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Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Date Posted:

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Triumph for Romanism, Tragedy for the Reformation

Indeed the spirit of Tetzel, far from dying out, has merely slumbered on, unawakened by the enlightenment of the sixteenth century.
Professor Arthur Noble

On 25 June, 1998, a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was issued by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church and presented to the Vatican. This document is the result of 30 years of so-called 'dialogue' between the two Churches. It will be signed in Augsburg on 31 October, 1999, by Cardinal Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity, and Dr. Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). On that day a special joint service will be held in London in the Swedish Church in Harcourt Street, London, W.1., at 6.30 p.m., in which leaders of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches in Britain will participate.

The doctrine of justification was of central significance to Martin Luther and pivotal to the Reformation. The Reformers considered it to be the "first and chief article" of faith, and Luther himself described it as the "ruler and judge over all other Christian doctrines" [Works, Weimar Edition, 39, I, 205]. Justification by faith alone, in Christ alone and through the Bible alone constituted the clear, decisive and final dividing-line between the false doctrines of Rome and the revealed word of God rediscovered at the Reformation. The glorious gospel of free grace replaced the religion of Antichrist who during Rome's dark ages had deluded and overwhelmed the world in the perverted gospel of justification by expensive works, sacrifices and payment by indulgences. "After darkness, light" is engraved on the Reformation Memorial in Geneva.

The doctrine of justification by faith alone was the crux of all the religious disputes of the sixteenth century. It became a focal point of the Augsburg Confession with its 28 articles that constitute the basic confession of the Lutheran churches. The Confession was presented on 25 June, 1530, at the Diet of Augsburg to the Emperor Charles V.

Article IV of the Augsburg Confession declares:

"Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favour, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins."

The German Confession was translated into English in 1536 and was a definite influence on the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England and the Twenty-five Articles of Religion of the Methodists:

Article 11 of the Thirty-nine Articles declares:

"We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by Faith, and not for our own works of deservings; Wherefore, that we are justified by faith is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

Cap. 11, sec. 1 of the Westminster Confession declares:

"Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other Evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by Faith; which Faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God".

On August 3, 1530, Rome replied to the Augsburg Confession with the so-called Confutation, which condemned 13 articles of the Confession, accepted 9 without qualifications, and approved 6 with qualifications. The Emperor refused to receive a Lutheran counter-reply offered on September 22, but Melanchthon used it as the basis for his Apology of the Augsburg Confession in 1531. The unaltered 1530 version of the Confession has always been authoritative for Lutherans. It affirms what the Bible says – that God justifies "him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26). This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4. Justification by faith is the consistent teaching of Scripture: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Rom. 3:28) "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through of Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).

The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, teaches that justification is by the sacrament of baptism (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 161, 1236, 1252). When the Reformation threatened the very life of the Roman Church, the Council of Trent was called in 1545 to define and codify Romish doctrine. The Council emphatically rejected any compromise or modification of the medieval doctrines of Popery, cursed the doctrine of justification by faith alone and declared all who believed it as "anathema". It reconfirmed the mediaeval doctrine of priestly absolution and committed every Roman Catholic throughout the world to unreserved acceptance of its statutes under pain of mortal sin. The Joint Declaration shows no change in this dogma but declares: "Catholics hold that the grace of Jesus Christ imparted in baptism takes away all that is sin." To this is added a further sacrificial element foreign to Scripture and the Reformation – that "when individuals voluntarily separate themselves from God, it is not enough to return to observing the commandments, for they must receive pardon and peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation through the word of forgiveness imparted to them in God's reconciling work in Christ". (30)

No relaxation of this stand has ever taken or will ever take place. No amount of Council sessions or pressure from ecumenical groups will ever cause the Church of Rome to retreat from this position. She has boasted of her semper eadem status in the past. This "always the same" formula has outshone and will continue to outshine all future displays of Romanist propaganda and ecumenical stageplay. Rome may change the manner of presentation of her doctrines, but not their substance. There can never be genuine dialogue with a Church that boasts of her changelessness, and those who sign joint declarations with her must of needs be treacherous to the faith of the Reformers.

