Throwback Thursday: Searching for the Reformers; Hus and Zwingli

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 10, 2016 during a trip to Germany and Switzerland and has been revised.

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There’s only a few days left on our 12-day trip to Martinshöhe, Germany to visit with family. It’s been very enjoyable, especially the time we’ve been able to spend with our grandson. We’re so grateful to the Lord to be able to be with him.

This was our third visit to Germany and each time my wife and I have taken a side-trip somewhere by ourselves to break things up. This time we visited Konstanz, Germany and Zürich, Switzerland. My wife’s grandfather was originally from Zürich and she had always wanted to visit there. I knew that the Swiss Reformer, Huldrych Zwingli, had been based in Zürich and that also sparked my personal interest. While researching our 5-hour trip to Zürich, I discovered the Bohemian/Czech pre-Reformer, Jan Hus, had been martyred in Konstanz, a city on our route. The house Hus had briefly lived in is now a museum, so we decided to visit there also.

We rented a car Tuesday morning and started off to Konstanz, a trip of 4 hours. When we arrived there we discovered parking was impossible, just like all European cities. We drove around looking for a hotel, but found nothing suitable; no big hotel chains in this small city. But we drove by the famous Konzil (Council) building where the Catholic church’s infamous Council of Constance (1414-1418) had convened. The Council found Jan Hus guilty of heresy and delivered him to the magistrates to be burned at the stake. The Council also elected a new pope because no one could figure out which of the three rival popes claiming the office at the time was the “legitimate” pontiff. The house where Hus lived prior to his trial was located in the pedestrians-only, old town section of the city and could not be seen from the road. With all the hassles of trying to find a hotel, we decided to push on to Zürich and stop again at Konstanz on our return.

We arrived in Zürich an hour later and relaxed for the rest of the evening. On Wednesday morning we were up bright and early and took a commuter train to the old town section. Our seven-hour walk took us through the winding, very narrow streets of the old town. The highlight for me was visiting the Grossmünster (“Great cathedral”) where Zwingli preached. While reading Erasmus’ New Testament translation, the Holy Spirit led Zwingli, like his more well-known contemporary, Martin Luther, to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and to pursue several reforms to return the church to the simple yet sublime Gospel of grace. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Grossmünster with its stark interior (Zwingli had removed and destroyed all of the idolatrous Catholic statuary). Not far from the church we saw Zwingli’s parsonage. After several more hours of strolling through Zürich’s old city section, we returned to the hotel happily exhausted.

Thursday morning, we began our trip back to Martinshöhe. We stopped at Konstanz once again, but decided the hassle of trying to find a parking spot and the long walk to the old town was not worth it for just a quick photo of the Hus house. I would have happily made the sacrifice had I been traveling alone, but, unfortunately, my wife does not share my enthusiasm for history.

I am so grateful to the Lord for raising up Reformers like Hus and Zwingli. Defying the Roman Catholic church usually meant certain death in those days. If you haven’t read about Hus and Zwingli, I would encourage you to do so. Succeeding Reformers would move the church even farther away from vestiges of Roman legalism and ritualism, but these brave men took the first very dangerous steps. Although Rome has not changed any of its major doctrines, some contemporary evangelical leaders are lining up to betray the Gospel and embrace Catholicism, as if the Reformation had never occurred. Many evangelicals would rather indulge in spiritual cotton candy rather than bother with any of the nitty gritty history of the Reformation.

Above: The Jan Hus House in Konstanz, Germany. Hus resided here for three weeks in November 1414 before he was imprisoned and his trial for heresy began.
Above: This monument in Konstanz commemorates the martyrdom of Jan Hus. It’s located midway between the Konzil Building where Hus was tried, and the Konzil Cathedral (Münster) where he was condemned to death.
Above: This monument stone in Konstanz marks the spot where Jan Hus was burnt alive at the stake.
Above: The Konzil Building (“Konzilgebäude”) in Konstanz, Germany built in 1388 where the Council of Constance (1414-1418) tried pre-Reformer Jan Hus as a heretic and also deposed the three rival claimants to the papal throne, John XXIII, Gregory XII, and Benedict XIII.

Postscript: In a speech delivered in Prague, Czech Republic on December 18, 1999, pope John Paul II expressed “deep sorrow” for the death of Jan Hus. How can a modern pope apologize for the ruling of a RC church council? What does that say about the RCC’s vaunted Magisterium?

