is just being paternal (and a tad paternalist – patting Lutherans and indeed the memory of Luther – on the head with a, ‘yes, yes, I’m sure we could have sorted out your protest thing if I’d been around at the time.’ It kind of makes sense: The Thirty Years War has happened since: who wouldn’t want to make a greater effort? That said, Cromwell and Ireton probably wouldn’t have wanted to make an effort inspite of the hundreds of thousands of Catholics they killed in Ireland. But then again, maybe they would. Look at how Paisley came around in the end.)
            Pope Francis is also probably one of only three popes in the Church’s history for whom you could make a reasonable case that he’s in a state of material heresy. Thankfully his logorrhea is so constant and confused that it will almost certainly never be possible to demonstrate him being in a state of formal heresy: which the Holy Spirit preserves the Ordinary Magisterium from as Our Lord promised He would.
            All that to say: Pope Francis qua Jorge Bergoglio really isn’t a reference on the rehabilitation of Luther. And whereas the mutual ex communications were lifted by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch a few decades ago it’s kind of a different kettle of fish with the Heresiarch Luther.

            And lastly two things:
            Happy Jack could you repost this for me – because Carl excommunicated me some time ago so doesn’t read my replies.

            And also: in the interests of Christian truthfulness might we just check that certain contributors, including his Fried Crispiness, Cranmer, don’t subscribe to the Freemasonic doctrine of Religious Indifference? These efforts to blur and confuse on matters of theological truth have the whiff of sulphur to them and given the incestuous proximity of Masonry and Anglicanism in the past it would be good if those claiming to follow Christ could unequivocally repudiate the manifest lies of the Freemasons.

            Over to you Cranmer et al:
            And your canonical postage stamp of re-communication…

          • “Happy Jack could you repost this for me – because Carl excommunicated me some time ago so doesn’t read my replies.”

            Luther got a stamp. Whoop de doo.

            The joint declaration on Justification is the significant document – and a more honest one.

            With gestures like these, Pope Francis is just being paternal (and a tad paternalist – patting Lutherans and indeed the memory of Luther – on the head with a, ‘yes, yes, I’m sure we could have sorted out your protest thing if I’d been around at the time.’ It kind of makes sense: The Thirty Years War has happened since: who wouldn’t want to make a greater effort? That said, Cromwell and Ireton probably wouldn’t have wanted to make an effort inspite of the hundreds of thousands of Catholics they killed in Ireland. But then again, maybe they would. Look at how Paisley came around in the end.)

            Pope Francis is also probably one of only three popes in the Church’s history for whom you could make a reasonable case that he’s in a state of material heresy. Thankfully his logorrhea is so constant and confused that it will almost certainly never be possible to demonstrate him being in a state of formal heresy: which the Holy Spirit preserves the Ordinary Magisterium from as Our Lord promised He would.

            All that to say: Pope Francis qua Jorge Bergoglio really isn’t a reference on the rehabilitation of Luther. And whereas the mutual ex communications were lifted by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch a few decades ago it’s kind of a different kettle of fish with the Heresiarch Luther.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s cheap, Jack. The man is a pompous condescending asshole. Life on this weblog is much more pleasant when you screen pompous condescending assholes. I pegged him within three posts and he has done nothing since but convince me of the corrrectness of my judgment. I will not deal with him. There are others on this site that may respond. I will not do so.

          • He may well be pompous and condescending and he’d probably accept this himself. However, this doesn’t invalidate the substance of his comments.

          • ardenjm

            Pompous, condescending, vain, proud, gluttonous, lustful, envious, coleric – the whole gamut I’m afraid!
            Kyrie eleison.
            Jacobs may dislike me for any and/or all of those reasons – I do so myself!

            Why he REALLY dislikes me, though, is because I take none of his nonsense.
            As we can see from the tenor of his strop that you dared re-post one of my comments to his latest anti-Catholic invectives.

          • Don’t ever accept any ecumenical positions, ardenjm! Jack discerns this might not play to your particular gifts. :o)

          • ardenjm

            Do you think Cranmer and others who post on here have Masonic leanings?

            At one time 1/3 of all Anglican vicars were Freemasons, after all.

