Catholic and Lutheran Representatives Sign Joint Declaration on Justification Doctrine

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On Reformation Day, Roman Catholic and Lutheran World Federation representatives sign a joint declaration on the doctrine of justification. Not only does this resolve a central point of disagreement between the two churches, but this is also the first case where Roman Catholics had formalized the results of dialogues with another Christian denomination.

The doctrine of justification was a key issue in Martin Luther's protest against the Catholic Church and thus the Protestant Reformation. Luther argued that a person was saved by God's grace alone, regardless of any good works, while Catholic theologians disagreed with the extreme position he took on the question.

Dr. Ann Murphy, a Catholic Reformation scholar, says:

"He wanted to protest, really. He said if you really understand the relationship between human beings and God, you can't merit grace as a gift, you can't earn it. And you are justified or saved simply through God's gift in Jesus Christ."

The Lutheran World Federation represents 60 million Protestants and is the oldest denomination of Protestantism. Other Lutherans, though, object to his development. More than 200 Protestant theologians have signed a petition criticizing this agreement as a "sell out."

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