Throwback Thursday: If you read only one book about the Reformation, this would be an excellent choice.

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment! Today, in honor of Reformation Day, we’re revisiting a post that was originally published back on August 26, 2016 and has been slightly revised.

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The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation
By Michael Reeves
B&H Publishing, 2010, 207 pages

After Christianity became legalized by the Roman Empire and subsequently adopted as the official state religion, the early Christian church gradually began adapting and incorporating many of the beliefs and practices of its pagan predecessors. By the 14th century, the Roman Catholic church had very little in common with the primitive, New Testament church. The Gospel message of salvation by God’s grace though a personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ had devolved into clerical imperialism, legalism, and ritualism. In addition to its hopelessly compromised theology, the Roman church had become an open cesspool of greed, corruption, political intrigue, and immorality.

But then something absolutely wonderful happened. Beginning in the 14th century (some would argue for an even earlier date), men and women began rising up to challenge the church’s autocratic position through the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. The flame of reform reached a tipping point in the early 1500s when Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin broke from Rome completely in their endeavor to return the church to the Good News! of salvation via saving faith in Jesus Christ. With the translation of the Latin Bible into the vernacular and the invention of the printing press, the Roman church was unable to return the horses back into the barn despite the anathemas, inquisitions, and executions.

I’ve read several general histories of the Reformation and this easy-to-read primer is one of the best. Reeves writes with much wit while also delivering on the historical essentials. He doesn’t put the Reformers on a pedestal. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and the rest were all flawed sinners saved by God’s grace. Some monarchs definitely exploited the movement for political and economic advantages and it took succeeding Reformers to move the church even farther from Roman error. But the Holy Spirit accomplished a great work through these early Reformers and we should be grateful for their courage and fidelity to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In addition to the three principals, Reeves devotes quite a bit of attention to the Reformation movement in England.

Those who attend today’s “seeker-friendly” evangelical mega-churches generally hear little or nothing about the Reformation. They are not aware of the irreconcilable differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. Roman Catholics talk about Jesus, “grace,” and “faith” and that’s good enough for many. Sadly, these days we even have popular evangelical pastors recommending books by committed Catholics to their unwary congregations and media audiences. But Catholicism hasn’t changed any of its important doctrines since 1517. It still teaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Catholics can never say they are saved because they are taught they must continue to attempt to merit their salvation right up until the day of their death. Reeves confronts those evangelicals who declare the Reformation is over. In this era of ecumenical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel, the Reformation must continue. Roman Catholics (and unsaved “Protestants”) remain as a mission field.

Today, we mark the 502nd anniversary of the Reformation. I praise God for raising up Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and the other early Reformers to restore the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. If you should decide you would like to read a non-academic introduction to the Reformation, this well-written, short book would be an excellent choice. It’s readily available from Amazon here.

Trento, Italy: Ah, so THAT’S where the Catholic church anathematized all Protestants!

Bible Christians who have some interest in church history have heard of the Catholic church’s infamous Council of Trent (1545-63). The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Saxony and the recovered Gospel of grace quickly spread throughout Europe. In an effort to counteract the advance and influence of the Reformation, pope Paul III convoked the Council of Trent in 1545. The twenty-five council sessions took place over eighteen years, overlapping into the tenures of two other popes, Julius III and Pius IV. The main “accomplishments” of the council were Capture38clarification of Roman Catholic teaching and condemnation of the Protestant “heresies.” The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that was recovered by the Reformers and all those who believed in it were repeatedly anathematized (condemned) by the council’s declarations. Trent was the beginning of the Catholic “Counter-Reformation.”

I’ve often referred to the Council of Trent, but I honestly didn’t even know where Trent was. That’s embarrassing for an amateur history buff to admit. So I did a little googling and dug up a few facts that others may find interesting also.

Trent is actually Trento in Northern Italy (see above map) and is situated near the Italian Alps. It was inhabited by Celts and named after the Celtic god of the waters because of the nearby Adije river. The Romans conquered the city in the late-1st-century BC and renamed it Tridentum in tribute to the trident of the Romans’ mythical god, Neptune. Doctrines and practices promulgated by the council were afterward labeled as “Tridentine” in deference to the Roman name of the city.

Below are photos of the two churches in Trento where the council sessions were held. Three of the council sessions took place in the city of Bologna, but the other twenty-two sessions were held in Trento at these two churches.