          • Jack has been posting here since 2010 and has not picked up that HG is of a Masonic disposition or that he views them favourably. In fact, Free Masonry has occasionally come in for criticism on here both in the articles and comments.

          • ardenjm

            Interesting.
            Thank you.
            Along with Pro-Life, anti-EU, anti-socialist and anti-Islamification issues, exposing the demonic heart of Freemasonry is something I can certainly be very ecumenical over.
            For the rest: nope. Not at all. And in so far as I see the Protestant revolt as part of the trajectory that led to the French, Russian and Permissive Society revolutions I’m afraid I have no time for it.

          • And Jack agrees with you on those issues and also about the protestant revolt and has argued such repeatedly.

          • Anton

            By me among others. Never been one, never would.

          • Cressida de Nova

            If he dislikes you take it as a compliment. I like you.I am pleased you are here. I appreciate your strength in dealing with your opponents. Coleric doesn’t sound good:)

          • carl jacobs

            If he can’t manage to generate any respect for his opponent, then he can’t expect consideration of the substance of his posts. If Chef or Anton or Dominic or others wish to respond, that is there choice. I am not essential.

            Please respect my decision to block him in the future.

          • Jack respects your right to do so, of course, but just considers it odd. He’s not the only pompous commentator on here. He just gets under your skin.

          • carl jacobs

            Was it odd when I blocked Linus? It’s the exact same concept. I learned from my experience with Linus that there is no point in waiting. This attitude doesn’t change. I really find it difficult to explain how much my experience on this weblog improved after I blocked Linus.

            You are correct, though. He does get under my skin. It’s really not too much to expect that he give his opponent simple respect. He doesn’t do himself or his cause any favors with that attitude. It’s all about feeling superior. And that attitude drives me crazy.

          • Linus was obscene and personally attacked people. He hated the Christian faith. He really had nothing to offer but personal insult and hate. Ardenjm is certainly robust in dismissing opposing opinions. He’s not out to persuade. However, he is knowledgeable about theology and history and too the point and Jack finds his posts informative. To be honest, as far as Jack’s concerned, he’s no more “pompous” than Dominic, Anton, Martin … or Jack and … even … you.

          • Inspector General

            Rest assured the Inspector gave him a kick up the gaynus and it always hit home…

          • carl jacobs

            It’s not for me to judge myself. I try hard to keep my argument’s above the personal level. If I fail, then call me out. I will respond to criticism from people I respect.

            But with all due respect, Jack … If you can’t see a difference between yourself and Ardenjm, then you are blind as stone. I certainly see it. If you prefer, let’s consider an independent example. Albert is just as knowledgeable. He punches just as hard. And he is a pleasure to engage. There is no lack of respect in Albert. You can argue with him. You can beat him with a stick. You can learn from him. You can support him. It’s all the same.

            It’s about how he treats people. Others may tolerate it. I won’t. It’s just pointless aggravation.

          • Inspector General

            If you become any more effete tonight you risk being bitten by the family dog. He’ll sense its time for a new cabin pack leader…

          • Inspector General

            “Carl, hon, the dog wants you to go out and get him some more bone shaped biscuits. Better do as he says or he’ll bite you again”

          • Cressida de Nova

            Poor Albert. I am sure he will be thrilled to know he has your respect. Pity you don’t learn how to engage with others from him. Your arguments are almost always personal and insulting. You do not try at all .You behave like a pompous boofhead.

          • Inspector General

            Poor you. You have the Inspector’s permission to sleep with the light on tonight…

            {Snigger}

          • Inspector General

            {Howl!}

          • Sarky

            Has Carl gone to his safe space?

          • Anton

            No, he’s still alive.

          • ardenjm

            Thank you, Jack.
            I don’t expect nor want the self-satisfied excommunicator, jacobs, to “deal” with me. And whilst you do a very good job of rebutting his pontifications I don’t see why you should have to bear the brunt of it all the time. It’s good he sees how others respond too – even as the coward blocks them (why on earth do people do that, I’ve never understood it?)
            In any case: what really gets on his wick is that he gets even better than he gives – so it’s only right and proper that he sees that occasionally.

          • Dolphinfish

            Jack, he’s got tunnel vision where the Church is concerned. Don’t waste your breath.

