Christians, Disunite!

Thesis on Justification and its means through Catholic and Lutheran eyes.


This dissertation investigates the subject of unity within Christian denominations – specifically between Catholics and Lutherans – through the analysis of both parties’ views on justification. The doctrine of justification has been a topic argued for centuries, and was the main cause in the separation. The result of this disagreement is the modern day relationship between Lutherans and Catholics. To understand the results, this dissertation investigates historical events, both views on justification, their main similarities and arguments, and their attempts of reconciliation. The ideal of unity has been considered important to all denominations since Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:22).



The main aim of this study is to identify the outcome of the Lutheran reformation due to its effects and causes. From this connection, we will be able to distinguish whether the ends justified the means in relation to the common goal of unification within the Christian Church. The significance lays in the fact that past studies on the subject have focused mainly on the doctrine of justification. Few sources state the value of unification between Christian denominations in their studies.


The primary source and primary material used in this thesis paper is The New Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition. Secondly, a more recent source that is extensively used to understand the current relationship between Catholics and Lutherans is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Other biblical and historical sources are used, and were found in the Gregorian Pontifical University Library in Rome, Italy. The Internet was also used as a resource in several aspects.


The approach used for this research project was first to understand the historical context, namely the chronological events, reactions and results. Next, an analysis of both Catholic and Lutheran views on the means of justification granted by God’s grace. From this exegetical analysis, a full understanding of the differences in beliefs can be derived. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is referred to in order to further clarify each individual denomination’s beliefs, and demonstrate the attempts made to resolve long lasted issues. Finally, the Personal Comprehension section states whether the ends justified the struggles.


Through exegetical analyses, disputation concerning justification has been common for almost two millennia (Matthew 15). The subject of justification is considered highly important within every denomination of Christianity. Through the freedom to interpret the Bible, people have acquired individual convictions as to Biblical truth. Although there have been extensive studies on the different explanations for achieving justification within individual denominations, it is a main belief amongst all that remains unanswered. The contradiction and lack of unity is ever present: all of the different sects of Christianity remain separate despite attempts of resolution. In this paper, we will analyze whether the results justified the struggles in relation to one of the basic fundaments of Christianity, unification.


Throughout the past six hundred years, there has been misrepresentation, debate, and suffering between two sects of Christianity. In the midst of the sale of plenary indulgences by the Catholic Church, a man named Martin Luther brought about a revolution that changed the lives of every Christian for better or for worse. The main dispute came to the topic of justification, and how it could be obtained. The struggles lasted centuries; the earliest recorded formal attempt to resolve these issues was at the Gospel and the Church council in 1972 (Tanner). In 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity united to compose the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. This document consists of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church clarifying their agreements and disagreements. Though the subject of justification has been extensively analyzed, the lack of unity within the churches of Christianity is ever lasting and rarely discussed.


The two primary sources used in this analysis are The New Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition and Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Most of the research and materials were gathered using the database of the Pontifical Gregorian Library in Rome, Italy. By using an exegetical approach, we will investigate both the Catholic and Lutheran views on the subject of justification. In order to understand the current discordance within the two denominations, we must first analyze the historical context in which the Church became separated. The main factor of the break was due to a historically documented set of events, which led Luther to a new understanding of justification. Once we understand the reason for the separation, we can then analyze the scripture in accordance with each individual to see the similarities and differences. Lastly, we will look at the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification to recognize the work towards reconciliation.



Shortly before Jesus’ death, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane “that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:22). This is the basis for the principle of unity within the Christian Church. Protestants, while accepting the importance of unity within the Church, have sought to follow what they believe is true to the word of God. Despite the prayer of Jesus before his death, Protestants have found it more important to break away from tradition in order to pursue their faith in the ways they believe is most appropriate. This thesis paper historically and exegetically analyzes two different denominations of the Christian Church: Catholicism and Lutheranism. This analysis is meant to explore in order to understand whether the results justify past struggles on the topic of justification, and, in turn, to analyze the current level of unity within the Church. In order to understand the current situation, we must first identify the events of the past and analyze why they happened as they did.



Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran denomination of Christianity, had a rigorous Catholic upbringing. In 1514, Luther became a priest for the Wittenberg city church at the age of thirty. After having been appointed as priest, he began a year of lectures on the Epistle to the Romans in the New Testament, the main foundation of his future convictions against the Catholic Church. Through extensive studies on the text, he came to a personal belief that Christians shall be justified by faith alone (Anonymous). During this time, the Catholic Church was selling plenary indulgences to the public. The majority of Catholics considered this discipline normal at the time. Luther, however showed his disapproval shortly after a Dominican Priest named John Tetzel made a certain statement on the subject in 1517: “As soon as the gold in the casket rings; the rescued soul to heaven springs” ( Clearly, John Tetzel was preaching for the sale of plenary indulgences. He was given this task to raise money for the Church, who at the time was constructing St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. Tetzel was considered exceptionally gifted at convincing others, but he was later condemned as an extremist by the Church (Hillerbrand 82). In the earlier months of 1517, Martin Luther had begun preaching to the people of the Wittenberg church against the sale of indulgences, explaining why this method of granting indulgences was wrong according to the teachings of the Bible (Anonymous). On October 31 of 1517, Martin Luther posted a document on the door of the Wittenberg now commonly known as his 95 Theses. At first, Luther’s theses did not cause much commotion, probably due to the fact that he had already been preaching against these methods of the Catholic Church to those who attended mass at Wittenberg (ISWC).


The main cause that led Martin Luther to rebel against the Church was the sale of plenary indulgences. It was common to deposit a certain amount of money into wooden boxes located in all churches with plenaria indulgencia written on them (Dwyer 142). By doing so, one could supposedly shorten his or her time in purgatory and get sent to heaven sooner. This action implied that a person could pay their way into heaven . “An indulgence is the extra-sacramental remission of the temporal punishment due, in God's justice, to sin that has been forgiven” (Knight). There are different kinds, the two main differences being between plenary and partial indulgences. Plenary indulgences are “the remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in Purgatory,” while partial indulgences “commute only a certain portion of the penalty” (Knight). During Tetzel’s time period, there would be an amount relative to each person that he or she could pay for a plenary indulgence, or a lesser amount for a partial indulgence. The Pope is the only one who can grant plenary remission through God’s grace, as he is the “supreme head of the Church on earth,” and he can “grant all kinds of indulgences to any and all of the faithful” (Knight). As a retort to John Tetzel’s declaration, Luther wrote in his theses, “They preach man who say that [sic] so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory]” (Luther 27) . Luther is stating in this thesis that it has never been stated in the Bible that the soul flies out of purgatory as soon as the coin hits the bottom of the coffer. “Luther argued from Scriptura sola, Scripture alone…he considered Scripture the only judge of what was authoritative in the tradition” (Tavard 141). Furthermore, Luther demonstrated his disagreement with this discipline by stating that those who believe indulgences to be true and use them as a ‘means’ of salvation will be sent to hell instead. “They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon” (Luther 32). The 95 Theses make Martin Luther’s opinion on indulgences abundantly clear; nearly every thesis contains the word indulgence. It is not until later in the formation of Lutheranism that he draws his conclusion from his documents, that people are justified by faith alone.

Luther’s view on justification comes from the critique on indulgences. This can be seen by Luther’s transition from his original ninety-five theses to his later works, such as the 28 theses on theology he presented in the Heidelberg Disputation. This is further supported by the fact that Luther’s first set of theses were made public in 1517, where the council in Heidelberg did not occur until 1518. The closest relation Luther makes to justification in his initial theses is his thirty-sixth, “Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon” (Luther 36). However, this one, like the others, is in relation to indulgences. In order to see his undistracted view on justification, we must look at his opinion one year later, in Heidelberg.


