Why the split?

Why did Martin Luther break off of the Catholic Church? Is there any way to mend our dissagreements? Would Luther Like the Catholic Church of today better?

He didn’t “break off” he was booted out. The way to mend our disagreements is going to take humility on both sides. I don’t really see it happening anytime soon, other than “let’s play nice” type agreements. Luther would probably be slightly more favorable to the modern Catholic Church as some of the abuses he criticized have been removed.

Luther was excommunicated.

There is no current disagreement to amend. Lutheranism is like every other Protestant denomination out there, incompatible with the Teachings of the Magisterium.

Lutherans are our separated brethren. Pope Benedict and Francis communicate with the Lutheran clergy.

Nobody knows what Luther thinks of the CC of today or the Lutheran church of today for that matter.

Well said, I cannot see Luther that enthralled with the different synods of Lutherans and wonder which synod he would consider most representative of confessional Lutheranism.

“Some” of the abuses? Really?

ML would hate the Church as much today as he did then - he rejected the authority of the Church, booting himself out via willful disobedience. Look how long it took for the Church to finally recognize that by his disobedience he had excommunicated himself. Let us sugar-coat neither the corruption in the Church, nor ML’s substantial emotional health issues.

With the scrutinies that today’s seminarians are subjected to, I sincerely doubt that ML would be admitted to seminary. Is that one of the 16th century “abuses” that has been corrected?

I believe king henry viii and martin luther were both excommunicated.
It is hard to say what martin luther would think of the CC today because he has a whole denomination named after him.
And we know that king henry viii had already started the church of england of which he was the head. Did either of these 2 men have any regrets they had been excommunicated on their respective deathbeds?
I can’t answer that because I have not studied these 2 men. They were both major players in the protestant reformation.

He was not booted out…he booted himself out. He was given all the time and chances to come back and reconcile…back. Luther chose to schism and split the altars.

I would remind posters that the position of the Roman Catholic church toward Lutherans is quite different that some suggest. When Catholics propose extending Eucharistic hospitality to Lutherans then we are a long way from the mutual condemnations of the Reformation.

Lack of Christian faith would and should so preclude. But the operative presumption is that Christian faith sufficient for Eucharistic sharing exists in the case of Catholics and Orthodox despite the inability of the latter to accept all these particular dogmas. We believe that this presumption regarding Christian faith should be extended also to Lutherans. If so, it would not thereby follow that limited Eucharistic sharing was justified in their case too. But it would follow that such sharing ought not to be ruled out because of Lutheran failure to accept these three teachings.

  1. Thus, Lutherans and Catholics are able jointly to conclude, »Therefore
    regarding Scripture and tradition, Lutherans and Catholics are in such
    an extensive agreement that their different emphases do not of them-
    76 Chapter IV
    selves require maintaining the present division of the churches. In this
    area, there is unity in reconciled diversity« (ApC 448).82

Here is how the Roman Catholic Church views Martin Luther, as a “Witness to Jesus Christ”

Spoken like a true Harkonnen…

Rabban, is that you???

Luther stood up to the Church of Rome.

He was sentenced to death, and was being hauled back to Rome. PERHAPS had he made it, there could have been some reconciliation there… We’ll never know. The German princes arranged to save him from Execution. Rather than God’s plan working out, Man intervened. Man is good about that… Wanting to do it OUR way. ME ME ME ME coveting, sinful nature me.

Luther would have reconciled had he not flipped out and had to choose sides like he did.

But, Martin, never ever saw splitting as part of HIS plan.

If Luther refused to change his mind in the court of the HRE, why do you think he would do so in the court of the Pope? The HRE essentially put a hit out on him, not exactly a friendly thing. Also how do you know that Frederick the Wise intervening was not God’s will? Perhaps God wanted Luther to avoid the popes matches and kindling?

Oh boy, this is really opening a can of worms. It’s hard to really pin down all the reasons of the Protestant Reformation.

The issue is also that Luther’s thoughts evolved significantly since the initial nailing of the 95 Theses. He initially did not challenge Purgatory or the veneration of the saints, these were later additions as his conflict with the Church widened. Then during the Leipzig debate he discovered his parallels with Jan Hus and he began to draw from him as an inspiration.

I don’t really think there will ever be a reunification of the Christian Church, at least not before the return of Christ. Even though Lutherans and Catholics share certain similar beliefs, some of the differences are too vast to allow any sort of reunification. What do you do about certain beliefs like Purgatory, the Papacy, and the importance of the priesthood and Apostolic Succession? Then Lutheranism itself is even further divided among different groups, some of which aren’t even in communion with one another.

I pray that the Christian Church might be united. I doubt this will ever happen in terms of us all returning under the umbrella of one organization, but I hope we will be united in protecting each other from persecution.

I Agee completely. I do feel though that we could be more respectful towards one another.9

Luther was an Augustinian monk who was sent to teach at the university in Wittenberg, Germany in 1511. As he taught theology, especially the book of Romans, his doctrine of justification by faith alone began to take shape.

