Martin Luther, Roman Catholic prophet

30 Apr

Amazing the praise Martin Luther gets from some Roman Catholics.  Some terrific quotes from the pictured book:

“[Roman Catholic scholar Otto Herman] Pesch’s assertion that Luther is truly Catholic stemmed from the recognition that the Reformer’s teachings, while novel, reflect much of the classic Catholic tradition before the sixteenth century…. Overall Pesch concluded that Catholic theology ‘has to ask in a more unbiased manner about the contemporary consensus with the Luther of that time who has already formulated, sometimes in an uncanny way, so much of what is also today self-evident to the Catholic sense of faith’…. [Pesch] asserted that the precise differences between the two schools of Catholic Luther-studies really concerns the question whether what was ‘un-Catholic’ in the sixteenth century can be considered ‘Catholic today’.   One should view Luther’s theology as an innovative translation of the Catholic tradition that anticipated much of Catholic postconciliar understanding.  Pesch concluded that certain elements of faith that Luther articulated are readily admitted now, for example… the principle that persons are simultaneously holy and sinful…” (p. 50 and 51)

Near the end of the book, we get this quote:

“Finally, how do I justify labeling the recent Roman magisterial image of Luther as a prophet rather than merely a reformer or a teacher?… In our time when apologists for doctrine are needed increasingly, Martin Luther can be best described to Catholics as an authentic prophet whose fundamental work was highlighting the gospel that had become eclipsed by the church authorized to proclaim in.   Like men described in the Old Testament, Luther was eccentric yet brilliant, banal yet prayerful, unsystematic yet focused.  As earlier prophets had urged the recovery of Mosaic traditions within events that encapsulated their lives, so Luther’s life provided novel expressions of faith that purified Catholic tradition even as it promoted disruption among Christians.

In terms of the New Testament, James Atkinson considers Martin Luther to be a ‘prophet of the Church Catholic’ because God revealed the gospel to him with a unique clarity known through God’s “terrifying and stark otherness” (1983, 44).  He views Paul as Luther’s only comparable prophetic Christian colleague and asserts that neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic can exclude a rare person of such charisma in their understanding the gospel of Christ (Ibid., 68).  In the light of the gospel that Paul and Luther preach, their personalities are negligible for the faithful today.” (p. 151)

I would agree with this assessment.  Luther’s understanding of the true God was immense – an amazingly mature, child-like faith.

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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