Luther was called to a general council in Heidelberg, Germany by the Church to clearly state his opinion and defend his 95 Theses. In this assembly, Luther presented a total of forty theses, twenty-eight on theology and twelve on philosophy, which depict more clearly our modern understanding of Lutheran views (Orcutt). They are considered by some to be more influential and important than the original ninety-five theses (Orcutt). Luther clearly defined the basis of his new sect of Christianity during the council: “He is not righteous who works much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ” (Heidelberg XXV). In doing so, he also denoted the Catholic view of works, which is identified in the Catholic analysis of this report.

On August 5, 1518, Emperor Maximillian denounced Luther as a heretic, and on November 8, 1518 Pope Leo X issued Cum Postquam, arguing against Martin Luther by outlining the Church’s doctrine of indulgences (ISWCivilization). Approximately two years later, Pope Leo X issued a bull named Exsurge Domine (Arise, O Lord), condemning the errors of Martin Luther on June 15, 1520. In this bull, the Pope demanded that Luther withdraw 41 errors in his 95 Theses within 60 days of its publication. In response, on the due date – sixty days after the publication – Luther burnt the bull in a bonfire consisting of volumes of Canon Law, proclaiming it as “the bull of the Antichrist,” thus referring to the Pope. As a result of Luther’s belligerence, he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X (Peterson).

In 1524, a war broke out between the peasants and nobility of Germany. The princes backed the Catholic Church, and since Luther had started an intellectual revolt against people of high status within the Church, the peasants thought it necessary to initiate a social revolt. The war lasted one year, where the peasants raped and pillaged small villages and towns. At first, Luther seemed to back this response, but in 1525 he stated through a document named Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants that it had gone too far (Anonymous). In the document he stated that the nobility should exercise a swift and bloody punishment upon the peasants. This was due to the fact that he strongly relied on the protection of the princes in Germany for his campaign (Anonymous).


At this point in time, Luther had accrued many followers. The Catholic Church had plans to convene and converse on the subject of Lutheranism and reevaluation of the Church for many years, but did not actually do so until the Council of Trent on December 13, 1545. The Council of Trent addressed all the disputes Martin Luther had stated in his theses and other works . The result of the council was a major reform within the Catholic Church. There are several reasons why it took so long for the council to take place. According to John C. Dwyer in Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic History, the Popes of the time were afraid of the conciliar movement, because they felt their positions threatened by reformation since Luther was constantly attacking Pope Leo X through letters and during the Heidelberg Disputation (Dwyer 274). Secondly, Dwyer states that Pope Paul III wanted complete authority over the council, not wanting to share it with the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. During that time, Trent was part of Germany. Charles wanted the council to occur in Trent so that the German princes could attend (Dwyer 278). Germany was a country feared by the Catholics at the time, due to the high volume of Protestants living in the area. The Catholic Bishops meant to attend the Council of Trent were afraid that if they were to convene in Germany, there would be a Protestant revolt. The first Council ended in 1547 due to the plague and reconvened in 1551 for one year and again in 1559 for four years. The general result on the topic of justification was that “justification of an individual depended on the sacrament of Baptism and on the person's co-operation with infused grace. It did not depend on faith alone, as the Reformers taught” (Tytler). This doctrine on justification remained unchanged in accordance with its prior truth. In addition to this reaffirmation of the doctrine on justification, many other doctrines and disciplines were confirmed and clarified. However, some disciplines, such as that of plenary indulgences, were changed. After the Council of Trent, the sale of plenary indulgences was forbidden. (Tytler). In hindsight, one might ask whether the bishops who attended changed the rules of Catholicism as a result of the Council of Trent. To understand the answer, one must know that there is a distinct difference between doctrines and disciplines in Christianity. A doctrine is permanent, but can be developed. An example of a doctrine would be the Holy Trinity. It can be better understood through time and study, but its meaning will never change. A discipline can be described as a practice within Christianity. An example of changing a discipline would be the reformation of plenary indulgences. Although they still exist today, the Catholic Church changed its method of granting indulgences. Instead of having a monetary value, one now prays for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff, or the Pope to grant him or her plenary indulgences.


