Lutherans, Pope Take a Stand

The Christian world can rejoice that one of its historic divisions - the split of Martin Luther from the Roman Catholic Church in 1517 - has achieved some reconciliation as the millennium nears an end.

On Sunday, the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church signed a declaration finding common ground on their original dispute: whether an acceptance of God renewed every day by faith alone can bring an individual closer to God, or whether good works are required.

Too many wars were fought over this doctrinal split. The struggle today for Christians is how to fulfill Jesus' advice that his followers "be as one."

This pact reconciles the two sides by saying, in essence, that faith is fundamental and that it equips and calls one to do good works.

The two churches are not about to unite services or resolve other differences, such as the role of women. But their pact is a valuable lesson in how the divine harmony that already exists between God and each individual can always be expressed, no matter what the past divisions between Christians.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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