Martin Luther both left the church and changed it

Martin Luther
Martin Luther

As a minister, I’m always attentive to what interested friends, such as the Rev. Angus Stewart (‘PCI invite to Roman Catholic leaders raises serious doctrinal and spiritual issues,’ Sep 29) have to say regarding the faults, flaws, iniquities and general sinfulness of my beloved Irish Presbyterian Church.

I’m also glad to join in his sincere thankfulness for the Reformation, that great movement of God’s spirit, which has led to such blessing for Europe and for the world.

The principal actor in that drama, Martin Luther was, of course, within the unreformed Church when he wrote his theses – a list of questions and debating points. He first wanted to transform that organisation for the better, not to leave it or to destroy it.

Oddly enough, he succeeded in both leaving it and in changing it, though not to the extent which he had hoped.

That is why, in spite of the serious differences between us, it is so interesting to hear the views of Roman Catholic academics as part of our thanksgiving for the Reformation.

Reading through the long list of doctrines and ideas which Rev Stewart holds as essential and then through the equally long list which he believes to be reprehensible, it strikes me that Luther disagreed that some of the former were essential and agreed that some of the latter were reprehensible; as do I.

At least I am condemned in good company.

Mark Wilson, Minister of Cremore, Fourtowns and Poyntzpass