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Luther's mistaken interpretation of God's word has borne bitter fruit throughout history to the present

letter of the day: gospel teaching

In response to Dr Howard Gilpin and Robert Cousins (Write Back, November 13) on Luther and justification, the Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ alone, not by our own works.

The Catholic Church condemns the notion that we "earn" our salvation. What Luther - initially - was rightly condemning was an abuse of the Catholic faith: the "selling" of indulgences and the falsification of the doctrine of purgatory. However, with his invention of "scripture alone" and "faith alone", Luther made up "the gospel according to Luther" and no longer "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude v3).

Luther rejected scripture and tradition as the means by which the Lord had guided His Church for 1,500 years. Incidentally, contrary to what Robert Cousins asserts, papal authority is at the service of divine revelation; it doesn't decide it; it must protect it.

"Faith alone" is a false gospel. You cannot separate works of love from saving faith. If you do, you are left with a dead lamp that can shed no light and, when the bridegroom returns, you may find yourself hearing the words, "I tell you solemnly, I do not know you" from His lips (Matthew 25:1-13).

Faith and works are inextricably woven together in God's plan of salvation and it is self-evident from His word.

The word must not only be believed, but acted upon. It must be the formative influence upon every action, word, thought, opinion and idea.

There is no dispute about our being saved by grace alone through Christ alone. However, Luther's insistence on introducing his own mistaken interpretation of the word of God and his exalting of his own ideas above all else has borne bitter fruit in history right up to the present - not least here in the north of Ireland.

FR PATRICK MCCAFFERTY

Corpus Christi Parish, Belfast

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