Catholic priests, Lutheran pastors and other clergy gathered for an ACLC Pastors’ Forum on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, at Mt Calvary Lutheran Church in Warren, MI. The program was designed to honor this year’s 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s critiques of the Catholic Church by promoting reconciliation between the Catholics and Lutherans.
As we conducted our church outreach efforts over the last few months we have seen displays of books in Lutheran churches designed to prepare their members for the 500th anniversary of that day, October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the church door at the University of Wittenberg. As the content spread it sparked an outcry against the Catholic Church which led to what is now known as the Protestant Reformation.
Since the Reformation Catholics have been disappointed that the Lutheran church broke off and Lutherans for their part have seen themselves as victorious in letting go of false doctrines and practices of the Catholics. To be fair in recent years there have been talks and even agreement on some points. However, in the displays we found no advertisements of such a program. We decided a pastors’ forum with the theme of reconciliation was something we could offer.
At one of our recent ACLC prayer breakfasts the pastor of a Lutheran congregation near our church in Warren volunteered to host a prayer breakfast. I called her and presented our idea. She liked it. We are on our way.
Our hope was to have an equal number of Lutherans and Catholics. That was the case; our program was attended by three Catholic priests and three Lutheran pastors, plus Baptists and clergy from other denominations.
We based our discussion points for reconciliation on the Divine Principle. I presented a PowerPoint on Masculine and Feminine characteristics of God (Gen 1:27), with the viewpoint that the Lutheran/Protestant world is a reflection of God’s masculine nature, centered on “the word” while the Catholic Church is a reflection of God’s feminine nature more centered on the family and community. Our topics of discussion began with Mary. Catholics honor her as their mother while Protestants honor their father, God. Fr Lawrence Fares, an old friend of our movement, clarified that Catholics honor Mary but do not worship her. From the DP viewpoint I presented to the Protestants the idea that if the Catholic Church is the feminine reflection of God then God allows them to honor Mary as they do. The practice is not a “false” or sinful.
We continued in this manner through the key Lutheran doctrines, Sola Scriptura (scripture alone), Sola Fide (faith alone) and Sola Christos (Christ Alone). In each case we had a rich discussion on Catholic and Protestant beliefs and practices.
I concluded the PowerPoint with a discussion on the future. I proposed the view that God raised up the Catholic Church to create Europe, which it did. However, God also raised up the Protestant church. I made that point that the Reformation was not just an act of human rebellion; God needed a new spiritual foundation for the creation of America, a land that would eventually welcome all peoples, cultures and especially all faiths. I suggested Father Moon’s view that we are now in a time where God is leading the church beyond denominations to create a world that will be, “one family under God.” This led to some good discussion on the current state of the church and how to move forward from here.
The clergy stayed for almost two more hours sharing over lunch. We felt God knitting hearts together across denominations through the day’s give and take.
Submitted by Rev. David Kasbow, ACLC-MI