In the future, when I refer to the Council of Trent, I’ll now know where the dastardly council took place. Despite its tremendous temporal power, the Roman Catholic church could not stop the Holy Spirit and the spread of the Gospel of grace. It’s quite interesting to note that, the current ecumenical climate notwithstanding, the Council of Trent’s anathemas against the Gospel of grace and believers have never been rescinded.

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Whited sepulchre #1: The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major) in Trento where some of the council sessions were held.  

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Whited sepulchre #2: The Cathedral of Saint Vigilius of Trento where the majority of the council sessions were held. Note the fountain, replete with a statue of the Roman false god, Neptune.

See here for interior photos of the two Trento churches, above, that hosted the Council of Trent.

For more information on how Catholicism condemned the Gospel of grace at the Council of Trent, see the article below:

Council of Trent: Canons on Justification
https://carm.org/catholic/council-trent-canons-justification

Hypocritical double standard: Why was monk Luther “neurotic” for daily confession, but John Paul II “saintly”?

I listen to “Called to Communion,” a Roman Catholic talk radio show, for about one hour every work day in order to keep abreast of what’s going on within the RCC. The advertised aim of the show is to convert Protestants to Catholicism. There’s no ecumenism going on during this show, folks. Host, David Anders, is pretty blunt in his attacks on the Gospel of grace.

Last week, I was listening to the 11/1/18 podcast of the show, and the discussion focused on Reformer, Martin Luther. As in MANY previous episodes, Anders described “heretic” Luther as an overly-scrupulous neurotic, who suffered from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. On what does Anders base that ad hominem smear?

Prior to breaking from Catholicism, Luther was an Augustinian monk. Luther took his legalistic religion very seriously, unlike most Catholics, and constantly compared how his thoughts, words, deeds, and acts of deliberate omission measured up to God’s Ten Commandments. Catholics are obligated to confess their sins to a priest at least once per year or incur a mortal sin (only 12% of contemporary Catholics obey this rule). Luther confessed his sins to a priest EVERY DAY and would often spend hours in the confessional recounting his offenses against God’s Law.

Catholics like Anders brand Luther as hyper-scrupulous and neurotic, but the Holy Spirit was revealing to the monk his sinful depravity and his absolute inability to obey his way into Heaven. Luther would eventually trust in the promises of God’s Word and become spiritually reborn by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Luther was finally able to rest in God’s forgiveness and salvation through Christ.

Anders naturally pushes his church’s false gospel, which states that people can successfully obey their way into Heaven with the help of sacramental grace, but in order to keep their sanity while on this legalistic treadmill, Catholics seriously downplay the extent of their sin. Most Catholics will tell you with a great degree of sincerity that they do a pretty good job of obeying the Ten Commandments.

It’s interesting, though, that there have been many Catholics over the ages who, like Luther, also had a sharp awareness of their sinfulness. However, rather than repenting of their sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, these Catholics practiced various methods of severe asceticism including painful self-mortification as part of their penance or as attempts to master the flesh. Mother Teresa wore a pain-inducing “cilice” (see here) daily. Catherine of Siena starved herself to death by restricting her food intake to only a daily communion wafer. Pope John Paul II flagellated himself daily and also, like Luther, went to confession every day. I wrote all of the above to ask this: Isn’t it contradictory for Anders and other Catholic apologists to slander monk Luther as being overly-scrupulous, neurotic, and an obsessive-compulsive when many Catholic saints, who these apologists extol with great gusto, were slaves of their legalistic religion to an even greater degree than monk Luther? Why was Luther’s daily confession a sign of neurosis, but John Paul II’s daily confession a sign of sanctity?

Conservative Catholic priest furious over commemorations of Martin Luther and Reformation

Pope Francis is causing a great deal of consternation among conservatives in the Catholic church with his reforms. But after several years of biting their tongues, conservatives now feel bold enough to publicly oppose their pope.

Our local Catholic radio station, run by conservatives, recently launched a new show, “The Catholic Connection,” which seeks to counteract the “confusion” and heresy proliferating from Francis’s Vatican.

Yesterday, I listened to the January 15th podcast of the show, in which one of the alternating priest-hosts, Jacek Mazur, spoke at length and quite disparagingly about Martin Luther. Mazur began his comments by noting that, this past October, the Vatican issued a special postage stamp commemorating Martin Luther and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Mazur stated that ecumenism was a good thing, but only if it led Protestants back to the Catholic church. He was appalled that the Vatican was honoring Luther and the Reformation by issuing the stamp as well as by other commemorations.