          • Martin

            HJ

            All sin is mortal.

    • Inspector General

      Not sure the RCC ‘does’ symbolism

      {Ahem}

    • Not quite.

      In March 2009 the Rev Günther Gassmann, a German Lutheran theologian and an international expert on church unity, urged the Roman Catholic Church to declare officially that its excommunication of Martin Luther no longer applies. Such a statement, argued Gassmann, “in these ecumenically less exciting times … would be a remarkable step and a sign of hope and encouragement.”

      There has never been such a declaration.

      Rev Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, Head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, addressed journalists about the Pope’s ecumenical visit to Sweden in October 2016. During this they noted how the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s launch of the Reformation would give them an opportunity to send out strong signals that their two churches were moving, “from conflict to communion.”

      When asked about the possibility of lifting Luther’s excommunication, Cardinal Koch responded that this was not something the Church could actually do, “The Catholic Church cannot lift the excommunication because it’s just finished by the death of a person … .”

      The Church does, of course, offers prayers for his soul in the hope he made it to purgatory.

      • bluedog

        Did Cardinal Koch clear his statement with Pope Francis? It seems that Francis (The Great) is a man of humility, wisdom and repentance, willing to make good a historic error on the part of his church.

        • Excommunication is the exclusion of a Catholic from the sacraments. Luther’s dead and will not rise again before the Final Judgement, so this decision cannot be reversed.

          • Chefofsinners

            Luther is, of course present with Christ today, regardless of what you or your apostate church might affirm.

            But let’s focus on the big issue. Praise the Lord, the Pope’s been saved!

          • All those baptised Christians, foreknown by God, have been saved, are being saved and will be saved.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Assuming you know what baptised means, there’s hope for you yet.

          • dannybhoy

            If they persevere in the faith.
            Jesus said “Abide in me as I abide in you.”

          • Chefofsinners

            Even the odd pope, such is the grace of God.

          • Anton

            We certainly have an odd pope.

      • big bwana

        He’s never going to get to purgatory because there’s no such place.

    • Martin

      As if the pope has that authority.

  • Ray Spring

    My view was that Philip of Spain, having decided that Luther was a bit of a problem, should have made him Pope. Saving the problems of the Counter Revolution etc. Luther for Pope!, would have reformed the Roman Catholic Church and saved much trouble.

    • Anton

      Surely Charles not Philip?

      • Ray Spring

        Quite right, I am sure. Altered in text.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    I really don’t want ti get caught up in the “Rangers v Celtic” battle below. Instead, let me tell you a bit of Sudanese history, much more recent than the time when L-Cpl Jones was there.

    In the 1960s. football was dominated by two teams known colloquially as Hillal (Crescent) and Marikh (Mars). In the mid-60s, football was suspended by the government because of the fearsome “Old Firm” battles between their rival supporters.

    I was told by a Sudanese student that this caused people to turn to politics instead. The result has been a frightful civil war lasting about 20 years until South Sudan gained independence, as well as the Darfur crisis.

    So you lot, be careful!

    • This blog often serves as the equivalent of the “Old Firm” match.

      • not a machine

        It is a interesting point by Irish Neanderthal that people miss the match and find another position /situation to find the same thing?,or just get fed up of the church sledging?

      • Anton

        1054 and all that? Or events that are almost yesterday like 1517…

        • not a machine

          Ime still upset about 1066 🙂

      • dannybhoy

        That’s because there’s enough people here who prefer to keep up the trench warfare..

  • not a machine

    I thank his holiness Pope Francis for the thoughts around this stamp commemoration. As to my thoughts on the very detailed and clearly combustible views elsewhere on this post, I do see there is something called excommunication, I don’t quite understand how if this is solely a function of a church head or something else. That aside I offer scripture, hoping there is something in it for all to consider if the historic Lutheran /Roman Catholic argument has run its course, Jesus said “none may come to the father except through me”.

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    I fear that this does not show any element of reconciliation, merely lack of principle, and an eye for advantage, on the part of Pope Franky. If you don’t care about Catholicism, why would you care about its argument with protestantism. Never confuse tolerance with indifference.