[Most agree] the Epistle to the Romans was written by Saint Paul and his audience was “God’s beloved Rome, where Paul had never been but had friends” (Brown 560). The date written was “in the winter of 57/58 from Corinth (55/56 in the Revisionist Chronology)” (Brown 560). Apostle Paul wrote this letter in order to “preach the gospel … in Rome too” (Rom 1:15). Following this basis, we will analyze the Lutheran and Catholic views on justification in relation to this passage.


Catholicism is the first Christian sect and thus, every Christian denomination is rooted in Catholicism. Also, It can be seen that the Ten Commandments represent the basis of modern Western ethics. During medieval times, the Church was the fundament of social law within Catholic Western states, which were many. There was corruption within the higher levels, including several Sovereign Pontiffs, due to this power. A main result of this rot was the sale of indulgences, which raises the question of how Catholics view justification and its means today. After Martin Luther’s request for reformation within the Church, she changed several aspects. Although all the doctrines of Catholicism have remained the same, the example of the Council of Trent shows that it has changed its disciplines.


The understanding of original sin must be stated from both sides in order to recognize the basis of the differences between Catholicism and Lutheranism on the subject of justification. Both sides believe in original sin, but its effect on us as humans in relation to God’s grace and our possible justification differs. In Session 6 Chapter V of the Council of Trent, Catholics state: “Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God…by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace” ( They say that due to original sin, our intellect is darkened and our will is weakened. However, man does not want to sin, as St. Paul states in his Epistle to the Romans: “I do not understand my own behaviour [sic]; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate [sin]” (Rom 7:14-25). Although we may desire to be good instead of sinful, everyone is “inclined to sin (this inclination is called ‘concupiscence’)” [CCC 418] Furthermore, “As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, [and] subject to ignorance” (CCC 418).

JUSTIFICATION: CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GRACE OF GOD Catholics believe that one of the methods to achieve justification is to correspond and cooperate with the grace of God by celebrating the seven sacraments of Catholicism. Justification comes only from God, but man can cooperate with that grace. Furthermore, believing in the possibility of going to heaven without doing so is wrong, and in the times after the Council of Trent one would be excommunicated for stating this belief.

“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.” -Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9

According to the Catholic tradition, Jesus instated and the Council of Trent defined these seven sacraments as a means to cooperate with the grace of God: Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. One must be baptized, eat the body and blood of Christ transubstantiated during Communion at church, confess one’s sins in order to restore his or her relation with God, confirm one’s belief in Christ, believe and participate in holy matrimony, believe in the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and believe in the ritual of healing the physically and mentally ill. The idea of transubstantiation stems from Jesus’ last supper, when he transubstantiates the bread and wine to his body and blood before his apostles, who in turn did the same (CCC 830). Through celebration of these seven sacraments, man comes closer to becoming justified in the eyes of God.


Although the separation from the Catholic Church was due to the unethical sale of indulgences, what modern Lutherans would base their belief upon is that man is justified by faith alone. This assertion is derived from the passage in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: “a person is justified by faith and not by doing what the Law tells him to do” (Romans 3:28). Following this basis, Lutherans state that cooperating with the grace of God is not necessary.


The reason for this also relates to the Lutheran understanding of original sin and man’s responsibilities to God. Due to Adam and Eve’s actions in Genesis, man has become completely corrupt. Because we are corrupt and sinful, we are unable to cooperate with God.


