Luther’s Doctrine of Justification Born of Satan
In our previous post on Luther we cited his famous colloquy with Satan, since these conversations were the genesis of the Protestant Reformation. The same would also give birth to Luther’s doctrine on justification, which the Vatican today dignifies. Through this infernal colloquy, the devil convinced Luther that we must accept our sinful lives as they are, and he instilled in him a false security about the sins we commit.
Hence was born Luther’s crackpot idea that Jesus died on the cross so that we may sin freely without the fear of eternal punishment. Consider Luther’s own words to his close associate Philip Melanchthon:
“Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly…. No sin will separate us from the Christ, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day.” (From Luther’s letter to Philip Melanchthon, August 1, 1521, LW, Vol. 48, pp. 281-282)
Let us not forget that Luther was a master at twisting Holy Scripture. In planning his strategy, he had his pet verses marked out, which in their twisted form became ammunition against the Faith. His plan was to induce a licentious, worry-free attitude about sin, and knowing the temptation of human nature to shun responsibility for sin, the seducer invented the idea that we can “sin and be saved” and then he used the Bible to try to substantiate this lunacy. The following verse is perhaps his favorite argument for advancing his doctrine:
“By the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him… For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law.” (Romans 3:20, 28)
The law mentioned here has nothing to do with the Law of Christ and the performance of good works, but refers specifically to the Old Jewish Law where they practiced circumcision and offered animals in sacrifice, and observed certain feast days, etc. Christ came to do away with these former works so that we are no longer under the Law of Moses, but under the Law of Christ. And this is all the Bible is saying: that we are not justified by being a Jew, but are justified by being Christian.
Naturally, it is Christ Himself Who justifies and saves, but He doesn’t save anyone unless they obey His laws and commandments. “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13) The Savior reminds us that “he will render to every man according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27)
It is enough to say that the Church committed no fault in its response to the Reformation five centuries ago, which means no apologies must be made today. The papal condemnation of Luther in 1521 was truly the work of the Holy Spirit, and remains binding to this day, so why has the Church since the Council been dignifying one who is officially judged to be an enemy of the Christain Faith?
Protest Not Justified
Every one of Luther’s charges against the Catholic Church were false. For instance, he accused the priests of “selling indulgences” in the confessional, which is not true. When penitents came to confession it was common at that time for priests to administer a penance in the form of having them place money in the Church’s treasury, because funds were needed to complete the Basilica of St. Peters in Rome. We might say a Peter’s pence was being raised, which should have excited praise, but this infuriated Luther because he couldn’t tolerate the idea of funding the “papal pig” and his palace.
It was for reason that Pope Leo X, in league with the holy cardinals, undertook to carefully deliberate the matter of Luther’s “Reformation” which had ruptured the Church and led a good part of Europe away from the Faith. Under the lamp of the Holy Spirit the Holy Pontiff on June 15, 1520, issued his superlative papal bull Exsurge Domini, whereby he condemned the works, writings, and sermons of Martin Luther, on the grounds that “these errors or theses are not Catholic… and are not to be taught, as such; but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and against the true interpretation of the sacred Scriptures received from the Church.”
After mercifully granting Luther the chance to recant his errors so that the Church could “receive him kindly as the prodigal son returning to the embrace of the Church,” Pope Leo was left with no recourse but to excommunicate Martin Luther on Jan. 3, 1521, seeing that the clemency extended to him had only hardened his heart and fueled his rampage.
Moreover, the Council of Trent convened from 1545-1563 to address Protestant errors in general, including the Church’s teachings in refutation of Luther’s errors, so that there would remain no mistake as to the Church’s position on Luther.
Hence the matter of Martin Luther is a closed book. Once the Church has decreed infallibly on a given theological issue and the pope has spoken as Supreme Teacher of the Universal Church, the bishops and even the pope are not at liberty to question or reevaluate the decree. They have no recourse but to either embrace the decree, or place themselves outside the Church as Luther did.
Yet, Pope Francis discounts the Church’s ruling on Luther. Speaking to members of an Ecumenical Delegation from Finland on January 19, 2017, he said, “The intention of Martin Luther five hundred years ago was to renew the Church, not divide her.”
This is perfidious for two reasons. First of all, there was nothing of the Church that needed renewing in the sixteenth century other than to purge out the errors of Protestantism, including Luther and his rebellion. Secondly, to say that Luther was an instrument to “renew” the Church is to say that all the popes and bishops of history had been in error and in need of Luther’s correction. Francis thus unfortunately places Luther’s judgment above that of Leo X and the Council of Trent.
Luther sought not a renewal of the Church, but its abolition, which is why St. Padre Pio said that Martin Luther “is in Hell.” Yet in Pope Francis’ January 2016 address to the Ecumenical Delegation of the Lutheran Church of Finland, he spoke of the “common witness to faith” shared by Lutherans and Catholics, and said that “as Christians we are no longer divided, but rather united on the journey towards full communion.”
Unfortunately, the full communion he speaks of is with Protestantism, not with Catholicism, but it was the Second Vatican Council that set into motion this journey toward union with other religions.
True ecclesial union means being united with the Catholic Church only, which can only come about by conversion. Separated brethren must renounce the Lutheran religion and convert to the Catholic religion in such a way that they unconditionally accept all of its teachings and decrees, including the 16th-century condemnation of Martin Luther.
However, before the Church can be an effective tool to convert non-Catholics, it must first renew itself by rejecting post-conciliar change and returning to sacred tradition. As Christ said, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
Let us pray that the Church can come to grips with the reality that it will only be able to resume fulfilling its divine mission to convert the nations when she can finally cast off modernism and return to the tradition of the Faith as it was practiced before the Second Vatican Council. Let the hierarchy ponder the words of Pope Benedict XVI, when he said on April 30, 2011:
“What was sacred and great for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well.” (Universae Ecclesiae)