  • Chefofsinners

    Ah, the papal stamp of approval at last! How we Protestants couldn’t give a fart.

    Next up: one of Jack and ardenjm repenting at the feet of Carl.

    • Martin

      CoS

      You forgot Albert.

    • carl jacobs

      Ack! Not at my feet! They repent at the feet of Another!

      >:-( <– Official Calvinist unhappy face.

      Yes, it does look exactly like the Official Calvinist happy face. Does that matter?

  • Craig

    Even as a Protestant I struggle with anything venerating Luther.

    His manifest rejections of the entire Christian faith are frankly disgusting.

    Remember, this is the man who stated that Christ engaged in adultery on multiple occasions.

    • carl jacobs

      Remember, this is the man who stated that Christ engaged in adultery on multiple occasions

      The reader is advised to treat this spurious allegation with considerable circumspection. It is based upon some notes taken by someone listening to Luther speak, is totally devoid of context, and has textual problems in that some parts of the hand-written notes are not clearly legible. There is absolutely no indication about what was in Luther’s mind when these notes were taken and it is not hard to uncover perfectly orthodox contexts. In effect, the reader is being asked to understand Luther through a second-hand source using notes Luther didn’t write and probably never saw and all without any knowledge of what he was actually talking about at the time. The reader should instead understand Luther through his acknowledged writings and read these notes accordingly.

      The idea that Luther taught that Christ was sinful is historically ludicrous.

      • Christ committed adultery first of all with the woman at the well about whom St. John tells us. Was not everybody about Him saying, “Whatever has he been doing with her?” Secondly, with Mary Magdalene and thirdly with the woman taken in adultery whom he dismissed so lightly. Thus, even Christ who was so righteous must have been guilty of fornication before He died.

        A sarcastic rant whilst drunk?

        • carl jacobs

          That’s a theory. Maybe “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” just might be a better one.

          C’mon, Jack. This the equivalent of Chick Tract stuff. You are better than this.

          • Jack’s not taking a position. Luther was known to enjoy a drink, wasn’t he? Plus, he was prone to outrageous statements.

            Jack quite likes our old friend Dave Armstrong’s tour through the various theories. He somewhat long winded but thorough and fair.

            Copied by twelve table companions over a period of twenty-some years the Table Talks are often unreliable, of uneven quality, and written at varying periods of time. Certainly little, if any, of the material was copied in the Reformers presence. Rather, the copyists later recorded in their rooms their recollections of the evenings conversations. These recordings, purported to be the exact words of Luther, were often invented and embellished, and additional errors crept in later when the table companions began to copy stories from each other. In time it was difficult to know by whom and when the original might have been made. Melanchthon on one occasion warned some of the table companions as to the hazardous nature of such practice, realizing that posterity would read meaning into these conversations that Luther had never intended. Furthermore, where every topic imaginable was discussed and the conversation was spontaneous, it is difficult to distinguish jest from serious statement. It is hardly fair, then, to hold Luther responsible for all that has come to us in the Table Talks. Obviously, a careful checking against evidence from Luther’s own writings and additional sources is absolutely essential.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/06/luther-believe-christ-committed-adultery-mary-magdalene.html

          • carl jacobs

            I posted the reference so people would know there is no reason to fear it.

          • Anton

            We can’t compare it to Chick, though. The charge is condemnation out of one’s own mouth, not out of the mouth of one’s enemy, in the way that Chick was the enemy of Rome. These are words that Luther said.

            If Luther said it while drunk and meant it then there is cause for concern for him under Matt 12:36. The question is whether the recorder of these words came in partway through Luther parodying something or someone. Was this the explanation? What we can say is that Luther, in his own writings, had the highest respect for Christ and knew the scriptures saying He was without sin. The comment in question is wholly inconsistent with that.

            For this reason, it doesn’t worry me either. Luther’s antisemitism is more concerning to me. My bottom line on Luther is always: the man who started the great movement of the church of Christ back to the scriptures, and let us be thankful for that.

          • And encouraged other to go boldly where no sinner has gone before – and to keep on doing so. The man seems to have been driven by excess scrupulosity and a desperate need to convince himself that he was saved whatever sins he committed and might continue committing.

