Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Catholic Luther, by Dave Armstrong

Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong has written a number of 'quote books.' This one, available only as an e-book, is perhaps the most interesting of them.

This book collects a number of statements by Martin Luther that appear more Catholic than Protestant. In these quotations, he speaks favourably of such Catholic practices and doctrines as purgatory, the necessity of good works, the intercession of saints, the Papacy and the veneration of Mary. Some of these quotes are taken from the early years of career in which Luther had not made a decisive break with Rome, but others are taken from later in his career, indicating continuing sympathies with some Catholic distinctives.

This is an interesting read. Of course, Luther's theology was somewhat unsystematic and so it is not surprising that there are some inconsistencies or that he is often equivocal on some subjects. Yet I think many Protestant readers would be surprised on reading this book.

The aspiration of the Reformers was not to start a new church, but to purify the historic church and to return to what they saw as the teaching of the Church Fathers. In the case of the 'centrist' Reformers, Calvin and Zwingli, I think they utterly failed to do this and ended up revolutionizing the Christian faith and departing almost entirely from the teachings of the Church Fathers. However, this book shows how much Luther tried to achieve the aim of a Patristic Reformation.

This book will be of interest to both Protestants and Catholics and all who want to bridge the gulf between separated brethren.

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