Disclaimer: My grandma on my father’s side was Lutheran. A best friend in high school was Lutheran. My dad’s law partner was Lutheran and I was a good friend of his. I enjoy the work of many Lutheran textual critical scholars working away on biblical manuscripts. Anyway, I’m Jewish because of my mom, grandma and great grandma were all Jewish. For the Knesset, the line goes through the mother. Martin Luther himself was genocidally maniacal about killing Jews. But I’m a Catholic priest, Pope Francis’ own Jewish Missionary of Mercy. That’s my disclaimer for the following comments about justification.
Occasion: Pope Francis asserted some overly optimistic comments about the state of agreement or lack thereof concerning justification during the presser on the plane returning from Armenia.
Allow me to make some quick points about Martin Luther:
- Faith for Luther is his own theological understanding in his physical brain, not the infused theological virtue of faith, which comes with hope and charity, all of which alone justifies. Because of this, he could set himself up as the one who is inspired to know which books belong in the bible, or not, throwing out seven from the Old Testament and heaps more from the New Testament, also rewriting passages he didn’t care for.
- Luther is the ultimate Promethean Pelagian, decapitating Christ in the process of his self-congratulations for all of his good works. For Saint Paul, the act of charity is one only for both the Head of the Body of Christ and the members of the Body of Christ, for one loves the entire Person of Christ, not decapitating Him to just love the Head or, kicking that away, only the members of the Body. For Luther, rewriting the letter of the Romans, it is all about loving the Head of the Body first and, later, after justification, choosing appropriately to go ahead and love the members of the Body of Christ as well, you know, so as to prove to yourself that you’re saved. This proof rubbish (Are you saved?) developed into such fear for one’s salvation, throwing one into such a frenzy of good works, that theories about being saved regardless of continuing in grave sin won the day until today throughout so many Protestant and Baptist et alii communities. Sad. This leads to despair, to saying sin is not really sin, to the pastoral accompaniment of sin. Right?
As always with such posts as this, I cannot help being a bit ironic about adherence to the teaching of the Jews, Jesus and Paul, by saying Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. But, does anyone have any sense of mirth, of humor, any inkling that making such points can be done with joyful charity? Many, I hope! And, just to say it as a kind of trademark:
Pope Francis, we love you to pieces!