Martin Luther: Roman Catholic Prophet (Marquette Studies in by Gregory Sobolewski

By Gregory Sobolewski

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Extra resources for Martin Luther: Roman Catholic Prophet (Marquette Studies in Theology, #25.)

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He stated that “Erasmus represented the threat of dogmatic dissolution within the Church. Luther called men to a profession of faith. He shook people awake” (Lortz 1968, 155). More important for Lortz was Ockham’s contradiction of the Catholic tradition by separating faith and reason. A consequent emphasis on the salvific activity of the human will was matched with a portrait of an utterly transcendent God. Lortz concluded: “In what way was it [Ockhamism] uncatholic? (a) The system bears no existential relationship to truth; (b) it makes grace virtually a superfluous accessory” (Lortz 1968, 196; cf.

On an ecclesiastical level, he argued that the hierarchy provided ineffective leadership due to institutional and individual factors. For example, the papacy had lost much of its spiritual and temporal power with the dislocation to Avignon (1309–77), the subsequent manifestation of antipopes (1378– 1415), and an avaricious Roman bureaucracy. Combined with the peccadilloes of individual popes and their delegates, including local bishops, the hierarchy’s attention to spiritual matters lapsed. Important factors in the diminishment of ecclesiastical authority are also found in the increased vitality of national churches and the consequent dissipation of the Holy See’s temporal influence, often amidst ill-conceived political alliances (Lortz 1968, 3–164).

From this perspective, the uncommon and pronounced ecumenical potential of Luther’s fundamental concerns becomes apparent. He resembles Abraham with whom, as with Paul, he identified throughout his life. . A person who goes along with Luther’s questions and accompanies him on Abraham’s path will quickly realize that in Luther also, he has found a “father in faith”. (Manns 1983, 86) Manns argued that Luther’s theology of justification is more Catholic than previously acknowledged. Arguing that Luther’s emphasis on faith alone necessarily includes a simultaneous recognition of love of God and love of neighbor (agape), and thus a significant concern with good works, Manns stated that If God wants our love as a condition of salvation then he is thereby indicating to us a way of salvation that can be followed in communion of life and destiny with Christ and only through grace.

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