The priest continued with a 50-minute tirade against Luther, calling him a “heretic” who “caused so much pain and so much division.” He stated the Reformation was actually a “revolution” that “did not come from God.” According to Mazur, Luther led millions astray by teaching that the only thing required for salvation was some kind of nebulous “faith,” allowing his followers to subsequently live like the devil with a clear conscience. He concluded that Protestantism’s many divisions demonstrated the need for an authorized magisterium, but he was mystified by the ecumenical compromise of the current pope and many other prelates, exemplified by the Reformation anniversary stamp.

It was actually refreshing to hear this reactionary, militant priest object so strongly to Martin Luther. Evangelicals and Catholics believe in two entirely different gospels – the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone versus the false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Namby-pamby ecumenists on both sides of the unbridgeable chasm would like to mask vital doctrinal differences in the name of “charity” and “unity,” but the Truth will prevail.

In his discourse, Mazur set up one straw man after another in his attack on Luther, but that’s to be expected from a priest. The Holy Spirit, Almighty God, used Martin Luther and the other Reformers to recover the Gospel of grace that had been buried under centuries of ritual, formalism, and man-made traditions. Praise God for the Reformers and the others who stood upon God’s Word and opposed Rome despite the threat of death!

But here’s the great irony, which obviously hasn’t registered with Mr. Mazur quite yet. He boasts that Catholicism alone has a divinely-led teaching magisterium, comprised of the pope and his bishops, yet Mazur and other like-minded, EWTN-type conservatives are actively opposing Francis in the lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and other reforms. So why would conservative Catholics boast about their church’s “infallible” teaching authority when so many of them oppose Francis as a heretic? You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Mazur.

If you would like to hear priest Mazur’s diatribe for yourself, click here, and look for the itunes podcast for January 15, 2018, “The Protestant Revolution.” Given Mazur’s militant tone, one can easily imagine him joining in with those Catholics of the 16th century who called for the execution of Luther as a heretic.

Postscript: While traditionalist priests, like Mazur, have no use for ecumenism with Protestant “heretics,” pope Francis and others know they can catch more willing Protestant dupes with honey than vinegar.

Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World

I’m a bit behind on my reviews, so I’m going to keep the next several somewhat brief.

Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World
Directed by David Batty, narrated by Hugh Bonneville, and featuring Padraic Delaney as Martin Luther.
PBS, 2017, 120 minutes

I missed this docu-drama when it aired on PBS back in September as part of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, so I recently ordered the DVD. I enjoyed “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World” quite a bit. It’s clear that this was a low-budget production and written with a wide audience in mind, but it surprisingly tells Luther’s story quite accurately, including the reclaiming of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Multiple sound bites from the most powerful Catholic clergyman in America, cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, are included in the first half of the film. Dolan concedes that the Catholic church was exceedingly corrupt at the time of the Reformation and he praises Luther for his zeal. However, he makes sure to point out that some monarchs supported Luther only as part of an effort to usurp territory held by Rome. No debate with that, but leave it to Dolan to draw attention to the temporal sidebars of the Reformation rather than to the spiritual battle of whether man is saved by Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit or by the Biblical Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The film does focus on the moment when the Holy Spirit used Romans 1:17 to enlighten Luther to the Gospel of grace.

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

I’m not altogether pleased with the title of this documentary. It infers that the Gospel was Luther’s “idea.” Rather, Luther, along with others, recovered the New Testament Gospel that had been buried under layer upon layer of ecclesiastical ritual, tradition, legalism, and ceremony.

Praise the Lord for Luther and all the Reformers who were used by the Holy Spirit to return the church to the Gospel of grace. I’m definitely going to watch this film again. Order from Amazon here.

Postscript: Catholics should have absolutely zero objections to Martin Luther and the Reformation at this point because their current pope says even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their conscience.

How genuine were Catholic prelates when they “commemorated” Martin Luther and Reformation 500?

A few weeks ago, there were MANY articles in the news regarding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. However, in today’s “post-modern” era, when doctrine is totally deemphasized, and relativism, experientialism, and plurality are worshipped as idols, the Reformation strikes many as offensive. Some “Protestants” now eagerly embrace Catholics as fellow “believers” and declare they’ve renounced the “rancor” and “sectarianism” of the Reformation and strive for unity with the church of Rome. After all, they say, Catholics also believe in “grace” and “faith” and “Jesus the Savior” so let’s all just let bygones be bygones and focus on what unites us and leave the debates over doctrine to grumpy theologians.