In the twenty-sixth thesis Luther presented during Heidelberg Disputation, he clearly defines our correspondence with the grace of God: “The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe this,’ and everything is already done” (Heidelberg XXVI). This Lutheran belief of justification is due to the fact that we cannot justify ourselves: it is something that God must grant through his grace. Out of the seven sacraments listed earlier, Lutherans only believe in three, namely Baptism, Eucharist, and Reconciliation. The Lutheran belief of the Eucharist is through consubstantiation; they present the bread and wine during communion as the body and blood of Christ without blessing and transforming them. They believe Christ is “in, with, and under” the bread and wine presented. They state that He is “in” because His body is in the wafer and his blood in the wine. He is “with” because the wine and bread are not replaced, and “under” referring to the flesh and blood being masked by the appearance of bread and wine. Also, though they believe in Reconciliation, there are few confessionals in Lutheran churches. They believe in confession but do not practice it. They consider the other four sacraments – Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick –innate, or sacramental in nature (ISWC).


In 1999, both the Lutherans and Catholics met to settle their disputes and to clarify upon what aspects of Christianity they agreed and disagreed.

DEFINITION OF JUSTIFICATION In paragraph 11 of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, there are several definitions of what justification actually means. The most fitting is as follows: “Justification is the forgiveness of sins (cf. Rom 3:23-25; Acts 13:39; Lk 18:14), liberation from the dominating power of sin and death (Rom 5:12-21) and from the curse of the law (Gal 3:10-14)” (JDDJ 11). This definition explains that the justification of a man or woman as God forgiving our sins, freeing us from sin and death and the curse of the law. Although all Christians follow the law, it is considered a curse because “The law can point out where we failed, but it cannot pronounce us righteous; that was not its purpose” (Morrison). Morrison clarifies that we cannot determine the righteousness of our actions from the teachings of the law or the Old Testament. We can only be certain of our righteousness by following the New Testament, for the main reason that if we do not accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior we cannot be justified. This explanation holds valid to both sects of Christianity, which is why it is included in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.


Both denominations agree “all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation” and “Justification takes place solely by God's grace” (JDDJ 19). This is in relation to original sin. Both sides clarified their opinions in the Joint Declaration. The Catholics “say that persons ‘cooperate’ in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God's justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities” (JDDJ 20). According to Lutherans, “human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation, because as sinners they actively oppose God and his saving action” (JDDJ 21). However, “believers are fully involved personally in their faith” (JDDJ 21). This reaffirms what is stated above in both the Lutheran and the Catholic analyses on the topic of original sin; for Catholics, man must cooperate with the grace of God, where for Lutherans, man is too corrupt to cooperate with the grace of God, but must be fully committed to their faith.


The similarities on the topic of justification by faith and through grace are as follows: “sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. By the action of the Holy Spirit in baptism, they are granted the gift of salvation, which lays the basis for the whole Christian life” (JDDJ 25). This is the foundation of the trust and love that man has for God. Where they differ is that Lutherans state “God justifies sinners in faith alone (sola fide)” and that “In the doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone,’ a distinction but not a separation is made between justification itself and the renewal of one's way of life”(JDDJ 26), while Catholics insist that “the renewal of life by justifying grace, this renewal in faith, hope, and love is always dependent on God's unfathomable grace and contributes nothing to justification about which one could boast before God (Rom 3:27)” (JDDJ 27).



By analyzing both the Catholic and Lutheran individual beliefs on their respective religions, we can decipher where they differ. Firstly, the means of justification are different. In Catholicism, one must cooperate with God by following the seven sacraments in order for Him to grant passage with His grace. From a Lutheran aspect, man needs only have faith in God for he is too corrupt due to original sin to cooperate with His grace. In response to the Lutheran belief, a Catholic might state that man is not powerful enough to corrupt the goodness God has given us in creation. From this follows a difference, which can be seen in the doctrine of the Eucharist. Lutherans use consubstantiation, stating that the bread and wine they serve during communion is the body and blood of Christ. The Catholics use transubstantiation, blessing bread and wine in order to transform them into the body and blood of Christ. The differences in the sacraments is that Catholics believe all seven of them to hold true and necessary for justification, where Lutherans believe in only three, and only practice two of the seven, claiming that the others are innate or sacramental in nature. However, the Lutherans also perceive baptism and communion as necessary for justification. Catholicism does not have a specific passage, as the Lutherans do, because they were the first Christian religion. The entire Bible could be seen as the main ‘passage’ of Catholics, and this is true for Lutherans as well. However, the Lutherans used Romans 3:28 to create a new sect of Christianity apart from the Catholic Church. The final difference is that the Catholic Church still grants plenary indulgences, even though they do not require payment, where the Lutheran Church does not.


