Pope Francis has the authority to forgive. Will he forgive Martin Luther? You and me? The Year of Mercy — declared by Pope Francis — ends on November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King. That’s about five weeks from now.
There’s still time for Pope Francis to forgive Protestant reformer Martin Luther.
Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church during his lifetime (1483 – 1546) because he believed, wrote and taught that salvation cannot be obtained through indulgences or good works and comes from faith through the grace of God.
Excommunication is reversible. And Pope Francis can do it.
And now is the right year and right Pope to do it. There is one baptism and one faith? And it’s certainly time for all Christians to support other Christians.
Martin Luther 1483 – 1546 was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.
Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with money, proposing an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517.
His refusal to renounce all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor.
Luther taught that salvation and, subsequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin.
His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. Those who identify with these, and all of Luther’s wider teachings, are called Lutherans, though Luther insisted on Christian or Evangelical as the only acceptable names for individuals who professed Christ.
His translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible to the laity, an event that had a tremendous impact on both the church and German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible. His hymns influenced the development of singing in Protestant churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant clergy to marry.