But beneath all of today’s doctrinally-bankrupt, ♫kumbaya♫ sentimentality, Rome still preaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it did in 1517. At the Second Vatican Council, Rome decided it could catch more “separated brethren” with “sweetness” rather than with conflict and many Protestants have taken the bait. Last month, Catholic bishops all over the world co-celebrated prayer services commemorating Reformation 500 with liberal Lutheran bishops. Catholic prelates extol “justification by faith” with gusto, but what they mean is something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than what evangelicals understand by that term. As the saying goes, if you keep telling a lie long enough, you can get just about everyone to believe it.

In the article below, ex-Catholic priest, Richard Bennett, comments on the Vatican’s enthusiastic pronouncement that the Reformation is over.


Vatican Fake News – “The Reformation is Over”
By Richard Bennett and Stuart Quint
September 29, 2017

The Lord Jesus Christ condemned the Pharisees as they attempted to suppress the truth of the Gospel by equating their traditions with the Bible.  “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees!  For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

Today, the senior leadership of the Roman Catholic Church also undermines truth by equating man-made traditions with God’s Word.   Pope Francis and the Roman hierarchy exalt their own authority above Holy Scripture.  Consequently, the Catholic person believes not in the Almighty God and His immutable Word, but rather in the Catholic Church and her evolving tradition.

Ever since the Reformation began 500 years ago, the Roman Church continues to use its influence to camouflage the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To continue reading, click on the link below:

http://bereanbeacon.org/analyzing-the-pope/2017/9/29/vatican-fake-news-the-reformation-is-over

A prayer of gratefulness for the Reformation

Today marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, when a 33-year-old Augustinian friar, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, in Saxony, Germany on October 31st, 1517. The Holy Spirit would use Luther and the other Reformers in a mighty way to recover the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that was preached by the New Testament church, but had been buried beneath layers of religious legalism, ritual, tradition, and ceremony created by the institutional church of Rome.

I’m so grateful for the early Reformers. It took great courage and faith for Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and the others to oppose Rome at a time when such opposition should have meant certain death. Over the ages, many believers were persecuted and even martyred for their faith in Christ. I can pick up my Bible and read it any time of the day. I can also gather with other believers and worship the Lord according to His Word without restriction. I’m mindful of the many Christians who gave their lives rather than deny their faith.

I was baptized into the Roman Catholic church as an infant and educated in a Catholic grammar school and high school. In my 27 years as a Roman Catholic, I never heard the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Not once. What I was taught was a complicated religious system that was based on sacramental grace and merit. I’m so grateful for the legacy of the Reformers that’s been handed down for over 500 years and is alive in the mission of believing churches and their members. Jose, Ray, and Mike witnessed to me back in the early 1980s because someone had witnessed to them, because someone had witnessed to them, and back and back.

Lord, I am so grateful You raised up the early Reformers and used them to recover the Gospel of grace. Thank You for the generations of believers who have faithfully spread your Good News! throughout the world and help us to continue this mission. Help us also to defend the Gospel of grace and fight for its purity at a time when many who claim to be Christian compromise and betray the Gospel for the sake of popularity and false unity with those who teach “another gospel.”

This past Sunday, no mention was made at our church of the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I’m guessing that was the case in many evangelical churches. So the Reformation continues. Semper reformanda! Always reforming!

Catholics and Lutherans holding joint services to commemorate Reformation 500???

Those who follow news about the Roman Catholic church have noticed the many stories this month about joint Catholic-Lutheran prayer services being held nationwide in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Here in Rochester, N.Y., a joint service will be held on October 29th at the Catholic diocesan cathedral, presided over by the local Catholic and Lutheran (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – ELCA) bishops. See article below.

My thoughts?

As the early Christian church became increasingly institutionalized, error and anti-Biblical traditions were continuously introduced. By the Middle Ages, the church was almost completely apostate. The Holy Spirit raised up Martin Luther and the other 16th-century Reformers to recover the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that was preached by the apostles and the New Testament church. Rome immediately condemned the Reformation and sought to squelch it by ANY means. Lines were drawn. Protestant believers and Catholics opposed each other for the souls of men and women for 450 years.