In contrast, there are several similarities between the two. In order to be a Christian, one must believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. Both religions practice the Eucharist, and believe in baptism and reconciliation. Catholicism and Lutheranism have the same sacred text, although they are slightly different. This is due to the fact that Lutheranism is based on Catholicism. Although they can be considered very different, they are both sects of Christianity. Because they both use the Bible as their primary text, they are much more alike than different. This was probably the primary reason to reconcile their differences in the convention, of which the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was a result.


Through examining the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, we can better understand the difference between both opinions on justification more clearly. This declaration is proof of attempts to reconcile differences, also seen in the name of the Catholic representatives: The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. However, it seems contradictory that they call it the Joint Declaration when two thirds of this document consists of the two sides disagreeing. Granted, it is called “Joint” also because they are making a declaration together. The declaration is a step forward for both sides, as they each make clear what they believe individually, where the opposite side ultimately understands their viewpoints, even if they still disagree. Although we can consider this meeting and written statement the result of all past struggles, considering that is was published only ten years ago, there is still a distinct disunity. Firstly, they remain as two different denominations of Christianity. As seen in the JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION chapter above, they prove able to agree on most fundamental doctrines other than that of justification, one quite important to man, and the main reason they were separated initially. The two main reasons for this disagreement on justification can be seen in the same chapter, where their views differ on both original sin and man’s ability to cooperate with God’s grace.

Luther raises an interesting question: “The correct Church is the one in which “the word is rightly proclaimed and the sacraments rightly administered” (according to Lutheran doctrine). By judging past occurrences, the answer to this question has never held true to all. The Catholics believe their word is rightly proclaimed and their sacraments rightly administered, but Lutherans clearly challenge that. What is true to one will necessarily be false to another. This clearly depicts the modern sociological standards in the United States. Specific religion has become much more private, and much less commonly accepted. With globalization and the acceptance of human rights nearly two hundred years ago, we have learned to be more tolerant of other’s views. Although one may believe another’s religion as false, we are still open to studying in order to better understand its views, which can lead to tolerance and possible appreciation of that certain religion. This is not meant to imply relativism, or that everyone has his or her own truth, or even more generally put, that everyone is right in what they believe. The importance stressed is not of indifference towards religion in any way, but more of a comparison for the purpose intellectual growth.

At first, as stated in the HISTORICAL ANALYSIS chapter, Luther stated that he would abide to the outcomes of a council on the topic of justification. Although he used radical methods, Luther’s goals were to reform, but the Church was not willing to reform to the extent of changing its doctrine. When the Church resisted and denounced him as a heretic, he decided to separate and form a denomination he thought best represented the teachings of the Bible. Eventually, the Catholic Church realized it was wrong, and prohibited the sale of indulgences. Even when they did so, Lutherans had changed the Catholic doctrine of justification, and this reason is why they still cannot be unified. Lutheranism is not the only divergence into a new denomination. There are also the Greek Orthodox, Evangelists, Anglicans, Baptists, Non-denominational and others. Since it is one of the main goals of Christianity to have unity within the Church, it seems that the Catholic Church and other denominations have struggled with maintaining unity and when tried to reconcile, it had been too late, and it still is too late. The struggles have been tremendous over the past centuries, and they are still not finished. However, it seems as though the participation of both the Catholics and Lutherans in the JDDJ was aimed in a way at unification. If either side were apathetic, neither would not have participated. Despite the efforts, until today, the results have not justified the means in relation to the ideal of unification. However, history has proved disputation to be human nature, and it will surely never change.