Hence in the eyes of Rome Luther still stands cursed. The only reason why his one-time followers, the Lutheran World Federation, are no longer openly cursed by Rome is that they have become traitors to the Reformation and accepted the doctrines of the Antichrist. The Pope may indeed be about to lift his curse on Lutherans, but not on Luther.

The Joint Declaration mysteriously declares that "consensus of fundamental truths regarding the doctrine of justification has been reached in the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation". Apart from a notable absence of any such doctrinal consensus in the document itself, no such consensus could be possible in practice without treachery by the LWF to the fundamental principles on with Martin Luther stood.

It is noteworthy that this process was begun soon after the close of the Second Vatican Council, in 1967. Three phases of the dialogue have been completed; a fourth is in progress. The first, the so-called Malta Report of 1972, announced that a "far-reaching consensus" was "developing" in the interpretation of justification. The second, entitled All Under Christ, 1980, mentioned that a "broad consensus" had "emerged". The third, in 1994, examined the doctrine "more at length and in reference to the Church". The sellout of the Reformation continued in several draft versions of a Joint Declaration in 1994, 1996 and 1997, the 1999 Joint Declaration eventually declaring: "The agreement reached […] allows us to say that a high level of consensus has been reached and […] that where such consensus has been reached the condemnations levelled at one another in the 16th century no longer apply." Admitting that these cannot be erased from history, the Declaration goes on to state that "the corresponding condemnations found in the Lutheran Concessions and in the Council of Trent no longer apply".

Rome has produced another conjuring-trick!

The majority of Lutheran Churches world-wide, however, have not accepted the Joint Declaration. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, for example, with 5.2 million in its flock, considers the document to be "a surrender of the most important truth taught in God's Word, […] a clear, stunning departure from the Reformation and thus is contrary to what it means to be a Lutheran Christian". "These leaders, in their quest to achieve unity," writes Pastor Stan Slonkosky, "fail to see the Declaration for what it truly is: a woefully inadequate and misleading document and a betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." The Wisconsin Evangelical Luther Synod, the third largest in the U.S.A., also rejects the document, together with many others.

It is ironical that the Joint Declaration has been produced at a time when Rome, while pretending to practise reconciliation, is in reality busily engaged in the reinstatement of indulgences – the very issue which prompted Luther to separate from her anti-Christian dogma. The Romish dogma of indulgences lies at the very heart of the historical conflict between Biblical Christianity and the Vatican. It was the major factor in the gathering storm that instigated Luther's revolt against the corrupt pecuniary practices of the Roman Church and led to the victory of the Reformation. While Paul VI (1963-1978) admitted some misuse of indulgences in the past, he still re-affirmed the basic Roman Catholic concept of indulgences as outlined in the definitions above. His encyclical Indulgentarium Doctrina (The Doctrine of Indulgences) of 1967 formulated new laws concerning indulgences, but these merely (1) abolished the value of partial indulgences using days and years, (2) reduced the number of plenary indulgences, and (3) detached them from particular things and places. In other words: a familiar change of face without the slightest change of substance! In his Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (A Handbook of Indulgences) of 1968 he merely reduced the number of works and prayers of indulgence to about 70 and said that the previous practice of attaching a certain number of days or years to a specific task was no longer in effect. Then in November, 1998, Pope John Paul II issued a document called The Mystery of the Incarnation with an appendix explaining how indulgences can be obtained. The Church, it declares, will offer a plenary (full) indulgence during the coming so-called Holy Year (December 24, 1999, to January 6, 2001).

Indeed the spirit of Tetzel, far from dying out, has merely slumbered on, unawakened by the enlightenment of the sixteenth century. Those who had imagined otherwise must again be reminded of Rome's boast that she never changes. With the Millennium on the horizon, the Pope is attempting to re-instate the spiritual darkness of the Middle Ages! Semper eadem! No change except for the change that is soon to tinkle once again in the coffers of the Vatican!

The LWF has either clearly fallen for the Vatican's ruse or is a conscious and deliberate part of it. In either case its signature on the Joint Declaration will be recorded in the pages of history as the most treacherous act against Biblical Protestantism, a total and shameless renunciation of the principles of the Lutheran Reformation and a betrayal of the 150 million martyrs who have cruelly died at the hand of the Roman Antichrist.

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