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Are You Catholic?

f you are Catholic are you satisfied with your church? If not you will find the Lutheran faith to be refreshing. The Catholic church has many strengths: primary among them it has the true Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.

One of the biggest reasons for dis-satisfaction with the Catholic church is her stance on divorce. Many divorced, separated and re-married people know their sins, and are sorry for them. They want to start a new life with the church's blessing, and long to participate in the church's sacramental life, but they are not allowed.

Lutherans have a very different take on divorce. Lutherans, too, agree that divorce is a sin. But it is a forgiveable sin. If a person confesses his sin, and receives absolution, it is forgiven. It is not perpetual or ongoing. Nor is re-marriage consummated outside the Roman Church sinful, invalid or inferior as far as Lutherans are concerned. Nor will it keep you away from the Eucharist, and full fellowship in the Lutheran church.

Another cause for disallusionment is the rash of sexual scandals brought to light in the last 20 years. Any one such act is unconscionable. Many intolerable.

But to blacken its guilt the Roman church has not, in the opinion of many, done what needs to be done to stop it. Yes, it has made some progress in prosecuting offenders; even stripping some of Office. But it seems to this observer that celibacy is the problem; a deep structural flaw in Roman moral and dogmatic theology. To have a clergy of sexually frustrated men (and women) can never lead to anything good. The rule of celibacy is, among other things, un-natural; and so should be reversed.

In the Lutheran church you will find much that is familiar: Liturgy, Scripture, Sacraments, History and Tradition. You will also find some things that are different. Lutherans don't pray to Mary or the Saints, or ask them to intercede for us. We believe that Jesus is the one Intercessor and High Priest, and that no other is needed. But above all what you will find is the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ which cleanses you from all sins, however egregious they may be. Lutherans believe that sinners are justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ, and by faith alone. As St. Paul writes, "For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

This being the case Lutherans also deny the notion of purgatory. Christ suffered for all sins of all humanity, and God in Christ fully pardons all who believe and are baptized. Therefore there is no need to be purged after death, but before entering heaven. This is a human opinion that strongly contradicts the finished work of salvation, of the Son of God on the cross, who says of all sin and death: It is finished! We believe that Christians will suffer in this life, but Scripture calls this "discipline" (Hebrews 12:5) and not purging or punishment. There is a marked difference.

Lutherans also teach that good works always accompany saving faith. They are not optional, or unimportant, but are the fruit of faith and of the Spirit. But we are also know from Sacred Scripture that the works of even the greatest of saints are weak, imperfect and inconsistent. (As easily confirmed by reading the autobiography of St. Theresa of Avila, or The Rule of St. Benedict) And so salvation is granted to us by faith in the crucified and risen Christ. The faith born in us in holy baptism and strengthened in the Eucharist. 

There is one thing about Lutheranism that you won't find anywhere else, and that is the blessed certainty of your salvation. Salvation that is dependant on the grace of God alone. As St. Paul writes, " But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." (Romans 11:6)

This powerful word gives you the assurance and promise that enables you to live in peace with God each day, and to die in the confidence knowing that glorious and eternal life awaits you. As Holy Scripture says, " ... whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) 

To find out more, contact Pastor Kavouras.