Luther’s goals were to reform, but the Church was not willing to restructure to the extent of changing its doctrine. The council of Trent provided that reformation, although not to the fullest extent. Today the Lutherans disagree with Catholics on some levels, but there is less contrast than in 1517. The topic of justification remains as the main separating factor between the two Churches. As stated above, the respective views on justification are doctrines of each denomination, and are both unchangeable. Both sides, however, believe in unity within the Church, but a Protestant would want all Christians to be Protestant, where a Catholic would want all Christians to be Catholic. This is currently not possible, but seeing the advancements through the ages, it might some day happen that they find a way to unite as one. The action of Luther is important in showing the value of attempting to interpret, study and investigate the Bible individually, and to beware of those who are ignorant in doing so.

“And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures” –Peter 2:3:15-16

The ultimate importance lies in the truth of the passage read, not individual interpretations. This is the first and foremost reason for Lutheranism and other Protestant denominations. As stated in the INTRODUCTION, although Protestants believe unity to be of high importance and a fundamental part of their belief, the truth is of highest priority, even if that means separation. Through our analysis, we come to the conclusion that given the desired end of a unified society of Christians, our struggles have not yet been justified by our result.


Required Readings

The New Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition. New York: Doubleday, 1999. Print.

Luther, Martin. Propositions for Debate : the 95 Theses of 31 October 1517 and the 67 Articles of 19 January 1523 in the Original Version. Trans. Carl S. Meyer. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1963. Print.

The Lutheran World Federation, and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2000. Print.

Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Print.

Branick, Vincent P. Understanding the New Testament and Its Message: an Introduction. New York: Paulist, 1998. Print.

Dwyer, John C. Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic Christianity. New York: Paulist, 1998. Print.

Hillerbrand, Hans Joachim. The Protestant Reformation. New York: Harper Perennial, 2009. Print.

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church: with Modifications from the Editio Typica. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Print.

Luther, Martin. The Letters of Martin Luther ;. Trans. Margaret A. Currie. London: Macmillan and, Limited, 1908. Print.

Burgess, Joseph A., and Marc Kolden, eds. By Faith Alone: Essays on Justification in Honor of Gerhard O. Forde. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004. Print.

Tanner, Norman P. The Councils of the Church: a Short History. New York: Crossroad, 2001. Print.

Jeffers, James S. The Greco-Roman World. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1999. Print.

Internet Sources

Pohle, Joseph. “Justification.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 15 Oct. 2010 <>.

Peterson, Susan L. “The Luther Pages.” Susan Lynn Peterson–Writer, Designer, Martial Artist. Web. 02 Nov. 2010. <>.

Orcutt, Larry. “Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation.” The Heidelberg Disputation: Introduction. Web. 2 Nov. 2010. <>.

Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. “Great Minds: Martin Luther.” Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <>.

Tytler, Carolyn. “Results of the Council of Trent - by Carolyn Tytler - Helium.” Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <>.

Morrison, Michael. “Bible Study: Galatians 3.” Bible Study: Galatians 3. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <>.

Knight, Kevin. “Catholic Encyclopedia: Indulgences.” New Advent. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <>.

Anonymous. “Biography of Martin Luther - ReligionFacts.” Religion, World Religions, Comparative Religion - Just the Facts on the World's Religions. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <>.

“John Tetzel: Salesman of Indulgences.” John Tetzel. Web. 30 Nov. 2010 <>.


Cranach, Lucas. Portrait of Martin Luther. 1526. Location: N/A.

Brühl, N. Engraving of Johann Tetzel. Date: N/A. Location: N/A.

König, Gustav F. The Life of Luther: in Forty-eight Historical Engravings. Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1920. Print.

Cati, Pasquale. Council of Trent. 1588. Chiesa Santa Maria. Trastevere, Roma.

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