Reformed churches, Catholics overcome Reformation divisions

The World Communion of Reformed churches (WCR) representing about 80 million Christians  signed a “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” with Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist leaders last week in Wittenberg, Germany.

It was in Wittenberg in 1517 that Martin Luther unveiled the 95 Theses that launched the Reformation.

Centuries of dispute followed about whether eternal salvation comes from faith alone — the position of the new Protestant movement — or if it also requires good works on Earth as Catholics argued.

The Joint Declaration aims to “overcome divisions” from that time. It closes the centuries-old “faith versus works” debate by merging the Lutheran and Catholic views on salvation rather than setting them against each other.

It also promotes unity among the world’s Christian Churches, stating “mutual condemnations pronounced by the two sides during the Reformation do not apply to their current teaching on justification”.

The document the WRC signed says “We rejoice together that the historical doctrinal differences on the doctrine of justification no longer divide us.”

It endorses the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran agreement on how Christians might be worthy of salvation in the eyes of God.

The World Methodist Council formally endorsed the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 2006. The Anglican Communion is expected to do the same later this year.

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News category: World.

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