At the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, Rome reversed itself and determined that a more conciliatory approach toward the “separated brethren” would reap greater results. Catholicism still preaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it did in the 16th century, but now grants that Luther may have had some legitimate grievances regarding the selling of indulgences, etc. Rome proclaims that, like Protestants, it also preaches a gospel of “grace” and “faith,” but how it defines those terms is completely different compared to Biblical Christianity. Many of the old, mainline Protestant denominations (including the ELCA) drifted into liberalism and apostasy long ago and now preach a social gospel. Embracing Catholicism is no big deal for them because they also embrace every sort of religion – from Islam to Buddhism – as legitimate “pathways” to (g)od (just as Catholicism does).

In light of the approaching joint prayer service planned by Rochester’s Catholics and ELCA Lutherans, I’m reminded of an episode from my past, but first, a little background.

I served as an altar boy at our Catholic parish church from 5th through 8th grade (1966-1970). The pastor was a very formal, aloof person who showed no warmth or kindness to us altar boys. In hindsight and in consideration of the church-wide cases of pedophilia at the time that would surface decades later, I’m actually grateful the priest kept his distance. One late afternoon, I entered into the church “sacristy” to prepare to serve at the 5PM mass. The priest was kneeling in prayer as was his habit before mass. As I walked past him, on my way to the room where the altar boys put on their cassocks and prepared for mass, I respectfully said, “Good evening, Father.” The priest annoyingly replied back, “Good AFTERNOON.” Ho, what fun! After that, I made it a point to say “Good evening” to the priest every time I entered the church for 5PM mass, and he always made a point of correcting me with a “Good AFTERNOON.” Loosen up, “father.” Great fun for a young teenage boy!

Anyway, let’s get to my point! One day in late summer of 1968, I entered the sacristy for altar service and for some reason the old priest was more talkative than usual. In fact, it’s the only time we had a conversation in my four years as an altar boy that I can recall. Somehow the subject came up that my family and I had attended my cousin, Beverly’s wedding over the weekend (on August 24th to be precise*). The old priest inquired where the wedding ceremony had taken place and I innocently replied, at Hope Lutheran Church on the other side of town. Well, you would have thought I had slapped the priest across the face with both hands from the look on his face! Prior to Vatican II, Catholics were strictly forbidden from entering a Protestant church, upon pain of mortal sin and eternal damnation. The priest evidently was out of the loop and had not been made aware of the church’s new conciliatory, ecumenical approach, but he soon would be. Maybe a year later, I was sitting in church with my family at mass and one of the hymns on the program was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” written by heretic, Martin Luther. I remember my mother being completely flabbergasted when she heard this Protestant hymn in a Catholic church. My, how things had changed!

Fifty-years later, Rome continues to gather the “separated brethren” unto itself. Some “evangelical” pastors and para-church leaders have unfortunately heeded Rome’s call. Praise the Lord for all those who continue to uphold the Gospel of grace and who reach out to Roman Catholics with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Rochester Catholics, Lutherans note unity with prayer service
http://www.catholiccourier.com/articles/rochester-catholics-lutherans-note-unity-with-prayer-service

Postscript: This ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a “silly” rhetorical question: Prior to Vatican II, Rome had taught that it was a mortal sin for a Catholic to worship at a Protestant church. So what happened to all the Catholics who worshipped at a Protestant church and died and went to hell prior to Vatican II? Did they all receive a “Get out of hell free” card after Vatican II?

*The only reason I know the exact date of my cousin’s wedding is from a newspaper clipping via an internet search. Hope Lutheran Church belonged to the conservative evangelical Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1968, and still does. The church continues to preach the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I attended a funeral service for my aunt a couple of months ago, and the presiding minister was from Hope Lutheran Church and he gave a wonderful, Gospel message. Cousin Bev and her family still worship at the church, fifty years after her wedding there. Unfortunately, some in the LCMS leadership are now also reaching out to Rome.

“Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” premiers Tuesday, September 12th on PBS

 

There’s admittedly a lot of junk on television, but heres a show you may want to see. “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” premiers on PBS, Tuesday, September 12th. Check your local television listings for broadcast times in your area. Let’s hope the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE is presented. I see from the trailer that Catholic cardinal, Timothy Dolan, is an interviewee so I have my doubts.

http://www.pbs.org/program/martin-luther-idea-changed-world/