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“The Most Astounding Story of 1999″  by James Beller

The Most Astounding Story of 1999
…yet no one seemed to pay any attention

Posted on the Pastor’s Desk Weekly on February 15, 2000

This story came out of Augsburg, Germany and was reported in the Washington Post on November 1, 1999:

“Four hundred and eighty-two years ago, the blunt-speaking monk Martin Luther nailed his legendary attack on Catholic Church practices to a church door in Germany.

His act of conscience triggered the Protestant Reformation, the wrenching division of Western Christianity, and more than a century of religious wars. 

On Sunday, leaders of the modern Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches signed a document that officially settles the central argument about the nature of faith. The agreement declares, in effect, that it was all a misunderstanding.

“In the one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body. Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and build up our common life,” proclaimed Catholic Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, Pope John Paul II’s emissary. Cassidy signed the Agsburg accord on behalf of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide.

All but about 3 million of the world’s 61.5 million Lutherans were represented by bishop Christian Krause, president of the Lutheran World Federation.

The United States has 61 million Catholics and 5.2 million Lutherans whose churches belong to the worldwide federation. Another 2.6 million Lutherans belong to the Missouri Synod, which rejected the accord.

The argument that has preoccupied Lutheran and Catholic negotiators for more than 30 years involves what is called the doctrine of justification. Lutherans have believed that faith alone, and acceptance of God renewed every day, ensures eternal salvation. The Catholic Church has long taught that salvation comes from the sum total of faith and good works — that a life of devotion and service on Earth earns the faithful the key to heaven. The key language of the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” appears to give decisive weight to the Lutheran position on salvation through faith, while embracing and ethic of earthly service championed by Catholics.

“This is a critical breakthrough. It’s the first major step toward reconciliation,” said Bishop H. George Anderson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

Brother Beller: The ramifications of such an accord are deep and will slowly come to fruition. This modern age of apostasy will culminate in the rise of the religion of antichrist. This coming worldwide religion will reject Jesus Christ and accept the antichrist. 

The accord at Augsburg is a big step toward the one world church. It is not a victory for justification by faith. It is a further eroding and watering down of repentance and saving faith. There is a reason the Lutheran Church-Mo. Synod rejected the accord. It mixes faith and works.

The real reason for the accord is two-fold. First, from a practical standpoint it helps two floundering religious organizations bolster their base. And secondly it helps two floundering religious organizations fill their needs for clergy.

It all plays into the hands of the adversary in these last days. We will see further unification of liberal and unbelieving protestant denominations in the next couple of years. May God grant the remaining few Bible believing camps of Christians the wisdom to avoid unity at the price of purity of doctrine.

And that’s the way it is. Unless God grants me repentance.

James R. Beller