Augustine of Hippo’s views on predestination and the questions it raised were an incredibly important influence on Luther. According to Augustine, all the saved must be predestined to salvation. Even though he never said so explicitly, the logical conclusion from his thinking was that everyone else was predestined to damnation. Essentially, the point was that human beings were incapable of doing anything to merit salvation. Salvation had to come from outside oneself.

The crucial biblical text for Luther was Romans 1:17, which itself quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” For Luther, God “imputes” (or credits) the merits of Christ through grace to fallen man. All the while, man has no inherent merit and would remain unrighteous without this “imputation” or credit.

Luther was only one among many Catholic theologians during this time who were beginning to emphasize Augustine’s views on predestination and the worthlessness of human actions.

This differed markedly from medieval Catholic belief at the time. In the late middle ages, the dominant view stressed God’s fatherly mercy rather than God’s justice towards the worthlessness of human effort. Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch described the late medieval perspective this way (The Reformation: A History, p. 111):

God in his infinite mercy ascribes value to human worth, and makes an agreement with humanity to abide by the consequences and let it do its best towards its salvation. In a famous phrase of the nominalist theologian Gabriel Biel, he allows a human being ‘to do that which is in oneself’ (facere quod in se est); even pagans may gain salvation through use of their reason. The system avoids troubled scrutiny of Augustine’s soteriology, as long as one accepts its principles.

Purgatory, the treasury of merit, and the granting of indulgences all figured into this high view of God’s fatherly mercy. The Pope could dispense grants from the treasury of merit that would shorten the time spent doing penance in Purgatory. It was also believed that indulgences could be given to souls already in Purgatory. Indulgences carried conditions, such as going to confession. In return, Christians gave thank offerings, which were basically payments for the indulgence.

Obviously, there were abuses to such a system. At this time, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was being rebuilt. The reconstruction had gone on for 70 years, and Pope Leo X wanted the work to go faster. To raise funds, he did the perfectly normal thing during that time and issued indulgences.

The ambitious Albrecht of Brandenburg had become the Archbishop of Mainz. Albrecht also became the Primate of Germany, an Elector of the Holy Roman Emperor, and Imperial Chancellor by virtue of this office. However Albrecht was already the Archbishop of Magdeburg and the administrator of the diocese of Halberstadt. He wanted to keep these posts, which required a lot of money to pay for the dispensations from Rome.

Albrecht and Pope Leo struck a deal. Albrecht borrowed the money from the Fugger banking family. The Pope would issue indulgences in Germany; half the profits would go to pay off the Fugger loan and the other half would go directly to the Vatican. The result was the proclamation of the papal bull Sacrosanctis in 1515 and Albrecht being made a cardinal.

[Continued in next post]

[Continuation of previous post]

Luther, like other Catholic theologians of the time, was disgusted by many of the abuses of the indulgence trade. He spoke out against it and eventually published 95 theses stating his objections. This was the spark of the Reformation, but the 95 theses themselves are not very radical.

  1. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.

  2. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God. . . .

  3. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

  4. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.

  5. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental “satisfactions” decreed merely by man.

  6. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins.

  7. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.

  8. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.

  9. Yet the pope’s remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, for, as already said, they proclaim the divine remission.

  10. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue.

  11. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men’s consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties.

41.Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love.

Church authorities acted rather badly against Luther, and this no doubt propelled him further in his critique of Catholic authorities and deeper questioning of the biblical legitimacy of many Catholic doctrines. His opponents attacked Luther for attacking indulgences granted by the Pope. In the words of the historian MacCulloch, “Luther wanted to talk about grace; his opponents wanted to talk about authority.” (The Reformation: A History, p. 126).

A bit of reading shed great amounts of light on the German reformation. And, male no mistake, it was a singularly and uniquely German phenomenon in its inception, heavily tied into and driven by German power politics.

I can highly recommend Dissent From The Creed by Fr. Richard M. Hogan. It examines all major heresies, from the Acts 15 Judaizers up to the current day. Of course, Fr. Hogan spent a great deal of time on the German > European rebellion. Of note: he does not sugar coat the corruption in the Church. He does focus on ML’s highly troubled emotional state.

What is telling is that while ML began as objecting to the corrupt practices in the Church, he and the rebellion morphed over the course of several years, and he developed an increasing dislike for core teachings of the Church as well. We all risk becoming that which we hate. ML hated the pope with such an intense hatred that he functionally made himself pope of his own assembly.

The entire episode reveals much more about human nature in general than about the individuals involved. All of them, from the pope to the various “reformation” leaders, desired, obtained and abused power.

Something does not automatically become Catholic teaching because some priests and professors say it

The Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity is a lot more than “some priests and professors” unless you consider the Pope as just a priest and/or professor. :rolleyes:

Here’s the opinion of your Church: vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

It’s not the opinion of “my church” that the the reformation ought to be celebrated. The Pope’s opinions also do not, otherwise that would make previous Catholic teaching contradict modern which is impossible. The Churches opinions on truth do not change.

Oh that websites about justification. Well you can learn about the Churches teaching on that in the Council of Trent

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.