          • There’s more to fear in Luther than his frequent indiscreet rants and outburst even though this, if accurately recorded, is his worst. Why would his followers record it knowing it to be blasphemous?

          • Anton

            Think it through a little… Christ certainly was not married and there is no evidence that Mary Magdalene was. So why did Luther say adultery rather than fornication? There is rather more to this than meets the eye.

          • Now you’re going all mystic on Jack? He was accusing Christ of fornication.

      • Sarky

        Pity you don’t apply the same logic to the bible.

        • Chefofsinners

          Is it a pity? Do you actually regard the Christian faith as a force for evil? Or is it something you know is good, but criticise because you prefer to live life for yourself?

          • Sarky

            The idea of christianity is good. The church on the other hand…

          • carl jacobs

            I’m not surprised you would say this since so much of what you believe is cribbed from it wholesale. But who told you that? Who told you that Christianity is “good”?

        • carl jacobs

          The same logic doesn’t apply to the Scripture. It’s the best attested book from antiquity in the history of man. By alot. There is more doubt about the words of Shakespeare than there is about the words of Scripture.

          But OK. Let’s throw Scripture out. Where should I go? To whom or to what should I turn?

          • Sarky

            Yourself.

          • carl jacobs

            And what will have informed yourself when you turn to it?

          • Sarky

            Experience.

    • Cressida de Nova

      Gasp…I had no idea. If this is true how could any Christian support him?

  • Lucius

    Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias II concluded his first correspondence with the Lutherans by quoting Saint Basil The Great:

    “One who has the judgment of Christ before his eyes, who has seen the great danger that threatens those who dare to subtract from or add to those things which have been handed down by the Spirit, must not be ambitious to innovate, but must content himself with those things which have been proclaimed by the saints.”

    The fact that Luther would probably not recognize the church that bears his name makes the Patriarch’s words (and warning), in a way, prophetic.

    • Chefofsinners

      I think we can all agree with Basil. The issue of course is that by the time of Luther the Catholic Church had innovated considerably on the faith once delivered to the saints.

      • Dolphinfish

        Sez you.

        • Anton

          Says the scriptures.

          • Dolphinfish

            No, they don’t. That’s the entire point of what we’ve been arguing about. You’re cherry picking what you want (just as Luther did) and ignoring what you don’t. It’s the very definition of heresy, “the dislocation of some complete and self-supporting scheme by the introduction of a novel denial of some essential part therein”. (Hilaire Belloc) https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Great_Heresies/Introduction

          • Anton

            One should not cherrypick scriptures; indeed. Neither should one deviate from them or add to them as Rome did.

          • Dolphinfish

            What scriptures did Rome add?

          • Anton

            It should be obvious I meant that Rome added further regulations to those in the scriptures for its followers.

          • Chefofsinners

            One is reminded of Belloc’s poem about liars, in which Matilda clearly represents the pontiffs during his lifetime, Popes ‘Pork’ Pius X, XI and XII:

            “Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch ones eyes…

            And so when Jesus Christ returned, Matilda and the Church were burned.”

    • Anna

      “…but must content himself with those things which have been proclaimed by the saints.”

      If, by ‘the saints’ you mean the apostles, then all Christians, everywhere would hold their teachings to be authoritative, and there would be no disagreement. The ‘innovations’ – the additions and subtractions – that drew much from the pagan cultures and did not originate with the apostles, should never have been received by Christians. Martin Luther and the other reformers sought to get rid of such unholy innovations and to restore the church to its original purity; so it is good to see their efforts being recognised.

      “The fact that Luther would probably not recognize the church that bears his name makes the Patriarch’s words (and warning), in a way, prophetic.”

      This is certainly true, but it is unfair to blame the reformers for current state of the Protestant churches. One might as well blame the early apostles for all the false teachings, disputes and wars (possibly even the Russian Revolution) that have characterised ‘Christian’ history in the past 2000 years. Wouldn’t it be more fair to recognise that fallen man will find a way to corrupt everything? The apostle Paul wrote about the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ that infiltrated the churches he planted, so why should we expect things to be any different in the 21st century? The devil is still at work, and he targets mainly churches that preach the truth, rather than ones that have been half-dead for centuries.